Buenos Aires Part I: Protesting in JFK

I did not think that we would make it to Buenos Aires. Myself, thirty five students, and three UMASS professors involved in a class on the politics, history, and culture of Argentina, were on our way to Buenos Aires for ten days. Our focus: to meet with political activists such as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and tour recovered factories.

If you used the airport in New England in the last week, you may be aware that the two major hubs, Logan and JFK, cancelled flights due to the snowstorm. Yet our group was pleasantly surprised when we discovered our 11: 30 p.m. flight with LAN Chile was not even delayed.

We boarded, but were shortly informed that there was a “de-icing” delay. One hour in the plane turned to two, then to three. At 2:30 a.m. we were still on the plane! Sore, I awoke at 7 a.m. to hear voices telling me to get off the aircraft. This is was the begining our nightmare at the airport.

With $10 breakfast vouchers, we trudged away when told by LAN to check-in at 1:30 p.m. Upon return,we got the same story. Too much ice on the road and bad weather conditions. ¨Come back at 4:30″ LAN crew said. My teachers began to loose it; we all saw the ice had melted and other flights at JFK were leaving.

The truth was that the LAN staff had detected a technical problem with the plane the night before. To save money, they lied crying, “icy runway”.

What came next was straight out of a movie. Gloria and Garciella stood up to the LAN crew and protested. Everyone got behind them in support. For two hours, shouting and got involved and my teachers were almost arrested.

To stay out of jail, we all sat on the floor like children and tried to reason with the airline. However, besides protesting, there was no other way to dealwith the cheaters. We were scared: Our trip which had taken months to organize, was in jepordy of being cancelled.

But then a miracle. To get out of the mess they put themselves in, LAN added a new one-time route, which was previously unscheduled. It would solve our problems and let them be rid of us. We´d fly to Chile, stay on board while others unloaded, and re-connect in Peru.

I have two bottom lines: be careful when booking with LAN. Although there are some good reviews about the airline, I have seen how unorganized they can be, thus explaining criticisms that they often have delays. Even though the LAN crew in Peru functinoned better, LAN is an agency I no longer trust. Second. We made it to! Yesterday, I spent my first day in Buenos Aires. It was wonderful to finally arrive after such a disastrous beginning. Stay tuned for the finer points of our trip.