Airport Diaries – Fog do Sao Paulo

Posted in Travel at 22:04 by Kathleen

Hilo to Foz do Iguaçu, the second half of the tale…

I made it to Foz do Iguaçu, and yes, my bag was there. But it was not without pain.

Sao Paulo is, with Rio, the main port of entry to Brazil. With the numerous international flights landing in Sao Paulo each day, one would think that the airport would be equipped with the latest radar and landing technology. As it turns out, one would be wrong… Saturday morning, Sao Paulo was plagued with fog. Saturday morning, most of the North American and European flights were approaching Sao Paulo. Saturday morning, most of them were forced to hold pattern for a while and then were diverted to Rio de Janeiro to refuel and wait for the fog in Sao Paulo to clear. As far as I can tell, the planes could not land on instruments because Sao Paulo is not equipped properly even though fog is a common thing in Sao Paulo. I don’t understand that.

Anyway, our flight was indeed one of those that were diverted to Rio where we just waited on the tarmac; nobody were allowed to leave the plane (we had not cleared immigration yet). After a 10-hour flight, that was not really fun. But the “fun” really begun when we got to Sao Paulo.

Remember my checked bag adventure from the previous Airport Diaries entry? To check my bag all the way to Foz do Iguaçu I had to re-check my bag in Honolulu. Well, that was totally useless. To pass custom in Sao Paulo, I had to retrieve my bag, that I knew. But usually, if the bag is already checked to your destination there is a conveyor belt after custom to put your bag back in the system. Not in Sao Paulo, not for TAM airlines. So I had to do the complete re-check of my bag, again! On this trip, I had to check my bag 3 times! And because the Sao Paulo airport had been closed all morning, the check-in line at TAM was obscenely long. It took over two hours to check-in, the line was half the length of the terminal! Of course all the flights were late so I did not miss my flight and I made it that evening to Foz do Iguaçu, in one piece, with all my bags, and a story to tell.

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