Call Me Paranoid

I am the old white haired guy in the middle

It has been my universal experience when travelling internationally, that the flight check-in, provokes a moderate degree of anxiety. On this trip to Chile, the process has verged on panic, despite flying Business Class.

Even for a domestic flight, LATAM recommends arriving 2 hours before departure, nevertheless I am processed in less than 20 minutes! I am sure a major factor is that I am leaving from a smaller domestic city airport! Much less traffic.

However, getting back to the check in desk, as I said, my passport is taken, the clerical staff key in my information, then follows several minutes of intense staring at screen, biting lower lip, looking at me over top of glasses, back to staring at screen, more biting of lower lip, twisting fingers through long hair, then leaning across to the agent at the adjacent desk. Both look at my screen, chat and point, more looking at me…. Then thank god, the keyboard is tapped and my boarding pass is printed. I am convinced there is a red flag that pops up against my name in all Chile customs, immigration and travel software.

A fluffy white poodle lap dog type, enthusiastically barks and romps around my legs, I turn to see an older couple with luggage and empty animal transport cage, piled up on their luggage trolley. They entice “Fifi” into the cage, with a silk cushion mattress, slivers of liver treats and then load mutt and cage onto the carousel.

The flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago was uneventful in the LATAM 787 Dreamliner. I am only human and as a devout agnostic, I was moderately nonplussed when the lady in 1L window seat, (I being in 1J ) performed a furtive sign of the cross, as we lifted off and again on touch down! I suspect a retired flight attendant?

Sadly this trip at least for the first half was characterised by a smouldering degree of persistent anxiety! I was constantly vigilant, checking that I had my phone and passport secure and IMPORTANTLY that I adopted a routine of methodically placing them in the same pocket in my backpack. If I became rushed or flustered, this invariably caused me to “misplace” my documents or passport and I would become positively panic struck as I searched every pocket of my pack!

This was my fifth Backroads trip. However, all the ground work before I left in the past has been done by a very efficient knowledgeable, travel agent , since retired, and I now surrender to the fact that I will need to arrange my future International trips through a Travel Agent.

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