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Flying 15,000 Miles to Spend One Night in Brazil – PART ONE

Discussion in 'Trip Experiences' started by vegli, Nov 7, 2014.

  1. vegli

    vegli Hangar Gold Member I

    Oct 12, 2012
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    United States United States
    Hanging out on a safety slide next to the TAM pool. Lots of funny jokes about pushing me in.

    Who flies 15,000 miles to just spend one night in a foreign country? This guy!

    I was recently invited to Sao Paulo to take a look a behind the scenes look at TAM Airlines’ operations. When invited, my first thought was, “hell yes,” but once seeing that I would be flying 15,000 miles for one night in Brazil, I felt that there might be some challenges (and lack of sleep). But was it worth it? I wasn’t sure at first. So, I decided to take you behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes trip — what is it like to do a media trip in such a short amount of time.

    Lots of miles, lots of things to do, not a lot of sleep – Image: GCMap.com

    The media schedule was cram-packed of activities and not too much time to sleep. I would fly from Seattle to New York in economy (well, premium economy on the way home), then take the red-eye on TAM from New York’s JFK to São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport, and then take another red eye back to the US. With such a short trip, this meant that I needed to do the best I could to rest when possible, keep hydrated, and heck, why not have some fun too.

    When I take these media trips, I think most of my friends and family visualize me on the beach or next to a pool with a nice drink (probably one with an umbrella in it) and it is all wine and dine. These media trips are VERY different than that, but it doesn’t mean that I do not love them. Even though there is a lot of fun in doing them, I am on a job and doing work. Sometimes, that means pushing through when all my body wants to do is shut down. This trip put me to the test.

    At JFK about to leave the country – getting to this point was not easy and filled with lots of anxiety.

    First off – if you are looking to visit Brazil, plan early. US citizens need to get a visa, and depending on where you live and the current status, it can take a long time. When I was invited to go by TAM, I had two month’s notice, and figured that was plenty — nope.

    Hiring a standard visa service to take my passport to the Brazilian Consulate in San Francisco wouldn’t have given me enough time, so we had to get creative.

    Working with the airline and their outside PR firm (Megan, Carla, Candace, and Kellie – thank you so much for your hard work!), I was lucky enough to get an appointment at the consulate and we hired a courier service to handle my documents. At the time, I gave it a 75% chance of working, but in the end I got my passport and visa in hand just three days before my flight. High stress for sure, but I was happy to finally make it work.

    Boarding a bare-metal AA 737-800 in Seattle. Yes, I touched the metal before boarding.

    The trip started with my alarm going off at 4am. It takes something pretty cool to get me up that early, but this trip was enough to do it.

    My American Airlines flight out of Seattle was scheduled to depart at 7:00am. However, before I even left my house, the flight was delayed until 8:40am. I thought it was odd, since the plane had arrived into Seattle the night before and it was the first flight of the day. Turned out that the crew was late arriving into Seattle and, due to the crew rest rules, the flight had to be pushed back.

    Sitting in the back, in an aisle, but at least I have that blue lighting. Just wish they would have played a movie – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

    When I checked in at home, it said I couldn’t pick a seat. Of course, I was quite afraid of getting the dreaded middle seat, but lucky I got an aisle seat after arriving at the airport. When boarding the 737 I was happy to see it had the Boeing Sky Interior — it really does a great job of making the cabin feel more spacious.

    I started to doze off as we taxied and thought it was a very long way to the runway. Then I woke up when the engines shut down. Wait a second — either that was the best nap ever and we were in New York, or we were back at the gate. Unfortunately, we were back at the gate.

    The safety video wouldn’t play and none of the fight attendants were able to find their display kit, so we had to go back to the gate to borrow one from another aircraft. Sigh. However, the video started to magically play, so we were good to go. Overall, the flight left about 2.5 hours late.

    The flight went just fine. I was able to nap a little and work on my emails through the GoGo in-flight internet. One odd thing was that they never played a movie on the overhead screens. Surely the flight was long enough, but whatever, I had the internet.

    The view from the Admiral’s Club. Our TAM 777-300ER is in the distance.

    I was fine with my connection time, since I originally had four hours at JFK, but now I was down to two. I was disappointed, since I was excited to chill out at the Admiral’s Club with Jason Rabinowitz and Cynthia Drescher, who were also making the trip as well (flying TAM Business Class gave me the access).

    I was a bit nervous, since I didn’t have my boarding pass for my TAM Airlines’ flight to Brazil. Flying on a media non-rev, sometimes one is not able to check in at home or via the app, and must do it in person. This was one of those times.

  2. David Barnshaw

    David Barnshaw Hangar Gold Member I

    Dec 30, 2012
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    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    Vegli-your just one lucky guy.:)
    Everett 757 and Brent Heiss like this.

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