Be prepared for chaos
14.12.2009 - 15.01.2010 27 °C
Landing at São Paulo airport turned out te be a scary event for almost everybody on the airplane.
After a flight of 11½ hours, starting in Amsterdam airport, we approached São Paulo. It had already been a very bumpy ride the moment we hit the South American continent. As soon as we where above Brazil the turbulence started and the pilot requested everybody to go sit down and put their seatbelt on. But close to São Paulo he said to the flight crew to go sit down, but his warning came just a few seconds to late.
Before the flight crew reached their seat they where rolling around in the cabin, we had hit an air pocket. A loud scream of frightened people roared trough the plain. I just looked at one of the stewardesses and saw she was not in panic so I relaxed. After another 5 minutes of bumping around we hit the landing strip of São Paulo airport and a loud applause from the people on the aircraft filled the air. I never understood this phenomena because the pilots are justr doing their job. But I guess in this case everybody was very happy and thankful we made it to the airport alive.
São Paulo airport is very hectic and it is very hard to find your way when you are in transit. Since I had to catch another plane, to another city within Brazil I had to gather all my luggage and go trough customs. So waiting at the bagage belt for a long time, my backpack finally arrived, and after another long wait at the customs I was in the arrivals hall with no idea where to go for national flights. Luckely I speak a little Portuguese so I could ask the airport officials. Do not aspect that all offilcials at the airport speak English, only a few do so be prepared if you have to ask your way around.
The airport is a chaos and after asking and looking I fianally found the check-in for national flights. Here I had to stand in line for another half hour before I could finally check-in. Luckely I had 3 hours for my transit, because only after 2½ hours all the official fuss was over and I had my boarding pass. So with half an hour to spare I could go find gate 3 which the ticket said would be the gate for boarding. But on arrival in the domestic pier the computer screen said my gate would be 1A. So I walked up to the people at gate 3 and asked if this was still the gate for Porto Alegre and they said yes. So I waited for some 10 minutes and went to the computer screen again and it still said gate 1A. I decidsed to go to the down stair area of the airport where gate 1A is situated. In this area there are three gates next to each other 1A, 1B and 1C.
Upon asking one of the people behind the desks, he said just look on all three screens and see on which Porto Alegre will appear. And when it was time for the plain to leave on schedule finally the name of Porto Alegre appeared on the screen of gate 1C. So we could board and with a delay of 30 minutes the plain left São Paulo airport. But without some of the people I had spoken earlier at the check-in. They came in on the same flight as me from Amsterdam and where from France. I guess with all the changing of the gates (From, 3 to 1A to 1C) they got lost at the airport and missed their connecting flight.
So come to São Paulo airport well prepared for some chaos.