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Santiago (SCL) Stopover Tips

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This thread is a place to share tips and recommendations for stopovers at Santiago Airport (SCL) in Chile. You can discuss things like:
  • How to get from the airport to the city
  • Things to do (both near the airport and in the city)
  • Where to stay/hotel recommendations (both near the airport and in the city)
  • Your favourite SCL airport lounges
  • Airport facilities such as luggage storage and showers
  • Any other destination-specific tips or "hidden gems" you've discovered that could be useful for someone stopping over
Do you have a great tip that other travellers might find useful when stopping over in Santiago de Chile? Add your suggestions to this thread, and your advice could make it into an AFF Stopover Guide article!
 

RooFlyer

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Australians need to pay a 'reciprocity fee' on arrival in Chile. US$117 last time I was there and lasts for about a month. They take credit cards. At SCL there is a booth on the level you arrive at, but its often closed and anyway if there is a queue, you would be best to head to the main booths. Down the escalator to the immigration hall, but at the bottom of the escalators, turn HARD LEFT (180 degrees) to get to the fee booths and ropelines. If you are first there, they may not have anyone there, but they will come soon. You pay your fee, then join the immigration queues.

For taxis into town after international arrival, there is an 'official taxi' desk on the right as you walk out of customs, before you get into the 'landside' public area. Between 21,000 and 24,000 pesos (A$41 and A$49) will get you to most places in the city - prices are fixed for the various districts. Works well.

Holiday Inn right opposite the entrance to SCL (ie across the road - few minutes walk) is very good and not expensive.

The SCL international lounge (LATAM, so OneWorld) is excellent. Premium international check-in is to the far left as you enter the terminal, up a level. But finding the way to the international premium check-in and lounge when connecting from domestic is difficult. I can't give directions, hopefully some-one can, but there is a hard to see door you have to go through from the domestic concourse, then up in an elevator.

Domestic departures are to the right of domestic check-in (ie opposite direction from international) and beware that security can be long.

As a OW Emerald I once got directed to the 'premium' check-in (the international area), I think as a 'favour', but if this is offered to you, don't take it. You have to come all the way back down to the concourse then go to the opposite end for domestic security.

Someone might correct me, but I couldn't find any currency exchange in the domestic check-in concourse.
 

Boca68

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I can't fill in too much about Domestic to International connections, but most of what @RooFlyer says is correct. International to Domestic, however is a breeze if you have boarding passes. At most 20 minutes if busy, average less than 10 depending on on your arrival gate. Plenty of signage to direct you. If you need to get boarding passes, it can be a scrimmage at certain times, but others deathly quiet. If you are on QF27, its usually very quiet at that time of day.

The Reciprocity fee is still the same as of 2 days ago. The Holiday Inn does do day rates as well, but you will have to call direct to get pricing. There are a couple of bus services if you want to get into the city cheaply. Santiago de Chile Airport Transport , but be aware that the from what I've been told , neither are particularly amazing. Or convenient if you have a lot of luggage.
For those looking to go in the future, there is a new International Terminal currently being built. I think due to open Late 2019/early 2020. The current terminal is a bit of a dogs breakfast and not very inviting, unless you have access to the lovely LATAM VIP as Roo mentioned. Duty Free is quite expensive.
And I missed you again by a few days @juddles . One day we'll cross paths.
 

juddles

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Hello anyone travelling through SCL airport. I will write a fairly detailed list of various opinions and tips as I travel through here a lot (am here right now) but some of my experience is limited because I just do the same things each time. I am not a tourist. This is lengthy yet incomplete. In no particular order –


Reciprocity fee:

This is a special fee charged to Australians – follow Rooflyer’s details on how to pay. It only applies to Australians arriving internationally at SCL airport – if you arrived on a cruise, crossed border by vehicle, etc it does not get charged. I have to pay this blooming thing and it annoys me but they only do it to “us” because “we” charge Chileans for their entering Australia – hence the name. It lasts for 3 months, and for multiple entries (ie if you are doing a Sth America holiday and start in Chile, if you come back through Chile within 3 months you do not have to pay again).


Uber:

Rooflyer uses taxis, and I completely agree with that for anyone who does not speak Spanish. Uber exists in Chile, but it is still technically “illegal” and the police have continuous blitzes on it. I use it, as the fares are about half what a taxi charges (last night was 13,000 pesos ($26 AUD) airport to central Santiago, and this morning 12,000 pesos ($24 AUD) returning. The driver’s are always great and the cars very good. BUT, invariably if getting a pickup at the airport they will try to phone you to explain the pickup point, which if you don’t speak Spanish is going to be tough. Really it is very simple – if you look out from the terminal towards the Holiday Inn opposite, to your left there is a lift/ramp/stairs that take you down to a short-term parking area – this is invariably the pick-up point (and drop off). Basically the car park allows first 15 minutes free, and is anonymous for the uber drivers. Likewise, if you request an Uber to take you to the airport, especially in the day when there is more blitzes, you may find the driver reluctant to accept the destination (he may know through their comms that the blitzes are happening) – what most will do is drop you off in the short-term carpark (2 minute walk to terminal), or at one of the longer term carparks which have free shuttle buses to the terminal (5-20 minutes wait/transit)

Uber in the rest of Chile is great – still not approved but no real focus on it.


Customs/Immigration:

When arriving in Chile (not in transit – actually entering country), customs can be a bit harsh with any major electronics appliance (eg a drone) or anything else of possible major or commercial value – they may try to charge you import tax. I have managed to talk my way out each time this has occurred to me, so haven’t had to do the formal process, but what I understand the ideal procedure is, (1) bring with you a receipt or something that proves value of item, (2) on arrival find a “temporary import” form (I do not know what the real name is) which you complete, and then I think you need to show on departure from the country. Sorry I do not know the specifics, but just be aware that it can be an issue, and I highly recommend researching the “latest” via official customs sites, etc if you are travelling with anything more special than a mobile phone or camera.

If you are connecting to a domestic flight you will still have to collect your bags, go through customs, then make your way to the domestic checkin desks. (More below on “orientation”)

As for immigration itself, upon entry you get a little printout slip of paper – which they do not tell you, but you HAVE to hand this back to them on exiting the country! If you lose it you have to go see a special immigration area.


Smoking:

For those evil smokers, SCL is a completely smoke-free airport now. Back in the old days yes even the LAN lounge had a smoking area, but that is long gone. Then there was a small restaurant that managed to keep a little open air smoking area for a couple of years, but trust me, there is NOWHERE airside that you can smoke. If you are landside you can smoke anywhere outside the doors. See more below regarding Holiday Inn:


Food:

SCL is just like most airports in the world. It is almost like God’s 11th Commandment was that “All airport food shall be expensive and bad”.

International airside there is an assortment of stuff, but this is not my area of knowledge, as I hang out in the LATAM lounge. The food is the major detraction for the lounge – it is great for wine and cheese and small snacks, but nothing really substantial. I hang out in a quiet back area on the second floor, and they have hot soup there – not flash, but I like that more than the usual cheese and snacks that get so tedious.

Domestic airside there are a few shops with different snacks, and a McDonalds.

Landside there are a variety of restaurants and cafes, but nothing stands out to me. If I am landside and hungry I usually walk over to the Holiday Inn and eat there – if you say you are not staying but want to use the restaurant, they note your passport number and let you in. Food is good there but obviously hotel standard pricing. They have a normal restaurant menu, and also a bar/snack menu that includes edible pizzas.


Hotels:

I have no recommendations for hotels in the city – have no experience there as I stay with friends. But it is now only about 20-30minutes to get into town due to excellent roads they have put in over the years. (can be longer in peak traffic times)

For a stop-over hotel for the airport, there are two options – the first is the Holiday Inn, which is literally just across from the entrance doors to the airport. Literally a 2 minute walk checkout hotel to checkin airline. The other option is a cluster of hotels about 5 minutes from the airport. (No, you cannot walk – this is highway time) These are half the cost of the Holiday Inn. They are also good, but you just cannot beat the ease of a truly airport hotel like the Holiday. To get to those other ones will involve you trying to work out which “shuttle” to get, which is not clear. It is not like each of hotels has a clearly labeled own vehicle. You could get a taxi, they will tell you that as it is “outside the airport zone” you have to pay the “standard tariff” which is the same as to the CBD – so about $40+ AUD, for a 5 minute cab ride. And they have no access to shopping, etc, they are just isolated in an industrial area cheaper than the actual airport.

Holiday Inn:

Although it costs a lot more than other options, I often stay there for sheer convenience. For those overnighting in SCL like me who have to catch the 1:30pm QF28 back to Sydney the next day, it works well. Sleep in till 10am checkout, have a coffee or two, then stroll over to be through checkin/immigration/into lounge in 5 minutes. (*note see below re QF28 SCL-SYD)

The staff are consistently good in my experience, the food is fine, rooms immaculate. I really like the small outdoor area from the restaurant/bar. (Yes, I smoke, so this is a haven for me). But even when not actually staying at the hotel, I much prefer to sit in that quiet space and have a nice meal in the open air than amongst multitudes within the terminal restaurants.

Unfortunately for Aussies, due to the reciprocity fee it is not really a sound option to pay this AND the $200 or so for a room at the Holiday just to get some decent sleep between two international flights. Much better to just stay in the LATAM lounge and use their day beds if you have lounge access.

Two side funny comments regarding the Holiday Inn –

1.- I quite like their pizzas as a light meal (with a bottle of wine of course) They are pretty simple pizzas, just a couple of basic varieties. I always get the Pepperoni. But, as one of the waiters explained to me one day, their Pepperoni pizzas do not have Pepperoni – they have a mild salami thing instead. He divulged, exasperated at his fellow countrymen, that too many Chileans had complained that the Pepperoni pizzas had PEPPER in the meat!!!!!!!!

2.- Amongst some, the Holiday Inn is known as Guantanamo Bay. This is not a reflection on the hotel or anything. It is just that many companies when holding seminars / meetings, etc in Santiago would deliberately keep the attendees at this hotel so it kept them far, far away from the evil temptations of the city J


QF28 SCL-SYD:

Just a couple of details here. The first is that QF28 is the only Qantas metal flight on any given day, so they only have staff at checkin desks from about 3 hours prior to flight. At the moment QF28 has a departure time of 13:30 hrs, so what that means is if you try to check in before about 11am they may not be there yet. Pain in bum if you are stuck with luggage. But at least throughout the airport, baggage trolleys are free and available everywhere. And there is (as per orientation guide below) a paid luggage storage area – but at the opposite extreme of the airport.

If you are transitting internationally through SCL onto QF28, and need a boarding pass, the Qantas checkin desks are next to a couple of Latam booths on the same level as you walked from the plane (ie one level above immigration which you go down stairs to get to). This is also where if you are in transit you go through security screening before going up into the airside departure level. But they are only manned a few hours before the flight. See below in orientation scenarios more info re this….

Boarding is always a bit of a scrum in a sense – the usual departure gate is 15, which is on the outside corner of the L-shaped concourse, so when you get a full 747 load of pax cramming into a corner it gets a bit crowded. Usually (for those with status or higher cabin class), the priority boarding queue is to the right – it can be hard to see this due to the crowding, and the fact that about 100 of the pax on a 747 qualify for premium boarding thru seat or status.

There will be a check between the gate and the plane for liquids – so don’t try to board water etc.





Toilets:

Unpleasant topic, but anyway -

Chile, like much of South America, does not have much of an emphasis on the provision of clean, easily available, public toilets. As an international airport, SCL obviously does have these, but the experience of using them can be yuck. Part of this problem is that users of same treat them badly, especially the landside areas. Chileans, as many south americans also do, have a culture of not putting toilet paper in the toilet, but rather in a little bin next to it. This has been hammered into them since many decades ago. It is so entrenched in their behavior that many, in the absence of a bin, will put it neatly on the floor in the corner! Add to that sick travelers, people who do not care, and not too frequent cleaners, and peak travel times, and you end up with a situation where entering a toilet can be a far from pleasant experience. See below in “orientation” for more detail, but SCL has a landside 2nd floor which is between 1 arrivals and 3 departures. This sublevel has a few assorted admin / offices, etc, and is a much more quiet level to get away from the crowds, or use a toilet! But the best toilets are across the road at the Holiday Inn. As I have said, if I have landside time at SCL I always go to the Holiday Inn to eat something. And at their restaurant their toilets are absolutely, always, immaculate. If I am airside, then I stay in the lounge.

If you are away from the airport, public toilets essentially do not exist outside shopping malls – but many small shops, etc will offer these as a paid facility – ie you pay them (around 500 pesos - $1) and they let you in to theirs. These are usually very clean. Look for a small card / handwritten sign that says something like “Bano $500”. The word “bano” is pronounced “bun-yo”.

Last word on toilets – as any experienced world traveler learns very early on – you assume that even if you find a toilet, it will not have toilet paper. So you carry this on you, always. In Santiago airport there should be toilet paper, but especially landside, it may be all gone. In a shopping mall there should be paper, but there may also be a permanent person in the toilets who gives you some as you go in (and give them those 500 pesos or whatever rate may be suggested)


Lounges - Domestic:

First thing about lounges, if you are in the domestic area there is only one lounge, and it is one that you will not be able to access. (This info is from my last experience a couple of months ago – may have changed)

I cannot believe it but LATAM have gone so LCC-model within Chile they do not even have a domestic lounge in Santiago. Incomprehensible. The physical lounge that is there went for a time to a typical independent thing (ie Priority Pass, etc), but last time I tried to go in it was now only for holders of certain Chilean bank credit cards. I cannot see that being sustainable, but in my opinion, forget domestic lounge access – even when it is there it is crappy.

If you have several hours in the domestic area, and want to attempt a nap, after you go through security on entry, you go down stairs or escalator, keep going straight ahead, past shops, gates, McDonalds on your left, and at the end there is a small area in the corner that has an actual padded bench seat sort of thing. Usually a quiet area, and I have slept many a time on this J


Lounges – INTERNATIONAL:

Obviously, being Chile, it is the LATAM lounge that reigns supreme. It is a very very good lounge, but has major faults. Food is crap, wine is great, space is great, nap area is great, view is great, childrens area is crap.

There are a few other lounges in the airport – the two old LAN/LATAM ones now are rebadged as Admirals Club and something else – I have not entered then since the change, so do not know how they are. Then there is a lounge that is the independent one taking any credit card or Priority Pass. Haven’t been there since they banned smoking a few years ago. Finally there is the Avianca lounge. That is pretty new. In the food stakes it is on par with the Latam lounge – ie they have managed to design a menu of snacks and light things equally unappetizing to me as the LATAM stuff – even though it is different. It is a small lounge with some wines and basic spirits.

It is bizarre but both LATAM and AVIANCA, independently, managed to make both their lounges hard to find. The Avianca lounge is “down a floor” from the main departures area. It is somewhere between gates 15 (the corner one) and 14 I think. And the Latam one is “up a floor”. There are stairs or two lifts from somewhere sort of in the centre of airside duty free – very close to Victoria’s Secrets and Britts shops.


Chemist:

In case someone is landside and needs a chemist, just a tip to help you avoid a hiccup I had. There is a good chemist at the very southern end of level 1 domestic departures – past the shops and cafes. But when you go in, you will see that there are a few people at the far counter, but what is not obvious is that you have to take a number! The number dispenser is near the paying counters, but to the left.

This is also a place you can purchase re-charges for you Chilean mobile service if you have one.





Flying domestic:

I only fly Latam domestic. Sky, and anyone else, make Jetstar seem like Emirates First Class by comparison.

The Latam website has more glitches than Qantas. Depending on the alignment of the stars and moon, it may allow a OneWorld member such as QF status pax to pre-select seats, but likely as not you need to call them to do this.

If you have it, your QF (or One World) status means you can get free best seat selection, and an extra bag or whatever. But please be warned – Domestic LATAM flights are effectively Low Cost Carrier experiences. They do not offer business class. I am LATAM Black, which is Oneworld Emerald (QFF WP level) but if I want water I have to pay for it!! At least Qantas sells itself in two brands – Qantas and Jetstar. LATAM international is QF, LATAM domestic is Jetstar.

One thing they do do is enforce priority boarding – so if you are One World Sapphire or Emerald you get to board first. Actually LATAM has 4 boarding priority groups.

First is people with babies.

Second is people with status.

Third is anyone with only small articles on them.

Fourth is the rest who have cabin “baggage”

Works very well.



Orientation:

Despite the fact that I have used SCL over a hundred times, the layout is still a challenge to me.

In reality it is not that complicated, but due to this untidy layout, the signage, the different levels, etc, it is extremely non-intuitive, and hard to get a grasp on.

I will try to describe it in simple terms so that some can orientate themselves a little bit, or get a base from which to start.

Basics –

-essentially SCL is a combined international/domestic terminal.

-Landside is in a north/south roughly straight line configuration

The International part is the northern end, Domestic is the southern end.

When you stand outside in the street, looking at the airport, you are facing east, so international is to the left, domestic to the right.

It has 5 floors, or levels.

Level 1 is arrivals. Level 2 is admin. Level 3 is departures. Level 4 is Premium Checkin / Lounge. Level 5 is top level of lounge.

At level 1 arrivals the domestic arrivals are at the southern end. International arrivals are about the middle.

At level 3 departures, international checkin is in the middle, international entrance (immigration) is at the north, domestic checkin is towards the south, and domestic entrance (security) is at the far south.

At level 4, which exists only at the northern end of the terminal, there are escalators up to some restaurants, but at the far northern end of this level is the actual Premium checkin for Latam and Qantas. And within this premium space at the extreme northern end is the entrance to Premium Immigration. (TIP: You do not need to be flying LATAM/QF premium to use this premium Immigration – I use it when flying Avianca also)


So, to give a few pertinent examples of possible scenarios.

(1) International to domestic transfer. You will arrive in Level 1 at about the middle of the terminal. You will go through Immigration, along to bag pickup and customs, then head out to the right to exit (which is north), brave the people trying to offer cabs, take the first lift you find to Level 3 Departures. Wherever you appear on Level 3, aim right (south) until you find the checkin spots for your airline. Checkin. Then continue south, at the end of the checkin counters there are a couple of shops on either side, then an entrance on your left to domestic security.

(2) International to international, without going landside. You arrive on a sublevel (2?) Keep walking with the rest till you see stairs going down. Do not go down the stairs, this is towards immigration. Instead, opposite these stairs, still on level 2, are a couple of LATAM and QF counters. If you need the next boarding pass, go to these, otherwise go past them into a security screening point, them up escalator or lift to level 3 to the main airside departure gates / shops area.

(3) TIP: THE BIG LIFT If you are just staying airside, international flights, but need to get your next boarding pass from Qantas or Latam, you will have to do this at these counters at the Level 2 area. If you arrive way earlier than the Qantas desk opens (three hours roughly before next flight), you can still go up to the main departure area in Level 3. For shops, food, lounge, etc. The security point at level 2 does not ask for BP or anything. But the trick is getting back down. To go up from the security point is an electric escalator, or a giant lift. To get back down, the lift is the only way. So find that giant lift (somewhere near gate 17 roughly??) and you can get back down, walk back through the security point (they do not mind this) and to the QF counter. I have arrived many a time at the LATAM lounge without my ongoing BP – I carry a printed itinerary of my upcoming QF flight and they let me in despite lack of BP.

(4) Domestic to International: You will arrive at the far southern end of Level 1. Possibly after getting bus from plane’s remote bay. If you need to collect luggage, check the screens carefully – there are two distinct baggage collection areas, and the poor signage makes it easy to get lost. Exit and find lift to Level 3. Upon arriving Level 3, if you are flying Premium Latam or QF or have OW status, head to the far left (north). Otherwise head for the middle. For premium, keeping heading north until you can go up escalator or lift to get to Level 4 where the premium checkin is. After checkin use the premium immigration which is adjacent.
 

Boca68

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Thanks @juddles ... fantastic post. I just kept nodding my head as I read it!

Even I learnt something new. Never knew of the "Big Lift" option.:oops: But now you mention it, I do know the place you are talking of. The only time I've been stuck in that situation, I went through. Talk to the staff at the lounge desk about it. And about an hour later, a QF staff member approached me in the lounge, got my details, returned 20 minutes later with BP. So didn't need to return.

That was a while ago now, coming from Argentina. Not sure if the same is possible now?
 

Lynda2475

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Regarding reciprocity fee, last trip i avoided this (unintentionally) but its a strategy which make work for others.

We flew SYD-SCL, but connected to LIM so no fee payable as didn't leave the airport. On the way back our flight was ticketed as LPB-SCL and we assumed non-stop, however but turned out it made a stop at a small airport in the very north of Chile (forget the name), where we deplaned, cleared immigration and reboarded without being charged the reciprocity fee. When we landed in SCL it was at the domestic airport so we weren't charged it there either. So if you are headed outside of Chile and then return via an airport which isnt SCL or via land crossing you can skip the fee. Spent the night in Buena Vista and then flew home the next day.

The day trip to Valparaiso is nice, as is a trip to wineries just south fo the city - looks for one that does the big names Castile Diablo but also a number of smaller family owned ones.

A restaurant I have enjoyed on both my trips to Santiago is Como Agua para Chocolate which is in the Buena Vista neighbourhood.
 

dwit

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The main reciprocity fee booth on the immigration hall level have been closed due to expansion of the duty free stores.

The reciprocity fee booths (there are 3 and all are normally staffed for qf27) on the same level as arrivals are the only ones now.

As qantas are now given a gate on the new pier c (which will form part of the new international terminal when it opens next year) the booths will be on your right just before you turn right into the hallway the escalators are in to take you down to immigration.
 

Myrna

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Thank you to juddles for a very comprehensive guide to SCL and to Mattg for the summary article. We are going to be in Santiago for 2 days in September, as part of our 10 days trip to South America - so will bookmark this thread for reference. I have booked a driver for a day trip to Valparaiso.
 

juddles

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Thank you to juddles for a very comprehensive guide to SCL and to Mattg for the summary article. We are going to be in Santiago for 2 days in September, as part of our 10 days trip to South America - so will bookmark this thread for reference. I have booked a driver for a day trip to Valparaiso.
Hi there Myrna, be aware that Wed 18th Sept thru til Sunday 22nd Sept is Chile's big national holiday - it shouldn't affect you too much if you are there at that time, but it will be BUSY (airports congested, etc) for those days and a day or two either side. But September is a lovely time to be in central Chile :)
 

Myrna

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Hi there Myrna, be aware that Wed 18th Sept thru til Sunday 22nd Sept is Chile's big national holiday - it shouldn't affect you too much if you are there at that time, but it will be BUSY (airports congested, etc) for those days and a day or two either side. But September is a lovely time to be in central Chile :)
Hi juddles, thanks for the warning about Sept. We are going to be in Santiago from 11th to 13th September - so will avoid the big national holiday. It is a short trip for us from the UK - to Santiago, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro. Flying into SCL and out of GIG. I had to laugh reading your section on the toilets - we experienced the same when we went to Peru a few years ago. I was so relieved (!) to have proper flushing toilets when we stayed at the Hilton in Lima and the (newish) Hilton Garden Inn just outside of Cusco - all other hotels / places were as you have described.
 

Lynda2475

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Re the toilets everywhere I stayed in Chile had proper flushing toilets where you could flush the paper rather than usea bin, even in Patagonia.

First trip to South America was Chile, Argentina and Brazil, no toilet issues as dont generally use public toilets just at hotel or restaurant. Was therefore shocked when in Peru Bolivia and Ecuador the following year to have to use bins, ick factor to the max and so easy to forget and let paper fall into the bowl. My friend and Iwere so happy to get Santiago and decent plumbing on route home.

Now i warn everyone, the only other time id encountered this practice was in Greek Islands (corfu specifically).

Costa Rica (except San Jose) also use bins. Thankfully superior plumbing in Colombia, Mexico, Cuba.
 

SydneySwan

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The eldest cygnet is off to Santiago next week. He has 3 main questions;

1). ATMs at the airport - are there any or do you have to use currency exchange kiosks or banks?

2). He wants to buy a local sim. Is there anywhere to do this at the airport?

3). He is heading for Vina del Mar. Any recommendations on how to do this journey via public transport? Or does he need to go to Santiago city first?

Thanks in advance for any answers.
 
Last edited:

jastel

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Good info on here...thanks.
Going in 2 months and will update if I can.
No lounge access unless the upgrade fairies are kind...QF28.
I booked PE...so does that mean I can use Premium Check in?
Only QF Silver.
 

juddles

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The eldest cygnet is off to Santiago next week. He has 3 main questions;

1). ATMs at the airport - are there any or do you have to use currency exchange kiosks or banks?

2). He wants to buy a local sim. Is there anywhere to do this at the airport?

3). He is heading for Vina del Mar. Any recommendations on how to do this journey via public transport? Or does he need to go to Santiago city first?

Thanks in advance for any answers.
Hi there SydneySwan, am sorry but I missed your question and obviously it is too late!

For the benefit of future travellers, will post answers to the first two questions -

(1) There are ATM's throughout the airport (and the rest of Chile). Various banks, and almost all take foreign cards. But there are two things here - the first is that when you put in your card, the first screen full of selections (ie cash withdrawal, etc, etc) has an easily missed option which is "foreign clients" or similar. If you miss this detail and select one of the more obvious choices, the transaction will fail at the end. You HAVE to select this foreigner option at the start. The second detail with Chilean ATM's is that they all charge a hefty fee for foreign cards - this varies between banks, but it is usually about $10 AUD - and this is a flat rate for any size withdrawal - so withdraw the max.

(2) The best way to get a sim card is from a smaller shop - NOT from the main telco's (ie Movistar or Claro) - those official shops charge 10x the price for the same thing. Within SCL airport, the shop I use is at the northern end on the 4th floor. If you are standing in the main departures area (which is on the 3rd floor), facing the counters, then head to your left. Go right to the end of all the checkin modules, past the entrance to international security, and up the escalators to a raised area where there appears to just be a large restaurant area. Continue past the restaurant towards the premium checkin that LATAM has hidden at the end. Just before you get to that, you will pass a small shop that sells a variety of electronic gadgets and travel stuff. They will sell you a sim for whichever company you want (Claro has possibly best covereage, but Movistar is also fine). I use Movistar, and you can buy unlimited internet for 1000 pesos a day ($2)
 

Lynda2475

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The second detail with Chilean ATM's is that they all charge a hefty fee for foreign cards - this varies between banks, but it is usually about $10 AUD - and this is a flat rate for any size withdrawal - so withdraw the max.
I was able to use my Westpac mastercard debit at Scotia Bank in Santiago with zero foreign ATM fees; and Citi Bank Plus for purchases most places without issue. I believe there are some CitiBank ATMs which should be fee free.
 

juddles

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I was able to use my Westpac mastercard debit at Scotia Bank in Santiago with zero foreign ATM fees; and Citi Bank Plus for purchases most places without issue. I believe there are some CitiBank ATMs which should be fee free.
Lynda, I will try that in a couple of weeks - don't think I had tried Scotia! :)
 

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