Fun times in MDZ

Today I bring you something extra fun: a guest post from the hubs! (I’ve been k-o-ed with a doozey of a cold, and he offered up this hilarious post. He’s a keeper!) Enjoy!

Very few things drive me crazier than blatant, totally avoidable inefficiency. I realize to some this makes me sound like a crazy person, while others are gathering their torches and pitchforks to join in. If you’re holding a torch and pitchfork, this story is for you.

Allison recently flew from Mendoza to Buenos Aires. This was her experience at the airport.

Airport: MDZ, Mendoza International Airport

Number of Gates: 4

Flights departing this time of day:

  • Aerolineas to Salta, 11:25pm departure (delayed to 12:25pm)
  • Aerolineas to Buenos Aires, 12:40pm departure
  • LAN to Buenos Aires, 12:50pm departure

Before I go on with the story, I should mention how airports work in Argentina. After you check in, you wait around outside security. Only when they call your flight, just prior to boarding, can you proceed through security to the “pre-boarding area”. Unlike North America, you can’t proceed through security until you’re called because the pre-boarding area is usually a small room with only a few seats. You then wait there until the plane begins to board. This means that when a flight is called, everyone from that flight suddenly descends upon security. Prior to, the security staff sit idle.

On this particular day, with three outbound flights around the same time, airport management made the brilliant decision to load all three planes from the same gate. At the same time.

They proceeded to call the first group of passengers to the pre-boarding area… the passengers for the 12:50pm flight. They followed a few minutes later by calling the passengers for the 12:25pm flight. And a few minutes after that, passengers for the 12:40pm flight. Chaos ensued. Roughly 400 people descended upon what was a completely idle security line minutes before. Realizing their error, they quickly [ed: after about 10 minutes] opened a second security line specifically for the 12:25pm flight. The pre-boarding area, designed to hold a single plane’s worth of passengers, quickly filled with people from the 12:50pm and 12:25pm flight, blocking the 12:40pm passengers. But only one flight was currently boarding. You guessed it. The 12:40pm flight*.

I’d love to see the MDZ management spend one day at YYZ.

The planes did all manage to eventually escape, though the pilots on the 12:50pm flight—now delayed to 1:20pm—were quick to apologize. “We apologize for the delay due to… airport deficiencies.”

*: If you’re wondering how they managed to load all three planes from a single gate, they used buses. Who needs four gates when you can use one gate and a fleet of buses?

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