We have flown in and out of dozens of countries. Some airports are clean, calm oases, while others are dusty, crowded places. Regardless of the language, all have an expected flow and order to the system, however structured or lax that may be.
Checking in for Easter Island has been our most confusing flight ever.
Easter Island, while a Pacific Island, and a significant length of flight from the mainland, is part of the country of Chile, as Hawaii is to the USA.
Flying from Santiago, we expected to check in as a domestic flight. The airline personnel, however insisted we had to go to the international check in desk, so we did. The check in desk then directed us to the international security line. On arrival at security, the checkpoint director turned us away, sending us to the domestic security check line. We went through domestic security and followed the signs to our gate, noted on our ticket as gate 20. Gate 20 is in fact, gate 20 A and gate 20 B. While it is not uncommon, in many airports to have an A and B gate, this one was divided by a glass wall, with an unmanned, locked door. Our flight was listed on the signage for gate 20 A. We were at gate 20 B, on the wrong side of the locked door. Our gate, 20 B, had no signage for any flight. We and a dozen other passengers, all walked up, tried the door, and stood frustrated and confused. Gate 20 A was in the international terminal. Passengers were not allowed to cross the glass barrier.
Someone finally tracked down an airport employee, who said, that even though the flight was posted at Gate 20 A, on the other side of the wall, we would, in fact, be leaving from Gate 20 B. “Trust me!”
He was correct. We did board from gate 20 B. Passengers also boarded from Gate 20 A, onto the same flight. They had gone through Chilean immigration, as the flight would continue on from Easter Island to Tahiti. Both A and B sides of the gate shared a jetway, that led to the same airplane. Despite the lack of signage, the flight left on time, and we made it to our destination.
You would think that with a regularly scheduled flight, this would happen often enough someone would post a sign to reassure the confused passengers.
We were just relieved that it all worked. “Trust Me!”