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My Craziest Airport Arrival Story… Ever!

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Do you have a crazy airport arrival story? Traveling as much as we all do, we’re bound to have a few. Recently though, I had my zaniest arrival story ever. See if you can top this! After two long flights and a LONG layover in between them, I arrived at Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) around 6pm. After waiting 45 minutes for bags to arrive in baggage claim, my bag arrived half open because LATAM broke my zipper. Incredibly, because of the way I pack using packing cubes and strapping them all in, nothing was missing. But this isn’t even the zany part!

My friends who live in Buenos Aires for part of the year suggested I take a taxi to my hotel. The company they recommended is called Manuel Tienda Leon. They said not to bother with the bus and not to take just any taxi into the city.  From the reviews and the Manuel Tienda Leon website, it seemed like an easy choice……walk up to the counter, get in the taxi, and you’re city bound in no time. And they even took credit cards. Easy peasy…….YEAH right :(

The airport was packed. I mean crazy crowded. I later found out that due to earlier rain, the other airport in Buenos Aires had been shut down so people were shuttling back and forth trying to figure out what to do next. I did find the Manuel Tienda Leon counter and I headed over there. I should have realized something was up as there was nobody in line. And in fact, there was nobody inside the counter to help, either. Finally, after saying, “Hello hello, anybody here?” a guy comes to the window and tells me Manuel Tienda Leon has NO CARS.  What do you mean no cars? No cars, how can that be? 

So now I’m tired, hungry, my bag is ripped open, and plan A isn’t happening. I’ve got no taxi into the city. Friends are waiting for me in Buenos Aires, but that seems like the least of my problems.

I look around and see a counter for Taxi Ezeiza. There’s a long line but I remember this name from my friends. It was their second choice suggestion. I head over there. I see that the process is taking a LONG time. One woman at the counter takes the money and then sends you with a number to the other side of the counter where you wait. I can tell from the looks on people’s faces and from understanding quite a bit of Spanish that things are not running smoothly.

I call my friends in the city and tell them that Manuel Tienda Leon has no cars, that I’m in line with Taxi Ezeiza, and have no idea when I’ll get to my hotel but that I’ll call them later. They can’t believe it……no cars?! They want to talk more but I know I have to get into my COUSIN STEVEN mode. Do you have a special situation plan that you engage when you’re traveling and things are going downhill fast? I call my plan Cousin Steven!

It’s when I know I need help and want to find someone, a guy, like my cousin Steven. It may sound crazy but it works for me. He’s tall, has a certain look and calm demeanor, and I sense he’s approachable and helpful. The last time I needed a cousin Steven approach was when I was at the Denver airport, there was a tornado warning, thunder and lightning, and they were evacuating the terminal and asking all the women to go into the bathroom for safety. No way… time for the cousin Steven plan. I digress… but it always works.

OK, so I look around as I’m in the Taxi Ezeiza line and I spot my cousin Steven. Turns out his name was Aubrey. The first thing I ask him was if he was going into the city to a hotel. Yes! In the Recoleta area… YES again! Would he like to share a taxi… YES again! So now I’ve buddied up, which is a good thing not only because of the shared cost and company, (did I mention Aubrey speaks fluent Spanish), but because 30 minutes later when we finally get up to the counter and pay for our taxi, we find out that their credit card machine isn’t working and Aubrey has Argentine pesos and I do not. Amazing luck!

He pays and we get our ticket and are told to wait on the other side of the counter for our taxi. Silly us, we thought this meant we’d actually get a taxi soon. Turns out even though Taxi Ezeiza doesn’t have taxis available either, they do still take money. We wait another 50 minutes for our taxi. So now I’ve been at the airport almost 2 1/2 hours and I’m finally on my way to the hotel. Little did we know the crazy part was still to come.

The ride to the city itself was uneventful. We made it clear both to the counter help at the airport and to our driver that we were going to different hotels. It was late, dark, and raining, and for us both, the first time in Buenos Aires. Remember though that Aubrey speaks Spanish and had made it clear which hotels we were going to. We drive up to a hotel and the driver says it’s the Hyatt, my hotel. I get out, say goodbye to Aubrey (I’ll see him tomorrow when I come to give him my half of the taxi fare) and go inside the “Hyatt”. I give the clerk my name and he looks, and looks, and says I do not have a reservation. All of a sudden I look at the stationary and realize it’s the Hotel Intersur, Aubrey’s hotel, not mine.

I go running outside to see if I can catch the taxi and I see Aubrey running down the street to me. Mind you it’s almost 10pm now and raining, so it was quite a scene. He said the taxi driver started getting weird about dropping off at two separate hotels so he just got out of the taxi and grabbed his bags. I told him this was his hotel, not mine. The concierge at the Hotel Intersur tells me the Hyatt is only a few blocks away and I can walk. Under normal circumstances, maybe, but on this night, NO WAY! So the concierge goes out and finds me a taxi and tells the driver to take me to the Hyatt. I still had no pesos so Aubrey gave me yet another loan!

I get into the next taxi and about 10 minutes later he drops me off at the “Hyatt”. I go to the front desk, the clerk starts to check me in and asks for my passport. A few minutes go by and I can tell something is up. “Is something wrong?” I ask. “We can’t seem to find your reservation.” Oh boy. “This is the Hyatt, isn’t it?” Turns out it was the Sofitel Buenos Aires!!! So I tell the concierge and front desk my story and they say the Hyatt is only a few blocks away and I can walk. At this point all I can do is laugh. The concierge sends a junior concierge along with me and he walks me to the Hyatt! To say I was happy to see the Hyatt is an understatement! The next day when I walked over to the Hotel Intersur to pay back cousin Steven my knight in shining armor, it truly was only a few blocks away from the Hyatt. I’m still puzzled how the taxi drivers could have been so mistaken.

How it took 4 1/2 hours to get from the airport to the Hyatt is beyond zany, but then again, if it hadn’t happened I wouldn’t have my craziest airport arrival story to share with you all, now would I? What’s your craziest airport arrival story? Can you top mine?

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15 thoughts on “My Craziest Airport Arrival Story… Ever!

  1. Rene

    Certainly a crazy story! I’d like to think the bad is out of the way and only good times happen the rest of your trip!

    1. shelli

      Thanks, Dominick :) I did find an interesting assortment of “welcome to BA” experiences, but overall I had a great time and really loved the people I met. What’s your favorite aspect of living in BA?

    1. shelli

      Could be right about that, Mser! Was just going with the advice of friends who spend half the year there. For sure next time I’ll at least ask the hotel. Strangely enough though, the Hyatt recommended Tienda Leon as well.

  2. Steve

    Coincidentally, mine was also in BA! Had a flight from Ushuaia to EZE, connecting to MIA. Approaching the airport, the pilot mumbles something in Spanish apologizing for the inconvenience … we were landing on the other side of town at AEP! So a leisurely 2.5-hour layover turns into a mad dash, stealing a taxi out of the queue and driving suicidally across the city to barely make the connection.

    Aerolineas Argentinas emailed me a $26 credit for a future flight for the inconvenience…

    1. shelli

      Thanks Nancy. I find my sense of humor is essential when travelling. I’m sure you’d agree for yourself as well :))

  3. Tash

    Crazy story. This is what I usually do, for example I ask native countryman pre-departure to write hotel address in their language & they are happy to help. I present it to taxi driver. No problems.

  4. iahphx

    Weird stuff often happens in Argentina. The place is just . . . different. FWIW, last week a Buenos Aires taxi driver dropped me off at the wrong museum (particularly frustrating because I had “arrived” just in time for a special tour).

    I also had a longer-than-you-think-it-should-take wait for a remise (like Manuel Tienda) at the AEP domestic airport there.

    Oh, and don’t expect there to be cash in the ATM machines at the airport. That’s something they can’t seem to be able to manage. It can be a problem anywhere in the country.

    My weirdest Argentine travel story is about buying gasoline in Patagonia. Just like restocking ATM machines, supplying gas stations with gas in oddly difficult in Argentina. On two different trips, there was not reliable gas! On one trip, I had to find a friend of a friend who know a fireman who had some petrol.

    Oh, and I hope you made it home. They also do this strike thing where they periodically cancel flights for about 36 hours. That’s happened to me too!

    1. shelli

      Those are some weird stories, indeed. Thanks for taking the time to share them! I didn’t have to use the ATM there, so glad about that. Not being able to buy gas without needing a fireman connection sounds crazy, and I think that tops my story :)) I did not have any trouble on my departure. I was actually going to Chile to see family, so that trip went smoothly.

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