You Won’t Believe What Happened on Our Way Home!

This is part 15 of a series of posts devoted to our whirlwind tour of Peru & Chile.

  1. Less than $1,000 per person all-in for our 11-day tour in Peru & Chile
  2. How you can use <75,000 points to replicate our itinerary to visit Machu Picchu, Easter Island, and more
  3. How to prepare for altitude sickness in Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca
  4. What to bring for your trip to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and/or Easter Island
  5. How many different sets of tickets do you have to buy for that one-day visit to Machu Picchu?
  6. How to Create Your Own Machu Picchu “Inka Trail” Experience in One Day
  7. Using the Tambo del Inka, a Starwood Luxury Collection Resort, as Your Base for Your Visit to Machu Picchu
  8. Tour Guide #1 – Sabino for Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Peru
  9. Tour Guide #2 – Silvia for Puno, Lake Titicaca, Sillustani, Peru
  10. How We Did Lima, Peru in One Day
  11. Tour Guide #3 – Sergio for Easter Island, Chile
  12. Taking Advantage of an Airport Hotel for Our Walking Tour of Santiago, Chile
  13. Airport Lounge Access + LAN International Business vs. Economy
  14. Budgeting for Your Next Big Dream Vacation
  15. You Won’t Believe What Happened on Our Way Home!

Maybe we did too much walking during our adventures throughout Peru and Chile, so fate wanted us to continue running until the last minute.

A 2-hour minimum connection time is typically required even for same-airline international-domestic transfers, given the uncertainty of immigration and security re-check. In our case, we would have to factor in 15 extra minutes for the walk between the international terminal and Southwest Airlines’ Terminal 1 at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

How much time did we really end up having for our LAN-Southwest connection?  A mere 33 minutes!

We were booked on Southwest’s last flight of the day back to Las Vegas, departing LAX at 8:45pm. Our flight from Lima to LAX was originally scheduled to arrive at around 7pm, but an unexpected schedule change pushed the ETA to 7:50pm.

A one-way ticket on United’s 10:45pm flight was going for over $200 each, so I decided to just “wing” it. Worst comes to worst, I could always hope for a nice Southwest agent who would honor the unofficial “flat-tire” rule, putting us on the following morning’s flight. In order for the “flat-tire” rule to work, we just had to have checked in for our flight and show up within 2 hours of the scheduled departure time.

While waiting at the Lima airport lounge, I even checked LAX hotel availability, and was relieved to see that I could book a night using points with a few chains. Deep down, I was still hoping and praying that we would arrive on time so we would not have to be stuck in LAX.

Our flight from Lima to LAX took off on time and was estimated to arrive ahead of schedule, but air traffic control in LAX decided to make things a little more exciting. By the time we touched down, it was 8pm. I warned TravelWhimy and mom that we’d most likely be stuck in LAX. All the available hotels bookable with points earlier were now showing unavailable. The cheapest hotel I could find was asking for almost $200/night! I decided to just wait to speak to the Southwest agent about a “distressed passenger” rate.

It was around 8:12pm when we got off the plane. Thanks to Global Entry, TravelWhimsy and I were outside the international terminal at 8:15pm. We had told mom that she should do her best to get to Terminal 1 while we tried to get to the Southwest gate (agent) first.

A mad dash and a deserted security checkpoint later, I couldn’t believe my eyes – there was still a crowd at the gate! I immediately ran to the gate agent, and explained to her that my mother-in-law was on her way from the international terminal. The friendly agent smiled and said that the flight was delayed by about 10 minutes so hopefully it would all work out.

We were able to save mom a seat next to us and she ended up being the last one to board, backpack and wheeled carry-on in tow. Travelwhimsy had her camera ready to capture that surreal moment, but for some reason, mom adamantly rejected our request for a photo!

Once settled in our seats, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief. Despite the fact that we were seated next to a bunch of rowdy drunks (lucky us!), we were grateful to be on our way home. In that moment, we realized that we were always where we were meant to be. Traveling or not, the ability to feel at home is the key to a lifetime of simple joy and happiness.

 

Plus, look who came to welcome us home?

 

Dear readers, thank you all so much for your continued support of our blogs, and for allowing us to relive our South America journey in our hearts and minds. Happy and safe travels!

 

Let me know what you think! I respond to all comments.

Don’t want to miss any TravelByPoints tips? Get updates via daily email, RSS feed, Twitter, or Facebook.