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Posts tagged ‘airport’

Taxi in Chile, image by GatoOH on Wikipedia, CC3 license

How I spent $400 USD for a taxi in Chile

Imagine a cold foggy day in early-June, which is close to the end of fall here in the southern hemisphere. In the southeastern Pacific region along the Chilean coastline on which the town of La Serena lies, a wave of moist air can descend quickly from the ocean to sit snugly over town as a thick white puffy blanket.

On Friday, June 6, 2008, I was on my way from La Serena, Chile to a week-long meeting in Cambridge, England. I awoke on that Friday morning, puzzled by the unusually “dark” morning light. I pushed the drapes aside, and I was in a world of trouble.

I opened the front door and stepped outside onto the front porch – the fog was so thick I couldn’t see beyond about 10 metres (30 feet). I knew no airplanes would either land at or depart from La Serena airport in the thick grey soup, because at the time, the airport operated only under visual flight rules (VFR).

I asked around for possible options: taking a bus, driving a rental car to Santiago airport, or getting a taxi. The fog wasn’t budging by noon, and I made my decision. Instead of heading out to the airport in time for the scheduled early-afternoon flight, I asked a friend to drive me to the town’s bus station.

Throughout the country, long-distance transportation by bus is relatively inexpensive, is used by many, and works well. Although there are rail carriages carrying coal or other minerals, there are no longer any passenger train service between Santiago and the northern reaches of the country. Travel from La Serena to Santiago means plane, car, or bus.

I arrived at the La Serena bus station at about 1215pm. Through fault only of my own, this turned out to be about 15 minutes too late, because I had waited until the last possible minute to leave for the bus station.

I went around to the booths for various bus companies, asking when the next bus would leave La Serena to Santiago. Unfortunately, buses were leaving at either 130pm or 145pm, which was too late. Depending on the traffic on the Panamerican highway and through the outer suburbs of the capital region, the bus typically takes 6 to 7 hours to the terminus in downtown Santiago. With my flight from Santiago leaving at about 9pm, the math didn’t add right for me; I didn’t have enough time to go cross-town from downtown to the airport in time for check-in.

I was in a quandary, because I needed to catch my departing flight that evening from Santiago. The distance between La Serena and Santiago is about 475 kilometres on the highway. What to do, what to do … and I walked out the front-entrance of the bus station, considering my options.

Three vacant taxis were parked in front, their drivers in conversation. I then asked in broken-Spanish: “Excuse me, how much is a fare to the airport in Santiago?”

You know that moment when time slows down and you can see an individual leaf fluttering in a tree, or the up and down flap of a bird passing by. There’s also the moment where you can clearly see the thought bubbles go up over people’s heads, the words within the bubbles which are roughly translated as: “!!!”

In real time, only a few seconds had passed. One of the three gentlemen answered: “200 thousand mille (pesos)”, which at the time was about 400 US dollars. Without hesitation, I replied: “Great, let’s go!”

You know that moment when time slows down and … I can see the gears turning in their heads, and the bubbles in their heads suddenly popped, as they were clearly surprised that I’d been “silly enough” to take one of them up on their offer to drive me the 400 kilometres to Santiago.

At 1245pm, I stepped into one of the taxis, and we soon made our way south on the Panamerican highway. I offered to pay half of the fare up-front, and the other half upon arrival in Santiago. I have to admit that for about a minute I thought I was going to get robbed, and then dumped out of the taxi in the middle of nowhere.

About an hour south, the fog cleared, and it was crystal clear on the highway. Through most of the drive, I occasionally looked out the window to see if there was a plane with LAN-colours flying overhead on its way from La Serena to Santiago.

The taxi-ride itself was uneventful, I sat in the backseat, looked out at the scenery, dozed here and there, but I didn’t converse much with the driver. However, he received two interesting calls on his mobile in the first couple of hours.

I think his wife called first, because I imagined the first conversation to have gone something like this:

“Hi, honey … yeah, I’m not going to be home later tonight … yeah, I’m taking a gringo to Santiago … I’m taking him to the airport there … yeah, he’s paying me 200 thousand mille, can you believe it? … I’ll be okay … I’ll drive back tomorrow … love you …”

I think his drinking buddies called next, as I imagined the translation of the subsequent conversation to have gone something like this:

“Hey there … yeah, I can’t go out for a beer tonight … I’m taking a gringo to Santiago airport … yeah, the fog really messed things up … the guy’s paying me 200 thousand mille, can you believe it? … yeah, I know I’m buying a few rounds when we’re out for a beer … I’ll be back tomorrow night … yeah, talk to you later.”

I’ve taken the bus many times before, but the signage all state a maximum speed-limit of 100 kilometres per hour for buses on the highway, but the taxi’s crushing that limit in the middle stretches of the highway. From previous visits, I’m familiar with the scenery, the beautiful coast-hugging highway, weaving around the cliffs, saying hello to the waves crashing against the rocks from the Pacific.

Apart from a short break to tap a kidney, I stepped out of the taxi at the departures level of Santiago airport at 545pm – not bad for a brisk 5-hour taxi-ride. I hope the guy got back home to his wife okay, and bought many rounds for his buddies.

After check-in and clearing both passport-control and security, I walked into the American Airlines lounge, and connected the laptop to the internet. One of my colleagues was logged onto Skype, and I had to ask, I had to know : did the fog ever clear over La Serena?

She replied: no, still thick as ever, nothing got through the thick grey soup.

For the first time in hours, I exhaled a deep sigh of relief. Finally, I was on my way.

This really did happen on 6 June 2008 and I forked over 400 American dollars for a 5-hour 475-kilometre taxi ride. The top (featured) photo is from Wikipedia with the CC3 license. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as

SFO International Terminal, Wikipedia by user Coolcaesar, CC3 license,

47 hours of travel, 10600 km door-to-door

A trip from North America to Chile typically takes 24 to 30 hours door-to-door, depending upon connections at a hub airport. The following is a tale of 47 hours of travel, from San Francisco, California to La Serena, Chile.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

1030h PST (GMT-8), East Bay:

BART from El Cerrito Plaza to SFO.  There’s a lot to like about BART rapid-transit, especially when the train goes through the tunnel beyond San Bruno and comes out onto a thin cement viaduct which appears to hang gingerly over US-101/Bayshore Freeway.

1230h PST, San Francisco Airport (SFO):

plane is late; scheduled departure delayed by 30 min.  It’s raining and the ceiling or cloud-deck is low over San Francisco airport – no big surprise there.

1400h PST, SFO:

after some problems which had nothing to do with the plane itself, flight leaves 45 min late.  No problem; I’ve a scheduled 2.5-hour layover in Dallas.

1600h PST, in the air over eastern California:

plane descends below cruising altitude, we’re told we’ve got a problem with cabin pressure, and we’re landing in Las Vegas.  No oxygen masks were deployed, and everybody was calm and breathing normally.

1645h MST (GMT-8), Las Vegas McCarran Airport (LAS):

Checkmark one – plane lands safely at Las Vegas airport.  The pilot explains there was slow pressure leakage, but they couldn’t localize the origin; for safety reasons, the pilot decided to descend and land.  All pax are asked to leave the plane, as firemen/safety crew board the plane.  Checkmark two – we get to leave the plane, and everyone’s in the terminal.

1730h MST, LAS:

I call American Airlines’ call center to find out if there are other options, but since I checked luggage, the agent advises best to stay put and see what happens.  Besides, the daily AA945 DFW to SCL flight, which usually leaves at 9pm from Dallas and I thought I was going to miss, has been delayed by 11 hours to 8am the following morning.   Someone comments that it’s a holiday weekend in the U.S. about which I had completely forgotten.  Swell.

1930h MST, LAS:

after a couple of hours of increasingly cautious optimism, we’ve the green light to fly onto DFW. We’re asked to board the plane “quickly”, as the present crew is about to reach their time-limit.

2030h MST, somewhere between Arizona and Texas : … zzzzz …

2330h CST (GMT-6), Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport (DFW):

plane lands at Dallas Fort-Worth airport.  Pax are given hotel/meal vouchers, and the weary folks pile into shuttles, and pour out into the lobby of the Ramada (DFW North).  Oh look, there’s a Denny’s, but I’m too tired to even think about chicken-fried steak and a milkshake. I’ll be up at 0530h to catch the 0615h morning shuttle back to DFW to see if I can catch my delayed morning-flight to SCL …

Friday, January 14

0630h CST, DFW:

Time to check in.  The nice agent says my DFW-SCL portion was canceled when I called American Airlines call center from Las Vegas last night.  Yikes.  “No worry”, she says.  She calls a couple of people to get the proper seating codes, and she calmly types away, trying to insert my two final flight segments ‘back’ into the itinerary.  After about 15 minutes, there’s an “aha!” from her side of the counter, and I sigh with relief.

0830h CST, DFW:

Flight AA945 is on its way to Santiago de Chile.  It’s just another step forward, even if the “step” is 7800 kilometres in distance. Completely uneventful flight, and zzzzz …

2015h CLST (GMT-3), Aeropuerto Santiago de Chile (SCL):

Usually, flight AA945 is an overnight flight which arrives in Santiago after sunrise. The 11.5-hour delay has flipped the script. With a beautiful orange-hue to the early-evening summer sky, the plane lands safely in Santiago airport. Border control is a breeze (with my Chilean work visa), and my luggage is already on the carousel. So far, so good. My work-colleague P was also on the Dallas-Santiago flight, and thanks to his vastly superior Spanish, we try to get the attention of an AA agent to see if we can get our hotel/meal vouchers, because there’s no way we’re flying to La Serena tonight.  An agent tells us his colleague will be on their way shortly.  We head on over to the AA counter near the luggage carousels.  Another agent comes by about 15 minutes later, and asks us to wait in the terminal land-side, outside customs control.  Customs is a breeze, because I declared my one jar of strawberry jam : no granola, seeds, or turtle-shells.  And then we wait, and we wait some more …

2145h CLST, SCL:

The second AA agent finally appears with our hotel/meal/travel vouchers, and we find out we’re staying at the Sheraton San Cristobal on the southeastern flank of the hill at the edge of Bellavista in Santiago.  We get our shuttle-vouchers verified, and we get multiple slips of paper for our shuttles to and from the hotel.

2230h CLST, SCL:

After the usual wait about what shuttle we’re taking and about how full our shuttle is going to be, our vehicle finally leaves the airport.  As there are three other pax in the shuttle, I tell P we’re probably going to be last.   I was so happy to be wrong as …

2250h CLST, Providencia, Santiago:

… we’re dropped off first, and we arrive in the hotel to check-in.  I ask the gentleman at the hotel counter if we can use our meal voucher at one of the hotel restaurants. No, unfortunately, the restaurants are closing in 5 minutes, but the bar is available. OK, whatever : dump stuff in room, head to the bar, please give me a burger, fries, beer. Eat, drink, be merry … zzzzzz …

Saturday, January 15

1030h CLST, Providencia, Santiago:

Up at 10am, pack what little I unpacked.  After check-out, I finally get to see how the hotel appears in daylight – not bad, very fancy – nice pool, too, and are … those … Argentinian/Brazilian pool-bunnies? Sadly, before I learn the answer to this very important question, the shuttle arrives to take me back to SCL airport.

1200h CLST, SCL:

At Starbuck’s in the airport’s national terminal for their free WiFi, I’ve begun collecting notes to write this story of hilarity.

1400h CLST, LSC (La Serena Airport):

Flight LA312 arrives in LSC early. At the 47th hour of travel, I’m in the apartment at long last: unwrapping, unpacking. I head outside to my green front-lawn, looking up into that bright glowing ball high in the sky. The sky is clear and blue, there’s a slight breeze off the Pacific, and the air temperature on this summer afternoon is a very usable +22C/72F. With a beer in hand, I finally begin to unwind, over 48 hours after leaving my friends’ home in the East Bay.

Great Circle Mapper


LAN plane on tarmac, LSC airport,

LAN plane on tarmac, at La Serena airport (LSC).

Less than 24 hours after my return to La Serena, I’ve hopped onto a shuttle, heading up to Cerro Pachon. The mountain is at an elevation of 2800 metres (9000 feet) in the lower Andes, and I’m at the telescope to begin my nighttime duty-function shift for a number of nights. Them’s the breaks, and time to get right back to work, and tackle the 500+ messages in my work mailbox …

This post was originally posted 17 January 2011, and appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins DOT com as

Blue bar, AKL Auckland Airport,

The ritual 5am airport beer at AKL

Flying across the south Pacific is no trivial matter, and yet, flying time in 10-hour chunks is about as routine as … well … flying from Santiago, Chile to one of Los Angeles, Dallas, or Miami. The countless trips between North America and Chile over the years has meant that a 10-hour flight becomes one of routine.

LAN Airlines‘ “south Pacific ferry” goes Santiago (SCL) – Auckland (AKL) – Sydney (SYD). Auckland is an important junction with additional destinations in New Zealand, Australia, Oceania, and continental Asia. LAN uses Airbus 340-300 series metal on their transpacific and transatlantic routes with 2-4-2 economy configuration.

The flight leaves SCL just after 11pm, and arrives in AKL at about 4am local time for a flight duration of just over 13 hours. As I’m going through to SYD, I alight the plane in AKL, follow the signs to the international-transfer area, clear the X-ray machines, head on into the just-open international terminal, and get ready to board the same plane.

Some of the available choices open in the early hour include duty-free shops, coffee and fast-food outlets, Whitcoulls (books), and The Great New Zealand Shop. Even though the clock and departure board both show 5am, I head straight to Blue Bar.

AKL Blue Bar 5am

At 5am, I have 15 minutes …

AKL Blue Bar 5am

… to quaff this beautiful beverage.

It’s about 1pm in Chile, and I’m ready for that “lunch beer”, despite the apparent incongruity of breakfast in the rest of the terminal. It isn’t cheap, but the beer is delicious, refreshing.

In making this trip over the south Pacific a fourth time, I’ve learned the 5am beer at AKL is an essential rite of sustenance to propel me over the Tasman Sea. With the departure from AKL at 6am, the final flight-segment lasts 3.5 hours, which is enough time for the post-beer breakfast and the post-brekkie snooze, before the plane lands in SYD at 730am local time.

I made the photos above on 23 September 2010 in Auckland airport. This post appeared originally on Posterous, then moved and edited on Fotoeins Fotopress as at

Sunk at DFW

Do you know anyone who has ever purchased a high-priced ticket-item from any of the vending machines at Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) international airport?

If your answer was “no”, you do now.

This is a little story of how I got sunk at DFW.

Location: Terminal A, DFW.
Date: Wednesday, May 5, 2010.
State: … holy crap, what’s that charge on my bank statement …. oh … that …

According to the DFW airport website, there are Best Buy vending machines in all five terminals, and the vending machines are provided to satisfy your tempta … er … rather, to fulfill the convenience of your traveling requirements …

As the layover was 5 hours to the overnight flight to Santiago, Chile, I was going to head out to the Apple Store at nearby Southlake Town Square, only a 20-minute taxi ride from DFW.  I was all primed and ready, except I lamed out and didn’t feel like forking over the cash for a taxi.

Instead, I exercised what passed for procrastination by taking the Skylink train over to Terminal A, grabbing a bite to eat, and getting a shower in the AAdmirals Lounge.   After checking e-mail over a cup of coffee, I left the Lounge to make my way to one of the Skylink stations to return to Terminal D, where naturally, I passed by one of the diabolical vending machines.

This is where I surrendered, and somewhat meekly at that.

You know how this works, right?

You see the vending machine.  You walk on up and press your nose against the clear plastic window, mere inches between you and the product.  Careful you don’t leave too deep the nose- or finger-prints …

Normally, you’d walk away, feeling a little self-conscious about who in their right mind would buy an iPod, noise-reducing headphones, or a Canon point-and-shoot camera from a vending machine in an airport.

But wait!   You’re thinking about how simple it would be, if only you would just whip out the debit- or credit-card, and within seconds, you would have your prize in your grubby little paws.

You know you want to … don’t you …

At the vending machine, there’s a touch-screen to see what is available.  Prices for Apple products are the same as those found at the the company website or in a brick-and-mortar Apple store.  Oh and look, your selection comes with a short description, illustrated in loving detail why your selection would be a useful and powerful tool in your technological arsenal.

I looked into the bottom of the vending machine; it was all cold hard metal, painted in dark soulless gray.  It didn’t look very encouraging for the safety of the brand new product, if the vending machine simply pushed the product out and down, with a tumble too horrifyingly quick, complete with a resounding crack at the bottom.  Hell, it’s bad enough when a real chocolate bar falls from the top of the machine to the bottom …

noooooo ….!

But alas, the customer need not be fearful.  After your choice of bank-card is swiped and the transaction is duly approved, a robot arm sweeps up and out of its hidden parking slot, reaches for and holds onto your purchase, and gently places the product in the retrieval tray at the bottom of the machine.

In less than one minute, you have in one hand a brand new “chocolate bar”, and in the other hand, a printed record of your folly … er .. transaction.   It is dangerously easy, as that extraordinary “chocolate bar” is about two hundred times more expensive than your average candy-bar.

You could think that it might not really be about the product.  It might in fact be about the process, which by this point a small crowd had gathered behind me to witness my use of the vending machine, all of them no doubt silently asking themselves : who in their right mind would buy anything from one of these vending machines?

Postscript: Friday, June 11.

As I’m on my way out to Frankfurt, I’m finishing and submitting this blog entry, once again from DFW.  Why?  Because I went over to check the vending-machines again today …

There are no iPads. Yet.

Appearing initially on Posterous on 11 June 2010, this post has moved and now appears on Fotoeins Fotopress (

Lost minds, lost carousels : Flughafen FRA Airport

How to be ridiculous, in perfectly good Denglisch

Date: 2009 October 10.
Location: Terminal 2, Frankfurt am Main Airport.
State: “unorientation”

Something one often forgets is that they might want to pay attention to the public-address announcements : the next gate for a connecting flight, or where to pick up their luggage.

After disembarking the plane from Prague, it’s obvious from the overhead signage in the terminal about whether I should be going to baggage claim D or baggage claim E. Now if I’m actually paying attention, that’s an entirely different matter.

Nonetheless, I stride boldly and confidently into luggage claim D.

Conclusion number one? I have chosen unwisely.

Gepaeckausgabe, baggage claim, signage, photo by Claus Wolf at FRA

Gepäckausgabe | baggage claim. Photo by Claus Wolf (CC2.0)


I flag down one of the luggage porters in the claim area …

ME : Entschuldigung … ich bin gerade von Prag angekommen und ich suche ja die richtige Gepäckausgabe. (Excuse me, I’ve just arrived from Prague and I’m looking for the baggage claim.)

HIM : Welcher Flug? (Which flight?)

ME : Czech Airlines, O-K Flugnummer 5-3-6.

He nods and gives me a look of sympathy … or … is that pity …

HIM : Sie sind im falschen Bereich. Sie mĂĽssen in die Halle-E hingehen, um Ihr Gepäck abzuholen. (You’re in the wrong area, you have to go to baggage claim E.)

ME : Ach, fĂĽr SCHEISSE … (You really don’t need that translated, do you?)

HIM : Kein Problem, bitte gehen Sie draussen zum Information hin und da gibt es ein Angesteller, der Ihnen helfen können wird. (No problem, just head on out to the Information booth.  Tell the clerk there about your situation, and they should be able to help you out.)

ME : Alles klar. Danke sehr!

HIM : … a final look of sympathy …

I leave baggage-claim D, out of the security of airside to find myself in front of the Information booth. I’m telling my sob story to the lady at the booth, complete with boarding card and passport as visual confirmation of my folly. I receive another look of sympathy, or maybe this time, it really is pity. A quick decision made in her mind, she commands me to follow her.

(Yes, ma’am …)

We slip past the crowd of people “landside” waiting for their loved ones to come out of the baggage claim area “airside”, and we pass through two sets of doors into the correct luggage-claim area E.

I’m gobsmacked, because we’ve just “casually” walked from an unsecured-landside area to the secured-airside baggage-claim area without going through security checks. No, it’s all about authority, her authority: a badge on her uniform, her electronic pass-card, and her faith in the truth of my story – all three elements, each equally vital. As I’m not completely out of my mind (yet), what little I’ve left is conjured to thank her for her help. She smiles, and she’s off on her way, back to her realm at the Information Booth.

I don’t bother to look back to see if she’s shaking her head at me … in sympathy … or pity.

Five minutes later, my luggage is out on the carousel. Because apparently, I’m made of magic today …

And that’s just the first part.

Someone needs MY help?!

After retrieving my baggage and leaving the security-area a second time, my plan is to take the monorail to Terminal 1 and the regional train station (Regionalbahnhof). I want to take suburban rail S-Bahn to Frankfurt central train station (Hauptbahnhof). As a trip from airport into the city is about 4 Euros with the S-Bahn or about 30 Euro with a taxi, I’m going cheap today.

As I leave the baggage area, a stranger walks up to me, asking me in German if I can help him and about how he can get to the Hauptbahnhof.

The first question in my head is: “why are you asking me this question?” There are tons of other people around, leading me to the second question: “why are you asking me? Do I have “loser”, “sucker”, or “Dummkopf” plastered on my face?

Must be, because thankfully, I’m keeping my piehole shut.

I find myself helping the poor guy, as I manage to talk to the guy out in passable German. He’s got to get to Wolfsburg, which, at 300 kilometres from Frankfurt, is not a trivial schlep. I ask him to follow me to the Regionalbahnhof, where we’ll hop on the S8 or S9 S-Bahn train for the short ride to the central station downtown.

Throughout the short ride, he keeps looking at his slip of paper with information about his train connection to Wolfsburg. He looks up and asks: “Sicher?” (Are you sure?)

In my head, I’ve got a snappy, if not snippy, reply.

“Look, you asked for my help, why would I be yanking your chain, to go this far, to take the train from the airport to the main station, where in fact there is not only graphical signage inside the train showing us where we’re going. Have you also not noticed a nice lady’s voice over the public address system: nächste Haltestelle: Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (next station: Frankfurt main train station).

Instead, I nod dumbly, and point to one sign indicating the route of our train between the airport and downtown, and to the display indicating what the train’s next stops will be, including the central station.

It’s only natural he’s asking; I’m a stranger, he’s a stranger, and I’m helping out another stranger.

Mercifully, we arrive at Frankfurt central station. We leave the S-Bahn underground level, and we ride the escalators up to the “Fernverkehr” (long-distance trains) at ground-level. We’re standing in front of the departures board to look for his train. I lead him to the correct platform, I shake his hand and wish him well. Viel Glück!

Conclusion number two is having to learn the differences between two verbs. When you tell someone to follow, the correct verb is “mitkommen,” (to follow or to accompany; i.e., “Kommen Sie bitte mit“). The other verb is “folgen”, which is generally used to mean to follow something or something to cause some kind of following result.

Conclusion number three is this. “Frankfurt am Main” is Frankfurt on the river Main (pronounced “mine”). This prevents confusion with “Frankfurt am Oder,” located on the other side of the country next to the Polish border. So, if you see or hear “Frankfurt am Main main train station”, don’t panic. Your eyes or ears are not fooling you, and you haven’t lost your mind.

Just be sure to check the overhead signage …

Originally posted on Posterous, 2010 April 28 and adapted from “The 25” on Facebook, this post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as

“My airline is more important than your safety”

I guess when airline companies are on the road to slow economic recovery that a natural event such as a volcano eruption might happen to disrupt even the best of plans … even if volcano eruptions have been occurring since geologic time, and Iceland is a known active volcano zone. I guess as well that companies are just itchy to fly especially after limited test-flights were carried out by BA, LH, and KL. I also guess that companies would prefer to go out and regain their customer base as soon as possible. I suppose that the various agencies which have kept European airspace closed have been “overcautious without the most up-to-date facts”, have been “relying too heavily upon statistical or model data”, and are simply “inconveniencing” stranded customers halfway around the world as well as families of tourists returning from vacation. I might also guess that the companies would like to “blame” these same agencies, and by “natural extension”, the E.U. for economic losses incurred; airline companies are now beginning to look for government help, though the word “demand” comes pretty close. I don’t suppose these various governments would help all companies around the world for their respective losses in productivity or their respective employees for their lost wages …

Should any plane develop trouble going between SFC and FLT 350, I suppose that the first fingers of blame would be pointed at the very same agencies monitoring European airspace. The accusations would fly: the airspace authorities were not sufficiently careful to warn airline companies of the inherent dangers of flying through ash, and these authorities were being careless to put airline-staff and their customers at risk.

Well, I guess if the companies are yelling the loudest, they must all be true, all of the time.

– HL, 2105h GMT, 19 April 2010.

PostScript 1 : 2145h GMT, 19 Apr 2010

See also this BBC article regarding British Airways flight 009 (24 June 1982) and how the Boeing 747 lost all four engines as the plane went into an ash cloud, and the Wikipedia article for more information about the flight.  As always, your kilometrage may vary.

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