I hate the Sao Paulo airport possibly as much as I hate the traffic in the city. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say it’s my least favorite airport in the world. It’s at least in my personal “top-5 worst.”
After nearly two and a half hours of fighting through holiday traffic exiting the city, we finally made it to GRU. I grabbed my luggage, thanked the driver and went inside to find the QR counters.
As a bonus for all my air travel during my long odyssey home, the zipper on my checked piece of luggage had broken, so it was now folded over, but not secured.
After a surprisingly long wait for the business class check-in, I made them aware of my luggage problem. The flippant staff suggested I go find one of those luggage wrap places to take care of my baggage issue. I didn’t want to do this, so I asked them why they couldn’t just use some tape from behind the counter to secure my bag, since I was a paying business class passenger and all.
With a sigh, the desk staff relented and in 30 seconds or so, my bag was securely wrapped up with tape and on its way to wherever it is that bags go before they are loaded onto aircraft.
The QR check-in staff then made me sign a waiver stating that I absolved them of responsibility, since my luggage was already damaged at check-in.
After the traffic and the surly QR staff, I was already not in the best of moods. Then we deal with GRU itself which is a poorly laid out, dim and dingy dump of an airport. The QR staff told me to go to a particular corner of the airport to find my gate. When I got there, I was told that I was in fact in the wrong place and sent to the other side of the airport. Finally one of the “helpful” airport staff pointed me to a security checkpoint after looking at my ticket.
I went through security, walked to where my gate should have been (in my mind at least) and was faced with only a wall. Finally, a gate agent for another flight explained to me that I was in the domestic portion of the airport, and I had to exit, go back to another far flung corner of the airport, and then I would find my gate.
Due to the traffic, I was already cutting it close for an international flight, and with this detour to the wrong terminal, I started to panic in earnest that I would miss my flight. QR doesn’t exactly have a lot of frequencies between GRU and EZE daily, so missing my flight would mean another overnight back in GRU and buying a new ticket…both things I didn’t want to happen.
Finally I found the proper security check points, made it through and got to immigration. Since my flight was due to leave in about 15 minutes, some nice people on line allowed me to cut them. Once through the border, I again sprinted down the finger towards where my gate (according to my ticket and the video board) was supposed to be.
When I got to the gate, there was no plane. I panicked, thinking they had closed the doors and pushed back early. I looked around to nearby gates thinking perhaps they had swapped the gate and not updated the system, then finally, back at the originally indicated gate, I overheard other people asking where the Qatar Airways flight to Buenos Aires was.
I hadn’t missed my flight…relief. There was just no plane. More super helpful airline employees told us they didn’t know when the plane would be here, but it would be at least two hours and to just relax and they’d tell us when they had more information.
After the mad dash to get to the gate only minutes before, I was both amused and relieved by this turn of events.
One of the other problems with GRU is there is almost NOTHING to do once you go through the border, they probably have the worst shops/restaurants of any major international gateway. Not the best place to spend a few hours.
With lots of new found time to kill, I walked back up the finger towards where the immigration check point is and got a beer at the one bar in the international airside space.
After paying for a drink like a moron, I remembered I had lounge access by virtue of my J ticket, and I adjourned to the lounge for a bit.
I didn’t trust the lounge staff to tell me when the new boarding would be, and I definitely didn’t expect the info to end up correctly entered on the big board, so after a reasonable interval, I went back down to the gate to check.
It’s a long walk from the lounge to the gate (all the way at the end of the finger), so when I got the bad news that we would be waiting longer, I just grabbed a seat nearby and decided to wait it out.
Finally, the plane materialized and we boarded.
While the ground handling and the attitude of the QR staff at GRU could use some improvement, their on-board product remains top notch.
This was just a short hop from GRU to EZE, so I didn’t have the occasion to put the seats all the way flat and test them out, but the business product on QR’s 777’s is indeed fully flat. [Seat and cabin pictures at the end]
Once settled in, I grabbed my pre-departure beverage, and tried to put myself in the right frame of mind for a fun night upon arrival in EZE.
If the flight had been on time, we would already have been arriving after dinner time in EZE, but with the delay, we would be getting in downright late. Since this was a Thursday night and I was meeting friends on arrival, I switched over to Jack & Cokes when the meal service began.
The food was ok, but the service from the cabin staff was fantastic. Every time my cocktail got low, the FA swooped in and asked if I would like a refill. By the time we were nearing Buenos Aires, I was rather drunk and frankly surprised that they seemed to be pouring each drink stronger and stronger. Instead of cutting me off (I obviously wasn’t visibly drunk, I’m not a 15 year old girl) it seemed almost like the FA took my continued desire for another drink as a challenge. QR was determined to put me to sleep with alcohol, or get me to back down.
Finally, I determined discretion to be the better part of valor, and when the FA asked “would you like another sir?” I blinked and told him I was all set…I mean I did have to go out with friends upon landing, and it wasn’t THAT late.
Due (I’m assuming) to our late arrival, EZE was a ghost town. having previously been to Argentina, I already had all of my papers in order, and I was through the border in minutes.
Miraculously, my bag came through from GRU unscathed and once outside I found a cab and set off for my friend’s apartment.
SEAT CABIN PICTURES: