TAM Economy Class New York JFK – Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
LAN Economy Class Santiago – Sao Paulo
TAM Economy Class Sao Paulo – New York JFK
United BusinessFirst Denver to
Tokyo Seattle (Emergency Landing)
United BusinessFirst on the 787 Seattle to Tokyo
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class Tokyo Narita – Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Business Class Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong – Dubai
Dubai, Day 1 (Traiteur Brunch, Park Hyatt Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Atlantis Palm Islands)
Dubai, Day 2 (Shark Dive at Dubai Aquarium, Burj Al Arab, 360)
Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai – Hong Kong – Tokyo Haneda
My TAM flight arrived in Rio de Janeiro Terminal 2 a little after 6:30am, and I decided to proceed in the direction of transfer passengers despite the fact that my connecting flight to Santiago didn’t depart until 3:00pm. I wanted to spend a bit of time in the lounge to charge my iPhone up since it would be functioning as my camera for the day.
Since I had been to the Rio airport a few months earlier, I was familiar with its layout, and knew exactly where the lounges were. As I tried to check-in to the Smiles VIP lounge, which I used last time while traveling TAM, I was advised by the agent that there was a new lounge next door for TAM and LAN passengers, and that I could access that lounge as a Star Alliance Gold passenger. So I popped on into the “SEA” lounge next door and was admitted quickly.
There was a small spread – almost identical to the spread in the other lounge, consisting of small appetizers, Brazilian pastries, and an assortment of drinks. The chairs were pretty uncomfortable, and the lounge had a pretty cold feeling to it. It’s honestly not a lounge in which I’d care to spend much more than an hour. However, the Wi-Fi worked great, and I was able to charge up my iPhone quickly.
After about 45 minutes, it was time to trek into the city. First thing was to find a place to store my luggage while I was gone. I proceeded through immigration after a bit of initial confusion, and found the MALEX luggage lockers. These are located outside on the departure levels of both Terminals 1 and 2. You can get a locker for 12 Brazilian Real (about USD $6). The exchange rate is approximately USD $1: 2..15 Brazilian Real at the present time.
I then looked for the blue bus with a yellow crown on it, the Real Auto Onibus. This bus is really easy to take, and only costs 13 real each way. It runs every 15 minutes, and normally takes about an hour to get to Ipanema or Copacabana, but since I was taking it on a Friday morning during rush hour, it ended up taking about an hour and a half to get to Ipanema.
The bus dropped me off right in the middle of Ipanema Beach after multiple stops. The bus goes downtown, the Santos Dumont Airport, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Barra.
After walking to the end of Ipanema, I decided that it was time for a couple beers and an early lunch. I settled on one of the many kiosks lining the beach. Lunch was nothing special – a chicken sandwich (lame, I know).
Part of my lunch
It was a beautiful morning, and the beach really looked enticing. Due to my limited time on this layover, I’d have to forgo getting in the water and save it for my next trip to Rio over Labor Day.
The water looked real nice
After lunch and a couple beers, it was approaching noon. I figured that I had better start making my way back to the airport. In order to get a bus on the way back, one must find the blue, “Real Onibus” bus with the destination of “Aeropuerto Internacional”. They come by every 15 minutes, but there is no rhyme or reason as to where they actually stop. So the best way to flag down one of these busses is to position oneself near a traffic light and wave like a crazy person when the bus is approaching. Again, it is 13 Brazilian Real (~USD$6.50) each way.
I boarded the bus, and we drove back along Copacabana. There was much more activity along Copacabana on this day, and I briefly regretted not going there instead. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to save it for the next trip.
Sandcastle on Copacabana welcoming tourists. Rio is home to the 2013 Confederations Cup, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the 2016 Summer Olympics
Anyway, the trip back to the airport was a little over an hour, and I arrived about 1:30pm. After a quick trip through security and immigration, I headed back to the “Sea lounge” for a quick snack and a Fanta (when in Rome…). Fifteen minutes later, my flight to Santiago was ready for boarding and I headed to the gate.
Overall, this was not a bad way to spend an eight-hour layover. Instead of staying in the rather drab and boring Rio airport, I got to hangout along one of the more famous beaches in the world.
Not a bad way to spend the morning, that’s for sure.