On the way to the States, we go to the airport at 2:30 for our 4:45 flight. There was a lovely line about .8 km long stretching from the ONE open TAM desk all the way to the food court. We waited in it for a while, and then decided to jump the line because Ju was crabby. During this time, we over heard various people talking about how they were missing connections etc and didn't know what to do.
We got to our gate just in time to see that our flight was moved from confirmed to late, and then was announced over the loudspeaker that they had no "previsto" as to when it would arrive at the airport. We ate some pao de quiejo, we sat, and sat some more. We watched teenagers going on large Disney group tours sit on the floor and do bonding activities. Ju made a few friends. Eventually they came over the PA and told us something that no one could hear because the teenagers were too busy bonding to notice that everyone was trying to be quiet to listen to it. At 7:30 we were told our flight would begin boarding. At 8:30 we actually got on the plane. By the time we got to Rio, we had missed the last TAM flight to Miami by about 40 minutes.
So, after a 2 hour fiasco of getting vouchers and finding our luggage that had connection tags on it, we got to spend the night in Rio, in a 4 star hotel, bill footed by TAM. It was a lovely hotel and they checked us into their most expensive room at 1 AM in the morning. We slept most of the day, and then ate some random food from a kilo place and walked on the beach. Then it was time to pack it all in and go back to the airport to catch the 8:50 flight. We finally got checked in, got the the gate, and got the heck out of there.
We arrived so early in Miami that there was no one in the gate to operate or open it, so we sat on the plane for a while. After that, despite airport security, everything was pretty smooth, except for Ju not wanting to get on another airplane ("Ju airpane, no!") and trying to get us to leave him in Miami.
On the way back everything was okay until we got to Rio. After getting in and waiting for 25 minutes behind ONE family to recheck our luggage, we rushed to our gate to find that the flight was not there. Over the course of the next 4 hours, we got the whole complicated story in pieces: it went something like this - The plane that we were to take to Salvador left from Campinas to go to Rio, but it wasn't allowed to land because of the crash, so it was sent back to Campinas (where I suspect it had to unload and do something with a lot of angry passangers), and then wait for clearance to fly back again to Rio. Towards the end of this wait for it to arrive, we recieved news that Salvador's airport was closed because of a bird problem. We finally got on the plane at 4:30, but then had to until 5:30 for the flight plan to be ferried over because it had to be manually entered in Sampa (whatever that means).
Between all the problems with accidents, delays, and the publicity given during the PAN games, I see this whole flight thing really killing the tourist trade here if something isn't done soon. I can't help it, I live here, but if I had a choice about flying through a place that will surely make me miss a connection or three, I might go another way...