First off, let me say that LAX is the worst international airport in the world, well that I’ve been to anyway. The entire concourse, and yes I can say entire, has just one restaurant and a few duty free stores. The hot dog stand produced overpriced and subpar hot dogs which those of us who had no other options were grateful for. There was no real bar or lounge to rest in for a few hours. I must say that if I were an international visitor, I would be unimpressed. If I’d known better I would have eaten in the domestic terminal before going through security at the international terminal. Hmm…maybe that attitude is why everyone around me appeared to drop 20 lbs the second I entered the international terminal. Yup, Americans are fat. Oh well, I just wish they had a Starbucks or something in the terminal. We don’t even restrict American’s to that level of selection in far flung Alaska, why should we be losing out on the money our international visitors would drop on their layovers by not even offering food. My other big beef with LAX is that the displays made it nearly impossible to find what gate your flight was at. If I had checked in and had my gate printed on my boarding pass that would be fine. But I checked in 12 hours prior in Fairbanks, Alaska long before my gate had ever been decided on.
I did find that exchanging money at LAX carries no fee whereas doing so in the Chile airport has a $1.50 fee. Small savings and a better exchange rate to boot. After 25 hours of travel I finally made it to Chile. I had layovers in Seattle, LA and Lima, Peru. The Peru stop was long enough for me to get off of the plane, buy a postcard and get back on the plane. I was amazed at the folks who brought back 2-3 bags worth of goods from the duty-free. That reminds me, since when has shopping on a plane become the “in” activity? The people on my Lan Chile flight were shopping duty free like there was no tomorrow. The bargains weren’t good and the duty can’t be that high. We each had catalogs in the back of our seats and they kept coming up and down the aisles delivering orders to folks. The guy in the seat next to me spent over $400 in our 12 hours together. I’ll admit, I succumbed and bought some hand cream, but that’s because mine was confiscated in LAX. I found myself more than entertained watching 4 movies, playing with the Berlitz language software (I now know how to count in Russian, English, German, French and Spanish), and playing digital Tetris, Poker and Blackjack. Those international planes are sweet, especially when you get an exit row. I had as much space as the people in first class and paid half the price. I couldn’t fully recline, but that wasn’t a big deal because I don’t sleep on planes anyway. Now it's time for me to go sleep!