Besides the previously mentioned airports, commercial flights also serve Calama, Copiapó, El Salvador, Pucón, Valdivia, Osorno, Chaitén, Balmaceda (Coyhaique), and Puerto Natales. Smaller airfields are also in Santiago for flights to the Juan Fernández archipelago, and in Coyhaique for flights to Laguna San Rafael.
LAN is Chilean civil aviation’s 800-pound gorilla, dominating the domestic market through its independently operated subsidiary LanExpress. In a country whose longest domestic flight is only about three hours, its Boeings and Airbuses are comfortably spacious.
No competitor has had much luck challenging LAN’s supremacy, but the budget carrier Sky Airline has managed to grow its market share in recent years.
Chilean domestic airfares are generally reasonable, but buying tickets a few days ahead of time can often result in substantial discounts. While LAN has discontinued its “Visit Chile” pass, it now offers a separate “Visit South America” pass that covers both Chile and other South American countries.
For student discounts on both international and domestic flights, try the Student Flight Center (Hernando de Aguirre 201, Oficina 401, Providencia, Santiago, tel. 02/4112000, www.sertur.cl).
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition