Travel Alert October 2019: Civil Unrest Continues in Chile with Increasing Violence; More Airlines Issue Travel Waivers

If Chile is in your travel plans this week, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to civil unrest in that country, which has grown increasingly violent since the most recent article which was posted here at The Gate only yesterday, Sunday, October 20, 2019.

Travel Alert October 2019: Civil Unrest Continues in Chile with Increasing Violence; More Airlines Issue Travel Waivers

Although it announced earlier today that from Monday, October 21, 2019 through Wednesday, October 23, 2019 that its Embassy Consular Section will be open for American Citizen Services and that other services will be limited, the United States Embassy in Chile has issued this official demonstration alert for yesterday, Sunday, October 20, 2019…

As of Sunday, October 20, the Chilean government has declared a state of emergency in the following areas:

• Metropolitan Region of Santiago
• Region of Coquimbo
• Region of Valparaiso
• Region of O’Higgins
• Region of Bio-Bio

These locations continue to be sites of on-going protests and looting, some of which have resulted in acts of violence. Many protests and looting are spontaneous, and local authorities are unable to predict where they will happen. Several groups have called for demonstrations in Santiago for Monday, October 21.

Areas included in the declaration of a state of emergency have been and may continue to be subject to curfews in the evening enforced by government security forces. Citizens should continue to follow media reports and local government announcements closely.

Public transportation in these areas may be severely affected. Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago is currently experiencing widespread delays and flight cancellations. Transportation to and from the airport may also be affected. Anyone with travel plans should contact their airline directly for flight information.

No official security alert has been issued by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States as a result of the civil unrest; but normal precautions should still be exercised.

Santiago metro

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

At least eleven people have died due to the civil unrest, which reportedly began with an increase in the cost of riding the Metro in Santiago; but despite the decision of Sebastián Piñera — who is the current president of Chile — to suspend those price increases, protests continued with demonstrators looting shops and businesses, burning buses, and firebombing the headquarters of an energy company.

The proposed hike in fares for using the Metro in Santiago would have increased the price of peak hour travel from 800 pesos to 830 pesos, which in United States dollars translates to an increase of four cents from $1.11 per ride to $1.15 — but that proposed increase of four cents ignited outrage fueled by the sense of inequality in other areas of the economy in the country.

Additionally, at least 78 Metro stations in Santiago have either been destroyed, burnt or damaged; and almost 1,500 Chilean protesters have either been arrested or detained throughout the country.

Because the protests have become increasingly violent over the past weekend, a state of emergency has been officially declared for the city of Santiago and at least nine of the 16 regions in Chile; and a mandatory curfew was imposed and is now in effect from 8:00 in the evening to 6:00 in the morning.

Fires have erupted in parts of the city of Santiago.

https://twitter.com/Garou_Hidalgo/status/1185380606290595841

A concert by Brian Adams in Santiago has been postponed because of the civil unrest.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to Chile this week, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to the civil unrest which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary. If you are driving in any of these areas, watch out for deteriorating conditions and traffic problems.

Here are eight airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this civil unrest:

  • American Airlines has issued a travel alert for Santiago de Chile for Monday, October 21, 2019 through Thursday, October 24, 2019; and Wednesday, October 30, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued a travel alert for Santiago de Chile for Monday, October 21, 2019 through Friday, October 25, 2019; and Wednesday, October 30, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued a travel alert for Santiago de Chile for Sunday, October 20, 2019 through Wednesday, October 23, 2019; and Monday, October 28, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Iberia has issued a travel alert for Santiago de Chile for Monday, October 21, 2019 through Thursday, October 24, 2019; and Wednesday, October 30, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • LATAM has issued travels alert for airports in Chile for Sunday, October 20, 2019 through Thursday, October 24, 2019; and although the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin has not been specified, dozens of flights have already been canceled and more will likely be listed.
  • Avianca has issued travels alert for airports in Chile for Monday, October 21, 2019 through Thursday, October 24, 2019; and although the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin has not been specified, dozens of flights have already been canceled and more will likely be listed.
  • Aeromexico has issued a travel alert for Santiago de Chile for Sunday, October 20, 2019 through Wednesday, October 23, 2019; and Wednesday, October 30, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has issued a travel alert for Santiago de Chile for Saturday, October 19, 2019 through Friday, October 25, 2019; and Wednesday, October 30, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.

Summary

When I was in Chile for the total eclipse of the sun back on Tuesday July 2, 2019, I personally witnessed what appeared to be frustrated Chilean motorists protesting with their vehicle horns wildly at every toll booth all the way to Los Vilos — which is approximately halfway between the path of totality and Santiago — after being stuck in miles upon miles upon miles of traffic.

Literally hundreds of cars lined the shoulder of the southbound lanes of the highway because their drivers decided to sleep there for the night — although I would not be surprised if some of the cars were out of fuel…

…so I can only imagine how Chileans would have passionately reacted to an announcement of the increase in fares for the Metro in Santiago — even if the increase was only four cents.

The total amount of tolls I incurred driving a rental car while I was in Chile for a few days was the equivalent of approximately $50.00 in United States dollars. I have not tallied up the exact amount as of yet…

…but tensions must have already been near the boiling point among Chilean citizens while I was visiting that country this past winter in July.

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

All photographs and video ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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