Our bikes’ crating in Singapore and shipping to South America certainly tested our resolve!! We wanted to deal with an airline directly but all the ones we contacted were non-responsive, so we found agents. We haven’t mentioned that Anthony booked a return flight to Singapore in January to sort out the crating of the bikes. While the agent we dealt with in Singapore at Penanshin Air Express was extremely effecicient and kept us informed every step of the way, the people they used to crate the bikes had no concept of air freighting costs and minimising crate size, even though we’d sent them photos and dimensions of our crates from Dubai to Delhi and despite several phone calls. Yes, it was going to be cheaper to fly to Singapore and back and pay for accommodation there than go with the crate they built originally. It was only on the actual day of Anthony’s flight, after our agent went to the airport to see the bikes and crates for herself and finally came back with acceptable measurements of a new crate, that we cancelled the tickets.
The agents in Chile, from The SeaFair Group, were also very responsive and helpful. But they too dealt with another 3rd party – this time the air freighters and because there were no direct cargo flights from Singapore to Santiago, we had the added bonus of airline change enroute. Yes, that means more trouble – more handling, more charges and especially more potential for missing connections. Anyway, we were given so many arrival dates: the day of our own arrival, that changed to Friday, then to Saturday night, then to Monday because the bikes had missed a connection supposedly, then suddenly this morning, we get a call to say that the bikes had arrived overnight!!!! And we can come today to get them out. Being Saturday, will there be any additional costs?! We are told not. So off we head to the airport.
We are prepared for anything after our Delhi experience… Remember, it took us 3 full days of daily visits to the airport and outrageous fees to clear customs and get the bikes out of the warehouse. Well here, from arrival at the cargo area at 11.30am, to clearing customs, to getting the crates taken out of the warehouse, unpacking the bikes from their very solid crates, to reassembling the bikes and riding out of the Cargo terminal area: 3.5 hours!!!!!!!! The agent here was fantastic, he had all the paperwork required and it was a breeze. No special overtime, holiday or whatever extra payments, just a warehouse fee, which turned out to be cheaper than what we had been quoted. And no mad swarms of people and trucks as it was Saturday.
So yes, we have our bikes back!!!!!!
The crates they built for us were solid!!! Lucky the guys at the terminal had massive crow bars and hammers to lend us and our agent had brought some over with him too, so the 3 of us set about dismantling the crate. Looking at the state of boxes on the truck in the background, we are grateful our crates were that solid!!
With the dismantled crates carefully pilled up in the corner and the bikes reassembled, we are ready to leave the Cargo area.
We would definitely recommend both Penanshin Air Express and The SeaFair Group.
For some reason, Storm had just under half a tank of fuel still while Streak was empty (as Storm should have been) so first stop at the Shell petrol station at the airport then time to head into Santiago city centre where we are staying for 4 nights. The Saturday traffic is light and easy.
The security guy at the apartment block we are staying at agrees to let us park the bikes in the underground car park, for a made up fee of course, but not too outragious and so much more convenient and safer than going to a public car park. Had this been India or anywhere in Asia, the lovely great porch area of the apartment block would have been jammed with at least 20 bikes!! Not here though.
Going back in time a little, we were invited out for dinner Friday to a friend of a friend’s. We had actually met in Brisbane at a friend’s place a couple of years ago but didn’t know him very well. Anyway, we were treated to a fabulous barbecue and family dinner at their home. Such lovely people. And great for us to get a taste of local life.
Monday, we go to the Santiago BMW dealer. Let’s hope that they are more helpful than their lack of email response seem to indicate….
In the meantime, time for some Santiago exploring.