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Transport : Airlines

During a recent tour of South America, we flew with LATAM on three occasion. From Santiago de Chile to Easter Island (and return) and from Santiago to Montevideo, Uruguay. This review is based on the return leg from Easter Island but our impressions of LATAM’s service are influenced by all three experiences. All flights were aboard our favourite airliner (the B787 Dreamliner). We have written before about how quiet and smooth this aircraft feels in flight and how fresh we feel when disembarking even after a long-haul night flight. Having flown business or first class with most European, Asian and Middle-Eastern airlines, we were keen to find out how LATAM compared.

Mataveri airport on Easter Island receives only a couple of flights per day, thus unsurprisingly, there is no business class lounge. We were among the first to arrive at the airport, so found a couple of relatively comfortable seats outside where we could watch the plane arriving and being prepped. We boarded about an hour before scheduled push-back and made ourselves comfortable while the crew busied themselves with the usual offer of reading material (all in Spanish) and pre-departure drinks. The offer of a Pisco Sour was a nice touch. My partner enjoyed the cocktail while I chose the sparkling wine accompanied by warmed nuts. I didn’t see the bottle but it certainly wasn’t Champagne. However, there are plenty of good sparkling wines produced in Chile, so this was perfectly acceptable.

The LATAM business class cabin on a Dreamliner is clean and modern looking. The use of red fabrics on head and foot rests adds a touch of warmth to the ambience, though overall, it’s pretty unspectacular. The configuration in business class is 2-2-2, though the seats are still plenty wide enough and the aisles are also quite spacious. When the captain spotted me taking photos of the interior, he twigged that I’m an aviation enthusiast and offered me the chance to see the flight deck. After being introduced to the First Officer, I was invited to sit in the Captain’s chair and review the controls including the brilliant ‘head-up’ display for the key instruments. Then the Captain took my picture with my camera. That really set the tone for the flight, with the whole crew exuding warmth and friendliness. I’m happy to say though that proper protocol was followed with the cockpit door closed throughout the flight.

Our departure from Easter Island was at 14:25, with a flying time of around 4 hours 30 minutes and a time difference of one hour, we touched down a little before 22:00 on the mainland. Takeoff was smooth and the meal service (billed as lunch) commenced about an hour into the journey. The starter was a green salad with seasonal vegetables topped with buffalo mozzarella. We both chose the turkey breast stuffed with dried fruits served on a bed of saffron mashed potatoes and garnished with asparagus. The food was actually surprisingly good. The meat was moist and tender and I chose an Amaru Vineyards Torrontes from Argentina to accompany it. My partner chose a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Dessert was a small bowl of mixed tropical fruits, very welcome though unexciting. Top-ups and further drinks were quite generous so I was also able to sample an excellent Malbec and the cognac.

Our Travel Auctions

After the meal, we kicked back in a semi-reclined position to read and explore the IFE. We have tried the seat in fully lie-flat mode on the outbound flight and found it very comfortable. The only snag with the seat layout in the LATAM Dreamliner is that, with 2-2-2 configuration, those who have window seats do not have direct aisle access. If your neighbour is fully reclined therefore, you have to step over them. If you are flying solo, choose an aisle seat, especially at night. The IFE had a reasonably good choice of movies and TV programs, as well as a range of LATAM commissioned travel documentaries. The screen was sharp and pretty large for business class. Blankets were supplied on request as the cabin was quite cool, something we found on all our South American flights. Hot towels were offered before and after the meal service.

We both really enjoyed flying with LATAM on the Dreamliner. It is a great plane and LATAM crews do seem very friendly and eager to please. When planning routes to and around South America, I would certainly go out of my way to choose LATAM.

You may be interested in my airline comparisons including Avianca Vs LATAM, the best business class airline in South America, Business Class on United Vs Delta Vs American Airlines, top 10 Best Business Class airlines for long haul travel and my other LATAM Business Class reviews.

This review was written by our friends at Driven2Travel.

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