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Old May 9, 10, 5:02 pm   #8
Seat 2A
  
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: East Ester, Alaska
Programs: A few airline and car rental companies
Posts: 6,879
April 19, 2010
New York – Santiago
LAN Airlines Business Class
Boeing 767-300 CC-CXE
800p – 650a


The shuttle arrived at JFK’s Terminal 4 at 4:30pm, leaving me plenty of time to check-in and then explore each of the three lounges that Priority Pass allowed me access to. But first, a bit about this choice of flight and routing…

I picked this flight because I wanted the longest possible overnight flight to Santiago in order to maximize rest. Normally I like to route via Miami and catch a daytime two-stopper on LAN, but Alaska has gone back to its redeye schedule on the SEA-MIA run and I’ve had more than enough of those overnight eastbound transcons, even in First Class. The flights are too short and the seats don’t recline nearly enough.

Last time I flew LAN to South America, I routed via LAX. Bad move. That 2:00pm departure to Lima is only a seven and a half hour flight, arriving in Lima at about 12:30am locally. Everyone has to disembark, go through security and then reload an hour and a half later for the three hour flight to Santiago. Once is enough of that for me.

Although I’m no fan of sleeping through any part of a quality First or Business Class flight, if I must then I want that flight to be as long as possible. This flight from New York to Santiago is scheduled for 10 hours and 50 minutes – more than enough time to have a nice dinner, read a bit, sleep at least 5-6 hours, enjoy a full breakfast and then arrive in Chile in reasonably decent shape.



LAN 533 Nonstop New York to Santiago


So, here I am – bag checked and boarding pass in hand for seat 3A on the 8:00pm nonstop to Santiago. Life is good. The flight doesn’t depart for another three hours so let’s go lounge hopping! LAN’s lounge invite notwithstanding, I’ve got Priority Pass access to The Lounge, the Swiss Lounge and the Oasis Lounge which is the one LAN uses. All of these lounges are located landside on the Ticketing Level, so I decided to start with The Lounge and work my way down towards the Oasis which is located closest to LAN’s gate on the A Concourse.

Tempting though it is to describe each lounge, it should be noted that this report has crossed the 40,000 word barrier and some of you may have started to nod off or are at some risk of getting in trouble with your employer, so - in the interests of brevity let me just say that each of the lounges is quite nice with the following differences:

1. The Lounge offers a menu from which you can order a variety of snacks and light meals
2. The Swiss Lounge has shower facilities and a nice little buffet
3. The Oasis Lounge is the largest, has the most comprehensive buffet and, I think, offers the best views.

I had a beer in each lounge (Sam Adams, Kingfisher and Heineken) as well as a small salmon and cream cheese bagel at The Lounge. As tempting as it was to check out the excellent buffets at the Swiss and Oasis Lounges, I wanted to have an appetite for whatever LAN was serving for dinner. All of the lounges had big windows looking out over the tarmac between Concourses A and B, but I give the nod to the Oasis because of the big TAM A330 parked just 50 feet away. Also in town and clearly visible were 777s from Emirates, Qatar, Air India, Egyptair and Delta along with A330s from Swiss and TAM. The tail of a lone KLM 747-400 could be seen on the far side of the B Concourse.



Dining facilities in The Lounge



The view from the Oasis Lounge


At 7:00pm I headed down to the security checkpoint. I wanted to beat any potential crowds or have enough time to deal with one if that were the case. It wasn’t. A Concourse security was practically deserted! Well alrighty then! This gives me time to go check out the airplane!

Parked at Gate 5 and only partially visible was CC-CXE, a 767-300ER that had yet to celebrate its second birthday. Despite the diminishing daylight, LAN’s attractive blue, silver and white livery practically sparkled off the shiny fuselage. I took a couple of photos and then went down to inspect an Emirates 777 parked down at the end of the concourse.

Back in the 70s and even into the early 80s I used to be able to walk down the concourse and get on board a variety of jetliners, just to look around. Once back in 1971 when I had about three hours to burn at JFK before my United DC-8 was scheduled to leave for Denver, I headed over to the American Airlines Terminal and asked if I could have a look onboard their new 747. I’d never been on one before and was just a kid full of enthusiasm. No problem, said the agent. He walked me down the jetway, told a couple of workers onboard the airplane what I was doing, and then set me free to go wherever I wanted without adult supervision. It was awesome! It was my first time on a 747 which back in those days came with all the whistles and bells of the era such as lounges in both Coach and First Class, 9 across rather than 10 across seating in back and a really large First Class cabin, i.e. about 50 seats. It was so cool to climb the spiral staircase up to the First Class lounge and imagine I’d be hanging out up there on American’s noon departure to Los Angeles. I quickly used up all twelve pictures on my roll of 110 instamatic film and, after thanking the gate agent profusely, even managed to score a First Class menu. What a great day that was! I later years I talked my way onboard everything from a TWA 747SP to US Air’s new 737-300 (They were the launch customer and PIT-DEN was one of the inaugural routes) and though I was rarely allowed free run of the aircraft like on that American 747, I thought it was great just to be able to have a look inside, especially at the First Class cabin.

Back to the present, there’s no way me or anyone else who doesn’t have gobs of security clearance is going anywhere near that Emirates 777. Heck, you can’t even get down the concourse anymore without a boarding pass. In my younger years, it was hugely entertaining to bicycle 13 miles out to Denver’s Stapleton International, chain my bike to any old post and then head down the concourses to watch Ozark DC-9s depart to exotic places like Waterloo, Iowa or colorful Braniff 720s push back and then fire up all four of those smoky Pratt & Whitney JT3C-12s before slowly taxiing away to brighten up the skies above on their way to Dallas. Once a day Western operated a big 707-320 out to San Francisco and on to Hawaii. What a beautiful airplane, especially in the classic Indian head livery. I could see myself on everyone of those planes even if I never did manage a flight on one. Over the years, I’ve done pretty well at turning many of my airline related dreams into reality but someday walking aboard that Emirates 777 with a First Class boarding pass in hand will be a little more difficult. But not impossible!

It’s been three years since I last flew LAN and back then I only managed one flight aboard a 767 outfitted with the new Premium Business Class cabin. I understand all of the 767s and A340s now have the new interior, so I was anxious to head onboard and reacquaint myself with LAN’s new interior. When boarding commenced at about 7:20pm, I was doubly pleased to see that a priority boarding lane had also been provided for Business Class passengers.

LAN’s Premium Business Class cabin is one of the most attractive I have ever seen. Handsome cherry wood bulkheads accent the ivory walls, grayish blue seats and dark blue carpet. The overall ambience is at once light and spacious but smart and stylish.



LAN’s Premium Business Class cabin on the 767-300



LAN’s Premium Business Class cabin on the 767-300 - Looking Forward


Highlights of LAN’s Premium Business Class include:

• Sleeper seats that offer 180-degree full-flat recline
• A back shell that surrounds each seat, providing improved privacy and quietness
• A seat pitch of 74 inches
• Dividing privacy panels between seats
• Four pre-programmed seating positions
• 15.4 inch high resolution video monitors mounted in each seatback
• AVOD IFE offering 30 movies, 20 short programs, 14 video games, 10 audio channels and 100 music CDs
• Noise canceling headsets
• Arm rests that lower when changing the seat position to a bed, resulting in a five-inch greater width for sleeping

Cabin improvements notwithstanding, my experience with LAN’s international Business Class service has been mixed. That is to say I’ve enjoyed top flight service as advertised yet I’ve also had a fair number of flights where the service was sloppy and careless. How would tonight’s flight rate?

Upon boarding, I was greeted in Spanish yet responded in English. Although I speak passable Spanish, I was curious as to the English proficiency of the crew. On past flights, I have always responded in Spanish and so have been addressed in Spanish throughout the flight yet I’ve also seen LAN’s Flight Attendants have a tough time with passengers boarding out of cities like LA or Miami who either did not speak Spanish or spoke it poorly. Some of these passengers were not necessarily North American but were also northern European or Asian. For better or worse, English is the world’s official international business language and many people from diverse parts of the globe will resort to it when neither understands say, Malaysian and Finnish. A OneWorld airline of LAN’s status and reputation serving international business centers such as New York or Frankfurt should have at least two or three crew aboard who are proficient in the language of that destination. This is especially true for Business Class. I am happy to report that the Flight Attendant working my side of the cabin this evening spoke excellent English.

Shortly after settling into seat 3A, my Flight Attendant arrived with a tray bearing a choice of Champagne, juice or water. She also informed me that Pisco Sours were available. Well I can have Champagne any old time but it’s not every day one gets a chance to have a Pisco Sour, so that’s what I asked for. She returned moments later with my drink accompanied by a small bowl of almonds and raisins.

Alas, my Pisco Sour was served room temperature in a glass without ice. Now it could be that this is a cultural thing, because I know that there are many places in the world where ice is used sparingly in drinks as opposed to the US where it is used almost religiously. I used to drink Pisco Sours on Braniff back in the 70s, and theirs were always served with ice. Cool and refreshing. Tonight’s drink was tasty and tangy but hardly cool and refreshing. Next time I’ll try to remember to ask for ice.



LAN’s Pisco Sour – served with almonds and raisins


Menus and wine lists had already been placed in each seatback, so now seemed like an excellent time to consider the epicurean delights that awaited. LAN has, in terms of presentation, what must certainly be the most impressive Wine List aloft. It is constructed of hard cardboard covered in real cork. The wine listings inside include large pictures of each bottle accompanied by excellent descriptions of each wine that would impress most any oenophile. Let’s check out that list right now!



LAN’s Wine List – Page 1-2



LAN’s Wine List – Page 3-4


WINE LIST

Champagne

Maison Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier

White Wines
Bodega Salentein Chardonnay reserve 2009, Valle de Uco, Mendoza
Vina Casa Marin Laurel Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Lo Abarca, Valle de San Antonio



Red Wines
Vina Montes Alpha M 2006, Valle de Apalta, Santa Cruz, Colchagua
Bodega Colome Malbec Estate 2007, Valle del Calchaqui, Salta
Vina Casa Silva Los Lingues Carmenere Gran Reserva 2008, Valle del Colchagua


Port
Croft Oporto Late Bottled Vintage 2003, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal


The dinner menu was somewhat less attractively packaged, embossed with a gray and white close up photograph of LAN’s salt and pepper shakers. The meal described within however looked pretty nice:


DINNER
New York to Santiago

Appetizer
Margarita shrimp with jicama and mango salad
or ~
Asparagus soup


Salad
Salad greens with mixed vegetables


* * * * * * * * * *

MAIN COURSE

Stewed Short Ribs

Served with potato spinach mash and baby carrots

Grilled Salmon
With lemon risotto and sautéed snow peas with mushrooms

B]Marinated Chicken Salad[/b]
Presented with cherry tomatoes, sliced almonds and assorted lettuce


* * * * * * * * * *

DESSERT

Special Cheese Selection

Haagen Dazs Ice Cream
Tiramisu
Fresh Seasonal Fruit




A separate card listed a variety of breakfast options. It was designed to be filled out by the passenger and then presented to the Flight Attendant before turning in for the night. Unfortunately I neglected to transcribe it before handing it in, for which I now beg your forgiveness.

Flight time to Santiago was projected to be 10 hours and 10 minutes - just perfect for a nice dinner, maybe a movie and five or six hours of sleep. The flight crew must have sensed my anticipation because once we’d been disconnected from the tractor that pushed us all the way back out of the terminal area, they taxied the 767 briskly out to the airport perimeter, paused briefly as if only to insure that we were lined up on the correct runway, and then goosed the twin Pratt & Whitneys to their maximum power as we rocketed down the runway and verily leapt into the heavens.

Service began 42 minutes into the flight. Hot towels were presented and collected, dinner orders were taken, tables were set and appetizer trays were delivered. Meanwhile, I’m thinking that I’ve logged sixteen flights in LAN’s Business Class so far and I don’t believe I’ve ever been offered a drink before a meal. Ever. So is this a cultural thing or a LAN thing? I’ve ordered liters of beer with meals in both Chile and Argentina and had the beer delivered before my meal. I’m pretty sure a group of us once had a bottle of wine delivered before our meal in Argentina as well. Either way, I feel that LAN should offer its Premium Business Class passengers drinks or cocktails before dinner and why they don’t is a mystery to me.

Aside from that issue, I thought that the meal was pretty good both in service as well as quality. The menu lists either shrimp or soup as an appetizer. You may not have both, so I requested the shrimp. It was delicious, although I wish we would have been provided with more than just one shrimp. I’ve had larger amuse bouché on some airlines.



LAN’s Margarita shrimp with jicama and mango salad


The stewed short ribs were fall off the bone tender, made even better by the absence of a bone. The Balsamic oil and vinegar made for a delicious salad dressing and the assorted cheeses went down nicely with a glass of surprisingly tangy Port. Service was cordial and efficient throughout the meal. Empty plates were cleared promptly with the next course being delivered in short order.



Stewed Short Ribs with tray showing salad and cheese dishes



Tiramisu and Port


A serving of tiramisu brought this meal to a delicious close, after which I watched most of one of my all time favorite movies, Scent Of A Woman. Actually, I watched the entire movie but used the fast forward function to speed to my favorite scenes. What a great movie! Although the movie selection included a good selection of recent hits such as Avatar, I’d rather watch movies like that on a larger screen.

LAN’s Premium Business Class seats advertise four pre-programmed seating positions, but the reality is even better than that. You can make separate adjustments to the back, the leg rest and the seat bottom, so be it reclining to relax or going flat to sleep, you’re bound to find a position that suits you. The seat cushions are a bit hard, but that’s nothing that a few more glasses of wine won’t overcome. As planned, I managed about five and a half hours of sleep before waking for breakfast.

LAN’s breakfast card offers an extensive variety of breakfast foods – everything from yogurt and cereals to eggs with a good selection of accompaniments. I started with a fruit plate followed by scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes. A flaky croissant and a large cup of coffee accompanied the meal. Although the coffee was poured from a coffee press, I noted the distinct residue of powdered coffee in the bottom of my cup.



A great start to the day


The flight projection of 10 hours and 10 minutes was right on the mark, which meant we arrived in Santiago 20 minutes early. I was a transit passenger with a seven hour layover, so I made my way to LAN’s Neruda Lounge where a hot shower and a chaise lounge awaited.


April 20, 2010
Santiago – Buenos Aires
LAN Airlines Business Class
Boeing 767-300 CC-CXL Seat 2A
210p – 510p


I’ve flown this plane before! Well sure, anyone who’s read my trip reports knows this has happened hundreds of times before for me. This time is different inasmuch as this aircraft bore a different registration when I last flew it five years ago. Sneaky LAN!

By the way, those of you curious about your aircraft’s history, you can enter the aircraft registration at airfleets.net and get all the details.

Since all of LAN’s 767 fleet have now been outfitted with the new Premium Business Class cabins, this one and a half hour flight across the Andes to Buenos Aires offers the same comfort level as a twelve hour flight to Madrid.

The meal however is reflective of the abbreviated flight time. I was presented a tray bearing a delectable collection of sliced salmon and seasoned chicken slices accompanied by a flavorful avocado sauce, a tasty salad and side plate offering of three types of cheese. Bread and crackers were offered from the basket and I was allowed to taste and approve the deliciously crisp white wine before a full glass was poured.



Luncheon on the SCL-EZE flight


This can be a very scenic flight because you begin to cross the Andes Mountains soon after takeoff from Santiago. However, since the Andes are much longer than they are wide, the crossing takes only about fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, clouds obscured much of the range today, so I perused the inflight magazine and enjoyed lunch for most of this 1 hour and 22 minute flight.

We landed in Buenos Aires a good thirty minutes early and my pack was awaiting me once I’d cleared immigration. Unfortunately, I had to pay a $131.00 reciprocal fee for the right to enter Argentina over the next ten years or until my passport expires, whichever comes first. The fee is referred to as reciprocal because the American government charges a similar fee to residents of Chile, Argentina and Brazil amongst others. Why this fee is charged, much less only to travelers from select countries, is a mystery to me. Canadians and Australians were also similarly affected.

Overall, these flights on LAN offered decent food and service along with reasonably comfortable seating. There are better Business Classes out there, but LAN’s Premium Business Class cabin is probably the best of its type flying to South America.

Last edited by Seat 2A; Nov 3, 14 at 7:12 pm
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