As part of a longer trip, my family had the chance to try out LAN’s (now LATAM) Business Class service from Mexico City to Lima, Perú.
If you haven’t been following from the beginning, here is a link, it all started out so easy, and then I made mistakes (with impressive consistency). Don’t make the same mistakes I made, read the posts!
LAN Business Class
We had finally boarded and as we got settled, we began to relax a little bit. It wasn’t going to be a long flight to Lima, just five hours, but we had never tried the LAN product and we were looking forward to seeing what they had to offer. The seats were fairly new, the interior was clean and the aircraft was a Boeing 767-300.
While we sat with Lucy and she played with the seat buttons and the adjustable reading light, we looked out onto the tarmac and really couldn’t relax until the door was closed and we pushed back. The flight was fully boarded but still late in departing that day, it was a shame it wasn’t late the day before.
The service was off to a good start with pre-departure beverages for the three of us and some (not warm) nuts. The staff seemed to be kid-friendly, something we don’t always find in business class and first class cabins and they even brought a LAN branded plastic watch which I quickly apprehended from the child and kept as airline memorabilia. What? She can’t tell time and red is not her color.
Door Closes, Service Commences
When the door finally closed and we pushed back (just 10-15 minutes behind) we were finally relieved. We weren’t sure if we would ever make it to Lima this weekend and could not have been happier to get on our way.
We started the entertainment system slightly after take off and my wife and daughter began watching Frozen for the millionth time on an airplane. The Sherpstress does not love this film, but it seems to be ubiquitously available and occupies our daughter.
The space at the bulkhead was substantial. The flight attendant had space to walk in front of us to set our trays, there was four windows worth of space and though the seats were configured side-by-side it seemed like you would not have to step over someone to get to the bathroom if you were fully reclined. It was a day flight, my wife and daughter were awake most of the flight and I was writing so I cannot comment about whether or not the seats lie fully flat or angled flat. It was comfortable but not particularly private and if that’s your thing and you are traveling alone, I suggest the window seat.
There were only four of us in business on the day and as we sat in our assigned seats when boarding (we didn’t know how many there would be) we happened to be in pairs on the right side of the plane, one row after the other. It was kind of awkward when you think about it, but we had set up our stuff and got our daughter situated, it seemed like moving would be more of a hassle than a help.
Towel service was offered as we climbed out over Mexico City and drink orders followed. The meal was offered and we mad jour selections. The trays came out with everything in one go. For some travelers, this takes away from the experience. They want their meal served in courses. If they wanted a tray, they claim, they would sit in the back. I call that a lie but I can see how the meal coming in courses does add something to the experience and helps to remove the clutter on your table. When we are flying alone, courses are great (unless on a redeye to Europe where we just want to sleep) but when we are flying with our toddler, expedited meal service that gets the food there in one go and out leaves fewer instances of her grabbing a utensil without us knowing or smearing her hand in a plate of pasta.
We couldn’t hear each other order at the time because we were both wearing noise-canceling headphones, so I will spare you a duplicate photo. The food was fine. The pasta was good, but about what you would find on an American Airlines first class flight around dinner time. It’s not that it had to be legendary, but it wasn’t really special. The fruit was excellent for us because it gave our daughter something that she could eat (though she ate some of the pasta too) easily and with her hands. The salad was bad. It was unappealing, dry, and there were no choices offered for dressing, just an oil based dressing which I do not care to eat.
The meals were picked up and taken away, the lights dimmed, and the FA curtains closed.
While the rest of my family was somewhere in between a Disney film and a nap I was pounding away on my laptop. The folks behind me were also awake the whole time, but none of us really got service. I was drinking Diet Cokes and trying to stay productive and waited a long time for a refill. I finally got up and poked through the curtain to get a refill which was obliged.
Whenever the curtain is closed and you poke your head in, the crew tends to act like you just walked in on them in the bathroom. They are a little bit embarrassed and a little bit pissed. I would prefer it was a door because then I could just knock, but knocking on a curtain yields fewer results. I could push the call button but that feels so demanding like snapping your fingers in the air for a refill at a restaurant. I like to think that I am more t-shirt and blue jeans than that and don’t mind getting up. I much rather crews that occasionally stroll through the cabin to offer something and really, it’s a little silly.
There were four customers in business class out of what looked like 30 seats and there were three flight attendants sitting in their “office” reading magazines. It’s not really pressing to get up once every 30 minutes and just see if the passengers would like anything. Park Hyatt says that “Luxury is never having to ask” and for what we paid for Lucy’s seat alone, we knew that this flight was selling for at least $2000 one-way – we felt like we shouldn’t have had to ask for a simple refill. If I paid that price in cash I would have felt robbed.
My Daughter Takes a Walk
To relieve my wife who bore the burden of entertaining our daughter for the five-hour flight, I thought I could take our daughter on for a while. She was quickly disinterested in our area of the cabin and as there was a virtually empty cabin I walked around with her as she tried to sit in most seats on the opposite side of the aircraft. She was having a great time and burning off some energy and we carried on until we were about ten minutes into the descent.
I peeked through the curtain to ask for a glass of water since it was late in the flight and the air had dried out. The seated flight attendant reached under her seat, pulled out a lukewarm water bottle and handed it to me without getting up. It was unimpressive.
As we started in for the city, we settled our daughter back into the seat. The lights of the city and coastline came into view over the black Pacific ocean. The hills rolled in and we lined up for the runway. We pulled into a gate next to a 787 which I have yet to fly.
Would I Fly LAN Business Again?
It was convenient and nice to have a cabin to ourselves, but there wasn’t anything special about it. The cabin was empty and I can see where the flight attendants don’t want to annoy the passengers by stopping by every two or three minutes, but once every two hours or so (basically just one pass after dinner service) was not good. When I come through the curtain, please don’t act like I am interrupting your magazine reading. And if I ask for a water, I would like it cold, the water next to your foot (opened or not) is not appealing.
However, all of this would feel like a private jet and lunch at the palace compared to the stinky Sheraton Lima Convention Center. You’ll just have to wait a day or two to read that.
Have you flown this route? Did you have better service than we did?