I got to fly LATAM Business Class on a recent business trip to Paraguay. Although I had not intended to take this flight initially, I booked it as a last-minute option. Unfortunately, I had some bad luck the previous day and missed a couple of my intended flights.
My trains and Uber were delayed the previous evening, and I arrived to JFK at 10:45 pm for a 12:05 am departure to Lima. It was too late to Check-In with all agents having already vacated to the Gate area, and with no option to get on the flight, I Immediately canceled my Alaska Airlines booking – about 1 hour 5 minutes before scheduled departure. I was refunded the points, which I then used to book this itinerary.
Quick Note from Osman: I have heard from several people that South American airlines tend to board and even depart earlier than on schedule, so it’s good to be at the gate earlier than expected for these flights.
On the flip side of my missed flights, I got to spend 9 hours in the sumptuous. LATAM VIP Signature Lounge at Santiago, Chile, and enjoy flying LATAM Premium Economy from Santiago to Asuncion, Paraguay.
Booking My LATAM Business Class Ticket
I booked my new itinerary using Alaska Mileage Plan points. After my previous flight cancellations, I checked on the Alaska site and found direct flights from JFK to Santiago SCL. However, I could not book a single itinerary through to Asuncion, so I had to book two separate trips. From New York to Santiago, then from Santiago to Asuncion.
I was in luck with this booking. Not only did I find the Business Class cabin virtually empty, but I managed to secure this booking only 4.5 hours before the flight.
The Ground Experience & Check-In
LATAM uses JFK terminal 4, and I got there using the subway and Lyft. The LATAM drop-off area is near the end of the area, and I found it to be completely empty, with lots of open desks. There is an entire row of dynamic check-in desks (that change during the day) and machines where you can self-tag your bags.
LATAM Business Class Check-in
Check-in was very smooth and went without a hitch. While it is mostly machine check-in, business class and elite status travelers get agents. After being checked in and having my bags tagged, I was offered access to the Delta SkyClub near Gate B32.
I then headed over to security, where I noted that the queue for economy travelers was massive, lasting about 40 minutes.
Delta SkyClub and Boarding
My flight was set to depart from gate B22, and the Delta SkyClub is near Gate B32. Considering how long a walk it was to get to gate B22 in the first place, I chose to skip the lounge this time and hang around the gate until my flight was called.
LATAM Business Class Boarding
Boarding began as scheduled at 6:35 pm and started with the elderly and passengers with young children. Following that came Group 1 travelers, which included Business Class. Unfortunately, the early boarding announcement was only made in Spanish, so I missed it.
I noticed there were only lines for groups 4 and 5, while it was a bit of a free for all for everyone else. Once past the gate, a large queue formed to get on the plane. Once at the door, I was greeted by the lead flight attendant,
The LATAM Business Class Cabin and Seats
The LATAM business class cabin has a very airy open feel; I loved the spacious feeling the cabin setup gives.
Even though both the forward and rear Business Class cabins come with center baggage bins, which can take up some headroom.
The color scheme was in keeping with LATAM’s overall color palette and was tasteful and beautiful.
I ended up using two seats on this flight. My initial seat was 3A in the forward business class cabin. However, I switched to seat 4J in the rear business class, which I thought had a nicer layout.
At first glance, seat 3A seemed great since it is located immediately after the boarding door, meaning you should be one of the first people off the aircraft. However, the seat is problematic if you like looking out of the window as I do. Due to the door configuration, the seat is missing a window.
While usually, that should not be too much of an issue, it is the prime viewing widow from the seat, which is less than ideal. To make matters worse, the window next to the jet bridge is filthy from all the contact with the jetbridge rubber gaskets. Again, this takes away any pleasure you have from looking out of the next window over.
Ultimately, I switched to a seat in the rear business class cabin with two rows of seats.
Set 4J is an ideal alternative to rows 1 and 2 for those who like looking out of the window. It has two windows that are great for viewing and are well-placed for you to use from your seat. The windows also offer an excellent view of the engine from your seat.
The seat is located just behind the exit door and has a 14” IFE screen with an S Video port, as well as a wide array of storage options, including:
- Vertical storage between the TVs (pens, glasses, and cables can go in here).
- A Footrest with shoe storage below.
- Deep storage cubbies with sliding covers.
- Documents and laptop storage slot.
- Coat hooks are not placed to allow clothes to hang; instead, they sit over the bulkhead in the middle.
The center console has a dual-folding table that can be used fully open or only half open. The table is opened by releasing its latches.
I did notice that the table tray compartment lid did not align well when the table was deployed. Since the seats are in pairs, the left-hand side of the seat is definitely better for right-handed people.
On the side of the seat was a small cubby with outlets and the IFE TV remote control, and the small cubby came pre-stocked with a small water bottle. The outlets included a USB port, headphones Jack, and a standard power socket.
There was also an adjustable reading light on one side with twist controls. You twisted the light head to turn it on and vary its brightness.
Since the seats are in pairs, there is an adjustable glass barrier that you can raise between the seats for privacy. Unfortunately, I was unable to work out how to make this work.
Seat Controls & Headphones
The seat controls on the LATAM business class seats are very simple and basic. There are two presets, lie-flat and takeoff and landing.
In addition, there is a massage function in the back of the seat. Although once the seat is in lie-flat mode, there is a second set of buttons that show up to you can make minor adjustments.
The controls also feature a Do Not Disturb button, which turns on a small white light above your seat.
Initially, the seat controls had two mystery buttons that I could not figure out. MR and M+, Although I eventually figured out that MR is Main Recline, however, I was unable to solve the riddle of the M+ button.
On the seat, there was a set of noise-canceling headphones. These came nicely packaged in a white pouch with LATAM branding.
Overall, they had somewhat cheap quality and feel to them. Although they worked reasonably well, I could still hear the plane noise for most of the flight. I have definitely had better noise-canceling headphones on flights before.
LATAM B788 Business Class Bathroom
The LATAM business class bathroom deserves a special mention because it is the most basic B787 I have ever seen. It does not even feature a folding tray, which is virtually standard in every aircraft bathroom I have ever used.
Also, there were no amenities, dispensers, unique soaps, lights, or special décor of any kind. It almost felt like LATAM had utterly forgotten about the existence of these rooms on their aircraft!
The LATAM Business Class Amenity Kit
The LATAM business class amenity kit is from Mariella Agois and is available in two color schemes, blue and red. The equipment itself seemed to be made of a plastic-like material that looked like it could last a while.
Inside, there’s a small flyer that talks about the sustainability of the amenity kits and LATAM – which can be appreciated, as these are usually wasteful.
Overall, I thought it was a comprehensive kit with many useful items.
Amenity Kit Contents:
- Eye Mask
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Hand cream
- Lip Balm
LATAM Business Class Inflight Entertainment & Wi-Fi
The LATAM Business class seats feature relatively large, although not the most impressive, roughly 14” TV screens. Accompanying them are some noise-canceling headphones that came in a pouch.
Scrolling through the entertainment on offer, the selection was enormous. However, I can’t really comment on the quality of the movies or tv shows. My TV screen decided to be uncooperative from the start. It would play the audio but not the picture when selecting a movie.
I tried this a couple of times, but I had the same weird glitch on both occasions, and in the end, I gave up. I did notice, however, that it was just me affected, and other travelers’ TV screens seemed to be working fine.
This is very surprising today on a relatively modern piece of equipment like the B787. But there was no Wi-Fi on the flight. Fortunately, it was an overnight flight, and I had not planned to do much work, so I did not need it. However, I would expect LATAM to do better next time around.
LATAM Business Class Flight
The crew was very friendly and cordial and spoke three different languages Spanish, Portuguese, and English. I was announced as Mr. Osman and asked if I wanted service in English or Spanish; I definitely would do better if I spoke better Spanish.
We were taxiing for take-off in a matter of minutes, and I noticed how cool the engines sounded; I had not tried these before.
Once airborne, we were heading over the Southwest parallel to the setting sun, which made for some stunning views from my seat.
Interestingly, unlike many other premium-class flights I have taken, no pre-departure drinks or snacks were offered.
Although, shortly after takeoff, the flight attendant walked around serving hot towels. These were piping hot and distributed individually from a hand cart.
Then came a tray offering Champagne and nuts, although the nuts were cold and mostly peanuts.
Shortly after the post-departure service, the flight came to take the full flight service preorder in one swoop. This included what I wanted for dinner and breakfast and my drinks and wine choices.
I was informed that breakfast would be served at 3:30 am, and if I was okay with that time.
About one hour after takeoff, the main meal service began. And the one thing that sticks in my mind is what a fantastic smell! My god, I could not wait for it. First, I was offered a choice between peach or orange juice, I chose peach.
Then came the wine choices, a 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon recommended. Gran Toqui 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. Both were served in a nice base wine glass.
The meal was served in sequence as follows:
Small Appetizer Course & Bread selection
- Prosciutto with Grilled Peaches and Artichoke Sour Cream
- Came wit a single peach. Did not go well with the prosciutto.
- Some prosciutto – two pieces.
- Fresh leaf salad – was fresh. Came with olive oil.
- Dark bread
- Crunchy bread stick
LATAM Business Class Main Course
The main course consisted of a Grilled tenderloin with Rosemary sauce. Potato au gratin. Roasted baby carrots. Grilled baby zucchini.
The tenderloin was well done and a little tough, but not too much; it still tasted fantastic. The potato in rosemary sauce was also delicious.
The rosemary sauce was excellent and so tasty that I ended up dipping my bread in it repeatedly.
Not to be left out, the carrots were also very sweet and tasty.
Dessert consisted of various pieces of fruit served in a small glass cup. They were accompanied by dark chocolate by Valda. Overall, the dessert was delicious, especially the dark chocolate.
On the one hand, the service was speedy and efficient, the presentation was attractive and solid, and the food was delicious. That said, my only complaint is that the food seemed too light; there was just too little food. In addition, the crew removed the menus after ordering. So when the food came, you had no idea what you were actually eating unless you had taken a picture of the menu or could remember.
Mid Flight Snacks
Unsurprisingly, since this was an overnight flight, with many passengers electing to sleep, there were no midflight snacks on offer.
While efficient and professional, the whole breakfast service felt rushed and prompt. I was woken up at 3:20 am with a warm towel service. The table was set in a flash, and the food started being served by 3:25 am.
First, I received four pieces of bread and a fruit plate with four items.
- Two pieces of pineapple.
- A piece of melon.
- Half a strawberry.
A ham and cheese toasted sandwich with two tomatoes and some greens came with the fruit. Sadly, the greens looked like they had seen better days. They also tasted like they looked stale!
The ham and cheddar cheese sandwich was okay but slightly soggy on one corner for a toasty. The sandwich felt cheap and like it was from a fast-food place.
The breakfast dessert was delicious and sweet, featuring a delightful fruit granola.
The coffee was fabulous, and I ended up devouring two coffee refills.
Arrival at Santiago SCL
Approximately one hour before landing, preparations began, and the imminent arrival was announced on the PA system. The crew returned my coat to me with a smile.
We approached Santiago from the north and had a relatively smooth touchdown at around 5:20 am in the dark. Soon we were at the gate, and I was leaving and heading to the transit area for my next flight. On the way out of the aircraft, I was thanked for being on board and wished to be back flying with LATAM soon.
Ultimately the choice of carriers going to this part of the world is limited, and I still think LATAM is one of the better options available for travel between South and North America. That said, although the flight is excellent value for 45,000 points and is a relatively comfortable transcontinental overnight flight, it still has its issues.
The amenities were basic, to say the least, and while the food was delicious, there was not enough of it, which is rare for an international premium cabin flight. The lack of WiFi and working IFE was disappointing. On the plus side, the crew was friendly and professional, and the seats were comfortable enough.
- On time.
- Professional crew.
- Tasty food.
- Excellent seats for couples.
- Comfortable for sleeping, and bedding provided was minimal but still adequate.
- Seats lack privacy for solo travelers.
- Have to hop over the person next to you.
- Not enough food.
- Some food was not fresh.
- Blocked windows on row 3 is annoying.
- Not the best tech – old IFE & TV, which didn’t work.
- No WiFi.