When I was planning this trip, one of the things that I wanted to do was to use my British Airways Avios points for my New Zealand and intra-Australia flights because I know that Avios provides very good value for short distance flights. Long-distance, not so much but if you want to fly short-haul regional type flights, Avios has your back (at least for the time being).
When I was looking for a way to get from Auckland (AKL) to Australia, I was very open to flying to either Melbourne (MEL) or Cairns (CNS). I needed to be in Sydney for New Year’s Eve so outside of those firm plans, I had a lot of flexibility. Seeing as the three cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns form an acute geographical triangle, I decided that Melbourne would be our first stop in Australia so the first problem to solve was getting from AKL to MEL.
Unfortunately, there was no direct flight from AKL-MEL available on award so I was forced to route through Sydney. On a very positive note, the AKL-SYD route on OneWorld (Avios redemption Alliance) is serviced by an airline that I had never flown before with a “white whale” of an aircraft that has alluded me for some time, the 787. To make things even more intriguing, this route was serviced by LATAM, a carrier based out of Chile, making this a Fifth Freedom Flight!
The plane that would shuttle us from AKL-MEL in a short 3:30 was a fairly new plane at only 1.5 years old so I was hoping for good things. I had heard and read a lot about the 787 and how nice of a plane it is with its new tech and a better ride. The 787’s claim to fame is that it cruises at a higher altitude than other commercial aircraft to reduce the potential for turbulence as well as to be more fuel efficient. Our flight had a cruising altitude of 40,000 feet, which is significantly higher than any of the other aircraft that I had flown in the past.
The Business Class cabin of LATAM’s 787 comes in a 2-2-2 configuration, which means that if you are in a window seat, you do not have direct aisle access. That’s typically not a deal breaker if you are traveling with friends or family but becomes awkward if you happen to be flying solo and get matched up with another person flying solo. Normally, LATAM operates this aircraft on long-haul flights between Santiago (SCL) – Auckland (AKL) and Sydney (SYD) – Santiago (SCL), so I’m sure there have been a few incidents where someone has had to attempt the standing long jump in order to get to the bathroom.
The seats themselves were very comfortable and I did recline the seat to about 80% lie-flat but not all the way as this was a daytime flight and I had no reason to sleep. While I never went to the full lie-flat, I have no doubt that it would have been a very comfortable bed.
The TVs in the LATAM 787-900s are plenty big but because they are immovable and quite a distance from the seat, some may find the screen to be a bit small. I didn’t end up watching anything because my IFE remote was broken 🙁
Thank God for Settlers of Catan and podcasts on my phone to pass the time 🙂
As this was an early morning flight, breakfast was served on board. I went with the omelette and it was surprisingly good. From the pictures, it looks like your standard Business Class breakfast and for the most part it was but I was coming from Cathay’s Business Class flight so this was a welcome normality.
I ended up eating the entire breakfast and was quite happy for the delicious banana bread.
The amenity kit included in LATAM’s Business Class is an absolute joke. Take a look at the pictures and judge for yourself.
In this kit you get socks, an eyemask, earplugs and a pen? And the bag you get is a cloth shopping bag? Like the kind you get a Superstore for 25¢? Yep. One and the same.
I believe this kit is specific for the 5th Freedom Flight because if it’s the one you get for the long-haul SCL-AKL flight, it wouldn’t provide much comfort on a 12:30 flight.
When I opened up the kit, I laughed, took a picture and then threw everything in the storage bin as there wasn’t a single item in the kit that was of any use or value to me. I would actually suggest to LATAM to discontinue offering an amenity kit for the AKL-SYD flight because if this is what’s on offer, why even bother?
It’s like showing up to Christmas with a Pot of Gold chocolates you purchased from a gas station on Christmas Eve (sorry Uncle Ben … I didn’t know we were going to your house).
I actually had a choice between flying LATAM and Qantas on this route but opted to go with LATAM because of the coolness factor of the Fifth Freedom Flight and because it was serviced by a 787-900. Ultimately, the hard and soft product were middle of the road and I would likely have been better served to go with Qantas as I would soon find out their domestic business class product is quite good.
I don’t regret flying with LATAM but I was let down by their IFE and their amenity kit.
On a positive note, I finally got to fly the 787!