Airline review: LATAM 787 Dreamliner economy, Santiago-Auckland-Sydney

THE PLANE

Boeing 787-9; LATAM has 24 of the Dreamliners on its books, 10 of the 787-8 configuration and 14 of the larger and slightly longer-range 787-9

THE ROUTE

Santiago-Auckland-Sydney

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

LATAM Pass Points, part of the Oneworld alliance

CLASS

Economy, seat 30A (Santiago-Auckland) and seat 12J (Auckland-Sydney)

DURATION

We left 50 minutes late at 1.15am but made up most of the time to land just 10 minutes late in Auckland. The scheduled flight takes 12 hours, 55 minutes Santiago-Auckland and 3 hours, 40 minutes Auckland-Sydney. LATAM also offers direct Santiago-Sydney flights as codeshare with Qantas in a  Boeing 747 (14 hours, 20 minutes) departing early afternoon.

FREQUENCY

Daily

THE SEAT

The bulkhead location makes the seat seem reasonably generous; it is 17.3-inches (44 centimetres) wide with a 34-inch (86 centimetre) pitch as an economy Space+ seat. The standard pitch in economy is 32-inches (81 centimetres). All seats have power outlets and USB ports.

BAGGAGE

Two pieces up to 23 kilograms each, but there are limits on dimensions (I had a ski bag that went beyond the allowable 158 centimetres, but they kindly let it through).

COMFORT

My bulkhead seats put me in to LATAM's Space+ zone; it isn't a premium economy equivalent, it's simply some extra inches of seat pitch with some seats in a better location in the cabin. Service, food and entertainment are the same as economy.

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ENTERTAINMENT

I flew business class on the outbound run and for my eyesight, although smaller, the screen in economy was actually better (closer and, being in a bulkhead seat, more adjustable). LATAM has an excellent selection of current-release and classic movies and documentaries and TV series.

SERVICE

Attentive and efficient; maybe a late-night flight is easier to service, but, be that as it may, the drinks and dinner service was prompt and any follow-up was fast and friendly.

FOOD

Dinner was good, with three options on the menu: cheese ravioli or grilled salmon or, my choice, a cold roast chicken plate that came with a mixed salad with yoghurt dressing as well as some quinoa bites and fava beans. I had a chardonnay to go with it and even if it was a bit warm, it still had a good flavour about it. Breakfast was a highlight – fresh fruit and a lightish crepe, also filled with fruit. There was a snack and coffee on the Auckland-Sydney leg.

ONE MORE THING

Twice during the night flight on the way to Auckland, the crew had to deal with "medical emergencies". My location near the galley had them attending to the unfortunate passengers almost at my feet and I couldn't fault the care, concern and confidence the crew showed. When it went beyond their first-aid training, they called for a doctor and found one in economy nearby who managed to sort things out – both patients walked off the plane in Auckland. I noticed the doctor and his companion heading to the business class cabin on the Auckland to Sydney leg; I couldn't fault that either.

THE VERDICT

A mostly-relaxed flight through the night, made better with a bulkhead seat, but if you're paying extra for one of LATAM's Space+ seats on their 787-9 and you have the option, the row 12 bulkhead seats are much better than those in row 30. Space+ seats can be paid for at the time of reservation or bid for closer to departure.

Our rating: ★★★★

Tested by Jim Darby, who flew as a guest of LATAM (latam.com) and the South America Travel Centre (southamericatravelcentre.com.au)

See also: Airline review: LATAM Dreamliner business class

See also: Is there a doctor on board? How airlines handle medical emergencies

Airline reviews A to Z: Read all Traveller's Flight Tests

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