Flight test: LAN Airlines business class

LAN business class.
LAN business class. 

LAN AIRLINES

THE ROUTE

Sydney to Santiago, Chile.

THE PLANE

Airbus A340-300.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Qantas Frequent Flyer/LANPASS.

UP THE BACK OR AT THE POINTY END?

Business class, seat 4H.

TIME IN THE AIR

Sydney to Auckland, 3 hours, 15 minutes, followed by 11 hours, 20 minutes to Santiago.

THE SEAT STUFF

56 inches pitch, 20 inches wide.

BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE

Business class passengers are allowed up to three items of checked baggage, not exceeding a total of 23 kilograms. Carry-on baggage allowance is one bag up to 16 kilograms, which is double the weight allowance for economy class.

COMFORT FACTOR

In the 2-2-2 layout, I can stretch my legs out when sitting and still come up about 30 centimetres short of the seat in front. It seems almost excessive until it comes to nap time, when the seat flattens out to 175 degrees. I'm not the tallest person on the planet, but still, the footrest is a little short, making for a slightly cramped sleeping position, though all else - the flat bed, the quilt - overcomes this.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

There are more than 100 movies on offer, though the new releases are a little dated, with films such as Argo, Trance and The Sessions that I saw on other flights months ago. The selection of music is extensive - more than 1000 CDs - and varied, though the TV selection is a little thin with a dozen comedies, mostly of the canned-laughter variety, and a few dramas. One drawback with the seats so far apart is that the screen is an eternity away - it's like sitting at a mini drive-in - and the woman sitting beside me has to wear her reading glasses simply to see it.

THE SERVICE

From the welcome-aboard pisco sour to the friendly but unobtrusive crew, the service is impeccable - near at hand but never fussy or invasive.

FEEDING TIME

Breakfast is served between Sydney and Auckland, with dinner and a second breakfast on the second leg. I begin with the lighter breakfast - a plate of cheeses, ham and asparagus with the freshest of fruit - while dinner brings the choice of three main dishes and three desserts. I choose the grilled steak with sauteed zucchini, mushroom, white carrots and bacon, which is excellent. It is paired with a red wine, a syrah-cabernet sauvignon blend from Chile's Colchagua Valley. For the second breakfast, there's the option of a cold express breakfast served 40 minutes before landing if you want a little extra sleep.

ONE MORE THING

A business class seat includes access to the Qantas lounge in Sydney and Auckland.

THE VERDICT

The entertainment offerings aren't compelling, but with a late-morning arrival into Santiago I'm far more interested in sleeping than viewing, anyway. With almost 15 hours in the air, LAN's space, flat bed and discreet service are very welcome for the step up to business class. A good sleep and a fresh arrival are almost certain.

FREQUENCY

LAN flies to Chile six times a week (no flights Monday) via Auckland. See lan.com.

Tested by Andrew Bain, who flew courtesy of the South America Travel Centre.

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