Airline review: LATAM 787-9 Dreamliner business class, Sydney to Santiago via Auckland

Our rating

3.5 out of 5

The plane

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The route

Sydney to Santiago via Auckland.

The loyalty scheme

LATAM Pass (Oneworld alliance – points can be claimed on Qantas Frequent Flyer).

Class

Business class, seat 4A.

Duration

Two hours, 30 minutes to Auckland. 10 hours, 20 minutes from Auckland to Santiago. The flight is delayed 2.5 hours in Auckland due to a technical issue.

Frequency

Seven times a week.

The lounge

As a codeshare partner, LATAM offers business class passengers access to the Qantas business lounge in both Sydney and Auckland.

The seat

The business class seat features a width of 23 inches (58cm) and a pitch of 74 inches (188cm). It converts to a 185cm lie-flat bed at the touch of a button. The cabin layout is 2-2-2, meaning there's no direct aisle access for those in the window seats like me, but I'm fortunate enough to have an empty seat next to me, so it's not an issue.

Baggage

Three checked bags of up to 23kg each in business class. One carry-on bag up to 16kg in weight plus one personal item.

Advertisement

Comfort

There's plenty of space in the business class cabin. In fact, even my long legs can't reach the foot-rest unless I move the seat into a semi-recline. The amenity kit is well stocked. It comes with socks, an eye mask, earplugs, a pen, toothbrush and paste, hand and face creams, and lip balm, plus a small pack of tissues, a comb, a shoehorn and even a compact mirror.

The crew supplies a thick doona and pillow for when we're ready to sleep. Boeing promotes the Dreamliner's higher cabin pressure and more humid air as a preventer of jet lag. Arriving after about five hours sleep due to the time difference, I find that my typical headache and sore eyes aren't there, so I'm inclined to believe the hype.

Entertainment

Large seatback screens and noise-cancelling headphones are provided in business class. The selection of TV shows is not huge, but there's a large number of movies available ranging from recent hits through to Hollywood classics (such as Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window). The system has a few nifty features like including IMDB.com's user ratings for each film and the ability to skip ahead by "chapters", meaning you don't have to spend a lot of time fast-forwarding to resume your film from the same point after the transit stopover. Tip: If going on to internal South America flights with LATAM, be sure to download the airline's entertainment app in advance to stream movies and TV direct to your device when there are no seatback screens.

Service

The staff are well presented and friendly, though some have better English than others. One offers the couple behind me tips on their Spanish as she takes the drink orders. The call button, when pressed, is responded to in good time.

The food

The menu for the Sydney-Auckland leg is limited, with only one option: gnocchi with a side salad and fruits. The longer leg to Santiago has better options: marinated prawns or soup for entree and steak, stuffed chicken breast or smoked salmon and mixed greens for mains. The meals are reasonably good, if not quite at the standard of some other business class cabins. There are seven wine options with detailed tasting notes and, since we're headed to Chile, naturally enough pisco sours are on the menu.

One more thing

LATAM is the new brand for the now-merged LAN and Tam airlines of Chile and Brazil respectively. Although the airlines officially merged back in 2012, the aircraft and crew are only now going through the process of rebranding, so expect to see the old livery on some planes for a while yet.

The verdict

I'm sold on the Dreamliner as a superior flight experience, thanks to how I feel when I arrive in Santiago. Although the business class seats are not the best in the sky, they're a solid and comfortable offering for a long haul. Half a mark off due to a delay in my luggage arriving at my final destination (Lima) but I'm reunited with it the next day. See https://www.latam.com/en_au/.

Craig Platt travelled as a guest of LATAM and the South America Travel Centre.

See also: Airline review: Singapore Airlines' new Australia route

See also: Airline review: Virgin Australia's new international business class