In December I had to do a work trip covering 2 countries Peru and Brazil. I booked MAD-LIM-GRU-MAD, a triangle with 3 airlines: Iberia, LAN & LATAM. I’ve never flown on any of these airlines and for me, this trip would be the first covering all three.
This report covers the second and third leg of the trip (LIM-GRU & GRU-MAD).
Compared to the various options of airlines I received for Madrid to Lima and Sao Paulo to Madrid, the only option coming up for this sector was by LAN. After a quick search, I realized there are not many flights between Lima and Sao Paulo every day. Two by LAN and one by Avianca. The one by Avianca was priced much more than my entire South America trip.
For GRU to MAD, I wanted to try TAM´s 77W, and so I opted for TAM.
LIM-GRU by LAN
Prior seat selection & Web check-in
I wanted to reserve the seat on the 14th row because as per my research, it seemed to have excellent leg space. I tried selecting the seat on LAN.com, it gave me options of beyond row 22. On a quick search on expertflyer.com, it said that these were paid seats. So, I called up LAN and asked them if I could reserve the 14th row. They said rows 12-16 open up only 48 hours before departure.
So T-48 hours, got onto LAN.com and easily selected the seat for a cost of 19EUR. I think this is a bit much for a 5 hour flight. Nevertheless, for me seat comfort is critical and so I went ahead with it. In seconds, I was able to print the boarding pass. In spite of a horrible website, after numerous page not found errors and no responses, I was able to check in with no problems. Pheww!
On the day of the flight
The flight was scheduled for 920am. I reserved a cab by Taxi Green to come and pick me up at 615 from the hotel. Infact, the same driver who dropped me to my hotel from the airport 5 days back offered to pick me up, and so there he was right on time. After a good 30 min drive going by a road that passes by the Pacific Ocean, I was at the airport.
The airport was very crowded for a Saturday morning. There was a really long line for American Airlines. Luckily the Priority counters with LAN had only a few people in front of me. With just a few minutes of wait, I was at the check in counter where the check in agent wished me a Buenos dias and took my passport. She then asked me to place bags on this hideous looking scale, seemed as if we were in the 90s. After placing my bags, she printed my boarding pass, gave me the lounge access pass and tagged my bags to GRU along with a LAN One World Priority sticker. I’ve read somewhere on the internet that LAN doesn’t tag bags as priority for One World Gold members for intra-South American flights, well at least in my case it worked without asking.
I didn’t ask about the load on the flight, as I had earlier checked on expertflyer.com that the flight was almost full. After check-in I made my way to the security and immigration area after going through a very confusing airport and miles of walking. Clearly the airport isn’t designed well and looks very old. Security took minutes but there was a long queue at immigration. After about 15 min of waiting, I passed through immigration into the duty free area and then to the area with the gates.
Lan doesn’t have its own lounge in LIM. It operated out of SUMAQ VIP Lounge. With many LAN flights, the lounge was very crowded and I managed to get a seat after a bit of a wait. Food options in the lounge, very basic in short. Some stale looking bread, fruit, orange juice, tea and coffee. I tried some of it, liked only the fresh orange juice, which you are supposed to make yourself by putting oranges in the machine and waiting for it to juice. Just like the airport, this lounge was below average. I think I would have spent my time better if would have been walking around near the gates
12 Dec 2015
Lima – Sao Paulo
LA2767 LAN Airlines
Boeing 767-300ER CC-CXC
STD: 0920 STA: 1715
ATD: 0912 ATA: 1701
Flying time: 4 hours 15 min
Distance Covered: 3480km
Runways: Departure: 15; Arrival: 27L
Boarding was from Gate 19, and after I exited the lounge I went straight to the gate to catch the registration of my aircraft operating todays flight. Normally, the flight that operates LIM-GRU, first operated the LIM-MAD-LIM sector, though on some occasions over the past few days this wasn’t the case. I checked for MAD-LIM and saw it was operated by CC-CXC (A 8 year old Boeing 767-300ER)
A big crowd had gathered around the gate and after going straight to the gate, I saw that there were predefined lines with barriers for different boarding zones, priority boarding and for families. This I think is really good to control the crowd. Good job LAN!
Boarding started first with families and old people who needed assistance, followed by Business and then economy. Surprisingly, I was the only one on the Priority line. So I boarded almost immediately.
The Seat & Pushback
A little walk into the business class section, I had the second row in Economy. The pitch seemed okay to me after sitting, though the width was miserable because of the seat dividers. They are so wide because of the fat remote in them, that it constricts the seat width. Also, I found the seat to be very dirty with something that seemed coffee that was all over the seat in front of me. Bad job on cleaning LAN! The seat and cabin gave a very old feeling, something I do not want to try out on a long haul from MAD to South America! There was no special welcome for OneWorld Gold. Not sure if this is the case on all of LAN or just for intra South America flights.
After a slow boarding process that seemed ages, we closed doors and pushed back. The captain came on the speaker welcoming us on board and telling us the flying time.
The takeoff was very powerful and we climbed pretty steeply right after takeoff, maybe because of the mountains around. Lima was fairly cloudy that morning, and it turned out to be low clouds which we penetrated in minutes after takeoff. A left turn a little while later and we were off to Sao Paulo passing through Cuzco, La Paz and then into Brazil.
Breakfast began almost immediately after takeoff. On offer was an omelet with bread and a selection of beverages. An average meal for this duration, it was filling for the time of the day.
Our route took us directly over the mighty Andes over Central South America. We passed close to Cuzco, La Paz and Santa Cruz before entering the other size of the Andes, Brazil. The views on the route were spectacular, and in spite of having an IFE, I was almost always looking outside and clicking photos of our majestic planet. Some photos of the flight route:
LAN IFE offers a fairly basic selection of movies and TV series. It is very responsive, and the screens are small, but adequate for personal viewing. I caught some episodes of my favorite TV series Modern Family. As I was viewing the series, I managed to flip through LANs inflight magazine. It was really good with great information about South American countries, places to visit, cuisine and other travel information.
A little while before descent we passed through some tough turbulence. It seemed as if we were passing around some TS. Right after we got out of turbulence, the captain announced descent into GRU and told us that GRU reported heavy rain. So we were in for some good turbulence during our approach. In the distance I could see some terrific looking CBs much above our flying altitude of FL350. And so, as we approached closer the winds began to get stronger. Meanwhile, the crew came by and did last minute checks before landing.
We then passed directly through some really bad weather with the engines roaring and reducing depending on the air we into through. It was clear we were in a massive thunderstorm when I could see flashes of lightning. After a hold around GRU, we got clearance to perform our approach into GRU. That approach was very turbulent until we approached close to GRU. A thunderstorm had just passed and we landed on runway 27L. Great landing with a powerful reverse thrust spraying all the water on the runway.
We were the last aircraft to land on the runway, right after the direction of takeoff and landing changed to the 09s. In a few minutes we docked at one of the gates in the new terminal in Sao Paulo and in a short while thereafter we were allowed to disembark.
After a long walk through the many gates, we proceeded through to immigration where there wasn’t a soul, so it took seconds to finish off Immigration. Then another fairly long walk we got to the baggage belt. 15 min later, the bags came with mine being one of the first. Good job LAN!
Post the baggage belt area, the way to get out is more like going around in a curvy path in a forest! After navigating through this airport, I found my way outside. A quick Saturday afternoon cab ride and I was in the city.
Crew was very average. They weren’t really smiling but they did their jobs professionally. After the breakfast service they disappeared never to be found again. I expected more from them being one of the largest airlines around.
1. Quick and efficient check-in process
2. Boarding process was quick
3. Baggage delivery was immediate
4. IFE response
1. Crew very average
2. In spite of having a good seat pitch and good width, the remote control made the seat horrible
3. Lounge is poor in Lima
GRU-MAD by TAM
On the day of the flight
The flight was scheduled for 2245. Sao Paulo being notorious for its traffic, I reserved an Uber at 5PM and made my way to the airport from Paulista after a 90min long journey. The driver was so polite that he wanted to drop me off all the way into the check in counter so he decided to park the vehicle and take me to the check in area. Meanwhile I got a chance to spot some heavies at GRU. Thank you Uber!
The busiest airport in South America, GRU was crowded at the time. Many Europe flights leave during this hour. I proceeded to the Priority check in island, and after a quick document check I was greeted by a very cheerful check in agent. She checked my bags to MAD along with the One World TAM Priority tag and gave me my boarding pass. I enquired if the seat next to me was still available, and she said that it would be available through the flight. I was very happy!
Post check in I went through to Immigration and Security which didn’t take too much time. Good job GRU airport.
I’ve heard that GRU hosts some of the best lounges in South America, and so I really wanted to try out the TAM flagship Lounge. On the entrance it looks really modern and inviting. Inside it is very spacious and has ample seating, a gaming zone and a sleeping area. The food on offer was good, but a bit limited to some hot and cold snacks. A great wine, beer and beverage collection made up for the limited food on offer. After a quick snack, I went into the sleeping zone for a quick nap. Fresh after a quick nap, I decided to use the shower, but it had a really long queue, and so I decided to skip it and proceed to the gate as it was around 2145.
17 Dec 2015
Sao Paulo – Madrid
JJ8064 TAM Airlines
Boeing 777-300ER PT-MUI
STD: 2245 STA: 1230
ATD: 2259 ATA: 1204
Flying time: 9 hours 05 min
Distance Covered: 8360km
Runways: Departure: 15; Arrival: 27L
Today’s flight was being boarded from a remote gate. And there was a massive crowd at the remote gate waiting for the bus. There was a priority line and I proceeded straight to it to board the next available bus to the aircraft. I was excited to board the 77W being my favorite aircraft, and was researching on which registration would I be flying in. Turns out it is the newest 77W in TAMs fleet PT-MUI.
The Seat & Pushback
My worry was the 3-4-3 configuration and how I would manage on the 10 hour flight. A quick walk into the aircraft, I got into my seat 16K, on the second row of economy. First impressions seats are colored with green and red and the 77W gives a spacious feel. Now the problem, the seat. Having just 17 inches, I was stuck in my seat. Also the 32inch pitch didn’t really matter as there was an entertainment box right under the seat. To my luck the middle seat being empty was a blessing. I managed to stretch my legs into the middle seat area.
We pushed back a little late around 2300 and it took quite a while before we took off due to air traffic.
As expected, the GE engines roared and we takeoff powerfully into the Sao Paulo night skies from runway 09R. A left turn a while later and we were off on our 10 hour flight to MAD. Those GE engines give me goosebumps every time!
About 40 min after takeoff dinner was offered, consisting of chicken and potatoes. A very meagre meal worsened by the general rudeness of the cabin crew. I asked for an extra glass of water and the lady stared at me as if I committed a crime. It took ages before the crew came to collect the trash. And then as expected they were never to be seen again, except for about 1 hour before landing throwing at us breakfast. I was so irritated with the attitude of the crew that I forgot to click any photos until descent.
We flew over Sao Paulo state before heading straight through central Brazil and began our Atlantic crossing over Belem. It was night all throughout except about 2 hours before landing where the sun rose. At various moments of the Atlantic crossing we passed through good amount of turbulence.
This is a copy paste of the report above on LAN, because I found it very similar
TAM IFE offers a fairly basic selection of movies and TV series. It is very responsive, and the screens are small, but adequate for personal viewing. I caught some episodes of my favorite TV series Modern Family.
About 30 min before landing, we began our gradual descent into MAD. MAD was reporting fine weather and we landed 25 min before schedule with no turbulence.