Review of TAM flight Manaus Sao Paulo in Economy

Airline TAM
Flight JJ3409
Class Economy
Seat 46A
Aircraft Airbus A350-900
Flight time 4:00
Take-off 21 Feb 16, 16:25
Arrival at 21 Feb 16, 21:25
JJ   #92 out of 112 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 42 reviews
A350Flyer
By 3182
Published on 22nd February 2016
It took more than I wanted for me to justify my nickname.

For most people, flying is only part of a trip. I guess that for most of us enthusiasts, flying is one of the main attractions.

TAM, the Brazilian airline, one world member and part of Latam airlines group, together with LAN was one of the first airlines to receive the new A350 extra wide body.

As soon as it was told that LATAM's their newest aquisition would be flying between São Paulo and Manaus to train, check and certify the Crew members, I booked it, no hesitation.

I'm from São Paulo, and due to my busy schedule that week, my inbound flight to Manaus was performed by an well-known A320. So, the ride in the newborn Airbus with be on my way back home.

It was Saturday - February 20 when I left my hotel in the historic downtown Manaus, and headed towards the bus stop a few blocks away to get the "executive" bus to the airport.

On my way to the bus stop
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Bus stop and tropical fruits market.
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Absolutely nothing executive in the van, besides a barely working air conditioning (extremely needed in Manaus, by the way).

We reached the airport 35 minutes later. The terminal has been recently renovated for the World Cup 3 years ago, and now it's pretty decent compared to what "Eduardo Gomes" international airport was before and to brazil's airport standards of quality.

Eduardo Gomes International Airport - Your entry door to the amazon.
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I went inside to get a blast of air conditioning and stop sweating like a bathroom mirror.
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I know most people share their experience in airline's lounges in their flight reports, unfortunately, that was not the case (neither was the budget limit) So, I went upstairs to have a quick Pizza Hut since it was way past lunch time.

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Problem solved, I went steps ahead to a quick check in the observatory deck and went downstairs to print my boarding pass.
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Manaus airport has an unusual design in which the check-in counters are located in a lounge after the entrance area. People usually go to the ticket sales counter trying to check-in..

If you're in Manaus, be aware tha this is not the check-in area lol. Go 10 feet ahead.
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Check-in area
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Tam Check-in counters. All calm and organized. Surprisingly!
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Self check-in kiosk puking my boarding pass:
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Cleared security checks in incredible 35 seconds and reached the relatively empty boarding area, with not many, but yet interesting, food options, from Japanese food to ice cream.

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Lazy afternoon in Manaus.
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A350's fellow neighbors in MAO.
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Boarding procedure began one hour in advance, for no apparent reason, TAM's ground staff was nice and agile, result: everyone on board and 30 minutes yet left for departure.

People in line:
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Our bird 1/2
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*First A350XWB of the Americas.

Our bird 2/2
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Coming in
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A350XWB TAM's economy class
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Folks were coming in as I settled down in my 46A - window seat, and kept exploring the new features in this aircraft.
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The A350 is incredibly silent, and that really amazed passengers in the flight. The standard seating plan for the A350 is a 3-3-3 configurations what gives a 18" seat width and 33" pitch. The pitch is pretty much the average found in airplanes all over the globe , the seat width is 1 inch bigger than TAM's 77W in their 3-4-3 arrangement, for example. For any one who is slightly over weight 1 inch already makes a difference.

I personally liked the - red and blue - seat colors, but from what I see in the internet, it's far from a unanimity. Anyways, it's confortable, the fabric seems neat and the seat reclination is fine.

My seat mate was pretty tall, you can judge the pitch by this image:
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The bin slides down, and don't have a door anymore, I've seen this a lot in 777 but never in an airbus.
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The no-smoking, fasten seat-belts and keep eletronic devices off sign, is fully digital. According to the FAs in can show ads if the company chooses so. HOW HASN'T ANYONE THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE?
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The IFE is modern and the screen size are correct. As in any brand new aircraft the touch screen functions are perfect. Has a wide and up to date variety of songs and movies. Games and TV Shows are also available. My entrainment in this 4 hours long flight would be the air show in its new version that allows you to explore the map and center in the aircraft again whenever you wish. Flight data is also available all the time, and you can choose to display the distance from origin, destination, and relevant cities. You can also explore the time zones in a world map. Everything is available in both metric and imperial mesurements. It's all new for me at least in TAM's aircrafts.




You can charge your device via USB below the IFE screen or through power outlets located beneath each seat.
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Safety card and sickness bag (not used, but taken for collection purpose!)
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We left parking position on time.

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Taxiing:
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Lining up:
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Airborne!
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Rocket climbing above the amazon
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River Rio Negro and River Solimoes are two rivers that merge at this spot. Due to chemical differences their waters don't mix up. The result is the tourist attraction below:
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Seat belts signs were turned off at 10.000 feet and the flight attendants rushed to the rear
galley. Wasn't expecting anything free to eat as I never expect in domestic flights, so was positively surprise when Gaidoz , our FA and a real gentleman, offered me the ham sandwich with olives sauce. Not amazing, but correct for someone who was expecting to starve. Variety of drinks was offered, but no alcoholics. Chose the orange juice. For some reason the catering was boarded as it was a full flight, so the flight attendant offered another sandwich. My doctor wouldn't agree but I said yes.

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Flight went on uneventful even while we were bouncing trying to deviate from heavy formations in northern Brazil.

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So, I decided to visit the restrooms and stretch my legs. As in any new aircraft the bathroom look as good as a bathroom can look. This is one of the two in the rear but there is 5 more in the division between the two economy class sections. One of this 5 (in the midle) is adapted for disabled people.

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Then, I was greeted by the friendly crew members who kindly invited me to take pictures of the rear galley and also showed me what was new.

A350 'sci-fi style' galley
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The Ovens and the garbage disposal
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Hot/Cold water dispenser
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Crew rest, a.k.a. 'The Sarcophagus':
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Flight Attendants cockpit:
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TAM and LAN are about to unite their brands into one, the galley systems are already set up!
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Went back to my seat as we were close to our descent procedure.

People resting in peace (alive!)
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We began our descent procedure to Guarulhos international and Capitain Falcão told us that we would have to hold due to traffic conditions in Sao Paulo that evening.

Waiting for our turn nearby Ribeirao Preto
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In this flight, we flew with two captains: Captain Falcao, TAM Airlines Mastercapitain and Cpt. Peter, from Airbus who was actually training Cpt. Falcao in the Airbus A350.

After two complete holding procedures, we continued our descent to Sao Paulo, expecting now a 20 minutes delay.

Mood lighting waking us up for landing:
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Sao Paulo Lights always tell me when I'm home:
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Final approach…
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And touchdown!
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We taxied out through the rainy taxiways of GRU Airport that evening and parked at a remote position in front of GRU new Terminal 3.

Usual rush for nothing right after parking.
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As the huge line of 200 passengers was slowly moving, I took two photos that were missing in this flight report.

Peolple had just left, so everything is messy and smashed but here they are:

Economy Class left section of 3 seats (ABC)
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LATAM's business class with 30 full lie-flat beds of 2,10 meters in a 2-2-2 arrangement
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Walking down the stairs to get in the bus, I looked left and saw the Rols Royce Trent XWB taking a quick nap. In one word: HUGE.
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Our bus was the last one to leave the apron towards the terminal. A loooong bus ride after and we were in bag claim where bags were already circling.

Two quick bonus:

When you fly over the amazon you realize how big it is:
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And when you cross the bridge over Rio Negro, you realize the same :)
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Hope you guys enjoy this Flight Report as much as I enjoyed flying A350XWB.







See more

Verdict

TAM

9.0/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment9.5
meal/catering7.5

Manaus - MAO

7.2/10
Efficiency9.0
Access5.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness7.0

Sao Paulo - GRU

7.9/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

Tam's product in the A350 XWB seems correct, seats are average, IFE is modern and complete. I wouldn't be afraid at all if I see that my (medium or long haul) flight will be in an A350! At least I'll know that my hours of sleep are guaranteed because the aircraft is pretty silent. looking forward to meet him again soon.

MAO: Airport is confortable, air conditioning system works properly and I did the faster security check ever. Not bad. At all.

GRU: The improvments of GRU's new administration can be felt everywhere. It was clear in the international terminal, and now it's obvious in their domestic terminal, even though still under remodeling. On the right track to be one of the best airports in South America.

SPECIAL THANKS for TAM amazing flight attendants I had the opprtunity to talk with in this flight: Chief Purser Brunnet and Kiraliz, FAs Gaydoz, Akeme, Kamilla, Catarina Oliveira and Cecilia Romano. Is really nice to fly with people who work well and love what they do. You guys were awsome.

Related

11 Comments

  • Comment 158334 by
    Flytak 137 Comments

    Thanks for your very nice and complete FR. It is nice to see another version of the A350. Y cabin seemed to be quite comfortable. However design of the cabin is not exactly my taste especially the very cheap looking headcover and the very bold colors used that do not look premium. Manaus airport is also a discovery for me, this is a very neat airport compared to GRU, or GIG during my last visit in Brazil (7 years ago...) which looked very grey to me. Inflight service looked very OK for me. Catering is OK, I hope the sandwich tasted better than it shows. Very nice pictures of the scenery.

      0
    • Comment 335354 by
      A350Flyer AUTHOR 10 Comments

      Glad you liked it! The cabin is confortable indeed in spite of its controversious colors and fabrics. The head cover is not part of the seat itself is a demand from Brazil's health surveillance agency, that requires that at least the place where people's head touch must be changed after eache flight...never saw any sense in that.

      Manaus airport is looking good and well dimensioned for its actual demand. GRU and GIG were actually really grey years ago. Finally their administration changed and they are been renovated. GRU already looks way better it once did.

        0
  • Comment 158345 by
    SKYTEAMCHC 4610 Comments

    Thanks for this first Flight report on TAM's brand new A350 !
    I really like this plane , too bad that TAM did not launch yet it's new livery on this plane.
    Inside , I am a bit disappointed by the cabin as some details are not what I expect on a new generation plane ( like the paper head covers that look cheap and the choice of the business seats that are in a 2X2X2 layout)
    The screan is very good and I love to have the IFE on when I fly.
    The sandwich is a nice touch and the FA in charge of your section was very good.
    Very detailed FR that gives us a very good impression of this new bird.

      0
    • Comment 335355 by
      A350Flyer AUTHOR 10 Comments

      As I said before, that awful looking head cover is a demand from Brazil's health surveillance agency, that requires that at least the place where people's head touch, must be changed after each flight, as bizarre as it sounds lol.

      The buisiness class seating plan was also disappointing for me, thaught that in 2016 it would be basic that every passager in C reached the aisle without jumping its companion. At least the seat is full lie flat and the 2,10m (6'9) lenghth of the bed seems confortable.

      Thank you for reading!

        0
  • Comment 158349 by
    KL651 3470 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.

    I think the only things that really look brand new on this plane are the galley and the screen.
    Other than that, the cabin, though clean looking doesn't look revolutionary.
    I guess the rather plain fabric and colours of the seat explain that.

    Service once again seems adequate on TAM and friendly FAs sure make a difference.

      0
    • Comment 335356 by
      A350Flyer AUTHOR 10 Comments

      At least something looks new hahaha!

      But I must agree with you, the cabin is close to everything we are already used to. Maybe, focused on having a unique product in their fleet LAN/TAM chose not too invest in their interiors, for now. The seats fabric and colors did not bother me, but indeed are far from anything classy. The colors and fabric of business class look way better despite its old fashioned 2x2x2 seating plan.Still think the aircraftis 'flyable' though.

        0
    • Comment 335359 by
      nechus 294 Comments

      What would make an economy class (or cattle class, as user East African calls it) cabin revolutionary?? I just feel lucky that they haven't followed the suggestion to carry standing passengers!! See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/New-call-for-standing-seats-on-planes/

      And as for the lousy colors, I'm afraid they will be LANTAM's colors of choice... forever. Somewhere I read that that reddish blue (or blueish-red) color was chosen because it's midway between TAM's institutional red and LAN's blue, something I don't completely agree with because LAN's institutional colors are those of the Chilean flag (blue, red and white), and now they are surely dropping the Chilean lone star for this Latin American institutional image. :'''( Not that I have something against LANTAM representing the whole continent, but I doubt such merge is motivated by any sort of Latin American sentiment. hahhaha
      See http://www.latercera.com/noticia/negocios/2015/08/655-641788-9-latam-airlines-confirma-union-de-marcas-a-partir-de-2016-y-lanza-nuevo-logo.shtml

      Well, what I really hope is that this merge will work out. Monopoly and all, this has meant lower air-ticket prices for us Chilean flyers (so far), with Sky Airlines turning into a low-cost airline to compete with LAN.

        0
  • Comment 158370 by
    nechus 294 Comments

    Thanks for sharing! I hate LAN for not bringing the A350 to Chile. :( But they do have the Boeing Dreamliners here. I guess it must have been an agreement between TAM and LAN now that they are merging this year.

    I have been to Brazil twice, but always in the south (Rio and Camboriú) and the heat was... bearable. Well, I was in Rio in June. I wonder what the best (cooler) time of year would be for a visit to Manaus.

    The food looks great for economy class! I have never gotten anything better than a bag of peanuts from LAN.

    And the FA's politeness comes as no surprise to me. I have always had the best experiences when sharing with Brazilians. Always so nice, cheerful and polite. I wish the whole world was like them.

      0
    • Comment 335357 by
      A350Flyer AUTHOR 10 Comments

      Things are much cooler in June, the problem in visiting Manaus in June is that it rains a lot, for people willing to visit the rainforest is a great period, anyway.

      I think that right after the merge the Brazillian LATAM will have 767 and A350 (77W are about to leave) and the Chilean LATAM 767 and Dreamliners, maybe as the merging is established planes will jump constantly between the Andes and Brazil!

      Glad you liked us brazilians. You are invited to come over as much as you want!

        0
  • Comment 158669 by
    Chibcha 409 Comments

    Thanks for sharing, the A350 looks awesome!

      0
  • Comment 158723 by
    Rl 777 698 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    MAO looks nice and modern now!

    The cabin looks nice except the seat covers, they look a bit old-school to me.

    33 seat pitch isn't bad, most of the wide-bodies I've flown in long-haul offer 31 seat pitch in Y.

    Fantastic aerial shots!

    Have a good one, see you!

      0

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