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
Bus stop and tropical fruits market.
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.
I went inside to get a blast of air conditioning and stop sweating like a bathroom mirror.
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.
Problem solved, I went steps ahead to a quick check in the observatory deck and went downstairs to print my boarding pass.
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.
Tam Check-in counters. All calm and organized. Surprisingly!
Self check-in kiosk puking my boarding pass:
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.
Lazy afternoon in Manaus.
A350's fellow neighbors in MAO.
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:
Our bird 1/2
*First A350XWB of the Americas.
Our bird 2/2
A350XWB TAM's economy class
Folks were coming in as I settled down in my 46A - window seat, and kept exploring the new features in this aircraft.
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:
The bin slides down, and don't have a door anymore, I've seen this a lot in 777 but never in an airbus.
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?
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.
Safety card and sickness bag (not used, but taken for collection purpose!)
We left parking position on time.
Rocket climbing above the amazon
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:
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.
Flight went on uneventful even while we were bouncing trying to deviate from heavy formations in northern Brazil.
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.
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
The Ovens and the garbage disposal
Hot/Cold water dispenser
Crew rest, a.k.a. 'The Sarcophagus':
Flight Attendants cockpit:
TAM and LAN are about to unite their brands into one, the galley systems are already set up!
Went back to my seat as we were close to our descent procedure.
People resting in peace (alive!)
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
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:
Sao Paulo Lights always tell me when I'm home:
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.
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)
LATAM's business class with 30 full lie-flat beds of 2,10 meters in a 2-2-2 arrangement
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.
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:
And when you cross the bridge over Rio Negro, you realize the same :)
Hope you guys enjoy this Flight Report as much as I enjoyed flying A350XWB.
Manaus - MAO
Sao Paulo - GRU
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.
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