Hello and welcome to the next leg in this series of Flight-Reports.
I had found some decent oneworld Business class fares to Peru over the Thanksgiving Holiday, which presented a perfect opportunity to go to Machu Picchu and check off one of those long-time bucket-list trips. Although LATAM had recently started non-stop flights between Washington-Dulles and Lima, the flights were not daily and the schedule did not fit my travel plans. I would therefore need to fly to Lima either via Miami or Dallas. The shortest travel time was via MIA, but the overnight MIA-LIM flight time is less than 5 hours, which does not give much time for sleep. So I decided to go through DFW–the 7 hour DFW-LIM flight would allow for more sleeping time so we could hit the ground running upon arrival.
Upon arriving at LIM from the Dallas flight, we went through immigration, which was surprisingly quick. Literally right after the immigration desks, there is a duty free store with some pretty good prices from what i saw. Passengers are then directed towards two different paths–one leading to international-to-international connections on the right (i.e. international transit), and one leading to baggage carousels, customs, the arrivals hall, and domestic connections.
As my bag was tagged through to Cusco, I had assumed that after collecting my checked bag, I would go through customs and then put it on a belt for connecting baggage. I was thinking it would work similarly to international-to-domestic connections in the U.S., Australia, and many other countries, but it turned out there was no baggage "re-check" belt at all. We had to exit customs and check the bag again at the LATAM counter. I was slightly annoyed because I thought to myself…so what's the point of having checked the bag through to CUZ? But when I saw how small the airport was, I realized there was really no point to having a separate belt for connecting baggage–the LATAM counter was only a few hundred feet from the arrivals hall on the same level.
Check-in was quick using the Priority Preferente queue. The agent printed a new bag tag to CUZ and issued new boarding passes.
Security was relatively quick, despite crowds. International and domestic passengers are directed to different security checkpoints. Standing in the domestic security queue, the majority of passengers around us were also American. I guess we weren't the only ones to think of coming to Peru over the Thanksgiving Holiday!
The domestic section of the terminal is very small, which made it feel even more crowded.
Location of the domestic flights wing:
The domestic terminal is not particularly attractive. It looks like it hasn't seen any renovations since the 80's. Definitely could use a refresh.
Despite Lima being a LATAM hub, there is no lounge accessible to LATAM passengers or oneworld Elites in the domestic wing. However, there is one very small lounge accessible to Priority Pass card holders.
The entrance to the Caral VIP lounge is much grander than the reality inside.
And here it is. This is it…the whole lounge in one picture. Many living rooms are larger than this place!
The snacks were very basic, with just cookies and chips, nothing terribly appealing. I just had some orange juice and did some work as we waited for our flight's boarding time.
As the tiny windowless lounge wasn't particularly interesting, we headed to the gate about an hour before departure to stretch our legs and do a bit of planespotting.
Our flight was showing Llamada (call) at the gate when we walked past about an hour before departure. Don't really see the need to be at the gate an hour before in such a small terminal. Boarding is scheduled for a half hour before departure.
Checking out the local birds as we wait. Unsurprisingly, the tarmac is dominated by LATAM (i.e. LAN Peru) and Avianca–two nice looking liveries. Too bad the LAN livery is being replaced by the boring new LATAM livery.
Boarding began on time at 10:30 AM. Passengers with a oneworld status of Sapphire and Emerald may board through the Preferente lane.
There is no Business class on LATAM domestic flights within Peru; however, Sapphire and Emerald passengers have access to "Preferential" seating in the first three rows and Exit rows free of charge.
Having boarded through the Preferente lane, we were among the first on board this relatively new A320.
The cabin is modern and bright, though the dingy looking paper antimacassars with the new LATAM logo ruin the aesthetic IMO.
The seat pitch is tight at just 30". The "Preferential" seats in the front do not have any more legroom than in other rows.
The seatback contents are above the knee on these seats–surely allowing for more seats to be squeezed onto an aircraft.
The presence of sharklets indicates that this is indeed a newer A320.
We pushed back a few minutes early.
The tail of an Airbus in the new LATAM livery can be seen poking above this Peruvian 737-400 as we push back.
Lining up for takeoff.
As we took off, I could see the city was covered in smog hanging in the air.
Lima is a large city, stretching out as far as the eye can see. Too bad the smog makes it difficult to fully see the city.
The upscale Miraflores district of Lima.
Look at all that smog!
We turned back inland, heading towards Cusco and the Andes mountains.
There are overhead IFE screens on this aircraft, but the best in-flight entertainment is the scenery from the window.
About 20 minutes into the flight, the very friendly crew began the in-flight service. The flight attendants all spoke English quite well, which is good since at least half of the passengers on our plane were American college students, most of whom made no effort to speak Spanish.
There was a choice of a sweet or salty snack. I went for the salty option, which was veggie chips, and tried an Inka Cola. If you've never had Inka Cola, I don't really know how to describe it except that it tastes like very sweet bubble gum or cotton candy.
Very similar mountains to those around Machu Picchu.
During the flight, the usual "Just For Laughs" type of program was shown on the overhead monitors.
As we began out descent into Cusco, the screens switched to display the moving map.
Beautiful scenery around Cusco
We got some great views of Cusco as we circled the city and overflew the airport to come back around towards the airport for landing.
I knew Cusco was a decent sized city, but I was surprised that it was as large as it was as seen from the air.
Maneuvering around a mountain on final approach to CUZ runway 28.
As we landed we sped past the terminal building where all gates appeared to be occupied.
Right after we landed, the wind picked up and it began pouring rain as a storm passed through the valley.
As I had suspected, all gates were occupied so we just sat on the tarmac for about 10 minutes.
Once a gate became available, we taxied to the Terminal where we parked and then….nothing. We just sat there. Even after the door was open, we continued to just sit there.
Eventually, the crew announced that the only gate available did not have a jet bridge and that we would not be allowed to deplane via air-stairs until the rain calmed down.
Meanwhile other planes were departing and arriving at the jet bridge-equipped gate next door :-/
Finally, after about a 15 minute wait, the rain let up and we were allowed to deplane. I'm all for safety, but I think the ground crew were being a bit overly cautious. They must have known there were tons of Americans on board….they know we love to sue ^^
Thanks for reading!
I'll leave you with a tourist bonus of beautiful and historic Cusco. Machu Picchu will be featured in the next report.
Spanish colonial buildings built right on top of Inca ruins
Our Hotel, the Novotel Cusco, was in a beautiful Spanish colonial building
Caral VIP Lounge
Lima - LIM
Cusco - CUZ
An enjoyable short domestic flight with LATAM. Mostly thanks to the beautiful scenery throughout the flight and friendly crew. The seats are fine, but the 30" pitch is knee-crushing. Luckily, I'm not that tall at 5'10" (1m78), but I still felt cramped.
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