Review of LATAM flight Santiago Arica in Economy

Airline LATAM
Flight LA384
Class Economy
Seat 33L
Aircraft Airbus A321
Flight time 02:40
Take-off 08 Jul 19, 17:40
Arrival at 08 Jul 19, 20:20
LA   #80 out of 134 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 123 reviews
Shisdu
By SILVER 467
Published on 21st July 2019
Welcome!

Winter has come to the southern hemisphere, and with it… winter holidays! Woo - hoo!

This time you are kindly invited to come with me in a series of seven reports that will take us to some amazing corners of my northern neighbor: PERU!

We'll see stunning views, eat strange things, fly four different airlines - two of them completely new for me - and add a couple of new airports to flight-report.com's data base.

I can almost hear you asking "Are you going to Machu Picchu?" I've been asked the same question every single time I mention that I'm going to Peru.

Well, no! For the umpteenth time, I'm not visiting Cusco or Machu Picchu.

I'll start my tour in Tacna, on the border with Chile. Then I will fly to Lima, and will spend one day in Iquitos, an intriguing town near the point where the Amazon river is born.

Let's go!



Purchasing my ticket


I usually plan my holidays with months in advance, particularly because I try to find the cheapest tickets and accommodation. This time I start my search in February, five months before the trip.

I will take a small bag in the cabin and a larger checked bag for two reasons: First, I'll be visiting different weathers so I'll need light and warm clothes, and second, I know I'll need room for lots of souvenirs!

Even though it's not my favorite airline, I'll give LATAM a try. They deny being an LCC, but still have three different fares: Light, Plus, and Top. The best option this time will be the Plus fare, which will let me carry a checked baggage, and choose a seat free of charge.

photo buy01

Both legs of the trip have the same price: 32,582 CLP (47.5 USD)

photo buy02

After entering my personal information…

photo buy 03b

…I'm required to choose my seats. 33L it will be.

photo buy4

Then you're given a summary of your itinerario, and the total amount to pay…

photo buy5

…and you have successfully purchased your tickets.

photo buy6

All I have to do now is wait, and wait, and wait, until the long 16 school weeks of the first term come to an end.



At SCL


The big day comes at last! For logistic reasons I choose TurBus to bring me to the airport today.

photo img_0107

The new international terminal at SCL is a work in progress.

photo img_0109

In the current terminal I walk to the domestic flights end. The counters in the hall are numbered 1 to 108.

photo img_0110

LATAM is in the middle, under a large portrait of Arturo Merino, the pilot that SCL is named after.

photo img_0111

The weight of my half-empty bag.

photo img_20190708_154317
I'm done in a moment.

photo img_20190708_154422

One of the good things at SCL. Queues might be long sometimes, but it never takes too long to go through safety check, at least on the domestic side.

photo img_20190708_154651

I wrote to SCL about "knifes" months ago, but the typo is still there. (sigh)

photo img_20190708_154835

First thing after clearing security check is going to the bathroom. I try one bathroom first but the smell is disgusting. I try the one near gate 20 and it smells much better, but it has two setbacks: First, it's too quiet, and I hate quiet public bathrooms because noise implies some privacy. And second, I can't help but feel a little… in plain sight.

photo img_20190708_160416

My flight to Arica will leave from gate 30. That means…

photo img_20190708_161941

…I have to go all the way down from this, the third floor…

photo img_20190708_162234

…to the second floor…

photo img_20190708_162340

…and down…

photo img_20190708_162351

…to the first (ground) floor, which means I'll be treated to a bus ride around the airport (woo - hoo). If you watch carefully you will notice…

photo img_20190708_170357

…that most passengers here are men. The reason is that small airlines flying to mining towns in the north of the country use these gates (they park in remote positions, I guess), so most of these passengers are mine workers. And that also means that you can't hear anything around here but bad words, which is getting on my nerves. Thank goodness the queue on the left is my queue. It's time to leave.

photo img_20190708_170419



Boarding


LATAM will enforce its baggage policy. You can count on that. But they can't do anything against my small backpack.

photo img_20190708_170513

No, the bus windows are not fogged. It's barely 5:30 p.m. but the sky over Santiago is foggy and the sunlight is dim and melancholic.

photo img_0112

I wonder if that's our plane.

photo img_0114

No it's not. One of those two, perhaps?

photo img_0118

Yes. The first one, CC-BEF.

photo img_0120

CC-BEF is a 3.5-year-old A321…

photo img_0121

…that has spent its whole life in LATAM's fleet.

photo img_0123

I just wonder why it's in LATAM's former LAN livery. I have to make a special mention of the cabin staff. They are all smiles! Each one of them.

photo img_0125

The old, thick, cushy, blue LAN seats were replaced long ago by these ironing boards, the same ones you'll find on JetSmart planes. The only difference is the larger tray table and the head rest.

photo img_20190708_173517

However, the head rest is a bit too high for me and I haven't found the way to slide it down, so I'm forced to use a sweater as a pillow behind my neck.

photo img_20190708_173523

The pitch is OK.

photo img_20190708_173537

Tray table.

photo img_20190708_173555

The seatback contents include…

photo img_20190708_173544

…the safety card, BOB menu, sickness bag and a BOB menu addendum.

photo img_20190708_173623

The BOB menu was updated last May.



Hm… I think I know what I'll order for my once (say ON - ceh)

photo img_20190708_173824

The new products on the BOB menu.

photo img_20190708_173853

Some details of the safety card.



Being the merge of a Chilean and a Brazilian arline, instructions are in both Spanish and Portuguese, besides English.

photo img_20190708_174035



The Flight


Some additional information about this flight.

photo flight

We are pushed back at 17:36. The atmosphere in the cabin is animated and lighthearted, with a big group sitting all around me laughing and talking. Then I see a young man in a soldier's uniform taking photos of the group. I can't hide, so I just try to make my best face for the photos.

photo img_0128

Later I learn that they are parents of young men who have just finished their military service. They are traveling to Putre (report and tourism bonus here) in order to attend their children's pledge of allegiance to the flag.

photo img_0129

We rise into the sky when the winter sun is already setting, painting the Andes with bright pinks, oranges and purples.

photo img_0140

This explains the gloomy sky above Santiago. A thick cover of fog and smog, very usual this time of year. It would be beautiful… if it weren't toxic!

photo img_0141

And this explains the cloud: The hills between Santiago and the ocean block the wind coming from the sea and prevent it from reaching the inner valley.

photo img_0142

The clouds and the fresh air stay on the coast.

photo img_0145

The distant mount Aconcagua doesn't seem to care. It's too high.

photo img_0149

There should be more snow on the mountains around Satiago by now.

photo img_0150



Cecilio… NOOOOOOOOO!!!!


Shortly after takeoff the BOB service is announced and I get ready for my sandwich. However, time passes, my hunger grows, but nothing happens! Finally, I get my sandwich as we fly over Copiapó, more than a hour later.

photo img_20190708_185039

Cecilio comes out of my waist bag to do his measuring job.

photo img_20190708_190710

Not bad, really! Almost 20cm of warm…

photo img_20190708_190827

…crunchy marraqueta bread…

photo img_20190708_190832

…with generous beef slices, melted cheese, and sweet, fried onion. It tastes and smells better than the mess you see here.

photo img_20190708_190859

But then… disaster strikes! I have placed Cecilio on the tray table, and as I contort to get the best angles for the photos… Cecilio slides off the table and falls into the deep darkness under my seat. I can't see him!!

Luckily, the passenger behind me finds my poor snail and gives it back to me. Phew! But he looks shocked after the experience.

photo img_20190708_192114

Flying above the desert at night means zero sights of anything. I must say, though, that I never expected to see so many lights in the desert. There are not many towns around here, but many mines and mining camps. This makes the desert look more populated by night than by day! Too bad the lights are so faint that I was unable to get a good photo.

But I do get a recognizable view of Antofagasta, though. I visited this port city not long ago. You can find my reports on ANF and tourism bonuses here and here.

photo img_20190708_192151

Flying over Antofagasta means that we'll soon see the lights of…

photo img_20190708_192246

…Mejillones, where I tried that delicious fish called cabrilla. The town is only the lowest triangle. The rest are mining port facilities.

photo img_20190708_192622

Some time later we descend into ARI, with a view of the city. The dark shadow extending from the right towards the center of the photo is a hill, and its tip is a large rock called El Morro. It has some historical significance.

photo img_20190708_200721

Welcome to ARI, aka Chacalluta Airport, the northernmost airport in Chile…

photo img_20190708_202048

…only meters from the border wirh Peru.

photo img_20190708_202053
Arica is known as La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera (The City of Neverending Spring)…

photo img_20190708_202101

…and tonight's wonderful weather confirms that. The breeze coming from the sea is not cold nor hot. Just perfect.

photo img_20190708_202149

We have to go to the entrance behind that palm tree…

photo img_20190708_202137

…to baggage claim.

photo img_20190708_202221

ARI is supposed to be an international airport - hence the PDI (Policía de Investigaciones) booth - but I don't know of any international flights departing from here at the moment.

photo 2019-07-19-221206_1366x768_scrot

Arrival is very simple. The exit is there on the right. You buy your transfer ticket here, inside baggage claim, and the vans are waiting right outside. You don't need to walk more than ten meters to the vans.

photo 2019-07-19-221225_1366x768_scrot

The ticket is 4000 CLP (5.8 USD) which is too expensive in my opinion, because the city is just 7km away, while transfer vans in Valdivia charge the same for a 35km trip!

I ask the driver to drop me at the international bus station in Arica, which is a horrendous, shameful, ugly and decadent place from where buses and shared taxis depart to Tacna, a Peruvian city right north of the border.

The checkpoint at the border is integrated, meaning that authorities from both countries work together. This makes migration easier because all the paperwork needed to go out of one country and into the other is made in the same room. This checkpoint is open until midnight. The price of public transportation between both cities can be as low as 2000 CLP (2.4 USD) on a Peruvian bus. Peruvian transportation is cheaper than Chilean transportation. In fact, something that really impressed me in Peru is how inexpensive food and transportation is!!

I make it to my airbnb in Tacna about two hours after arriving at ARI. Let's go for a walk the day after.



Tourism Bonus - Tacna


Once upon a time, the map of Chile and its neighboring countries looked like this.

photo mapa chile antiguo

It turns out that the south of Peru and the Bolivian area on the Pacific Ocean were rich in minerals. So, well… Chile took them. End of the story. If you want to learn more about the War of the Pacific you can follow this link.

The thing is, both Arica and Tacna used to be Peruvian cities. After the war, Arica was granted to Chile and Tacna remained in Peru.

Nowadays, Tacna is a free zone and it's frequented by Chileans, though tourism is not an important business yet. Nevertheless, they take much care of their parks. This the park on Bolognesi Avenue, for example.

photo img_0159

Tacna is a safe city. You see guards everywhere. But I felt a bit scared at first because I suddenly found myself surrounded by a crowd insisting that I should fix my teeth…

photo img_0160

……or have my eyes checked.

photo img_0162

It turns out that dental, eye, and plastic surgery clinics are big business in Tacna. Just look at the photo below! Chileans pour into these clinics because of the low prices. I have seen the occasional news report about unwanted, disastrous results of these low-priced interventions.

photo img_20190709_105600

Anyway, few of these "pitchmen" will stick around if you reply with a kind but firm "Gracias. No vine al dentista ni al oculista." In fact, I had to repeat it like a mantra as I walked along the avenue.

There's a park called Municipal Forest. Well, from the point of view of someone living in the middle of the desert, some hedges clipped into African animals might be a forest.



Lovers can have their photo taken in a romantic setting.

photo img_0170

The Paseo Cívico in downtown Tacna…

photo img_0181

…lies by the local cathedral…

photo img_0182

…and hosts a nice fountain…

photo img_0184

…and Tacna's most important monument, The Parabolic Arch, aka Monumento a los Héroes.

photo img_0183

It was built in memory of the heroes that fought the War of the Pacific…

photo img_0186

…like Francisco Bolognesi (left) and Miguel Grau (right)

photo img_20190709_171638

One piece of advice before we board our flight to Lima:

photo img_0188

Be careful. Traffic in Peru is insane!

photo img_20190709_173039
See more

Verdict

LATAM

9.3/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Meal/catering10.0

Santiago - SCL

9.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access9.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Arica - ARI

9.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

I'm not a big fan of LATAM, I must say. Being such an old airline, they always were a classy airline in Chile, and never showed any interest in bringing air travel to the common John Doe until they saw theselves cornered by low cost airline Sky, and more recently JetSmart. Just have a look at their fares to Easter Island, for example, a route where they have a monopoly. And their catering service has never been outstanding, either.

Their current business model has taken much from the low cost model. They have three different fares, and if you want to choose your seat or carry checked baggage you have to either pay for a more expensive fare, or buy it as an additional service.

No free catering, though their BOB service is OK. It hasn't changed much in years, though.

Their seats are the same ironing board style you'll find in LCC airlines like JetSmart, but with a headrest and can be reclined. Sky Airline's seats are better.

Single class cabins in domestic flights.

In a nutshell, I think that adopting an LCC-like fare model was an act of honesty from their part, because the only time they offered more than an LCC was when they used to give you a free bag of peanuts.

Related

12 Comments

  • Comment 512557 by
    Christian Gerber 2 419 Comments

    Gracias, muy agradable reporte como cada ves !

  • Comment 512659 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4938 Comments

    So you didn't do to Cusco of Machu Picchu? 🤣🤣🤣

    It seems that the LCC model is well adapted to these short-haul and domestic trips. I guess noone is willing to pay more these days to be on a full service carrier instead of the LCC competition, so LATAM have done well to maintain full service on long-haul and a more LCC type model on short haul. And yeah, you're right about prices to Easter Island. I've been trying to plan a trip there for years but prices are always ridiculous.

    The pink hues on takeoff are beautiful. Can't say the B.O.B. sandwich looks appetising, but these things rarely look as good as they taste. Plus it's nice to have had a warm option.

    Oh my, all that drama with Cecilio...you almost lost him!! Oh the horrors!

    Thanks as always for the interesting cultural and historical information!

    • Comment 512804 by
      Shisdu SILVER AUTHOR 670 Comments

      So you didn't go to Cusco or Machu Picchu?

      Very. Funny.

      Oh, it was such a nice trip! I came back home with my head spinning with so many amazing views and experiences. And I became friends with four nice Chilean ladies in Lima who were taking part in a handicraft workshop. Two of them were staying at the same airbnb as me, and one of them used to live in Valdivia, and she turned out to be the aunt and sister of some very close friends of my family! Small world!

      A question: This is my 14th report this year but I noticed that my FR score is still stuck at 130. Would you have a look at it, please? If I'm not going to get many "LATAM miles", at least I want my FR points! :D

      Thank you!

  • Comment 512860 by
    ThomasDutch SILVER 371 Comments

    The old, thick, cushy, blue LAN seats were replaced long ago by these ironing boards,

    At least tell me that they deliver irons with it too? Those seats unfortunately are becoming the norm in the aviation industry, but they are not nearly as close of being comfortable on a long haul flight.
    -
    Cecilio slides off the table and falls into the deep darkness under my seat. I can't see him!!

    A nightmare indeed. Did he recover yet from his experiences? haha
    -
    Thanks for sharing and Chile definitely offers some nice aerial footage like always. Guess it doesn't really matter as to where you travel within Chile as you are in for a treat :).

    • Comment 512909 by
      Shisdu SILVER AUTHOR 670 Comments

      Hi, Thomas!

      Those seats unfortunately are becoming the norm in the aviation industry, but they are not nearly as close of being comfortable on a long haul flight.

      I found one exception during these holidays: Viva Air also has ironing boards, but they are slightly thicker and, incredibly, with a lot of legroom. I had the impression that they would make an economy long haul flight bearable. Too bad they don't flight long haul! XD Report coming soon.

      Guess it doesn't really matter as to where you travel within Chile as you are in for a treat

      Indeed. Chile is a privileged country geography-wise. I think that God created Chile sooo beautiful, that he had to create ugly Chileans to compensate. XD

      Did he recover yet from his experiences?

      Nothing that a visit to the snail therapist can't fix. Thanks for asking! XD

  • Comment 512861 by
    loukas SILVER 306 Comments

    Hi Nelson! What a fantastic picture of the pink Andes! I can't stop staring at it asking myself why you didn't go to Cusco or Machu Picchu? ;) ;) ;) It's always funny to read winter reports in the middle of the summer in my part of the globe. I'm not really looking forward to winter and smog that also here is a serious problem. Am I mistaken or the construction of the new terminal in SCL takes...ages? Thanks for the interesting bonus, I love to discover South America with your reports!

    • Comment 512912 by
      Shisdu SILVER AUTHOR 670 Comments

      I'm not really looking forward to winter

      And we are sort of fed up with winter down here. We are having temperatures below zero these days. But reading about those 40+ °C in Europe serves as consolation!

      Am I mistaken or the construction of the new terminal in SCL takes...ages?

      They say that the airport was due this year, but it was delayed until 2020 because of the inefficiency of local authorities (permits and the like, you see?)

      A question: You're not planning to move house in the next month, right? I'm asking because a little Peruvian guy told me that he wanted to know Europe and I sent him with the post last Monday. :D

Login to post a comment.