The airline with the best average rating is LATAM with 7.2/10.
The average flight time is 2 hours and 3 minutes.More information
Hello! I am very pleased to introduce another flight series to this site, even more being in the COVID-19 era. After years of planning, I decided to move to Rio to pursue my college degree. With scarce options due to the pandemic, I had no other choice but to fly LATAM, which currently has a monopoly on travel between ASU and Brazil. It's worth noting that this was my first flight ever in short-haul Premium Economy; as a result, I was really looking forward to it to see how it compared to long-haul W. The routing is the following:
I booked the flights using LA's site. At the beginning, I had the intention of booking Economy, which offered four different fares: Basic, Light, Plus and Top. Only the two latter options included 1 and 2 pieces of baggage, respectively. As I planned to carry a considerable amount of baggage, Top was the best option, but an expensive one. After browsing for options, I was surprised to see that Premium Economy, introduced by LA years ago as a replacement for regional Business, was slightly cheaper than the Y Top fare, and included 3 pieces of bagagge. I didn't think twice and booked both segments in W.
My dad was kind enough to drive me to the airport, where we arrived around 14:25, as LA recommended to get to the airport 4 hours before the estimated time of departure.
As usual during these pandemic times, sinks where located right at the entrance.
After entering the check-in hall, I could see it was refurbished last year; elevators were added and the check-in counters were entirely new. Despite advising being there 4 hours before the flight, the LA counters were not open yet. It took around 15 minutes for the agents to start admitting passengers. As I had priority when travelling in W and already had done online check-in, I only needed to dispatch my baggage. Currently, Brazil asks for a PCR test done at least 72 hours before entering the country, and an online health declaration. Both these documents were required at the check-in counter.
After dispatching my baggage, I cleared customs in less than ten minutes, as there wasn't any line. As I kept walking to the airside, I was astonished to see that I was practically the only person there. Also, most stores and shops were closed. Because of the pandemic, ASU now recieves a average of only 3-4 flights per day. For example, LA's ASU-GRU route went from 2 daily to 3 weekly flights because of the coronavirus.
Logically, the apron was deserted.
Departures board. Only two flights remaining for the day!
My machine-generated boarding pass.
I spent the next two hours at the only open café at the airside. Normally, I would have been granted access to a lounge, but all of them are currently closed. At around 17:15, my plane arrived from Santiago de Chile. It was PR-MAK, an A320-200 introduced to TAM in 2002.
- Airline: LATAM (LA)
- Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
- Registration: PR-MAK
- Age: 19 years (2002)
- Scheduled time of departure: 18:35 (ATD 18:44)
- Scheduled time of arrival: 20:45 (ATA 20:28)
- Flight duration: 02:10 (Actual duration: 01:44)
- Take-off from runway: 20
- Landing on runway: 09R
The boarding process started at 18:00 at gate 2, with priority and W passengers boarding first. At the front door, I was received by two warm flight attendants.
I made the way to my seat, 2A. Despite being 19 years old, the plane's cabin looked brand new because of a recent refurbishment. The seats were RECARO slimlines. In the W cabin, the middle seat was blocked, just like in European J. The W and Y cabins were separated by a mobile partition. There were 3 rows and 12 seats in the Premium Economy cabin. In this flight, the W cabin was full, with a 100% load factor. Overall, I estimate the flight was 80-90% full, an extraordinary occupation rate by pandemic standards.
View from my window.
The only content available in the seat pocket was the safety card. I guess the Vamos magazine was discontinued during the pandemic to avoid COVID-19 spread by touching surfaces.
There were power outlets located below the front seats.
The pitch was 34 inches, enough to fully extend and even cross my legs.
After boarding was completed, the jetway was retracted.
After 30 minutes, we started pushback. Despite the A320 having overhead screens, the safety demonstration was done manually by the FAs.
Afterwards, we started taxiing towards runway 20.
Inmediatly after getting on position, the throttles were pushed back and in seconds we were airborne, 14 minutes behind schedule.
During the initial climb, we could see Asuncion's suburbia and the nearby Ypacaraí lake.
Climbing to FL330 while overflying the Paraguayan countryside.
30 minutes after take-off, we crossed the Parana river, thus entering Brazilian airspace.
As sun began to set, the sky got cloudy.
The meal service began 45 minutes into the flight. It consisted of a burger with a bag of dried vegetables, a brownie and dulce de leche dessert, and a beverage of your choice. I went with a glass of Pepsi. For a two-hour flight, it was more than enough.
After finishing the meal, the flight attendants asked if we wanted anything else, so I went with another Pepsi. On this flight, the FAs were warm and attentive, and always smiled when interacting with passengers.
Outside, the night kept setting in. As the sky got darker, I found it difficult to take aerial pictures because the cabin lights produced a reflection on the window.
View of the cabin mid-flight.
This plane was equipped with Wi-Fi to support the LATAM Play app, which provided entertainment with movies, TV shows, music, and, most importantly for an AvGeek, a flight map.
As we got closer to Sao Paulo, we found considerable (but moderate) turbulence. Otherwise, the flight was smooth and calm. After 01:30 of flight, we started descending towards GRU. We overflew the city before turning and lining up with the runway, with beautiful night views.
We landed in runway 09R at 20:28, 17 minutes ahead of schedule and after 01:44 of flight. Shortly after, we vacated the runway and taxied to Terminal 3.
We stopped next to a TAP A330-900.
We only deplaned 20 minutes after coming to a full stop, because of a delay from ground services on bringing the jetway to the plane. To get to customs, we had to follow a long hallway thorugh the whole length of the terminal.
As there was again no line, I went through customs quickly and went to retrieve my baggage.
I needed to get to the aiport's bus station, located to catch a van to an hotel nearby, as my flight to SDU departed at 08:20 in the morning.
Hallway connecting terminals 2 and 3.
Terminal 2 check-in hall.
Getting to the bus station.
After 40 minutes of waiting, the hotel van picked me up, and got a little sleep before returning to the airport to catch my early morning flight to SDU, which will be covered in my next report coming up. See you there!
Overall, it was a pleasant flight on a recently refurbished A320. LATAM's Premium Economy is basically a more appropiate name for service resembling European business class, with preferential service, seats blocked in the middle and more pitch, and a complete meal without being Business class polished. The LATAM Play app compensates well for the absence of a flight magazine in this short South American flight. ASU looks better after undergoing renovations on the check-in hall, but is basically empty with no shops open. Guarulhos' Terminal 3, altough with long walking distances, is way better than Terminal 2, and has plenty of shops and services.