I woke up early on my departure day and did a couple of last minute errands before going to the airport. I arrived at around 10:30A and proceeded directly to the LAN counter at the International Terminal. There was already a long line but fortunately I was traveling in Business class and the line there was empty. I waited patiently to be called when all of a sudden this intruder placed himself in front of me and walked towards the agent. The conversation went somehow like this:
Agent: Sir, are you traveling in Business class? There is that gentleman (pointing at me) who was here before you Intruder: Eh…no, but they told me that I can go directly to the front Agent: Who told you to move to the front? Could you please step aside and wait for your turn?
The guy moved away and I couldn't hide the smile on my face. If the agent did not ask him, I would have raised hell right there but she took care of it efficiently. I had 3 carry-ons and was testing whether I could get away with bringing all of them onboard. To my disappointment I was asked to check one piece and the carry-ons were dutifully weighed. Well, it seems that LAN is pretty strict when it comes to baggage weight and limits. I was given an invitation to the British Airways Terraces lounge and proceeded to security. One thing that was odd was my seat assignment. I originally requested 3J from SFO all the way to Sao Paulo (GRU) but on my boarding pass it reassigned me to 4D with the continuation from LIM in 3J. I did not notice this until I was in line through security and rather than go back to the counter I decided to take it with the agents at the gate to see if my original seat could be reinstated.
Security was busy and lots of families were traveling with children. Again, I was able to use the shorter line reserved for Business class passengers and it took a good 10 minutes to finish the process. Once inside the terminal, I went to the exchange booth and they were closed for lunch, so I gave up on the idea and decided to change my money once I arrived in Sao Paulo. I looked forward to secluding myself to the confines of the British Airways lounge and spending a few minutes in a civilized way sipping a drink quietly in a corner undisturbed by the noise of the maddening crowd. I rang the bell to the lounge in anticipation and I pushed the door upon hearing the buzzing sound. I found myself in a small room with an elevator and seconds later more passengers came in. We were deposited at a lower floor and the ladies in the reception greeted us. The desk was manned by an agent from Cathay at that time and one from LAN. There was an outbound to Hong Kong that also used the British Airways lounge and once I was inside I saw the presence of a couple of children running around. Fortunately the children were not too mischievous and I had a chance to relax a bit and take some shots.
One neat feature from the BA lounge that I've heard is that you are connected directly to the plane thus eliminating the need to exit the lounge and board the airplane from the gate area. Unfortunately this advantageous arrangement was not provided for my flight since this feature was reserved for the HKG bound passengers on CX. I was escorted to the gate by a LAN representative along with 2 other passengers. At the gate, I inquired about getting my original window seat to no avail. It seemed that the entire J cabin was occupied on today's flight.
Plane at the gate
I entered the plane and was greeted by the flight attendant at the door. She politely inquired about my seat and pointed to the side of my cabin welcoming me onboard. I settled into my aisle seat and I noticed that an entire Chinese family of 9 was occupying the 2 last rows of the cabin. Thankfully the 2 children were extremely well behaved and made almost no noise during the entire flight. As I later found out, this family was also going to Sao Paulo along with yours truly. One thing that I really like about LAN's cabin is the faux wooden panels and dark browns located throughout. It gives a dignified and relaxing ambiance that sets it apart from other cabins.
The flight attendant introduced herself and asked if I wanted a blanket (duvet in this case). I accepted her offer and she then retrieved it from the overhead bin, opened the plastic bag and handed the duvet to me. The menus were placed in the seat compartments in front and she also handed those to me. I wonder about the purpose of having the menus out there if you are going to hand them to the passengers eventually. Champagne, water or orange juice were offered from real glasses as a pre-departure service and right before closing the door a FA passed with the cart offering newspapers, magazines and amenity kit. The amenity kit said Bulgari Parfums and it contained a generous assortment of products such as comb, the standard socks, eye mask, and ear plug, a not so common mirror, shoe bag and pen along with Bulgari creams for the face, hands and a lip balm. US carriers and some European ones can take note about offering luxurious brands in their kits instead of mediocre ones.
Bulgari amenity kit
The door was closed and we did not wait for too long to take off on this rainy day. About 10 minutes after the Fasten Seat Belt sign was turned off and announcements were kept to a minimum. Thick hot towels were distributed and the FA asked for meal choices. She then inquired about drinks before the meal and I asked for straight pisco. She brought the drink along with a minuscule dish of nuts with raisins.
Here is the menu:
Salad greens with seasonal vegetables
Roast beef with golden goat cheese and pesto Morande/Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Gran Reserva/Morande Winery/Maipo Valley
Fresh tomato soup
Lamb goulash with potato gratin and sauteed vegetables Montes Folly/Syrah 2006/Montes Winery/Colchagua Valley
Pork loin with Calvados and apple sauce, sauteed vegetables and gnocchi stuffed with ricotta and spinach Q Zuccardi/Malbec 2007/Zuccardi Winery/Mendoza
light-Smoked salmon salad, sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and assorted lettuce Tamaya/Chardonnay 2008 Reserva/Tamaya Winery/Limari Valley
Special cheese selection
Haagen Dazs ice cream Creme Caramel (Flan) light-Fresh seasonal fruit
Choose this alternative if you want more time to rest Select one of the options of appetizers and main entrees Salad Cheese Plate Select your dessert
Smoked salmon sandwich with cream cheese
Grilled chicken wrap with Parmesan cheese, tomato and cucumber
Cheesecake with seasonal berries
Maison Louis Roederer/Champagne Louis Roederer/Brut Premier/Reims, Francia
Vina Mones/Montes Folly 2006/Vinedos de Apalta, Santa Cruz/Valle de Colchagua
Vina Morande/Gran Reserva/Cabernet Sauvignon 2007/Valle del Maipo
Bodega Zuccardi/Q Malbec 2007/ Mendoza
Vina Tamaya/Reserva/ Chardonnay 2008/Valle del Limari
Vina Litoral/Ventolera/Sauvignon Blanc 2009/Valle de Leyda
Croft Oporto/Late bottled vintage 2003/Vila Nova de Gaia/Portugal
Champage Louis Roederer Brut Premier Vodka Absolut Gin Bombay Saphire Whisky Johnnie Walker Black Label Chivas Regal 12 years old Scotch Whisky Bailey's Irish Cream Amaretto di Saronno Oporto Port Croft Cognac Courvoisier VSOP Pisco Acholado Vinas de Oro
NON ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Orange juice Fruit juice (Pineapple and Peach on my flight) Tomato juice Mineral Water Sparkling Water Tonic Water Soft drinks
The appetizer along with the cheese plate and salad came together on a tray. There was no choice of salad dressing, only a small bottle of balsamic vinegar with olive oil already on the set up.
The salad was fresh and contained slices of pear.
I chose the lamb entree and it was tasty although I expected more in terms of quantity. The flight attendant came with a basket offering bread sticks and 2-3 other choices of bread. One thing that really caught my attention was the way that wine was served. Upon requesting your choice, the FA asks you if you want to sample the wine before pouring it in the glass. Each entree was individually brought to the passenger instead of using a cart. The only time that a cart was rolled was during the beverage service.
Dessert was fantastic and I ate the cheese plate followed by the flan which was creamy and luscious. This was served with a tablet of dark chocolate that ended the meal splendidly.
Overall I found the FA's to be very polite and professional. Several times I caught FA's retrieving the passengers' carry-ons from the overhead bins and returning them back. I also saw FA's put blankets on top of passengers. Call buttons were answered efficiently and almost right away. I personally spoke to the crew in Spanish but I did not see any difference between how Spanish speakers were treated from non Spanish ones. The only minor flaw that I saw was the lack of individual bottles of water after the meal.
The IN program is pretty intuitive and easy to use. The screens are some of the largest ones that I have seen in F or J class and the seats are pretty comfortable. I slept easily on the extended position and the individual lamp is a plus. Selection of movies was decent and there are some classics along with latest Blockbusters and Latin American films. The music selection is varied and offered choices for every taste.
Before arriving into LIM I was served a snack along with a good dessert. It consisted of smoked salmon sandwich made with rye bread and a chicken wrap. Dessert was some sort of cake with a berry sauce.
Arrival in LIM was on time and I got ready for my connecting flight to GRU.
British Airways Terrace Lounge
San Francisco - SFO
Lima - LIM
Overall a good flight. FA's were polite, entertainment was pretty good and flight was on time. Catering was adequate but I felt that they could have been a bit more generous with portions. The meal service felt like an express version of what a proper service should be. On a daytime long haul service, courses should be spaced and not thrown together. In addition, a trolley service with appetizers or desserts would have been nicer.
Cabin is elegant but seats should offer a bit more privacy, specially when most airlines are introducing new generation lie-flat seats.
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