Back in May I was planning my winter holidays trip. I had accumulated some miles and wondered if they would be enough to purchase a flight. And - woo hoo! - they were! The price of the ticket was 1585 miles + boarding fee (9074 CLP, about 8 USD at the time)
I had also cancelled a previous flight, for which LATAM gave me a voucher, which they keep in the form of a "wallet". I had a small amount remaining there, and used it to pay the boarding fee.
(Sorry that LATAM's app didn't fit my cellphone screen well)
The money in my virtual wallet was not enough - how realistic! haha - so I had to pay a tiny difference of about 3USD with my credit card.
And that was it.
I've just landed at SCL a couple of hours ago from CPO. LA43 to Valdivia is departing from gate 16. Humph. That part of this terminal used to be set apart for international flights before the new terminal was opened. It means…
…this will be a long walk…
…down to gate…
SCL has a chronic problem with dirty floors. Is it a lack of cleaning, or are people just too careless?
I sit for a moment while our plane arrives and have another look at my boarding pass. Lucky me! I didn't pay for any special seat but I have been assigned a window seat! Nothing else calls my attention at the moment.
12:47. 20-year-old CC-COP is waiting at the gate.
The boarding process is a breeze. However, I am so accustomed to being in the last boarding groups…
…that I didn't even check what group I was in and boarded along with one of the last groups, and now I'm stuck in the jetbridge anyway. haha
But when I eventually make it to my seat… wait a minute. Blocked middle seat?
I start to worry. Am I sitting in Premium Economy? A look at the overhead bins confirms it.
Cool! But… gulp… What if it's a mistake? I stare at the FAs every time they pass by, waiting to be expelled to the back of the plane. I'm pretty sure my seat must have been supposed to be 12F, or 22F??
But nothing of the kind happens! Anyway, just in case, I start my flight-reporter duties as quickly as possible.
CC-COP's age is starting to show in the upholstery.
Awww… that panel looks so vintage compared to the one I photographed this morning. Cute.
Ahh… those years when you didn't have LATAM Play. I wonder if these still work.
By the way, someone asked me how LATAM Play worked. I have no idea. I keep forgetting to try it when I fly LATAM.
The best part - the soft, cushy seats. You won't find these easily these days!
None of the flight attendants has come to denounce me in front of the rest of the passengers for "infiltrating" the Premium Economy cabin, so I just enjoy the view as we head to the runway past these mothballed LATAM planes. Those former Norwegian aircraft were delivered to LATAM, I have been informed.
AA always so… aloof. Sitting far from all the rest.
And here we go. Nobody can take me out of my Premium Economy seat now.
Today's flight as seen by flightradar24.com
Some residential neighborhoods south west of Santiago.
Lots of fog today, a mix of Santiago smog…
…and the fog coming from the coast. Some snow on the top of the hills west of the city.
This is the first relatively sharp photo I have taken of lake Rapel, an artificial lake where my dad and uncles used to go fishing, and where I caught my first (and only) fish ever.
In fact, I have a photo of that occasion! That was in the late 70s. I wonder why nobody believes that I caught it myself. I'm going to get traumatized. haha
Back on the plane, we are now flying south along the coast.
The complimentary snack service begins.
For Premium Economy: sanitizing towel, a cup of coffee, a glass of Coke, Tika chips, sweetener and creamer… and a Trencito! So cute!
Trencito (Little Train) is one of the most traditional chocolates in Chile. Has been around for ages!
I enjoy my snack, though I keep hearing a little creepy, Gollum-like voice whispering at the back of my head - "You're cheating, my precious… Tell the FA there was a mistake…. You didn't pay for this…." I try to keep it quiet.
We soon start descending…
I thank the FAs with a big smile as I disembark…
…and take a final photo of CC-COP before hurrying out of there.
Two minutes later I'm sitting in the transfer van. 4000 CLP (a bit more than 4 USD). 500 CLP up from the last time! Gosh. Where is this inflation taking us?!
I leave ZAL with a mixture of satisfaction for the Premium Economy experience, relief for not being told it was a mistake, and a bit of worry thinking that I could soon get a bill from LATAM!!
And - in fact - a couple of weeks later, on September 2, I get an email with this title: "We hope you have enjoyed the upgrade on your flight."
GASP! I keep reading:
"Hello Nelson, We are glad you have flown from Santiago to Valdivia in our Premium Economy cabin. On this occasion you got an upgrade so that you can get to know and enjoy our superior cabin. We invite you to keep flying in our Premium cabins and enjoy a superior experience. You can do this by buying directly on latam.com, applying with vouchers of the LATAM Pass program, or by bidding in an auction. Yours, Dominic Purvis, Product and Customer Experience Manager"
So, O - M - G. There I was with my mouth open, wondering "Why me?" And I still can't explain.
The thing is, I almost feel a bit - A BIT - sorry for all the bad rap I have given LATAM for giving up their Chilean identity with the excuse of becoming "Latin American." But this time I will have to put my pride aside and say
THANK YOU, LATAM! IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE!
And a superb end for my holidays!
Santiago - SCL
Valdivia - ZAL
Surprise, surprise! A totally unexpected cabin upgrade from LATAM.
LATAM is the only main Chilean airline keeping a legacy service, and have added a Premium Cabin class to their domestic flights, with lots of legroom, blocked middle seat, and an acceptable complimentary snack.
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Thanks for sharing Nelson, the Premium Eco service doesn't seem much better than the regular eco service. I guess the additional space is appreciated in the longer flights though!
I hope to get upgraded on my next flights too!!
Hola Chibcha! I tend to agree with you. Legroom and the block middle seat are a plus, of course, but the big question is how much would you be willing to pay for that on a short flight like this one. I think latam is wondering the same. Hence the option of bidding. I don't think many passengers are willing to pay much more for a larger bag of chips. Pero igual lo pasé bien. jaja
Gracias por comentar! :D
Thanks for sharing this FR! It is interesting that they went for a Euro-J style product for their premium economy cabins on regional routes versus only extra legroom seats. The catering looks almost identical to what they serve in Y, so the extra space is really the only differentiating feature?
That is one giant bag of chips. They must have gotten bulk discounts.
Well, the extra space and the blocked middle seat. The soft seat itself was also a plus, though it was not an exclusive feature of the premium cabin. The crisps and the chocolate... well, they were a nice addition. The thing is, who is this product directed to? In such short flights I wouldn't pay much more for a couple of extra centimeters or a bigger bag of crisps. It's different on long haul flights, of course. I think airlines need to be more creative than this to sell these special products, pointing at the real needs of passengers who can pay a little extra, and a bag of crisps is not a real need for someone who can pay a little extra. What about some advantages of other fares, like flexible flight tickets, for example? Or a better baggage allowance? I think that this kind of things would be more welcomed than a Trencito.
Thanks for dropping by, NGO85!!
Thanks for sharing! I wouldn’t spend extra for business class on such short flights, so I think they’ve upgraded you so that next time you change your mind and pay the extra for a better seat! How nice of them, AR wouldn’t do that.
Hola Yrgwyn. Exacto. Yo tampoco gastaría de más en tramos tan cortos aunque tuviera el dinero. Y si lo tuviera, preferiría pagar una tarifa mejor, que me permita realizar cambios de pasaje o llevar más equipaje. A lo mejor la gente se convencería de pagar por esta cabina si incluyera alguna de esas ventajas, no solamente el espacio y un paquete más grande de papas.
Gracias por tu comentario, Yrgwyn! Que estés bien.
O podrían garantizar que en la cabina Premium no habrá niños!! Espero que Latam esté leyendo esto!! jaja
Premium Economy does include more baggage and more flexibility--the extra space is another perk. Though the food could be better on these short flights.
Wow I can't believe you just said that! That's never worked for any airline that has proposed it simply because it's discrimination. If someone is willing to pay for their child to sit in a premium cabin (i.e. ME!) then they have every right to do so. It's up to parents to ensure their children are well behaved on aircraft (and mine always is). It would be wrong to ban children from any cabin
Oops! Había ropa tendida. Hahaahhah
That's said when you say something that affects someone who's listening. Yes, it's a controversial issue. I myself have congratulated parents who took care of their children during a flight. I wish all parents where like that.
Hahaha no worries; it is a controversial subject and I myself have been in both sides of it. When I was younger, I felt the same way, but always noted that the vast majority of children in premium cabins are usually well behaved. Of course when travelling in a premium cabin, one also wants relaxation, so I’ve always been very aware of that and sacrificed my own relaxation to ensure my son was entertained and happy haha. Luckily, since he’s so used to flying now as he’s getting older now that he’s 3 years old it’s getting easier and easier to the point when I can fully enjoy a flight. But yes, it takes a lot of work from the parents and not all are willing to put in the work—often because they don’t fly enough to know how to keep tantrums from happening—but the vast majority do take care. This is why I always talk about the experience of travelling with a small child to maybe give helpful tips to parents who may want to travel in premium cabins. The key is keeping the kids fed and entertained so avoid any possible behaviour issues and that is a big effort for sure.
Hola Nelson y muchissimas gracias por el FR!
Very funny as usual, that is always a bright experience to read your reports.
I have never had nor read before on FR an airline that plans to upgrade a passenger for free lol! You are clearly becoming very important !
I like the Trencito moment ahah - don't listen to the others, I trust it was you that cought the fish!!
Nor have I !!! Until now! I read somewhere that there are "tricks" to get a free upgrade, like making yourself available at the counter before the flight in case there will be some upgrades, or complaining about the service, but... Wait. I have complained so much about Latam here... Who knows, that might have been the reason!! hah
Thanks for believing me!! :')
In my opinion, the best "trick" to get upgraded is to have a high status in the airline mileage program or alliance. The only time I got upgraded for free, I was a gold member of the alliance and the flight was overbooked...
How odd that LATAM upgraded you purposely so you could try the premium cabin service, but didn't acknoledge it for almost two months! Other airlines have done similar things, but usualy with frequent flyer status holders (maybe you have status with LA now?), but usually they say it right away. It's a classic marketing method of letting you know what you're missing out on, so it makes sense, but to wait so long to say it, doesn't make any sense. Also, as we can all see, Premium Economy on domestic routes is nothing special. The catering is disappointing and should be improved to make the experience truly premium. There is plenty of time to serve a plated cold meal (or even a hot one) on a 1.5h flight like this.
I will point out that a Premium Economy DOES come with extra baggage allowance and flexibility. It's actually a very good deal in these uncertain times (at least I found it to be) as there is no change fee and you can change the ticket as often as you want (I've changed mine multiple times due to unforeseen issues) and each passenger gets 2X23KG bags, which is on par with most carriers' business class baggage allowance. So honestly, in my view as a European/North American, LATAM's premium economy product is very competitive as it's basically intra-European Business class with all the same perks except the lounge access (AF domestic Business class in comparison you only get a tiny snack, so very similar). There are hot meals in LATAM Premium Economy on international flights, even very short flights, so very on par with European Business class, but at a lower price point.
I may change my tune once I actually take the flights in 2 weeks, but honestly, so far I've found LATAM premium economy to be a very good value, and it's honestly marketed as W and not J IMO
Thanks for sharing!
In this case, most of the benefits aren’t experienced by an OpUp so maybe not a well thought out strategy by LA ;)
Yep, for sure. Basically what I was saying...pretty hard to wow someone with an op-up when on-board service if just just a bag of chips
Does "broke" qualify as status? XD I do have a frequent flyer number but, c'mon, flying from ZAL to SCL and back once a year doesn't make me qualify as a frequent flyer, I guess?
I agree. I double checked my mail and I can confirm that I didn't receive any message about being upgraded until September 2. Otherwise, I would have packed some scallops!!!
Thanks for pointing that out. That's why letting me know about the upgrade only AFTER the flight is nonsensical. There was no way I could know I could benefit from this!
Thanks for all the information!
That's always nice to be upgraded ! I took a LATAM Ecuador flight in premium economy last summer. I was not upgraded, it turned out to be cheaper than regular economy (ahahahahahhaha). I had a hot sandwhich in addition to snacks. It is funny that the service in premium economy is different in LATAM Chile and LATAM Ecuador. See you around !
They must be testing how far they can go and get away with it. Haha But it was a nice experience... and for free! So I enjoyed it.
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