Hello and welcome to the second leg in this series of Flight-Reviews.
For years, Chile had been on the top of my travel bucket list and prominent Flight-Report member Pilpintu's beautiful Flight-Reports have always been an inspiration. However, the pandemic had other plans! As the Covid-era restricted us to travel between our two homes in Europe and the US for several years, this trip to Chile would mark our first trip outside of those two continents since 2020.
We booked in Premium Economy on AA metal as we had applied AA systemwide upgrade certificates to the long-haul flights and figured that we'd still be comfortable in Premium Economy if the upgrades to Business didn't clear.
Having arrived a bit ahead of schedule from LAX, we had about 3 hours to kill before our next flight.
We made our way on the intra-terminal train to the other side of the D concourse to head to the American Flagship Lounge.
Similarly to LAX, the Flagship Lounge and regular Admirals Clubs are located on the same level. Reception agents upstairs then guide passengers to the appropriate entrance.
Unlike the other Flagship Lounges I'd visited this year in Chicago and Los Angeles, there isn't a champagne station as you entire this lounge (it's towards the center of the space), but it's very spacious and elegant like the others. It appeared to be exactly the same as my last visit here in 2018.
A wide selection of wines, liquors, and spirits
And plentiful champagne.
Food options were once again above average by US lounge standards, with plenty of fresh items and hot dishes. Also noteworthy, the menu was different from the LAX Flagship Lounge with more Latin flavours here in MIA, naturally.
With about an hour left before boarding, we headed to the "Plane Fun" children's play area so our 3-year-old could run around and play for a bit before our 8-hour redeye to Chile.
The play area is in Concourse E, easily reachable from Concourse D, where the majority of AA flights are located.
It was about a 5 minute walk from the play area in Concourse E to our Gate D37 in Concourse D. Boarding had begun early and was already underway when we arrived at the gate, so we were able to board right away through the priority lane being in Group 1.
Unsurprisingly, the upgrades to Business hadn't cleared. With only 25 seats total in Business class, upgrades are tough to come by on American's 787-8s.
Luckily, for the long-haul sectors, I had been able to grab seats in the coveted first row. As mentioned in the previous review, seats in the bulkhead row of Premium Economy have much more space in front and have full legrests. Seats in standard rows have foot rests only.
On the 787 fleet, Premium Economy seats are laid out in a spacious 2-3-2 configuration. Standard rows have 38" of seat pitch (again, much more in the first row) and a seat width of 19.5 inches between armrests, very similar to AA's Domestic First class cabins, which are also outfitted with the same Collins MiQ seat model.
You can't beat the spaciousness of the bulkhead row.
Upon boarding, each seat in the Premium Economy cabin had a large pillow and quilt, an amenity kit (with the standard toothbrush set, socks, and eye mask), noise cancelling headphones, and a bottle of water.
Boarding wrapped up on time and we pushed back from the gate just about on time.
The safety video played as the aircraft taxied to the departure runway.
After a short taxi time, we were off over the shining lights of Miami.
it'll be a quick 7.5h flight down to Santiago tonight. Flight times like this to deep South America are what make MIA an ideal hub for traffic between North America and South America.
Let's have a look at the in-flight entertainment.
As always, there is a ton of content including movies, TV series, Children's programming, audio content, and games. With an interface in about a dozen languages and as many dubbed versions of films and series, there's something for everyone. As my son doesn't yet speak English, I'm always thankful to have a lot of content in French for him.
Wi-Fi prices on this 8h flight are exactly the same as those on our 4.5h transcon domestic flight–certainly a much better value on this long-haul flight.
Dinner service began about 45 minutes into the flight. My son was served his child meal first. Not only was the portion huge for a 3-year-old, which is not surprising, but nothing about it was particularly appealing to children. It just looked like a regular adult meal. At least British Airways and Iberia, with whom I fly more often on long-hauls, try to make child meals more appealing for kids with fun deserts and more bite-sized finger foods that are easier to eat.
Nothing about a messy ricotta cannelloni dish with salad and a cheese plate screams child meal to me. That's a fine meal for an adult, but not a 3-year-old! I honestly think they forgot to load a child meal and just gave him the vegetarian option trying to pass it off as a CHML.
As for the almost-smaller adult meal, I had some sort of pasta mushroom and beef strogonoff dish. It was fine–nothing fancy, but tasty. Meals in long-haul Premium Economy are very similar to meals in Domestic First class and short-haul Business class.
Lights in the cabin were turned off shortly after the meal service. Here's what it looks like when the legrest is fully raised and extended. It doesn't go very high, but it makes a big difference in comfort for sleeping on night flights just to have legs elevated and supported.
I managed a few hours of OK sleep, though my son who is a little too used to flying Business class, didn't understand (or like) that the seat didn't go fully flat🤣
So he slept much of the night leaning on my arm, so my left arm was fully asleep by morning, hah.
I woke up for good once I saw the sunrise peaking through the black shaded windows.
Breakfast was served about an hour and a half before landing. There was a hot option, but I wasn't hungry so just had the fresh fruit plate.
As we got closer to landing and more passengers in the cabin began waking up, I progressively unshaded the windows to reveal glorious mountain views in the early morning light!
Of course, I'd intentionally selected seats on the left side of the aircraft knowing that there'd be views of the Andes if the weather was clear.
We landed some 20 minutes ahead of schedule on a beautiful bright spring morning.
Interesting to see a 737 Classic! This particular 737-200 is a retired SKY Airline 737-200
Last view of the Premium Economy cabin on deplaning.
Our aircraft as seen from the terminal.
And what a beautiful terminal it is! Santiago's new International Terminal 2, which only just opened in February of 2022, is a gorgeous marvel of modern engineering.
Despite what looked to be a long queue for immigration, it moved quickly and we were through in about 15 minutes.
As I'd booked these tickets back in March, I'd intentionally built in a long layover in SCL as Covid tests on arrival were required for all international arrivals at that time. I wanted to make sure to have enough time to receive results before being allowed to board a domestic flight within Chile, so I'd booked a LATAM flight for later that afternoon.
With Covid tests on arrival no longer required, we had plenty of time so we headed to Holiday Inn, which was on airport grounds across from Domestic Terminal 1 (previously the only terminal).
It was a quick and pleasant walk from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 on a warm and sunny morning.
We were able to book a day room for $130 including breakfast, which sounded great after a night flight and about 20 hours of travelling up to that point. We had a pleasant few hours' stay in a very comfortable room and were able to re-charge, relax, and catch up on sleep before our third and last flight of the day!
I've always been a fan of Premium Economy in general--more comfort at a good value. Though not all airlines' Premium Economy products are created equal, the seats themselves tend to offer a similar amount of space between different carriers. Premium Economy offers a good compromise for those who want extra space and an upgraded in-flight experience for a more reasonable fare difference than Business class. American's Premium Economy product is relatively new, having rolled out just in the past 5 years or so, but it's been a consistently good value, in my experience. And based on what I've seen on United and Delta Premium Economy experience laterly, it seems AA have maintained a quality product in Premium Economy since the pandemic, while DL and UA have cut costs, offering less differentiation with standard Economy service. Having flown AA Premium Economy both pre and post-Covid, my experience is that the service is generally unchanged from pre-Covid times. Meals are a nice upgrade over Economy and similar to Domestic First class, much like the seats. One thing I wish would change is the use of plastic cups--but it's a minor detail. All in all a very solid long-haul Premium Economy experience with American Airlines.