Review of LATAM flight Santiago Puerto Montt in Premium Eco

Airline LATAM
Flight LA63
Class Premium Eco
Seat --
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 01:43
Take-off 24 Oct 22, 14:23
Arrival at 24 Oct 22, 16:06
LA   #57 out of 78 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 191 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 366
Published on 1st January 2023

introduction


Hello and Happy New Year 2023 to all!!

Welcome to the third 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. 

In the next two reviews we'll have a look at LATAM's domestic Premium Economy service. This is a relatively new cabin class for LATAM, introduced on the narrowbody fleet on regional and domestic routes in January 2020, right before the pandemic. The concept is similar to intra-European Business class with forward rows having a blocked middle seat. In addition to extra space in a separate cabin, Premium Economy fares also include priority check-in and boarding, more flexibility, a higher checked baggage allowance, complimentary snacks (or meals on International flights), and lounge access on international flights

For these domestic flights between Santiago and Puerto Montt, we paid around 50% more than standard Economy fares that included checked baggage. Pricing at 235 USD per roundtrip for our dates, it seemed like a decent value for a premium cabin on a 1.5h flight. Since LATAM left the oneworld alliance a few years ago, we no longer have status on LA, so I felt it would make sense to purchase a premium cabin for priority handling in the event of any irregular operations or unforeseen issues–plus, I like trying out new cabins. Let's see if it was worth it!


routing



photo routing-scl-pmc

check-in & lounge


After a restful few hours' stay at the Holiday Inn Santiago Airport, we were refreshed after our overnight flight from the U.S.


photo img_7426photo img_7427

The Holiday Inn is very conveniently located right there in front of the Domestic Terminal. It was a quick walk across the street to Terminal 1. 


photo img_7429photo img_7433

We arrived at the LATAM check-in area a little under 2h before scheduled departure time. 


photo img_7430

Luckily, there was no line at check-in because the whole process was painfully slow and frustrating. The advertised benefit of "Priority check-in" for Premium Economy is largely misleading as Premium Economy passengers are made to print their own boarding passes and baggage tags from kiosks, just like Economy passengers, and then also weight and tag their own bags, once again using a frustratingly slow automated kiosk. The only difference is that there is a shorter dedidated Premium Economy lane between the first set of check-in kiosks and the baggage drop-off kiosks. But because there was no line anywhere, it made no difference at all. An overall unpleasant check-in experience giving a bad first impression of the product–nothing "premium" about the ground experience so far. 


photo img_7431photo img_7432-75653

As mentioned in the introduction, Premium Economy passengers only have lounge access on international routes. Being on a domestic route, lounge access was not included with our tickets.

 We entered the Primeclass Condor lounge, located closest to our gate, using our Priority Pass membership.


photo img_7435photo img_7436

The lounge is on the small side, but wasn't crowded and had plenty of available seating. 


photo img_7438photo img_7439

Plenty of natural light and tarmac views made the space feel larger. Food and drink options were decent for a domestic lounge and all fresh items were wrapped for Covid safety–something that's largely gone away in North America and Europe. 


photo img_7440

boarding


We left the lounge and headed downstairs to the gate about 5 minutes before boarding was due to begin. 


photo img_7442photo img_7443

There was a children's play area located right at our gate, which was very convenient for our 3-year-old who enjoyed a few minutes of play time before boarding. 


photo img_7444

The gate area was well organised with clearly marked separate Premium and General boarding lanes. Boarding began on time with Premium Economy/Group 1 following pre-boarding. 


photo img_7445photo img_7441photo img_7446

Our A320 was looking nice and shiny in the new livery! Will it be the same on the inside?


photo img_7448

Nope! An old LAN cabin awaited us inside this seemingly freshly painted A320. This cabin was looking older and more worn out than my last flights on LATAM A320s way back in November 2016! (which can be found here and here)


photo img_7450

There wasn't even a class divider curtain between Premium Economy and Economy, which I found unusual, and contrary to other reports I'd seen on LATAM Premium Economy. Again, the advertised claim of a "separate cabin" felt misleading. 


photo img_7451

I'd selected seats in the last row of Premium Economy as I generally tend to prefer seats in the last row of a premium cabin for additional privacy. 


photo seat-map-scl-pmc

No such thing on this flight with no divider curtain between the W and Y cabins. 


photo img_7452

Legroom is tight on aircraft with these older cabins considering that only Economy was sold on narrowbodies before 2020. The newer cabins, as we'll see on the return flight review, are much more spacious up front. 


photo img_7456

Despite the tight row spacing, the seats themselves are well-padded and comfortable. There are 2 under-seat AC power outlets for ever row of 3 seats. 


photo img_7454

Blocked Middle seat in the Premium Economy section, have a table that folds down from the seat-back, much like European Business class. It's a convenient place to store smaller bags and the table gives extra space to place drinks and snacks. 


photo img_7455

Ashtrays in seat armrests! I don't think I've seen that in at least a decade, if not two! No, no, you still can't smoke on the plane–but if you do…there's an ashtray!


photo img_7494

The view from 3A.


photo img_7457

LATAM narrowbodies are equipped with an on-demand streaming entertainment system branded "LATAM Play" 


photo img_7458

There's a good amount of content and the system is available from gate-to-gate. 


photo img_7459photo img_7460photo img_7461

Still tired from 2 long flights, my son fell asleep towards the end of boarding. The extra space in Premium Economy allowed him to stretch out and rest. 


photo img_7462-12498

the flight


Boarding wrapped up on time and the door was closed a few minutes early. 


photo img_7466

We pushed back from the gate on time.


photo img_7463photo img_7464photo img_7465

And we were off after a short taxi time and no wait.

On takeoff, there was a nice view of one of the ex-Norwegian 787s acquired by LATAM last year, after the demise of Norwegian's long-haul operations. 


photo img_7468

Terminal 1 on the left and Terminal 2 on the right. 


photo img_7470

The Santiago urban area is gigantic and stretches for miles and miles–it takes a good 10 minutes to reach more rural areas. The Chilean capital is in a truly beautiful setting with such massive snowy mountains to the east and surrounded by lush farmland. 



The LATAM Play entertainment system has a map feature, but it's not very detailed…


photo img_7477

With such breathtaking scenery flying along the Andes, it would be nice to have more details like the names of volcanos, lakes, and other places of interest.

Pilpintu can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is Descabezado Grande on the left and Cerro Azul on the right. 


photo img_7478photo img_7479

Zooming in does not give more details than certain city names. Too bad!


photo img_7480

A snack was served about 20 minutes into the flight, consisting of crisps, granola bars, or chocolate chip muffins–each passenger was allowed two items. Beverage choices were surprisingly limited to coffee, tea, sodas, and juices. I was surprised not to have any Chilean wines on offer being that Chile is one of the biggest wine producing countries in the world! 


photo img_7482

Volcán Antuco and the beautiful Laguna de la Laja.


photo img_7484photo img_7485photo img_7486

It got progressivley cloudier as we flew further south towards the lake district, so no views of majestic Volcán Villarica from above, sadly. 

Just some clearing over Lago Ranco.  


photo img_7491

I made sure to wave towards the west to Pilpinto as we fly past his hometown of Valdivia 😋


photo img_7493

Just a sea of clouds at this point–missing so much beautiful scenery. But I'll see it up close so no worries!


photo img_7492

We begin descending into PMC over the massive Lago Llanquihue, the second largest lake in Chile.


photo img_7495

Some breaks in the clouds over the lake allow for some sneak peeks or volcanic peaks. 


photo img_7496photo img_7500

A sliver of Osorno is visible above and Calbuco below. 


photo img_7501

It's sunny over Puerto Montt, but rain storms are moving in…


photo img_7502photo img_7503

We run into rain as we head south over the bay before turning back north for landing. 


photo img_7504photo img_7506photo img_7507

arrival


We landed at PMC on time. There was only one other commercial jet at the terminal. 


photo img_7509photo img_7510

First impression of Puerto Montt airport was very good–bright, open, airy and modern terminal. 


photo img_7511

Welcome to the Lakes Region!


photo img_7512photo img_7513

Baggage delivery was quick, and there was no wait at the rental car counter at this quiet hour. A nice and pleasant arrival experience!
 


Tourism bonus


There will be tourism bonuses in the next three reviews. Photos and video don't do justice to the true beauty of Southern Chile, but feel free to check out the bonus section below ⬇


Bonus : Click here display
See more

Verdict

LATAM

7.0/10
Cabin6.5
Cabin crew9.5
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering4.5

Primeclass Condor Lounge - 1

7.0/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services6.5

Santiago - SCL

8.6/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness9.0

Puerto Montt - PMC

8.6/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness9.5

Conclusion

This product is appropriately marketed as Premium Economy. Though this cabin class is inspired by the intra-European business class concept, and is an upgrade from Economy, it is not quite to the level of a Euro-biz experience--at least on domestic routes. I imagine that, on shorter international routes, where there is lounge access and a full hot meal with full bar service, the experience is closer to Euro-biz.

I like the concept of this cabin in general, and the price difference with Economy was reasonable, though the experience was a mix of positives and negatives. Because it isn't marketed as Business class, my expectations weren't lofty, so I can't say I was disappointed. The major downside was the check-in experience, which was needlessly chaotic and required too much effort despite being marketed as having "priority" access. Also, we were unlucky in getting an older A320 cabin with less legroom than the new cabins--the interior felt cramped and dated. The choice of snacks on board is very similar to what you'd find on a similar length flight within the US; however, the beverage choices were very limited--I was surprised not to see any Chilean beers or wines on offer.

Again, I think this cabin is appropriately marketed as Premium Economy and generally offers a good value if you're travelling with a good amount of baggage like we were. The additional flexibility of Premium Economy tickets came in handy as I ended up having to move this entire trip by a week, which was done at no charge. I appreciated the extra space, especially since this older cabin was cramped--the new cabins are MUCH better as we'll see on the return segment. The cabin crew were fantastic--very friendly, professional, and engaging. The flight attendant that took care of the Premium Economy cabin spoke perfect English and French in addition to Spanish. She was an absolute delight and my son definitely appreciated being able to communicate in French, as that's still the only language he can speak fluently.

Information on the route Santiago (SCL) Puerto Montt (PMC)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Santiago (SCL) → Puerto Montt (PMC).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Sky Airline with 7.1/10.

The average flight time is 1 hours and 43 minutes.

  More information

7 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 617863 by
    NGO85 GOLD 1871 Comments

    Hi Kevin, thanks for sharing this FR.

    An overall unpleasant check-in experience giving a bad first impression of the product–nothing "premium" about the ground experience so far.

    No option to have bags checked through cross airlines at LAX? I have had success through checking bags onto a separate ticket with a different alliance before. Usually doesn’t hurt to ask.

    Again, the advertised claim of a "separate cabin" felt misleading.

    Identity crisis, this is more like US domestic Y+, but without the extra legroom^^ Pitch looks quite tight.

    I don't think I've seen that in at least a decade

    Just highlights how old this cabin is. Did the armrests go fully up (big pro with a sleeping kid)? At least they had the universal AC charging ports.

    The catering is very basic, since Y also gets a snack. If LA had a BOB menu, they could just let passengers pick something off it, but alas not. You also got a super generic white styrofoam cup, not even a mm of advertisement/branding in sight.

    It looks more like a fusion of Euro J and US F where they took the worst of both worlds. It’s Euro J seats with short-haul US F catering. I agree with your assessment, the value is in the non-tangibles (baggage, flexibility). Based on the price points you provided, $40-60 one-way seems reasonable for this product. In the domestic market, they’d be hard pressed to sell it for more if there is no competition and low demand (only 2 rows on your flight).

    Beautiful aerials and bonus as always, thanks for sharing and happy new year!

    • Comment 618000 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 6051 Comments

      Hey Michael thanks for your comments!

      No option to have bags checked through cross airlines at LAX? I have had success through checking bags onto a separate ticket with a different alliance before.

      I have too but honestly I don’t trust airlines to have my bags at the final destination anymore since I have items missing every few trips it seems. With our tight itinerary of 10 days I intentionally only checked them to SCL.

      Pitch looks quite tight.

      It is! Luckily much better on the new cabins so hopefully this experience will cease to exist soon

      It looks more like a fusion of Euro J and US F where they took the worst of both worlds. It’s Euro J seats with short-haul US F catering.

      Yep! Exactly. It seems that’s intentional in keeping with the Premium Economy branding…I guess it can’t get too fancy

      Thanks for your comments and Happy New Year again!

  • Comment 617953 by
    Christian Gerber 2 454 Comments

    Best wishes for 2023 Kevin... It has been a while.
    You had a rather low nivel of premium éco class (it's the same for intra-brasilian flight) but this older cabin gives you padding and deported armrest. On newer you have a better pitch in detriment of the padding!
    Before covid on Sao Paulo Buenos Aires, hot food was served,on my last flight it was rather scarce with only an hot sandwich,but quite a full bar (didn't ask for licors).
    In BuenosAires last time I was able to check at the counter, 8 month ago it was with theone armed bandit (but with human help). I believeit wasabandonedfor Y+ due to how unruly arethe argies.

    ;-) (formerly saraoutou just in case).

    • Comment 618005 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 6051 Comments

      Hey, nice to read you! Happy New Year to you as well!

      On newer you have a better pitch in detriment of the padding!

      Yes, I had a new cabin in the return flight and it was much more spacious indeed. Though yes, much less padding as is the norm these days

      Before covid on Sao Paulo Buenos Aires, hot food was served,on my last flight it was rather scarce with only an hot sandwich,but quite a full bar (didn't ask for licors).

      With all of the cuts during and since Covid (there was no food on domestic flights at all for a very loooong time as you probably know), LATAM don’t seem to have this product figured out just yet. Some short domestic flights get a cold sandwich, while others just get snacks, and some international flights get a full hot meal while others get a hot sandwich as you mentioned. Hopefully they’ll iron out this product inconsistency soon—I imagine supply chain issues have some part in it.

      Thanks again for your comments and great to hear from you!

      Meilleurs Vœux pour 2023!

  • Comment 618167 by
    Pilpintu TEAM BRONZE 890 Comments

    I'm so glad you finally could see the mountains and the lakes and everything - at least a little of it. But what a disappointing experience with Latam! Yes, the padded seats were a plus, but they weren't even an exclusive feature of the W cabin! They were there only because the cabin was old! Shameful.

    Anyways, it's great that Santiago welcomed you with an unusually clear sky, and also Puerto Montt.

    I believe this is Descabezado Grande on the left and Cerro Azul on the right.

    That's right, aka Quizapú volcano.

    I was surprised not to have any Chilean wines on offer

    However, not long ago I read a British Airways report where they offered Chilean wine! Crazy.

    I made sure to wave towards the west to Pilpintu as we fly past his hometown of Valdivia

    Oh! Hello!! :D

    We enjoyed our visit and it was wonderful to finally meet Pilpintu in person!

    Same here! It was a lovely afternoon! :D

    We were lucky to have clear skies the next day for our hike up the beautiful (and active) Volcán Villarica.

    Lucky indeed, because it's been quite active these days!!

    his beautiful seaside hometown of Valdivia

    Fun fact: Actually, Valdivia is some 20km from the sea. What you saw during our walk was the point where rivers Calle Calle and Cau Cau meet. Isla Teja is surrounded by both rivers.

    All in all, for MY travelling needs, I don't see the point in paying extra for this kind of service, at least in domestic flights. I think I'll stick with Sky!

    Thanks for sharing, Kevin!

    • Comment 618268 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 6051 Comments

      Hola!

      I'm so glad you finally could see the mountains and the lakes and everything - at least a little of it.

      Me too! I'd so been looking forward to seeing these landscapes with my own eyes and I was not disappointed! I'm glad it was clear skies for most of the way. On the return trip, it was clear the entire way!

      Anyways, it's great that Santiago welcomed you with an unusually clear sky, and also Puerto Montt.

      Yes! Barely a hint of smog in STGO! It was pretty clear on the way back too, despite some wildfires nearby

      However, not long ago I read a British Airways report where they offered Chilean wine! Crazy.

      They sure do! I had some on BA SAN-LHR a few weeks ago! I thought, well, isn't this ironic.

      Lucky indeed, because it's been quite active these days!!

      Yes, I don't think I'd feel as comfortable hiking up on Villarica these days haha

      What you saw during our walk was the point where rivers Calle Calle and Cau Cau meet. Isla Teja is surrounded by both rivers.

      Ah! For some reason I thought they were bays or arms of the ocean. Oh wow, that's a really wide river to have such a huge island in the middle.

      I don't see the point in paying extra for this kind of service, at least in domestic flights. I think I'll stick with Sky!

      Yeah, unless you plan on travelling with 2 bags and really just don't want to sit next to a stranger, I don't know if it's worth it. For me, the extra baggage allowance and the free ticket changes were the biggest value.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 618569 by
    ChrisB GOLD 2436 Comments

    Hi Kevin and thanks for the next episode!
    I am a big fan of Latam, certainly a very good option to travel within latin america - i am not sure why but it always feels like the good old British Airways before the cost cutting era.
    The check in process is on the edge of being false advertisement!
    the lounge is nice indeed, i like the colours, at least we are far far away from the 50 shades of grey of LH!
    Shame about this very old cabin, and even more of a shame that there are these mid "neutralised" seats but at least Latam, as opposed to the airlines in Europe, have the decency to call it premium eco and not Business!
    Just one thing about the seats again: usually the old ones are more confortable than the "modern" seats!
    Again the view is stunnnning.
    Just like you i feel a bit let down by the service, mostly made of stuff you can find in a vending machine, and but the absence of chilean wine (even tho i prefer argentinian but shhh don't tell it to Nelson ahah)
    I love the view from your hotel room and especially with these morning colours
    I agree with you about the crew, it is very nice that they spoke english and french.

Login to post a comment.