Hello all, first trip report here, which was originally written as exclusive content for my websitehttps://www.moggpill.com/all-news/latam ... ss-product
I've read through the rules for this forum and so the full text of the article is copy and pasted below. The full essay with photographs can be accessed through the link above, but I realise that lots of users might prefer to read it here instead:
LATAM Airlines? Intra-Europe? No, that's not a typo. Latin America's biggest airline does indeed operate flights within Europe, between Frankfurt and Madrid. The daily route from between the two cities is operated as an extension of the airline's direct flight from Santiago de Chile and Madrid and is operated by the group's Chilean subsidiary, formerly known as LAN Airlines. It's a short-haul flight with a long-haul product, being operated by the Boeing 787-9.Timing, Pricing and Fare Conditions:
Because this route is operated as an extension of a long-haul flight, it is only flown once daily. LA704 departs Madrid bound for Frankfurt at 15:05, arriving there at 17:40. The return leg from Frankfurt, LA705, departs at 19:25, with a scheduled arrival time of 22:00.
I booked my Business Class return ticket two months in advance of travel for the price of 256GBP, but fares can be as low as 156GBP. Business Class passengers are granted a hold baggage allowance of three pieces, each of which may weigh up to 23kg/50lbs.
In order to compare Economy Class prices, I made the following dummy booking earlier today:
Outbound: 14 March 2019
Inbound: 18 March 2019
Lufthansa Economy Light*: €118
LATAM Economy Light*: 67GBP
Lufthansa Classic Economy**: €144.88
LATAM Economy Plus***: 80GBP
*Excludes hold baggage and seat reservation
**Includes hold baggage, seat reservation and snack
***Includes hold baggage and snack, but not seat reservation
It is quite evident that LATAM offers excellent value for money in both Business and Economy Class. At the Airport:
Early Check-In is offered in Terminal Z and LATAM Premium Business passengers are granted access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at Frankfurt Airport, as well as being allowed to use the fast-track security lane. The furniture is a little outdated, but the lounge is spacious, comfortable, and scarcely-frequented once the afternoon Air Canada flight to Toronto has departed. If you're an airplane enthusiast, you will be pleased to know that the lounge offers excellent views of departures from Runway 07C.
A small quirk to consider before booking is that this flight, despite operating between two Schengen Countries, is operated as an international affair. Passengers will need to pass through EU Exit Checks when departing and clear customs on arrival.
Food options in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge are very reasonable. In addition to snacks and pasta pictured , a wide range of sandwiches are offered, along with an extensive selection of drinks and liquors. The lounge is self-service, but there are a handful of attendants on hand to assist with any problems.
At Madrid Barajas, I made the mistake of assuming that Check-In would be handled by IBERIA, LATAM's Oneworld partner. In fact LATAM operates a dedicated check-in area for their passengers at Desks 940-949, located almost at the very end of Terminal 4. Unlike at Frankfurt Airport, early check-in is not offered, but the process is advertised as being available for all passengers from 12:15 onwards. At Check-In, Business Class passengers are extended an invitation to the IBERIA Business Lounge in Terminal 4S. Unfortunately however, LATAM does not have an agreement with the airport to permit their Business Class passengers use of fast-track security.
At this point, it would be remiss of me not to highlight in my review the stunning architecture of Barajas' Terminal 4. Designed by Antonio Lamela, Richard Rogers and Luis Vidal, the terminal was opened in 2006 and earned the prestigious 'Stirling Prize' the same year. The terminal building is also one of the largest in the world and consists of two portions; the main building, known as Terminal 4 and a satellite building known as Terminal 4S.
The entrance to the IBERIA 'Velazquez Premium Lounge' is located amid the hustle and bustle of the large Duty Free shopping centre. Nevertheless, the lounge itself is quite, spacious and airy. Not wishing to disturb other passengers, I didn't take many photographs of the lounge space. As a side note, I do like the IBERIA's use of such a beautiful, deep shade of red in their branding - though I do wish they'd add a little more of it to their planes!
At the time I arrived (around 12:30), the lounge was not very busy, which meant it was easy enough find a desirable spot next to the window. The lounge is still relatively new (having opened at the end of 2017 following an extensive refurbishment) and is easily one of the most comfortable and well-designed airline lounges I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. I was particularly impressed by the extensive selection of complimentary multi-lingual literature, and by the Wine Bar, which stocks an impressive range of wines, beers and spirits. At certain times during the day, it is staffed by a barman, but was self-service during my visit. Upon my arrival, the hot food offering was limited to Spanish Omelette with Mushrooms, but later expanded to an impressive-looking lunchtime offering, including Iberian Pork and Paella.Service on Board:
Although I sampled LATAM's product in both directions, this part of my review will be based on the return flight from Madrid to Frankfurt in order to document the regular service offering. During my outbound flight, there were only a handful of passengers in business class, so the service took place "on-demand", rather than according to the regular structure.
In the current LATAM Business Class cabin, seats are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. While this is not an industry-leading layout, each seat is very comfortable, reclines into a lie-flat bed and offers massage facilities. On a regular intra-Europe flight, passengers would be faced by an economy class layout with the middle seat blocked out.
Shortly after taking my seat, a Flight Attendant arrived to introduce himself by name and offer a pre-departure beverage. He recommended a 'Pisco Sour', a classic South American cocktail, which is served alongside a ramekin of nuts. Pre-departure beverages are a rarity on flights within Europe, and the real glassware was very nice touch.
Takeoff was delayed, but the views of the Spanish Countryside more than made up for it.
Shortly after takeoff, the cabin windows were dimmed and the mood-lighting activated. I am not usually a fan of mood-lighting, but I must admit it created a rather nice ambience in the cabin. Happily, the individual window-dimming switches remained operable, rather than being completely overridden by the crew.
Service began after around half an hour in the air with hot, scented towels - a much better offering than the pre-packaged, cold wipes offered by most European carriers on short-haul flights.
In the meantime, I browsed the IFE system. The Latin music selection is, perhaps unsurprisingly, quite extensive. I must admit that I hadn't heard of any of the artists before this flight, but offering such music on the system is quite an effective way of reaching an international audience. LATAM also offers a good selection of English-language entertainment, including episodes of Parks and Recreation and Family Guy.
Lunch arrived about twenty minutes after the hot towel service. The friendly and attentive FA serving me introduced himself by name, just as the previous FA had done, and offered a delicious Pork Salad. It was served alongside an excellent, rich Chocolate Torte with fruit sauce. Bread was also offered, but I politely declined. To drink, I requested another Pisco Sour and was also offered a choice of other drinks to go along with it. Being on a Chilean Airline, I asked for a glass of Chilean Wine, and this was the FA's recommendation. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photograph of the label, but it was excellent.
At this point, I would like to highlight that the crew onboard this flight, and my outbound flight, were exceptional. They exuded friendliness, were incredibly pro-active and were only to happy to assist with any request.
After a very enjoyable lunch, the Flight Attendant returned to offer tea or coffee to round off the meal. I asked for a cup tea and also whether it might be alright to pop back to the Economy Cabin to take some photographs. He was quite happy for me to do so, as were the crew in the rear galley, with whom I double checked before snapping away. In fact, the response of the Purser was "be my guest" - the crew really was extremely accommodating.
The Economy Class cabin is arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration and offers passengers a seat pitch of 32-inches and personal IFE screens at every seat. This offering is far better than the economy cabins offered by competing airlines on this route.
After exploring the aircraft, I returned to my seat to find a cup of Earl Grey Tea waiting for me. This was undoubtedly the biggest mug I've been given by any airline, so some bonus points for LATAM there!
All too soon, the Captain announced that we had begun our descent towards Frankfurt, with 40 minutes of flight time remaining. I would have gladly stayed aboard for another five or six hours - or indeed all the way back to Santiago de Chile.
Upon our arrival at the gate, I was approached by a Flight Attendant who said to me "Don't get off the aircraft Sir, you have been invited to the cockpit." This was an unexpected surprise and a very kind gesture from the crew and I cannot rate their service highly enough.Conclusion:
While it is true that other airlines offer a better hard product within Europe (British Airways and IBERIA offer a 1-2-1 lie-flat configuration on select flights between London and Madrid, as does Finnair on select flights between London and Helsinki), it is my conclusion that the excellent soft product offered by LATAM makes their service the best intra-Europe Business Class product. In future, LATAM will be rolling out a new cabin, offering passengers a 1-2-1 configuration, which will surely cement their position.
Thanks for reading!