Video Report LATAM - LA2013 - Lima to Cuzco - Airbus 320-200LATAM LA2123 - Cuzco to Juliaca - Airbus 319-100LATAM LA2092 - Juliaca to Lima - Airbus 320-200
Welcome to the last and final part of this series of trip report, albeit this is Part 4 of 5.
The previous set of reports, here:
1. Part 1: South American escapades - On BA's Longest flight to Santiago
2. Part 2: South American escapades - Over to Torres Del Paine and back
3. Part 3: South American escapades - Bye Bye Chile, Hello Peru!
4. Domestic Peru - Lima to Cuzco, Juliaca and back
5. Part 5: South American escapades - Is there a worse way to get back from Lima to London?
For the next leg of our trip we needed to head to the world famous Machu Pichu -> one of the cornerstone foundation for our trip to South America.
The routing would be from Lima to Cuzco. I had read a lot about acclimatising yourself before heading to Machu Pichu and the best way I had read was to take it slow and go higher up, over 2-3 days. Given that the routing would entail few overnight bus journeys, we opted for the more convenient (perhaps?) option of flying directly into Cuzco and hope for the best. My plan was to keep us extra hydrated and stay away for alcohol for the 3-4 days we would be at a higher altitude. Hopefully this method works.
There were around 40 flights, In each direction, during my research and I had quite a few options. The time ranges from 3:40 AM all the way to 20:00 in the evening.
Looking at my travel itinerary, I wanted to take a flight between 7-8:00 in order to be out of the airport at Cusco at around 10:00 AM. My plan was to then hire a taxi for around 6 hours, take us through the main stops of the sacred valley, before catching the train from Ollantaymbo to Machu Pichu at 19:00.
Looking at options, I finally settled in for the Star Peru option at 7:45. Not very promising reviews online, but I decided to bite the bullet, for the below 4 reasons:
1. Good timing
2. Good pricing (~£55 per head)
3. New airline! Who can avoid that?
4. Rare aircraft (British Aerospace 146).
(Soon to be disappointed though
Thanks to GC Maps, illustration of routes for this trip.ORIGINAL FLIGHT - Star Peru - 2I1181
Route: LIM - CUZ
Flight Reg:[url][/url]; Delivered to Star Peru on
Aircraft Type: BAe 146
Flight time: 07:45 - 08:55 ()
Actual flight time: Hr min
Distance: 346 Miles
Load: % load
23rd April 2019
Booking details: Booked using Star Peru website. Easy booking process. http://www.starperu.com/. $136 for 2 tickets including check in baggage (25 Kilos each).
My Log book: 1st Flight on Star Peru/ flight on BAe 146 / th Total overall flight
Since I book my flights and hotels in advance, it is my normal process to have a quick look at my bookings a month or so before the trip, just to avoid any last minute surprises. Going through my flight check list, I went through my booking on Star Peru and it seemed alright. But my instinct forced me to do some more research, especially for Star Peru and the number of 'Warning'
reviews I had read online. I did a quick search for flights that day and I was not able to find any seats on the flight I had booked on.
I subsequently sent an email to the email on their website, which they replied to in 3 days' time. And lo and behold! My flight was indeed cancelled! That flight did not exist anymore! It looked like Star Peru have discontinued their BAe 146 service as it was all on their Boeing 737-500 marketed as Peruvian. They offered me a very early flight, on Peruvian, but I asked them to cancel my ticket and issue a refund. Hmm, not sure what would have happened, had I not checked.?!?! Shame, as I was really looking forward to travelling on the Bae 146
I got my refund confirmation sent back to my credit card in 30 days after requesting my cancellation. (Although, getting the cash back from my credit card company was another story altogether, since I had to cancel my account before I received my refund and hence the amount was in limbo!)
After a bit more research, I had a choice of Avianca or LATAM, for similar timing. I was getting Avianca via my United points for an earlier flight. But given that we had a long couple of days ahead of us,I did not want the flight to be too early, hence I zeroed in on the LATAM flight at a similar time, to the Star Peru Flight, even though it was a paid ticket. I tried using my BA points on this flight but there wasn’t any redemption tickets available for this day.LATAM - LA2013
Route: LIM - CUZ
Flight Reg:CC-BFG; Delivered to LAN on Feb 2013; Initially with LAN and then joined LATAM Chile in May 2016.
Aircraft Type: Airbus 320-200
Flight time: 07:29 - 08:56 (07:28 - 08:35)
Actual flight time: 1 Hr 07 min
Distance: 346 Miles
Load: ~60% load
23rd April 2019
Booking details: Booked using LATAM website. Simple enough to use, although I found a hack. The price quoted on the UK website was at GBP68, whereas using the US website, I was getting the same ticket for US67! Lol! So managed to bag two seats for $134. A 10 minute call to the UK call centre, allowed me to add one checked in luggage for an extra $15. Overall a fair result, although, I would have liked the ability to add an extra baggage online, instead of a call.
My Log book: 2nd Flight on LATAM / 48th flight on Airbus 320-200 / 206th Total overall flight
A day before the flight, I used the LATAM app for checking in online. Worked really well and got a middle and window seat assigned automatically. Overall a good experience. A much slicker online experience than SKY airlines. By a long shot. Although seat selection was automatic and any changes incurred a charge. Got seats that seemed alright so didn't have an issue with that.
Day of the flight, drive to the airport was quick 30 minutes.
Used the self-check in desks and baggage drop in 10 minutes. They also allowed me to check in my cabin bag for free. Although they asked me to remove my laptop from the hold luggage.
Quite early at Lima Airport
A common feature in all Peruvian airport, which LATAM serves
LATAM Check in and bag drop desks
Heading through security
Had some breakfast before security and they seemed to have a lot of options. Security was quick and done in 10 minutes. Air side by 6 30 am.
Boarding commenced as we approached the boarding gates.
Onboard by 0705. And boarding complete at 0713.
Airside Lima Domestic Terminal
Near our boarding gates one level below
Time to board. Note, they use the normal boarding procedure with the rear of the aircraft being boarded first as opposed to boarding by location of seat.
Bussed to the aircraft
Our ride to Cuzco
On board the 6 year old A320-200
View from row 14
The seats on this Airbus A320 felt a bit tight. But I guess it should be alright for an hour's flight.
LATAM play was available since the time of boarding.
Quite a tight seat pitch
First 7 rows seem to be reserved for LATAM Plus members. Not sure what added benefit they are entitled to? A bigger seat pitch maybe?
Disembarked at 0715. Nearly 15 minutes ahead of schedule. A fairly light load on this flight might've helped the premature departure.
Paid for Drinks round commenced soon after cruising altitude.
Military training at Lima
Over the clouds and en-route to Cuzco
It was a short hop to Cuzco and we arrived well ahead of the scheduled time. I enjoyed the LATAM play app and even though I wasn't able to watch anything in its entirety it's still a great way to pass some time. Well done LATAM.
Rest of the flight was very good and got some gorgeous views into Cuzco. Check out my video for the views and also the military training at Lima airport! Never seen a live military training to close to an active commercial airport.
LATAM Play worked perfectly well, throughout this flight
At Cuzco Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport
Baggage collected and Out of the airport by 9 50.
The experience on LATAM has been So far, so good. Looking forward to our next leg.
Tiny airport. Heading towards baggage collection
Thank you LAN,err, LATAM
Baggage collection and airport exit in 20 minutes after landingSights around Machu Pichu and the Sacred Valley
I am going to be here for a while!
Moray Salt mines
More breath-taking scenes across the sacred valley
Finally here at the main attraction - Machu Pichu!
Tough climb, but well worth it. Views from Wayanapichu
Some more of Machu Pichu Cuzco to Juliaca
As part of the trip itinerary, after exploring Machu Pichu, our plan was to spend over night in Cuzco and then take the morning flight to Juliaca to explore around Lake Titicaca.
There were two options at the time of booking, one was the LATAM Peru flight at 11:15 and the other was Avianca at 1:00 PM. The 11 AM flight seemed like a good deal for us as the timing suited us better.
I tried booking via the LATAM website and it was probably the worst booking experience thus far, booking over 10 flights for this trip. Note, my previous flights on LATAM had all been booked via the BA website, which was a breeze to use and redeem points with.
I was not able to pay using a credit card over their UK or US website. I tried various browsers, still no luck. A total of 6 tries to no luck. I tried calling the agent, and 20 minutes later he advised me that there is a global problem with LATAM for taking payments from the UK and hence I had to go to an agent (at the airport!) or book via another agency or try again next week. Touch luck!
For the person I am, I try and figure things out. I tried again, this time tried using the US website and paid using PayPal. Volla! It worked!
Got my booking done, finally, after an hour of trying!
Now I had to add baggage's to this booking.
Once again, tried calling their call centre and 20 minutes later, was told the same thing. No payment can be made from the UK until this issue from their side was resolved. I was told to call back next week and pay the fees. $12 per baggage/per person was the charge quoted to me.
So all in all, a very poor booking experience. The website looks good and slick, but it is anything but. A week + to resolve a payment issue from the UK is unacceptable.
Thanks to GCMAP for the below illustrationLATAM Chile - LA2123
Route: CUZ - JUL
Flight Reg:CC-CPF; Initially with LAN; Aug 2007 to LAN Peru; May 2016 to LATAM Peru
Aircraft Type: Airbus 319-100
Flight time: 11:14 - 12:10 (11:04 - 11:35)
Actual flight time: 31 min
Distance: 178 Miles
Load: 80% load
25th April 2019
Booking details: Used LATAM.com/US website to make the booking via PayPal. $173 + $12 for 2 tickets including 1 check in baggage in total.
My Log book: 1st Flight on LATAM Peru/ 13th flight on Airbus 319-100 / 207th Total overall flight
Seat selection was charged for and OCI opens 48 hours before travel. I tried calling a week later and was able to pay for the 1 extra baggage (£9)
2 days before the flight I was able to check in using the LATAM app. Seamless process and seats assigned automatically free of charge, albeit we got assigned the last row of this A319.
Day of the flight, drive to the airport was a brisk 10 minutes.
Check in process was seamless and once again allowed me to check in the second luggage free of charge.
Back at Cuzco Airport
A great initiative by LATAM to standardise their check in process
Not sure if you can see it, even their ground staff have a standardised uniform and looks swagger
Bag drop done, heading to security
Yes, National flight please
Security was quick and like other airports in Peru and Chile, no need to remove any laptops from your bags. They even allowed me to carry in my water bottle which was half full.
Air side by 10 am and had quite a lot of time to scan through the numerous alpaca wool shops on site.
Aircraft from Lima arrived ahead of time and as expected, boarding commenced by 1035. Once again a very seamless process where LATAM board based on seat position. Window seat first followed by central and then aisle seat. Unless you're travelling as a couple then they allow you to board together. I think it works quite well.
Domestic Airside at Cuzco
A relatively busy time at CUZ
Boarding done by seat position
There is our ride, just arrived from Lima; with a 17 year old Amaszonas Bolivia CRJ-200LR
Once onboard, we decided to change our seats since the last row didn't have any windows and personally dislike last rows. No idea why. So we moved to 19B C.
Disembarked way ahead of schedule at 1055! With a flight time of 30 minutes we were scheduled to land incredibly early. Hopefully my pre booked taxi is on time too.
When are all LATAM jets going to have their livery changed form LAN?
Used to be part of LAN Columbia
On board the 12 year old A319-100
The leg space was lot more lavish on this aircraft
Bye Bye Cuzco
This flight was a Lima-Cuzco- Juliaca flight.
Given that this was operated by LATAM Peru I was expecting a different level of service. But thus far it is in sync with my precious LATAM experience. A very good one. LATAM play available on this flight too.
A quick drinks round ensued and by that time it was time to descend.
A slightly bumpy landing but nothing too severe.
Once again, LATAM Play worked perfectly well
25 minutes later, Hello Juliaca!
You could almost touch the clouds
Exit of the airport was as quick as the flight. Out of the airport by 1145.
Once again a splendid service from LATAM both on and off the ground. Except for their dodgy UK payment portal, really good so far.
There is my brilliant taxi driver, Freddy, arranged by Casa Andina Premium, Puno
And a quick exit Sights around Lake Titicaca
Urus floating villages Juliaca back to Lima
This was getting to our final leg of our journey, in Peru and we needed to get back to Lima from near Lake Titicaca, before our onward flight to London the next day.
We had quite a few options from Juliaca airport to Lima, but we wanted to take a flight that was late in the evening. The LATAM's 19:55 ticked all the right boxes, which was also the last flight of the day. They also had redemption tickets available on BA.com for a reduced price. It was a no brainer. 5 minutes later we were booked on this flight.
Thanks to GCMAP for the below illustrationLATAM Chile - LA2092
Route: JUL - LIM
Flight Reg:CC-BJF; July 2013 - Initially with TAM; LAN in May 2014 and LATAM Chile in May 2016
Aircraft Type: Airbus 320-200
Flight time: 19:55 - 21:29 (20:01 - 21:31)
Actual flight time: 1 Hr 30 min
Distance: 524 Miles
Load: 100 % load
26th April 2019
Booking details: Used Avios redemption. 9K points + £7.20 in taxes for 2 tickets including 1 check in bag each! (tickets bought via LATAM website would've costed me upward of £250 for the same booking, including check in luggage)
My Log book: 3rd Flight on LATAM Chile/ 49th flight on Airbus 320-200 / 208th Total overall flight
Seat selection was charged for and OCI opens 48 hours before travel.
Used the LATAM app to check in online 2 days before the flight. As usual worked well and got decent seats automatically assigned. Well done!
Drive to the airport from Puno was a bit slow due to the traffic en-route. Nevertheless reached the airport with ample time to spare by 1755.
Check in was aligned to other LATAM check in experienced in the rest of Peru. Self-check in kiosks followed by bag drops. I'm quite impressed with the uniformity of service that LATAM provide even at such an out station as Juliaca. Well done LATAM.
Back at Juliaca airport
A standard edition to all airports served by LATAM, in Peru
Check in desks
A lot of cash machines, but not many people
Security was a bit more scrutinised here albeit liquid drinks were allowed with no need to remove laptops from your bags.
Air side by 1820 with over an hour to spare before scheduled boarding time.
Not much to do at the air side here. Boarding commenced at 1920.
Heading towards security
Airside at JUL
Seat position type boarding abandoned for row location
The seat pitch on this aircraft was a lot more spacious than our previous experience on a LATAM A320.
Looks like they have different configurations for their same aircrafts, perhaps due to the combination of aircrafts previously from TAM and LAN.
This was a full flight to Lima.
Our ride, just arrived from Cuzco and heading back to Lima
Boarding complete by 1935. Flight time of an hour and 25 minutes announced.
A very bumpy ride throughout. Seat belt signs on for most of the flight. Even when it eventually got switched off it was relatively bumpy.
Landed by 2130 and out of the airport by 2200.
Power sockets beneath the arm rest. Not the most obvious places to keep a power socket
A bumpy 90 minutes later, back at Lima. Probably one of the most bumpiest flight I can remember, in the recent past. No time to serve any drinks since the fasten seat belt sign was on for the entire journey and for a reason!
Salida/Exiting the airport LATAM Verdict
Apart from the dodgy UK web portal, LATAM were brilliant. They were a bit vanilla, but they were the Haagen dasz of vanilla ice creams.
Their stand out feature is their standardisation of service -> similar check in process, lax check in baggage rules, on ground staff uniform; it was all the same, even in remote airports like Juliaca.
Their on-board entertainment worked perfectly well for domestic routes and really enjoyed having the option to watch something on my own device.
I would have liked to have tried the Star Peru BAe 146, but LATAM did an exceptional job throughout. On time and hassle free.
That bring me to the end of my South American Escapade report.
Thanks all for reading it and your valuable feedback and comments. Keep the trip report coming.
Until next time, happy and safe flying. Adios!