My TAM Airlines Airbus A350 in Sao Paulo
Recently, I had the opportunity to fly on my first Airbus A350 and I was excited. It was on TAM Airlines from Miami (MIA) to Sao Paulo (GRU), which is an eight-hour flight — enough time for me to put it to the test. It was also special, because this was the first international commercial flight for the TAM A350 (when it flew to MIA).
Over two and a half days, I would fly about 14,000 miles and stay in Brazil for one night to take this flight. When I did something very similar (minus the sweet A350) back in November 2014, I thought I would never do something like it again. But when invited, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation. The ability to fly on my first A350 — on TAM? Yes please!
My flights that I took over a 2.5 day period – Image: GCMap.com
Going into it, my big question was, “is the A350 better than the Boeing 787 and/or the 777?” In the end, the answer to that question was not so easy.
Our TAM Airbus A320 at Congonhas-São Paulo Airport
In Part 1 of my trip I talked about the process of getting to Brazil and went over the first day of the media trip. I had just spent my one and only night in Brazil, and was in the hotel lobby at 4:30am local time to start day two. Bring it!
At this point, I was definitely feeling the lack of sleep. I had used all the coffee packets in my hotel room. The first thing of the day was for us to head to Sao Paulo’s secondary airport, Congonhas-São Paulo Airport (CGH), which was only 15 minutes away from the hotel. Our destination? Leite Lopes Airport (RAO), then about an hour’s drive to TAM’s Museum and Maintenance facility (MRO).
This was exciting for me for a number of reasons. First off, just being able to see the Museum and MRO, of course. But also, this was going to be the first time that I had ever flown on a non-US domestic flight. It seemed weird to me and thinking about it at 5am, I thought that I might had missed a memory, but nope, this was the first time and something to check off the ol’ AvGeek to-do list.
CGH is a small airport. This made it easy to get checked in and to our gate. Originally the flight was to depart from a remote gate, meaning boarding from the tarmac (yay), but at the last minute, it was changed to a real gate (boo). TAM originally had us three journalists (me, Jason Rabinowitz and Cynthia Drescher) seated together. No good. Not that we don’t like each other (we actually get along quite lovely), however we each wanted out own window seats. Luckily the flight was not that booked and we made it happen.
This is a preview of what American Airline's business class in their new Boeing 777-300ER. Image from American.
American Airlines has unveiled what the interior of their new Boeing 777-300ER will look like when delivered. American has placed an order for 10 of the aircraft and will be the first US airline to operate them.
“American Airlines continues to remain focused on providing a differentiated customer experience through various efforts, including the execution of our fleet renewal plan,” said Virasb Vahidi, American’s Chief Commercial Officer. “The addition of 777-300ER aircraft will further modernize our fleet through the integration of unique customer comforts, which are designed to create more inviting interiors and enhance the travel experience.”
The Boeing 777-300ER, which will be configured in a three class layout, will become American’s largest aircraft that they operate. Both First Class and Business will offer lie-flat seating.
American has also announced that they will use their new 777-300ER on the Dallas/Forth Worth (DFW) to Sao Paulo (GRU) starting in December of this year. American is expecting to receive two of their 777-300ERs in 2012 and the remaining eight in 2013.
This first class suite will be on American's Boeing 777-300ER. Image from American.
This new and improved economy class will be on the Boeing 777-300ER.
The look of the interior will look more like the 787 versus older 777s. Image from American.