A brand new 787-9, my ride to Santiago, Chile – Photo: Ben Granucci | AirlineReporter
I recently made a trip to Santiago to cover the opening of LAN’s new VIP Lounge. I was pretty excited since this gave me a few firsts. This was the first time that I was invited to do an international trip as media and my first time in South America. This was also going to be my first trip on a 787 of any variant. While the Santiago to JFK route was normally flown by a 787-8 at that time, the night before my flight I discovered that a brand new 787-9 had been swapped in. I was beyond excited!
The bulkhead row of seats on LAN’s 787-9 – Photo: Ben Granucci | AirlineReporter
Although I would say that I had a better than average international economy experience, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t encounter some challenges. Some were things that happen just because the complexities of running an airline, but others I think could be updated to improve the overall economy passenger experience.
LAN’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner sits at their maintenance facility at Santiago.
Back in the day when the Boeing 787 was allowed to fly, I took LAN’s first 787 delivery flight from Everett, WA to Santiago Chile. During my short stay, I was able to tour their maintenance and training facility and I wanted to share what I was able to explore.
Boeing 767s get winglets installed.
LAN has been going through a huge undertaking of upgrading their older Boeing 767s to each have winglets to increase their fuel efficiency. When LAN started the process, it would take them about 49 days to install the winglets. More recently,it only takes them two weeks.
Sometimes, the simplest way is the best.
One of the most interesting aspects was using old-school white boards and papers to keep track of where each aircraft is at in the maintenance process. At first, I couldn’t imagine why they wouldn’t upgrade to computers, but their process absolutely works for them and why fix something that is not broken?
The Airbus A318 still looks like a baby airplane to me. LAN currently operates 5 of the type.
Typically, it takes about 12 hours to replace a Boeing 767 engine and only nine hours to replace one on an Airbus A318.
P&W4000 engine being worked on.
LAN is able to re-work up to ten engines at a time and the shop runs 24 hours per day, six days per week.
This is an engine cleaning truck (pretty sure that they had a fancier name for it) that can drive to clean the engines of a LAN aircraft.
I started to get TIREd at this point in the tour (okay, not really and that was a bad joke).
CAE training facility in Santiago.
LAN does not operate their own flight simulators or crew training, but outsource to CAE, which is located directly next to the airport.
You probably never will need to use a raft like this, but it is good to know that flight attendants know how to use it, if needed.
These may look like fun (I wasn’t allowed to slide down), but this is where flight attendants train how to evacuate an aircraft.
Boeing 767 interior mock up for safety training.
A CAE Boeing 767 flight simulator. Do I want to go inside? Um, yes please.
Pilots get training in the Boeing 767 simulator.
Was able to sit in on two current pilots who were doing additional training on the Boeing 767. They just had one engine go out during landing and had to react appropriately — we all made it.
This story written by…David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder.
David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.
Cheers: A long flight made easy with LAN’s product. Jeers: Lima is on my naughty list… first impressions count. Bottom Line: A great product, but it is hard to fly on a Boeing 767 after flying on a 787.
My home for 12.5 hours – the other hour was spent in the Lima airport. Too bad I was missing a window.
LAN AIRLINES PREMIUM BUSINESS CLASS FULL REVIEW:
I was excited to compare LAN’s Business Class configuration during my flight from Santiago back home to Seattle. Only a few days earlier, I had flown down on LAN’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner non-stop from Everett, WA. It was an impressive flight, and I was awestruck by the new 787’s atmosphere. I was looking forward to checking out LAN’s older product on the flight back home, to see how it measured up. (note: LAN paid for my trip to Santiago and flight back home to cover their 787 delivery).
A Boeing 767-300ER would carry me from Santiago to Lima, and on to LAX. (I had to catch an Alaska Airlines flight back home to Seattle). My schedule had me reach SCL about five hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. No problem — my premium ticket gave me access to the LAN lounge which includes complimentary food, beverages, and even shower facilities.
The time flew right on by (pun intended), and soon it was time to board the aircraft. I knew the product on the 767 was not going to be as new or modern as the 787, but I was quite delighted with what I found. The Premium Business Class is in a 2-2-2 layout, and I went for a window seat. I ended up with a vacant seat next to me ’“ I felt like I had almost unlimited space, a sensation unheard of in current-day air travel.
While everyone settled in, flight attendants came around asking if I wanted anything to drink, which is pretty standard. The lead flight attendant also went around to each customer, introduced himself, and shook everyone’s hand. This was new which I’d never seen before and I was quite impressed.
I’d never before seen Lima, so I decided to stay awake during the first leg, holding sleep off until the second leg into LAX. I didn’t think it would be easy since I was pretty tired , but I had more than enough to keep me entertained.
The food was fresh, colorful, tasty and filling on my LAN flight.
The in-flight entertainment system was a bit slow and cumbersome, but it did what it needed to do ’“ it kept me entertained. The controller lived on the side of the seat, which meant I would accidentally hit it with my leg and stop my movie a few times. I’ve experienced this with other airlines, but here I could at least get the movie to easily resume where I left it. Other comparable systems from this era required me to fast forward. I solved the issue by simply pulling out the remote and letting it dangle so I wouldn’t hit it (keep it classy people).
Initially I was pretty excited about idea of stopping in Lima. I’d never been there and figured it would be a unique FourSquare check-in. I imagined we would land and those stopping at Lima would depart while those of us going to LAX would stay on. Sigh… no, it cannot be that easy.
We were told that we would have to de-plane and re-board. Okay, sure… it is 2:00am Chilean time and midnight in Lima, but I can play this game. The problem was, we didn’t just de-plane and wait at the gate area. We had to go through customs and be re-scanned – sweet.
I suggest using the pre-set buttons. I had a hard time manually getting the seat to do what I wanted it to.
Yeah, I am used to the process. Ask me why am I was in Chile and how long I was there. Now take out my laptop and put my bag in the scanner. The security person saw something in my bag they didn’t like and wanted to do a hand search. Sure, go ahead.
As they started going through my bag, I had difficulty getting through the metal detector. I am not a travel newbie and knew I had no metal on me, but it kept going off. After a nice little pat down, it turns out that my chip in my Passport was setting it off. They apparently have those detectors turned all the way up.
Back to my bag. The agent searches through and takes out my cork screw, while giving me a dirty look and shaking their head like it was a big knife or something. Okay, fine, take my cork screw that I have flown around the world with me.
I was a bit annoyed with the Lima security, but figured it was all over when I got to the gate. Guess what? Before we could re-board, all of our bags were hand-searched again. This time they took my nail clippers…really? Again, I have flown all over the world with nail clippers, but sure, at this point I just wanted to get back on the plane.
It takes quite a bit to get me annoyed when dealing with airlines or airports, but this did it. And when I am annoyed, it means that your standard passengers are super annoyed and upset — and oh boy were they.
Many left the plane in good spirits, but those returning were not happy. Not a great first impression Lima, might want to think about having a little better customer service, because I am in no hurry to visit again.
LAN’s 767 In-Flight Entertainment product is not as slick as the 787’s, but not too shabby compared to other airlines.
This experience was not LAN’s fault; they have no control over what happens when they land at Lima. “When we have a stop-over in Lima, the government dictates whether or not our passengers are going to have to deplane and go through customs, or just deplane and then get back on the same plane for departure,” LAN spokesperson Megan Kat Williams told AirlineReporter.com. “We realize that this can be a huge inconvenience for our passengers, but we usually do not have much notice as to what they are going to require us to do.”
I was happy to get back on the plane. I was planning to get some rest, but was almost done with a movie that I wanted to finish while we took off. Argh! Even though I had the same seat, the system must had been re-started, because I had to fast forward. Normally not a big deal, but I was pretty grumpy after my experience with Lima.
After takeoff, I finished my movie and it was time for sleep. The seats fold flat and do their job well. I slept for six hours but, I have to admit, it wasn’t super comfy. If LAN would let passengers have a padded cover to put on top of the seat before going to sleep, it would make a huge improvement.
I think that LAN provides a great business class product on their Boeing 767 and upgrading to the 787 is only better. I only wish there was no need to make a stop in Lima.
LAN’s first Boeing 787 sits next to the Future of Flight in Everett, WA.
LAN Airlines became the fourth airline in the world and the first in the Americas to take delivery of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Lucky for me, I was invited to tag along (Note: LAN flew me down to Santiago, back to Seattle and provided a hotel).
Even though the LAN 787 took off from Everett, WA (where it was built) on Friday, August 31st, the celebration started earlier. There were quite a few journalists from South America who were flown in on Wednesday and the celebration started with a dinner boat cruise. I might have lived in Seattle for 14 years, but the city’s beauty always amazes me.
LAN’s 787 sits outside, while Boeing, LAN and media have dinner in the Future of Flight.
All day Thursday, media was invited to take a tour of the Boeing factory and get to know the surrounding area. I was not able to participate in the day events, but they were all things I have done/seen before. Not to say I don’t try to get back into the factory any chance I can.
Thursday night was the official delivery dinner, hosted by Boeing and took place on the gallery floor at the Future of Flight. Boeing always knows how to throw a celebration and this was no different. It was hard to recognize the gallery, especially with their white 747 being painted in LAN’s livery.
A movie was shown highlighting the development of LAN’s first 787. Upon conclusion of the video, the screen was raised, reveling the aircraft outside. Although media had a chance to go outside and take photos beforehand, this was the first time that most of the LAN employees saw their Dreamliner. The excitement is hard to describe.
Totally a typical evening hanging out on couches, drinking wine, while under a 787 Dreamliner.
There were a few more speeches, which were almost all in Spanish, so I just clapped when everyone else clapped and smiled when I heard “siete, ocho, siete” (seven eight seven in Spanish).
After dinner, the large glass door opened and we were able to enjoy cocktails outside, next to the aircraft. Couches were set up for people to relax, but many chose to stand while socializing and gazing at the new plane.
I did not end up leaving the Future of Flight until almost 1:30am — like I said, it was a great event. A big bonus was that I didn’t have to be back to Paine Field until 10:00am the next morning.
A delivery ceremony wouldn’t be complete without the classic ribbon cutting by executives.
Friday was the big day, but the delivery flight was not scheduled to depart until 5:00pm. Upon arrival, we had the opportunity to get on the plane and see the interior for the first time. Even though LAN’s new seating product had premiered on the 767 a few months prior, it was done more or less in secret and fully announced with the 787.
LAN’s entry way on the 787 wasn’t as dynamic as Qatar’s and a bit more like United’s. Sort of a mid-ground for providing a warm welcome, but not giving up too much space. LAN laid out the Business cabin in a 2-2-2 set up and the economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. I knew I was going to be spending about 12.5 hours in economy, so I made sure to check out the front of the plane as much as possible.
Business Class on LAN’s brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. More comfy than economy.
Although the seats are interesting, I always enjoy checking out the areas that most passengers will never see: the pilot’s rest area above the cabin in the front, the flight deck and the crew rest area, which are upgraded economy seats.
Airline customers have the choice to offer a rear sleeping area for crew (like on United’s 787). LAN opted for economy seats, that can recline, in a 2-3-2 layout by the window, that are curtained off and have a separate lighting zone than the rest of the cabin.
The pilot-crew rest area located above the main cabin, in the front.
After our interior tour we had about three hours to burn before departing Paine Field. My game plan was to work on the blog, while waiting for our flight to leave, but ran into a problem when trying to find my bag. I was one of the first to arrive at the Future of Flight (shocking, I know) and when I did, no one had put their carry-on bags down. The place where I put my bag (right by the security scanner) turned out to be the location for checked bags… oops. In my defense, there were not signs posted at the time.
The best seat in the house.
After searching through all the carry-ons multiple times and not finding mine, I figured it was picked up. The problem was all the checked bags were already scanned, loaded into crates and secured. I talked to three different people and two said there was no way could I get access to my bag and one said, “maybe.”
Luckily, I had my Passport on me, but my bag had my laptop and all my chargers for my phone and camera. I was nice and polite, but made it quite clear how happy I would be to have my bag.
About an hour later, a lovely woman came up to me saying that I could go with her to get my bag — I wanted to give her a hug. As an extra bonus, the bag search was down on the east-side of the airport and we were on the west side. I got to take a van ride around Paine Field and right down the flight line. Unfortunately I was not able to take photos, but I have the memories.
I am thankful I was able to carry my bag on, especially since my camera battery went out a few hours into the flight. Needless to say, that would have made PART 2 of this story very difficult.
My seat was 15A, but I had the whole row for sleeping.
Shortly after fetching my bag, it was time to board. We each had hand written tickets (my name was wrong, but whatever) and went through Boeing security (kind of like TSA, but nicer). Then it was time to board, get settled in seat 15A and prepare for a 12.5 hour flight to Santiago. Being able to have the experience to fly non-stop from Everett to Santiago on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner was truly a dream come true.
LAN’s first Boeing 787 sits next to the Future of Flight at Paine Field.
LAN Airlines first Boeing 787 has successfully been delivered to Santiago Chile. I have many photos to go through and things to write up, but for now, you can enjoy this little preview of the adventure.
We had a nice little circle flight over western Washington after take off. Image from FlightAware.com.
We took off a bit before 6pm PST from Paine Field and headed west. Anyone watching our flight route (seen above) might have been confused on what was going on. Turns out we had a chase plane film the 787 before heading south for the rest of our adventure (check this out).
Above is a video that was showing during the delivery ceremony that highlights the production of LAN’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Not going to lie; it gave me goose bumps watching all the LAN employees viewing the video before being shown their aircraft for the first time.
Before landing we did a fly-by Comodoro Arturo Merino Benàtez International Airport (SCL). This is us heading back to land.
It was quite the experience, with a few surprises and I cannot wait to share them. It is never easy being in economy for 12.5 hours on any aircraft, but that was the easiest economy experience for me to date. Do not worry — much more is to come — but for now, it is time to check out Santiago.