SYDNEY TO AUCKLAND
BOEING 787-9 DREAMLINER
It was not so long ago flying on a 787 Dreamliner was novel, it was a new aircraft with new innovations and ideas. On the day of my departure from Sydney I noticed United Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Air India, Jetstar and LATAM (LAN) were all flying the Dreamliner from Sydney. I’d flown from Melbourne to the Gold Coast when the first Dreamliner arrived in Australia for Jetstar and most recently, medium haul from Sydney to Denpasar Bali. Today I was on LATAM’s 787-9 all the way to Buenos Aires via Auckland and Santiago de Chile, so I was eager to see how this aircraft stacked up long haul, is it true what they say about the reduced jet lag? I was also excited to try South America’s largest airline, formally known as LAN, now officially LATAM.
LAN, the acronym for Latin America Network, is the national airline of Chile and Peru, recently joined forces with TAM, the Brazilian national airline and together they form LATAM. Confused? Don’t be. Its now the largest airline in South America with a fleet of over 290 aircraft. While the merger is picking up pace, this was still very much a LAN flight. Spanish speaking LAN crew in LAN uniforms and an aircraft in LAN Livery. Except for the LATAM logo’s on the AVOD and the occasional recorded messages advising the change, you wouldn’t really know much had changed, yet.
I’m not tired of, and still enamoured by, the modernity and spaciousness of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and while the 787-9 is longer with some 313 seats versus 237 on the 787-8, its not immediately noticeable.
Those oversized windows, the largest on any commercially operating aircraft, and the LED smart lighting are two of the wow factors when you board the aircraft. The lighting will change during the flight depending on the time of day and its really quite pretty.
I texted a couple of friends a pic when I boarded “Oh the seats are sterile” was one comments.. On first glance, yeah they might be, but the important thing is the comfort, and would they be? All the way to South America?
Having 9 abreast seating in a 3-3-3 layout (some airlines who operate the 787 configure it in an 8 abreast config with 2-4-2) did make the aisles seen narrow although not particularly the seats themselves.
I had pre-booked my seat on the LATAM website some months earlier. Now I am usually an aisle person for long flights, but considering that my travelling time to Buenos Aires would be around 20 hours, I decided to book a window seat for the ‘lean against it’ factor. I had also pre-booked a row where the aisle seat was taken, hoping there would be no one occupying the middle seat between us, this proved to work and we both shared the middle seat as a place for books, magazines and the like. I found the pitch to seem a little tight but at 32″ it was the industry standard. The seat moved slightly forward when reclined which did give it a sense of a deeper angle.
I counted 50 movies were available to watch. Yes, I counted them – in the name of research, not boredom. Some 12 or so new releases and a mixture of Latin and world movies. There were complete seasons of TV shows and lots of complete music albums to listen to which (movies, shows and song) can be selected to your own playlist. The system was touchscreen, there was no armrest remote, and the screen was responsive which was a pleasure compared to some other systems I have used. However, the screen didn’t tilt when the seat in front reclined, and I needed to recline mine as well to be at the right angle. There was a USB port under the screen with the ability to plug you your own entertainment and power outlet at the bottom of the seat, invaluable to keep those ithings charged!
While service didn’t exactly start straight away, it was swift when it got going with several trollies being wheeled up each aisle. With only one crew member per trolley, it seemed to get the job done a lot quicker with each being only six or so rows apart, rather than a couple of crew member with the one trolley. Well done on this aspect! The crew also didn’t assume I spoke Spanish and they were polite and friendly.
There wasn’t a choice of meal and we were each handed a tray with our lunch which consisted of a ‘gourmet sandwich’, desert, cheese and crackers. There was also a real glass which was promptly filled with wine (a choice of red or white) and tea and coffee was also service (albeit in a paper cup) Also on the tray was a metal knife, fork and spoon, yes real cutlery. Although it wasn’t a hot lunch, it was darn tasty that panini, the ingredients and bread fresh and filling. The desert was a bit hit and miss but the Laughing Cow cream cheese and crackers were a welcome finish.
Now, while it doesn’t have the frequency between Sydney and Auckland of Qantas or Air New Zealand more suited to the business traveller or those visiting for a short time, if you’re on this flight from across the ditch, which the airlines operates daily, then you’ll be happily surprised. Its no Emirates with their fancy pants A380 (service in any earthly tongue – and possibly Klingon – plus 6 millions hours of entertainment, and it doesn’t purport to be) but its the bees knees with the 787-9 Dreamliner. Oh an being a member of the OneWorld Alliance, means you can earn those Qantas Points and status credits. 🙂
Would I fly them again? Definitely! and I’m about to, from Auckland to Santiago – come back soon for part 2 and see how the airline and aircraft stacks up on the longer sector.
FreakyFlier paid for his ticket independently.