A pLANe flight down to Buenos Aires…

Buenos dias from beautiful Buenos Aires. I flew here last night from Miami on LAN Argentina (on a Dallas to Buenos Aires $900 roundtrip business class fare I booked a couple of months back), a flight I was quite excited about since it was my first time flying with the LAN group. While I’ll of course share the full details upon my return, I figured I’d provide a quick rundown of the experience.

Seat

The business class seats are fully flat and actually reasonably comfortable. As is the norm with six across seating on a 767, shoulder room was a bit tight, but having a fully flat seat to South America really is a luxury, given that a majority of airlines offer recliners or angled flat seats. I was able to sleep for a solid four hours, which is about as good as I’ve ever done in business class to South America.

Food

The food was fine. I’d say it was actually marginally worse than American’s catering. There was a salad, appetizer, and cheese plate all on a single tray. Then I had steak as my entree, which was dry as could be, and made American’s domestic steaks look tasty. Then for dessert I had the cheesecake. All in all a decent meal, though nothing that can compete with Austrian or Turkish, for example.

Service

It’s rare I say this, but the crew was horrible. When the flight attendant was taking meal orders I asked if it would be possible to get the cheesecake and ice cream. She looked at me as if I had offended her, said “no,” and then after a moment continued with “we only have enough for one, but maybe if we have extras I could bring you one.” I can’t convey the way she said it, but I was really surprised by the tone.

The service was efficient. Too efficient. It took about an hour into the flight before the meal service began, but once it did it took all of 20 minutes to be served the entire meal. They’d take your trays and give you the next course while you still had food in your mouth.

Then LAN has innovative room service style breakfast ordering cards, so I placed an order for breakfast when I went to sleep. Instead of being awoken by a friendly flight attendant wishing me a pleasant morning, I instead felt like I was being reprimanded for doing something wrong — “if you are going to have breakfast you will take out your tray table and put your seat up now.” And go figure she actually served me someone else’s breakfast by mistake, and when she served me my breakfast the order was still wrong.

Conclusion

Because of the fully flat seat I would choose LAN again if the alternative is an angled flat seat on another airline. However, the food didn’t really impress, and the service definitely disappointed. The flight attendants had no charm and were borderline rude.

All in all, a comfortable though forgettable business class journey…

Comments

  1. I had a very similar experience on LAN Ecuador… good seat but the service simply blew. Sadly, like you said, there are not that many fully slat choices to LatAm. At least my food was tasty. 😉

  2. This was interesting to read as I just flew LAN to/from Santiago and Miami. I actually found the experience to be the opposite and the service quite friendly. Sure, neither crew went above and beyond what was expected but they were still fairly pleasant. I agree that the food isn’t on the same level as some other business class products but was a welcome treat for flying to SA.

  3. Have you ever been able to get a steak that wasn’t WELL DONE in South America?

    Argentina may have the best beef in the world, but their preparation of it is a different matter.

  4. Seriously, dude, you need to take a break from the road and grow a thicker hide. Taking offense at an FA saying “no” in an unpleasant tone of voice? Taking offense at an FA telling you to take your seat? Writing a screed about a pilot not informing passengers while he’s wrestling with aircraft control in the middle of a red cell? Man, where did you grow up to get such a thin skin? It certainly wasn’t on my side of the tracks. I’d suggest that you work on improving your tolerance. Maybe work an FA job for a week….

  5. My experience with LAN was very similar. The seat and food were okay, the service sucked on most of the flights. On the trip from SCL-IPC-SCL, I had the same flight attendants and was quite disappointed with the service. They didn’t want to be bothered if you needed something, like some more water. The flights from the LAX-SCL-LAX were better, but not super.

  6. I flew MIA-SCL last week and I had a totally opposite impression. The menu was the same as yours. I enjoyed the shrimp & steak but obviously, I don’t have as much experience with business class meals as you do. The service on my flight was fine, the meal service did not feel rushed at all. I don’t know if I just got lucky with the crew or what. I will note that my seats were the newer ones, which offered a bit more privacy from your neighbor. Last time I flew the old seats the guy next to me had his feet stretched out over onto my footrest when sleeping.

  7. Danny: The FAXING party is reserved for Aerolineas. This was LAN. If you can’t tell the difference, there’s a problem!

    Ben: Had you paid 80K BA miles (NOT Avios) for RT JFK-SCL-IPC-SCL-EZE-LIM-MIA, I can assure you that the LAN seat and service would feel top-notch! I know we enjoyed them!

  8. Timely review. I’m heading to IPC next week on LAN. Hopefully the service will better.

    Did you have window or aisle seat? I’m wondering how much room there is to get out if you’re by the window.

  9. @papa smurf? When you are going? I too will be off to IPC in LAN C next week thanks to AA’s messup 🙂

  10. My wife and I truly enjoyed our 4 segments in LAN Business Class last year from SFO-LIM-IPC-SCL-MIA. Great crews, good food, good seat, all around solid business class product in my view.

  11. @hobo13, we also use 80K BA miles (not Avios) to fly LAX-LIM-IPC-SCL-EZE-SCL-MIA business class last year. Out of 8 segments (LIM-CUZ-LIM in Y), only the IPC-SCL leg the flight attendant addressed our name and provided excellent service on par with Asian carriers. Everything else was okay. But we did enjoy some pretty good wine selections.

  12. My point, in case it wasn’t clear, is that when you get a good deal on a fare / award, it’s much easier to overlook any shortcomings. Same argument typically apply to why it’s hard to be objective on comp’ed trips.

    But eh, if you want to be called by name, so be it.

  13. I’ve got the same question as Papa Smurf. I’m headed MIA-SCL-IPC on 763s. I prefer a window when it’s not inconvenient to get out to the bathroom which I unfortunately I have to visit more often than I’d like.

  14. @ msmcmotown — Trust me, I write things on the internet for a living, I have a thick skin. 😉

    Wasn’t offended, merely comparing it to other business class products I’ve flown. Sorry if that’s unreasonable.

  15. @ David — Aerolineas Argentinas, American, Delta (they fly 767s with recliners here), and TAM are all not fully flat. The only flat ones I can think of from the US are LAN and United.

  16. @ Papa Smurf — I was in the aisle. When fully reclined the person in the window had to climb over me, though the seats are set fairly low when reclined, so that’s not difficult to do. When not fully reclined there’s plenty of room to pass.

  17. @ minnesotan — I took a cab, which I believe is the best option. There’s not much public transportation in the area of the Grand Hyatt, unfortunately.

  18. Perhaps the LAN Argentina crews are not as pleasant as the Chilean LAN crews that fly to SCL.

    Lucky, you would have loved the service when LAN had First Class. While the seats were far from state of the art (but not bad for the early 2000s), the meal service was exquisite. By far better than QF, CX and BA. Caviar, king crab legs, hot and cold appetizers, salads plated seat side, etc. Extremely decadent. I really miss their First Class.

  19. LAN Argentina has Argentinian crew members. Usually you can expect the same type of service on Aerolineas Argentinas and some AA flights with Argentinian crews, even though they are not related. Mediocre with an attitude problem, and sometimes plain rude.

    LAN Chile crew is much, much better.

  20. As a Brazilian, I can tell you that Argentines are known for their rudeness and arrogance. I have plenty of very pleasant Argentine friends (or they wouldn’t have become my friends to begin with), but they’re part of the exception to the rule and it’s a stereotype that even they accept. 🙂

    I have heard many good things about LAN Chile, though I’ve never tried them myself.

  21. @Minnesotan – I actually checked out of the Grand Hyatt yesterday. If you want to be economical about getting there you can take the airport bus to the Pajaritos station then take the red line to Escuela Militar station then take a short taxi ride to the hotel. That whole thing should take a little less than an hour but involves 2 transfers. You can also walk from the Escuela Militar station if you really wanted to.

  22. @Jackson I’m doing MIA-SCL-IPC on Saturday/Sunday, return back Wednesday. If anyone is on any of these flights feel free to say hello (I have a Flyertalk tag on my backpack)

  23. You are flying in the wrong direction….the direction that leads to theft and other forms of serious crime……..just the facts………….

  24. You might want to fly back through London as those flights probably have some open seats this week………….

  25. I flew JFK/SCL/IPC/LIM/JFK last year on my BA points (80k)- found the service horrible – I have special meal which was fine but I drink only water and I had to basically help myself as the FAs were nowhere after dinner. special meals were quite good as was wine selection. the duvets were nice and I actually slept easily.
    My only misstep was not having window seat on IPC flights, everyone in J were craning our necks like excited children to see the island on approach.
    The window climbing over on LAN is fine much better than my ninja yoga moves on SAA recently. note that there was second security screening back to JFK in LIM so they confiscated my just purchased after security water

  26. I can 100% vouch for the not so friendly LAN crew, as I sat behind @lucky on this particular flight. The FA seemed annoyed when I asked her to help me with my seat, which wouldn’t move at first. When it came to ordering my meal, I had initially asked for the Salmon salad, but then asked for a steak instead (during ordering time), the FA said “no” that they don’t have anymore, my only options were the salad or ravioli.

    The crew didn’t get any better as the flight came to an end, like LUcky mentioned in his post, FA woke you up and expected you to be awake and ready for your meal. My mom quickly jolted and opened up her tray table, however didnt have enough time to pick her seat up for a comfy eating position. The flight attendant basically said nothing you can do since the tray is down w the food .

  27. I flew LAN biz class yesterday as well, LAX-SCL, had same meals but the steak wasn’t that dry, wasn’t even tough, just ok. Crew was quite pleasant and accommodating, they checked on me several times and were quite courteous, always with a smile. Maybe you felt they were blah because of cultural translation?

  28. Those screens are huge! I’d choose LAN over others just for that, plus the fully reclined seats would be wonderful. I’ve never slept on all my flights to South America. 4 Hours attests to the comfort.

  29. @ Michelle V — Wow, funny you were on the same flight. Wish I had known you were aboard.

    @ Cheryl — Definitely don’t think there was anything lost in translation. Maybe LAN Argentina is just much worse than LAN Chile?

  30. Glad you have thick skin. While some apparently find it hyper-sensitive or entitled, I appreciate critique about subpar service, unpalatable food, etc. Reviews that describe the full experience, warts and all, are more useful than those that only present the positives.

  31. Good Afternoon,
    @ lucky – Thanks for your post. As always, very informative and very useful for those of us flying around the globe. How were you able to get a business class fare from Dallas to Buenos Aires for only $900? I would be more than happy to find such deals in order to fly my wife when traveling on business.
    Regarding your post, my two cents: I fly more than 250K miles per year out of Miami to everywhere in Latin America. In my humble opinion, I would say that LAN has the best product in a holistic way (i.e., seat, amenities, boarding, food/wine, etc.) out there by far compared to any other airline operating throughout Latin America. Whenever the LAN option is available, I will ditch any other competing choice. Luckily, LAN is increasing their footprint into the continent with more destinations and more frequent flights.
    Cheers,
    D

  32. My Wife and I flew LAN in 2009 LAX-LIM-SCL-EZE-LIM-LAX all in “Premium Business” and found it similar to most other posters. The seat I thought was pretty decent. The service was lacking… food quality just OK… wine … you’d think you’d get something better when on an South American carrier with access to such great wines! Oh well… it was safe and that was the most important part.

  33. I have to say I’ve found LAN FA’s and GA’s to be the same – generally not accommodating and borderline rude.

  34. Lucky,

    Any recommendation on seats? My flying companion and I are in 1A/B both ways. Is this the best choice? The cabin is fairly open as of now. Thanks!

  35. Had a very similar experience a couple years ago flying between Easter Island, Santiago, Lima, and Los Angeles in business on LAN. I’m not 100% sure but I believe I would have been on Lan Chile and possibly Lan Peru, and didn’t have great service on any of my flights.

    The service really wasn’t awful, but didn’t impress. One one flight, I’d accidentally been assigned a vegetarian meal, and when I asked to have the regular meal instead, they said nope, they didn’t have any extras. Fine, I understand mistakes happen, but they weren’t remotely apologetic about it, which kind of bugged me. Drink refills were almost non existent. I somehow had the sense that since I was young and traveling on an award ticket, I got poorer service than some other passengers (could have just been my imagination).

    That said, the food was fine (good description of it) and the seat was great. Obviously much better than flying coach and definitely worth the premium to me (was using BA miles at the time). But now that I’ve tried a few other premium products, I have to say in comparison the service was a little lacking.

  36. @ Matt — All seats are more or less similar. In your shoes I’d sit somewhere around the middle of the cabin. I’d avoid the bulkhead as there’s the most traffic and noise around there.

    I was in row three and found it perfect.

  37. @ David — I booked this through a special fare they had several weeks ago, which I also blogged about. It appears on FlyerTalk originally. It’s rare to find deals like that, though sometimes they do come up.

  38. I have to agree with some about the steak. The only thing I felt I’d been over-sold about Argentina was their beef. Nothing bowled me over. Try Three Forks in Dallas- now THAT is great beef, even well done.

  39. Typical Argentine service. That’s the wayit’s going to be if you fly LAN or Aerolineas Argentinas

  40. Hi Lucky,

    Since the LAN TAM merger, are we able to book award flights on TAM also with American Airlines miles?

  41. @ Daniel — It’s not possible yet. TAM flights are still bookable with Star Alliance miles and not OneWorld miles, though that should change soon.

  42. Well, what I can say is “I told you so”. I have had such a bad experience with LAN everytime I flew with them (either LAN Peru or LAN Chile) that this attitude does not me surprise at all. It was very similar at the check in in Santiago and on arrival in GRU, it is sort of a corporate thing. TAM has been acquired by LAN and the service is going downhill quickly.

  43. Dude, that’s LAN Argentina 90% time. They refuse to be great on service.

    LAN Chile and LAN Peru are a much more reliable example of what LAN Biz really is.

  44. Ben,we flew LAN Chile 2 weeks ago business class to Santiago through Miami , I had a good experience, flight crew was very friendly and food was OK, not bad and not the best. Seats were comfortable and we liked Chile and its people are real friendly . Next month I am flying the same flight you took, LAN Argentina business class through Miami , and will see how it compares to LAN Chile .

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