Review: LAN Business Class Miami to Buenos Aires

Introduction
Club America Lounge Miami
LAN Business Class Miami to Buenos Aires
Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
LAN Business Class Lounge Buenos Aires
LAN Business Class Buenos Aires to Miami
Grand Hyatt DFW Airport


LAN Argentina 4521
Miami (MIA) – Buenos Aires (EZE)

Thursday, April 11
Depart: 8:45PM
Arrive: 6:45AM (+1 day)
Duration: 9hr
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 3J (Business Class)

My first impression upon boarding was generally positive. There were five rows of business class with six seats per row, in a 2-2-2 configuration. The legroom was ample, among the best I’ve seen in business class. The only thing missing upon boarding were smiles, or even a greeting for that matter, from the crew.


Business class cabin


Business class cabin


Business class seats

I quickly settled into 3J, my aisle seat on the right side of the aircraft.


My seat, 3J


Legroom in row three

The entertainment screen was huge and seat controls seemed intuitive, and the seat even went into the fully flat position.


Center console with seat controls

In addition to the overhead lights there were “snake” LED reading lights.


Reading lights

At the bottom of the seat was a small compartment, perfect for shoes.


Shoe compartment

Also at each seat were a pillow and blanket. The pillow was especially firm and large, which I appreciated, and the blanket was well “cushioned.”


Pillow and blanket

Within about five minutes of settling in a flight attendant came by our seats and introduced herself as Carolina. She offered us drinks. I had some champagne, which was served with nuts. Okay, I figured maybe I was off on the service and she was just stressed earlier. It’s a nice touch to get nuts on the ground, and the flight attendant introducing herself by name in business class is rare as well.


Pre-departure beverages

A few minutes later I was offered the menu and wine list, along with a folder containing the immigration documents (I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the sharpest knife in the kitchen, but they were damn complicated).


Menu, wine list, and immigration documents


Immigration documents

We were also offered amenity kits, which were Salvatore Ferragamo branded — my favorite!


Amenity kits

They were well stocked, with a toothbrush, comb, lotion, socks, eyeshades, ear plugs, a pen, etc.


Amenity kit contents

Before we pushed back the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of eight hours. Right on time, with a full business class cabin, we began our push back and taxi to the runway. I was happy to see that the entertainment system was already active on the ground, so I browsed the selection as we taxied out. I found the system to be a bit of a pain to use given that you could only scroll through one movie at a time, though on the plus side the selection was extensive.


Entertainment controls and headphones


Entertainment selection

I decided to watch Parental Guidance, though it was so horrible that I couldn’t tolerate more than 30 minutes of it. It’s certainly no Abduction!


Entertainment selection

After a smooth take off and climb out the seatbelt sign was turned off.


Airshow


Airshow


Airshow


Cabin after takeoff

About 20 minutes after takeoff the meal orders were taken. There was absolutely no charm to the way the flight attendants interacted with passengers while taking meal orders, but rather just “what do you want?”

The menu read as follows:

And the wine list read as follows:

After meal orders being taken it was about 75 minutes before we saw the flight attendants again. On such a short redeye that’s mind blowing to me. At that point they emerged to serve drinks and the starter (rather than doing drinks first shortly after takeoff, as is the norm on most airlines).


Cart

I had a Diet Coke with the starter. The starter consisted of lemongrass shrimp with fennel confit, a cheese plate, and a garden salad. The quality was fairly good — nothing amazing, but not bad either.


Starter course


Lemongrass shrimp with fennel confit


Garden salad


Cheese plate

Meanwhile my friend had the sundried tomato soup with capers, which looked quite good.


Sundried tomato soup with capers

For the main course I had the steak, which was horrible. It was tough and dry, substantially worse than what you’d get on American in domestic first class.


Steak with asparagus and saffron couscous

For dessert I had the cheesecake, which was good.


Italian cheesecake

On the whole it was a pretty mediocre meal, though more than anything else the service was just downright rude. While it took them 75 minutes to start the service, at that point they just weren’t waiting for anyone, and served you the next course before you were even done with the last one. There wasn’t a single smile from a crew member, and I didn’t feel like I was actually served anything, but rather things were thrown at me.

After dinner we were given room service style breakfast cards, where we could order exactly what we wanted. We had the choice between the express breakfast served 40 minutes before landing, or the full breakfast served 90 minutes before landing.


Breakfast card


Breakfast card

We were also given individual bottles of water.


Bottled water

By the time the dinner service was complete there were about six hours to go to Buenos Aires, so I reclined the seat into the fully flat position in hopes of getting some rest. While the seats were a bit on the narrow side (as is usually the case on 767s with six across seating in business class), I slept really well thanks to the good bedding.

I’m used to waking up to flight attendants “petting” me in hopes of waking me up for breakfast, but there was none of that. Instead Carolina poked me hard and screamed “if you are going to have breakfast you will take out your tray table and put your seat up now.” Easy there, Fraeulein!

The breakfast menu read as follows:


Airshow upon waking up


Airshow upon waking up


Airshow upon waking up

The flight attendant threw my meal at me and walked away. I looked at my tray confused for a minute, at which point she stomped back, picked up my tray, and threw a new one at me, since she had mixed up the orders.


Breakfast

With breakfast I watched an episode of Just For Laughs.


Entertainment

30 minutes out the captain made another announcement informing us of our on-time arrival, and after a smooth descent we touched down.

Unfortunately despite most gates not being occupied, we were assigned a remote stand, right next to a Martinair Cargo MD11.


Martinair Cargo


Our 767 from Miami

There were a couple of buses waiting for us, though they sure piled us in like sardines.


Bus waiting for us

While we had intended to only travel with carry-ons, my friend was forced to check his bag in Miami, and it took about an hour before it arrived. Coincidence? I think not. 😉

On the plus side, there was at least some entertaining checked items on the belt…


Seriously?

After waiting for an hour we figured we were free to go, but then we had to queue for customs and baggage screening. Okay, I’ve been to places where all bags have to be screened upon arrival, and it’s usually pretty quick. Boy, was that not the case here.

Clearly we were the only passengers clearing customs that weren’t in the business of importing Fisher Price toys. So the customs guy would literally screen bags, get out a calculator to calculate the tax on it, and then they seemed to negotiate back and forth on price. Even though there were only about five parties ahead of us in line, it took us about an hour to clear the customs queue.

We were all entertained by the entire process and what a spectacle it was, especially when the screening belt started going in reverse and all the bags started falling out.


Oops

Our screening took all of 30 seconds, at which point we were landside and took a taxi to the Park Hyatt.

On the whole I was disappointed by LAN. The service was extremely underwhelming and food was mediocre at best. That being said I’d probably still fly them to South America as they offer fully flat seats, which most airlines to Buenos Aires don’t seem to offer.

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Comments

  1. Great review! Lousy airline… LAN will never see my money with that kind of service. Not a chance! That’s not service, that’s just plain rudeness. Why would I pay to be treated like that (with miles/points/cash)?

    Makes me shutter to think how they service their planes mechanically!!

  2. Ben, we just got back from SCL, MIA-SCL on LAN and SCL-MIA on AA, LAN FA is famous of their “what do you want attitude?” while AA is more friendlier. I still prefer LAN flat bed seat over all.

  3. Totally different experience on the MIA-SCL routes. Very nice FAs, smiles, pisco sours whenever we wanted them… 🙂 The lay flats are a little short if you are tall (I’m 6′ 5″), but you could hang your feet off the side and it was just as nice since the cabin was pretty hot (why do most airlines do that on overnight flights??) I’d fly LAN again in a heartbeat.

  4. Echos my experience on JFK-SCL and SCL-MIA, downright horrible, especially that steak. I’d rather fly UA or AA to South America. Also, the shoulder room on those seats is way worse than you made it out to be in my opinion.

  5. It seems you found a crew with more anger issues than some COdbaUA crews! I like that you are willing to test out the business/first products of a bunch of different airlines so we know what to expect.

  6. As for the service,I think that breakfast menu tells the whole story, Ben. Or shall I call you 3J?

  7. Hi Lucky. The remote gate deal isn’t an accident, LAN is fighting with the airport about the cost of gates. Nothing surprising considering it’s Argentina.

  8. LAN’s superior service is exactly their on board experience.

    If anything, whatsoever, goes wrong do lower your expectations for their ground service, and lower even more for their customer service experience.

    Truly glad you did not have to assess their other experiences…

  9. I agree with Brady. I had a great experience from MIA-SCL and back. Service was friendly and the food relatively good. It’s definitely not the most warm and fuzzy service in the sky but I’d definitely prefer LAN over AA for this route!

  10. I had a pretty good experience on LAN MIA-SCL-IPC and back. 3/4 segments were with their new product, which has a very nice IFE.

    I also got a horribly overcooked steak out of MIA, they need to work on catering there. The one of out SCL was great though

  11. Ben a couple of things you may not know.. The government gives piority to the local airline Aerolineas, and does not have any good relationship with LAN therefore they will assign the farest bridge or not give you a bridge at all on purpose. They also make you wait LAN bags one hour on purpose. The custom agents were negotiating how much money they will get under the carpet instead of making the travelers pay the official tax they should be paying that is 50% of everything.

  12. Ben, A suggestion, when you do the pictures, do you mind taking one from the overhead.
    I am interested in knowing which airlines/aircraft have individual air vents and which ones don’t. Thanks

  13. I just got back from flying MIA-SCL-JFK on LAN and had the opposite experience. Crews were terrific and extremely friendly and kind, even chatty.
    On the ground, same experience. I had an agent in SCL that I *loved*. So for my experience, personnel were terrific. Product not as good.

    I had the steak and agree with you there – skip it. Shoulder room just sucks in J, especially at 4A or 4L (one of three windows missing and is a wall). Odd lack of storage for personal items. Old J better than new J, shame, really. Oddly jumping right into service without cocktails (you can ask, but still, sort of downgrades service). Cheese course delivered with starter? Weird.

    Whoever is designing there inflight service should be fired – they are not doing themselves any favors.

  14. @ Shahin — I’ll try to include that in the future, though for what it’s worth LAN didn’t have air vents.

  15. I took them one-way from YYZ to JFK back in 2010. Smooth ride and the seats were alright and I got a good nap in.

    However, the service was some of the rudest I’ve ever gotten as the FAs were not friendly at all. They were indifferent and could have cared less about helping the passengers.

  16. Hi Ben, I’m planning an anniversary trip with my wife next March JFK-EZE. Would you recommend LAN or AA for that in business?

  17. Very decent wine list. Love it they serve Louis Roederer, which I rate higher than a Veuve Clicquot. The Terrazas and Zuccardi are also quality drops.

  18. Did the same flight last night. Have to concur. We did NOT get champagne on the ground — just water or OJ. FA blamed it on “US regulations.”
    Also took LAN to SCL on my wat to IPC, Those flights (hard and soft product) were better.

  19. I was wondering why there were so many South American wines and then it occurred to me! I like how they show the bottle next to the description of each offering.
    That’s awful that your friend had to check his rocking horse. 😉

  20. My recent experience on LAN in J (JFK-SCL-IPC-SCL-MIA) was exactly the opposite. Some of the best flights I have ever had (better than a recent CX J).
    You get what you give…

  21. Oh I read your experience and just thought it is the way chileans and LAN are. I had all sorts of mishappenings in a trip BSB X SCL like the check in attendants charging for one bag who was overweight and I had pretty much some weight I could distribute but the lady told me only after she dispatched the bags. They said no “fragile” bag tags available. I ended up with a brokeng bag at the arrival, which the company refused to acknowledge as their responsability. All in all awful experience.

    In Santiago I was yelled at the street by a lady who had bumped into me and she got crazy about it. I was the one standing and she was the one rushing.

    Now that LAN has bought TAM, the quality of service in TAM has gone downhill. My last flights of TAM I see them incorporating the new owner’s spirit.

  22. We had inconsistent experiences on our MIA-SCL-IPC-SCL-MIA flights. Some surly crews, most mediocre, but one crew of friendly, funny young flight attendants who were wonderful. Overall, I enjoyed the dinner food (didn’t try any meat, though) but thought breakfast was pretty blah.

  23. The trend based on comments so far (and my own experiences) is that SCL-based crews tend to be quite good. I had a very proactive, cheery bunch of FA’s in both directions MIA-SCL-MIA (and both with the new J seats which have their shortcomings).

  24. I flew Business MIA-LIM and later many more flights in SA and back to MIA.

    Great airline. Great service.

    I hate seeing photos of dead animals on plates. Think about the pain, suffering and eventual murder including the awful fear before death. Make the connection!

    I only order vegan food!

    It is the only moral way of life!

  25. Took the same flight as you and returned last week. Had the exact same experience and sat in 3 J as well. They had a problem with seat 3 A and the business class cabin was full and they insisted on moving my daughter to economy and offered either a $3060 voucher or $2050 cash. Promised to serve her business class meal and drinks but it did not happen. One of our carry on bags mysteriously disappeared and most probably one of the passengers walked away with it. I filed a claim in Miami and the guy there did not care , just fill up the paper work and we,ll get back to you. Last month i flew LAN Chile to Santiago in business class too and it was a better experience. Argentina and most South America are corrupt countries, laden with with crime and petty theft . I guess I am dine with this continent and would rather enjoy the civilized world from now on, Europe in particular.

  26. I live in the Falkland Islands, which are serviced weekly by a LAN airbus A320. I must say that I have had the pleasure of flying LAN business class, and say that the service was great. they are definately my favourite airline; much freindlier than partner airline TAM

  27. This is one of the first reviews that i read critizing LAN, i flew lan from buenos to miami in economy and the service was excellent. I think it depends on the flight attendants. You may get friendly crew that smiles or rude angry crew. And as you mention customs at ezeiza is the worst i had ever seen, scanning every bag from every passenger that arrives. I read horror stories of people waiting about 2 hours in customs to exit.

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