My LAN 787 Business Class Flight In 10 Pictures

Guten Abend aus Frankfurt! Yesterday I shared a teaser of the Iberia flight I took from New York to Madrid, in their new business class. After spending several hours in Madrid, it was time to connect to Frankfurt. But rather than taking the next available flight, I waited for LAN Chile’s afternoon flight, which is operated by a 787.

LAN Chile has a flight from Santiago to Madrid, and then they offer a connecting “tag” flight from Madrid to Frankfurt. There are many “fifth freedom” routes out there, though they’re somewhat limited in Europe. Off the top of my head I can think of Singapore Airlines’ Munich to Manchester flight, Air China’s Athens to Munich flight, Garuda’s Amsterdam to London flight (which will soon be discontinued), and this LAN flight.

What makes it so special? Intra-Europe business class typically consists of an economy seat with a blocked middle, along with improved service and food. So it’s really quite underwhelming. For example, I’d take first class on a US carrier with no food over intra-Europe business class any day.

So it’s such a treat when you get a flat bed and almost unlimited space on a quick two hour flight within Europe, especially given what the alternatives are.

Beyond that, there’s something I love about fifth freedom routes in general. You get a bit of third country “flair” on a flight between two other countries (admittedly Chile and Spain aren’t as much of a contrast as some other fifth freedom contrasts out there, but still).

The report from this trip will be published starting next week, so in the meantime here’s a teaser with 10 pictures.

PS: Stay tuned, because next up is Oman Air! You’re gonna want to read that.

PPS: Not sure what I was thinking planning back-to-back redeyes, especially on fairly short flights where I didn’t really have enough time to sleep. Oops!

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Comments

  1. I think you completely overvalue flat beds on such short routes. While this is undoubtedly a step up from other intra-European J classes, would I ever extend a layover just to be in these seats? Heck no, especially bc flights within Europe are so short that you don’t even get to really sleep more than 45 mins, and that’s perhaps a generous estimate (unless you’re flying from Ireland to Turkey or something). I just don’t think flat beds are necessary intra-Europe at all.

  2. I flew this equipment btwn Sydney and Auckland for the same reasons. As the entire back row of IFE was broken, I was less than fully impressed.

  3. I like the openness of the cabin. I hate airlines that have lots of bulkheads. I love a spacious feeling on flights, I think it makes them much more comfortable, even in Y.

  4. Am I the only one who thinks Lan Chile’s business class on the 787 look extremely familiar to Qatar Airways 777 business class?

  5. @Keith, calm down man. Ben obviously values lie-flat as a higher priority than you would for these intra-Europe flights. What you would do is probably going to be different from what he would do because of resources. I assume you are not as point rich or willing to spend the same amount of money as Ben does for flights/hotels. As he said he was taking 2 red-eye flights so mate he wanted to get a quick nap in. Besides a trip report like this is more for us, his readers, than him doing it because he actually wanted a flat bed vs. a regular intra-Europe business class seat. Thanks Ben!

  6. JJ – I’m pretty calm, actually not bent out of shape at all. Was just stating my opinion…it’s like getting excited about a flat bed from San Francisco to Seattle … it’s just not really practical. I also said that I don’t think it’s worth adding time onto a trip for those seats, but I understand that he wanted to review the product for OMAT.

  7. I support Lucky’s assessment: if for same or lower cost in Business class, but having a long haul product in the regional route (i.e. this post), then we are getting much better value for money.

    @Keith: sure, pls take your short haul “economy seat” product that you are paying multiple times for to be in “business class”, while we take it easier with connections and fly a better product.

    It is a legroom huge enough to convert to a flatbed, vs a business class seat that is no different from an economy seat, but sold at the same price or more expensive (5th freedom flight prices tend to be more competitive).

    I find it hard to justify for terrible intra-europe biz class seats generally.

  8. Having flown three LAN 787 overnight round trips from SCL (two to LAX and one to MAD) their business class product I rate about a 15 our ot 10. Counterpoint: American 787 b-class. Like being in a dark cave….after three round trips SCL to DFW I’ve decided to enter the US at MIA to avoid AA 787 b-class. The absolute worst.

  9. Further comment about AA bizz class seats. On a scale of 10, hard to give them more than about 2. Tiny foot area, hard and narrow bed, windows blocked by a huge console with seat controls, etc. And every other seat faces backward but they’re connected so if you or the person behind moves, the other feels it. Like a kid kicking your seat all the time. Plus the cabin has the low ceiling, everything in gray so you’re depressed the minute you enter the cabin. And only two windows for seat, one of which is 100% blocked. A totally uncomfortable experience. One of my flights I took a walk to the back and a row 8 bulkhead seat in the center aisle was free so I sat down and ended up sleeping quite nicely for four hours! What does that say about the front end?

  10. I thought others would reminisce about other Fifth Freedom flights they have experienced in Europe; so I’ll take a walk down Memory Lane.

    I took ill-fated flight Pan Am 103 that started in Frankfurt and then to London before going on to New York.

    TWA had a large number of Fifth Freedom flights around Europe and the Middle East depending on the year and the season. I flew them Nice-Barcelona, Amsterdam-Brussels, Paris to Zurich/Geneva/Cairo/Athens (and you could also go to Tel Aviv).

    I also flew Cathay Pacific between London and Paris as a semi-finallist in Corporate Traveller’s magazine Business Travel Scholarship Competition. The magazine was published by Reed out of the UK and I made it to the semi-finals three years in a row (and almost came in 3rd place the first year but for the answer of ‘Zanzibar!’).

    Can anyone else remember others?

  11. Sorry, clarification: I was referring to the Pan Am route/flight number but not the exact flight that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 (I think).

  12. I’m taking the FRA-MAD flight in a few weeks as part of my European holiday. I’m going AMS-FRA-MAD (instead of AMS-MAD) specifically to take this flight, and in J.

    This flight was about half the price of the alternatives with an infinitely better hard product, and I’ll get access to the AC MLL.

    About Fifth Freedoms in Europe… CA also does VIE-BCN and EK does LCA-MLA.

  13. @AMM – You’re talking about AA’s 787 J cabin. Their 777-300ER cabin is all front-facing reverse herringbone seats. Have you tried that J cabin yet?

  14. Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. We have a LAX-LHR on AA J on the 773 and are looking forward to it. we expect the soft product to be similar to a CTU-SFO flight in UA J on their new (at the time) 787. We weren’t very impressed since we’ve now done JL/CX F since that.

  15. These seem to be the same seats as on the new 787 business class of Kenya Airways, but in a more attractive colour scheme. And yes, these seats are extremely comfortable.

  16. There is (or was until recently) Milan to Barcelona on SQ. They may have had also Istanbul to Athens at some point

  17. @Tom~ contrary to what you say about the openness of the cabin, I can say that the window seats feel strangely claustrophobic! Next time I would choose a centre seat, with direct aisle access, for a feeling of openness.

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