Flying LATAM’s 787-9 To The World’s Most Remote Inhabited Island

Hello from Easter Island! After flying LATAM from Mexico City to Santiago, we connected after a few hours from Santiago to Easter Island. While I was looking forward to visiting Easter Island, the flight itself was something I was excited about as well.

Easter Island is the most remote inhabited island on earth, and that means there are some interesting aspects to the airport. For example, Easter Island is a designated emergency landing option for the space shuttle.

Furthermore, there can only be one plane flying towards Easter Island at any given time (at least beyond the “point of no return”), since there are no diversion airports. That means only one plane at a time can be over halfway between their origin and Easter Island.

Lastly, while most of the flights to Easter Island are out of Santiago, I’m fascinated by the route that LATAM operates between Easter Island and Tahiti. LATAM flies from Santiago to Tahiti, but the flight stops in Easter Island, as it’s about halfway. How cool.

So, how was the flight itself? It was operated by a 787-9, rather than the 787-8 we had on the previous flight, so business class was a bit different. It still had 30 seats, but they were all in a single cabin with different finishes than on the 787-8.

I was happy to see that they had the same incredible pillows & blankets they had on the previous flight, even though this was just a 4hr30min flight that was (technically) domestic.

There was also an amenity kit, though it wasn’t as nice as the one on the previous flight. Rather it was just a bunch of things wrapped in a shoebag.

I’ve heard several complaints over the years about the service on this flight, and how it’s incredibly disappointing in terms of what they serve. I see where people are coming from, but personally I didn’t think it was that bad.

The breakfast choices on the flight were between an omelet and a cheese & ham plate. While the breakfast wasn’t huge and everything was served on one tray, I didn’t think it was an unreasonable amount of food for a 4hr30min flight. It might have been nice if they had some snack mix or something before landing, but I certainly didn’t find it to be bad.

Given how tiny Easter Island is, the interesting thing is that you don’t see any land until you’re a few seconds from touching down.

We landed and then had to back taxi to get to our arrival stand.

There’s nothing quite like getting to walk on the tarmac next to a heavy at a super remote and tropical airport.

And while I doubt the airport has any great lounges to enjoy when we depart, it’s super charming.

What a fun flight, and I’m so excited to be here!

Comments

  1. Went there over the summer and had tuns of fun. I hope you enjoy it! And, in terms of service, I flew business back from Easter Island to Santiago, and there was no catering. I wonder if it’ll be the same for you.

  2. Did you visit the “new” (2015) LATAM lounge at SCL? Here now and impressed. You get the same amenity kit in the shower room that you get in business class

  3. Make sure you go to the local Rapa Nui post office, they’ll give you a really cool passport stamp. Always been on my bucket list to go there and see all the Moai. Have a great trip!

  4. I had JFK-SCL-IPC-SCL-JFK on business with using Asia Miles. Had a great time in Easter Island & Santiago.

    I’m curious how long did it take for you to retrieve your luggage? On my end, it took them 2 hours. Doesn’t matter if you have priority or not.

  5. Not to split hairs but Easter Island is ONE of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, not the most remote. That title goes to Tristan da Cunha.

  6. The Hawaiian islands are the most remote archipelago despite them being so familiar. The nearest land is SFO usually 5 hours away. There is also no place to land between them and the mainland.

  7. “is” a designated emergency landing option for the space shuttle? All the space shuttles are in museums now.

  8. When my plane departed Easter Island back to Santiago, the plane circled Easter Island which allowed passengers on only ONE side of the plane to see all the sites – i.e., the moai. You might ask if your departing plane will do the same, then get a seat on the viewing side of the plane. Enjoy.

  9. @Jamieo – Same as my question. Wouldn’t HNL be farther from every place than IPC? Or is it that all the other islands could be used in an emergency?

  10. I echo Ethan above–be sure to get that Easter Island Moai stamp on your passport at the local post office! I treasure mine–especially since fewer and fewer countries stamp passports at all.

  11. @jamieo – Hawaii is different in that it offers multiple airports and runways for diversion like Neil S. suggested. The problem with Easter Island is that it only has one airport and one runway. If an inbound aircraft were to have an incident upon landing that caused that one and only runway to be unusable, then any aircraft past its “point of no return” would be in real trouble. That’s why the runway has to be clear and ready before any flights reach that no-return point so if an incident occurred, the other inbound flights can safely turn around.

  12. Tristan da Cunha is the most remote by virtue of distance and access. The nearest inhabited island is 1,500 miles away. Further, it has no airport, and the harbor can’t accommodate ships, so visitors and supplies have to be transferred to smalller boats to get to the island. If the weather is too rough for a ship to anchor, then they don’t get visitors or supplies. There are other islands that lie farther away grom continents, but they have ports and air service, and so are not as isolated.

  13. @Ben don’t forget to eat at Tataku Vave restaurant and try their red tuna Ceviche and go out of the city center at night to watch the stars.

  14. Two of my favorite lines on my flight map are LIM-IPC and IPC-SCL. A fun horn off the western South American coast. They used to run 767-300s back then.

    I have a proper Easter Island stamp from my Peru to Chile flight, but make sure to get one from the post office since you flew domestic.

  15. Lucky,

    There IS a VIP lounge in a separate building, or at least labeled as such, off to the right of the boarding area.

    It has been unstaffed/vacant BUT unlocked on our first visit 2yrs ago (when I wrote in to comment and tell you that I DARED you to fly to Easter Island) and also had doors unlocked two weeks ago when we returned. Several curious passengers followed us in there after we unlatched the also-unlocked gate.

    I am cerfain after photos hit your blog they will invest in door locks 🙂

  16. The business class in this 787-9 definitely looked much better than the one I flew on 787-8, which was the first ever 787 for South America. The seats looked much worse for wear with lot of scratches and loose trims, and I kept thinking about the Voldemort’s face when I looked at the back of seats.

    I visited Easter Island last year and enjoyed it very immensely. I would visit again and stay at better accommodations as well as hiring a moped to ride around the island. I hired a bicycle for a round trip and regretted it because of strong wind and hilly roads. I ended up walking a lot of time going up the road against the wind.

    Yes, you should vist the post office to have your passport stamped! Be sure to stand on the side of road at the end of runway to see the 787 landing or taking off above you. Amazing!

  17. Took the flight from Tahiti to Easter Island this April as part of a RTW trip — was terrified I’d miss it since it’s just once a week, and it leaves at 3am! It was really fun to experience.

    Full itinerary was JFK-FRA-SIN-DEL-SIN-SYD-AKL-PPT-MOZ-HUH-PPT-IPC-SCL-PTY-JFK.

    Had a blast in Easter Island. Stop by Haka Honu if you have a moment – good food, nice bar, really nice people running the place.

  18. You should do UA154. Make sure Sherman Thompson is your mechanic and sit on the left side of the aircraft HNL-GUM. 7A is the best coach seat.
    Sherman is my friend for life after my flight a couple years ago and I still email him regularly.

  19. Tristan da Cunha and Pitcairn Island are both inhabited and undoubtably more “remote” than Easter Island. It can be argued that even St. Helena is too, although with the airport about to open that is debatable. However, by virtue of the fact that IPC has a 787 connecting it to the outside world, even if only a few times a week, I feel it loses its “remote” status.

  20. Definitely can’t fly to Tristan da Cunha. Worth a trip if you have 3 months to spend on a Russian research ship.

    I had my 3rd birthday on Tristan. Got evacuated during the 1961 volcano. Even got my picture in National Geographic.

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