Review: LATAM Business Class B787-9, Santiago – Easter Island
There is only one way to get to the remote Easter Island by plane and that is on LATAM’s Santiago – Easter Island service which occasionally continues onto Papeete, French Polynesia. Easter Island is among the world’s most remote islands, being situated in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean and located 2,355 miles from Santiago and 2,644 miles from French Polynesia. It’s home to the nine hundred Easter Island Moai’s that were carved between 1,250 – 1,500 AD; making this place a great remote adventure travel destination that is well worth visiting.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Mexico City, Mexico and Easter Island, Chile. This trip was enhanced through Alaska Mileage Plan and through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: Easter Island, Chile via LATAM Business Class and Alaska Airlines First Class
- Alaska Airlines Premium Class: Seattle – San Francisco
- The Westin San Francisco Airport, San Francisco, USA
- Alaska Airlines First Class: San Francisco – Mexico City
- The W Mexico City, Mexico
- Pujol Restaurant, Mexico City
- Quintonil Restaurant, Mexico City
- Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing in Mexico City
- Iberia One World Business Lounge, Mexico City
- LATAM Business Class: Mexico City – Santiago
- LATAM Business Class: Santiago – Easter Island
- The Taura’a Hotel, Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile
- The Coastline of Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile
- Driving to Ahu Tonjariki, Anakena, Easter Island, Chile
- The Megaliths of the South Coast of Easter Island, Chile
- Under the Giants at the Rano Raraku Quarry, Easter Island, Chile
- A Journey of Legends at Orongo Crater, Anakena and Puna Pau, Easter Island, Chile
- LATAM Business Class: Easter Island – Santiago
- LATAM VIP One World Business Class Lounge: Santiago International
- LATAM Business Class: Santiago – Mexico City
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Mexico City – San Francisco
- Virgin America: San Francisco – Seattle
Review: LATAM Preferente Business Class B787-9, Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez Airport – Isla de Pasqua “Rapa Nui” Mataveri International Airport, Easter Island
We arrived into Santiago on LATAM Business Class Mexico City – Santiago. We passed by the “no longer for Canadians” reciprocity fee. Australia is the last remaining country that seems to have a fee. There is some sharp black material covering the sign where the Canadian flag used to be. The desks were unattended anyway.
Connecting through Santiago:
We collected our bags and headed land side through immigration and customs. There was no convenient transfer desk or sterile connections passageway. Instead, we took the elevator upstairs to the LATAM Vuelos’ Nacionales desk on the top departure level. Since we already had our bags tagged, we were just going to drop the bags and head for breakfast. The LATAM Vuelos’ Nacionales line dragon directed us to head to LATAM Preferente check in the end of the terminal on the 4th floor for the executive check in. It wasn’t easily marked but if you’ve been around a few of these more “private” business class check in areas, it was pretty easy to find if you knew what you were looking for.
The LATAM Preferente check in was at the left end of the departure hall. We wandered through the labynrth of pathways which eventually led us upstairs to the LATAM Preferente Check in Day.
LATAM’s Premium Check In Area:
Once we had travelled the escalator, we found ourselves in a much larger and upscale dedicated LATAM and One World Priority Check In Area.
At the LATAM Business Class Preferente Check in, they weighed our bags and accepted them into domestic baggage check as is. I asked if there was a lounge on the domestic side and I got some “fake laughter” back from the two check in agents. It was the kind of laughter you get at a cocktail party when the joke wasn’t funny but people were still trying to be polite.
Unfortunately, LATAM does not operate a domestic lounge and saves its efforts for the international flights. Most of LATAM’s domestic flights don’t have a business class cabin so it makes some sense that they don’t offer any lounge. There was a priority pass lounge there but we don’t have a membership at the time and didn’t bother paying the entry fee for our layover.
We had a café con leche at the Gatsby Bar on the public side while we killed off a several hour connection. We watched the sun come up slowly. We skipped breakfast since we both ate on the plane. The service here was abysmal for what it was worth. It was over 25 minutes to get served for a coffee since everyone was getting the breakfast buffet. This is not a complaint, but more of an observation. Eventually, we headed over from one end of the terminal to the other to the domestic side and re-cleared security.
After coffees, we headed over to the Domestic Departures portion of the airport. This involved a trek through the length of the airport.
Entering into Santiago Domestic Air Terminal:
We eventually passed by the regular LATAM Domestic Flights Check in. We eventually made it to the Domestic Departures Security Screening. The large suitcase display atrium that used to be over here in the domestic atrium has been filled in, and now contains shops.
It was a bit larger than I was led to believe on the Santiago domestic airport secure side. There was a Starbucks with Chile mugs, a Fachon store selling foie gras and champagne of all things. . . Perfect for your Patagonia adventure experience!!
There was also a book swap – something that I’d never seen in an airport itself but something that certainly speaks to Chile’s high rate of literacy in its population. The selection today was a bit lean.
I took some photos from the Starbucks in the sterile area of the runway apron. Little did I know that we would be riding on the last plane of three in this photo (right hand side).
We found our gates downstairs in the bus zone at Gate 35. Easter Island is known 3 different ways: it’s English name as Easter Island, the Chilean name as Isla de la Pasqua, and the Islander’s name as Rapa Nui. Today’s flight was marked in the Chilean name of Isla de la Pasqua, but strangely our boarding card read the English name of “Easter Island”.
Boarding LATAM Domestic at a Bus Gate:
We boarded at Bus Gate 35. Although there was a Preferente priority line, it only allowed access to the bus first. We were on the first bus out of what appeared to be three. We were bussed over to the apron and climbed the stairs onto a Boeing 787-900. It was my first time riding on this type, since I’ve always been on the 800 series.
On Board LATAM Business Class:
Once we had climbed the air bridge stairs, we headed over to our seats on the right hand side of the plane. LATAM offers Business Class Seating on a 2 – 2 – 2 configuration. This is great if you are travelling with a partner, but less great if you are travelling on your own. Those that are in against the window may have to “step over” an aisle seat passenger in order to access the aisle.
The plane was new but surprisingly the seat tables were marked up a bit. Everything looked bright and fresh.
There was Empower charging and USB charging available at every seat. The charge point was located in the arm rest.
Pre Departure Services:
A pre departure beverage was offered of orange or water. There was no champagne it seems on a LATAM domestic segment and having come off an overnight flight, we bother to didn’t ask for any.
Amenity Kit “Lite”: Slippers
We had a trolly service of Spanish magazines and amenity kits. These domestic kits were a “business” re-useable bag containing slippers and, well the bag. It wasn’t super exciting compared to the medium / long haul segments.
In Flight Entertainment:
The in flight entertainment was of the same on demand variety and offered enough to keep us occupied. The start screen featured aspirational photographs of various destinations around Chile.
We got underway and had great sunny views of the vineyards on out way out of town. Within about 10 minutes, we were over Valparaiso as we headed westward to Easter Island “IPC”.
I was super excited to be underway as for aviation geeks like myself, the Easter Island flight had some unusual characteristics. The IPC airport runway is so remote that in 1987, it was upgraded by NASA as a remote space shuttle landing site. There are also rules about flights into the airport as governed by the Chilean Air Authorities. As there are no taxi ways, only one aircraft can approach at any given time. The closest secondary airport is GMR which is some 1,600 miles away. Before long, we were headed out over the ocean with views of nothing around us.
The Meal: A Full Breakfast
Once we were underway, printed menus were distributed. Instead of the full elaborate wine list presentation, we had a small sheet attached to the main menu. I have to still hand it to LATAM for having a printed menu on a 4 hour domestic flight. It’s something we don’t always get in Canada or the USA.
We had a breakfast served on board. The choices were omelette and meats and cheeses. I went with the omelette which was plain. The coffee again was not very exciting.
After the meal, I crashed out and slept pretty much the whole way to Easter Island. I didn’t have lots of sleep on the last LATAM Business Class Mexico City – Santiago flight so I took advantage of it and hit snooze.
Descending into Easter Island:
I ended up waking up as we started our descent, which seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere. We dropped through some thunderclouds and were able to get our first glances of the barren island. It was a lot like landing in under developed countries like Cuba or Myanmar, since there was not a lot of infrastructure on the island.
When we parked on the apron, it was starting to thundershower. Since there are no gates here, every plane parks on the apron. We got a bit soaked getting into the building. There were no complimentary umbrellas here like on our Air Tahiti flight. I guess they are running on a bit of a budget. There was double jet bridge disembarkation, which made the process quick and convenient.
We stopped for the obligatory Easter Island Mataveri International Airport arrival photographs. Coming all this way from home, it can be expected that we would take a memory home with us.
We purchased our park pass at the airport (the only place it is sold on the Island) with “clean bills only” at $80 USD each , valid for 10 days and with only 1 entry to the Volcano and the Quarry. We had brought cash with us and they didn’t accept credit cards.
At baggage claim, the bags were eventually put out on the only belt at the airport- quaint wooden structure.
We would end up transferring over to the Hotel Taura’a in Hanga Roa for our stay in Easter Island.
My Thoughts on LATAM’s Easter Island Business Class Service:
In summary, it was a neat flight over to Easter Island. It was a long way at about 4 ½ hours; it was similar to a trans continental flight in the Americas. LATAM provided a comfortable seat along with a single meal offering. The amenity kit and food itself was forgettable but I can’t complain about the awesome seat. The fact that we landed at Easter Island was pretty cool too!!