Friday, March 22, 2013

Easter Island/Santiago November 2012 - LAN Airlines 2608 Economy Class (LIM-SFO)

***This post is the conclusion to a full trip report. The index can be found here***

Upon arrival in Lima, we only had about 45 minutes to catch our connection to San Francisco. We ran through the halls like madmen along with a number of other passengers, only breathing a huge sigh of relief when we realized that the transfer security queue had no one in line. After a very quick security check, we made a beeline for the departure gate, arriving just as boarding got underway. A secondary security check at the gate went a lot faster than in Santiago.

LAN Airlines 2608
Boeing 767-300ER
Lima (LIM) - San Francisco (SFO)
Monday November 12, 2012
Departure: 1:15 AM (scheduled) / 1:17 AM (actual)
Arrival: 7:55 AM (scheduled) / 7:42 AM (actual)
Duration: 9h 40m (scheduled) / 9h 25m (actual)
Seat: 27C -> 31H -> 25C (Economy)

Upon boarding the aircraft, I walked to my seat 27C and noticed that another gentleman was already sitting there. Similar to the previous flight, I had reserved my seat assignment online months earlier. And although the check-in agent in Santiago claimed I didn't have a seat reserved for the SCL-LIM flight, she didn't have an issue with the LIM-SFO leg, reconfirming my seat at 27C. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when I arrived and saw my seat occupied, given the chaos I experienced with the Santiago ground staff.

We looked at each other's boarding passes, and saw the exact same seat 27C printed on both. When I flagged down a flight attendant and asked her where I should sit, she directed me to 31H. However, when I made my way over to that seat, I noticed someone was already seated there too! I couldn't help but laugh at the situation. Fortunately, this flight was maybe 60% full, if that, with nobody in the exit rows. Again, I asked a flight attendant what I should do, and she told me to go ahead and take an entire exit row with plenty of extra legroom all to myself!

Awesome legroom at the exit row

Despite these initial issues, I have to say that the contrast between the flight attendants on this flight and the previous flight was like night and day. Everyone was warm, friendly, and full of smiles the entire way up. Perhaps the extremely light load and red-eye departure made their job a lot more relaxed and pleasant. It's truly amazing to me how much difference a crew can make to the overall enjoyment of a flight.

Since this was a very late departure, only a snack service was provided shortly after takeoff. Although I typically enjoy LAN's catering, the sandwich that was served definitely could have used more flavor and filling. A thin slice of mystery meat was smothered in melted cheese and placed between two disproportionate pieces of bread. The whole thing looked rather sad. At least the small cake square tasted pretty good.

The flight was empty enough for passengers to occupy an entire middle row for themselves and make it into a nice bed, although the empty rows were all quickly taken. With enough legroom for me to stretch out in the exit row, I was able to get some comfortable shuteye during the nine and a half hour flight. About two hours prior to landing, the breakfast service began. Again, I was slightly disappointed with the dried-out omelet and leftover piece of potato unceremoniously dumped on the side. At least the fruit and cake were edible.

Soon after breakfast service, we began our descent into San Francisco on a beautiful clear morning. We landed a little bit ahead of schedule, and Premium Business passengers were allowed to deplane first before the rest of masses filed out. Although my experience with LAN was slightly unpleasant on the return trip, I was happy that it ended on a positive note with a great crew and awesome seat. I still think they are the best option when traveling to South America.

Descent into San Francisco International Airport

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