AUCKLAND TO SANTIAGO DE CHILE
BOEING 787-9 DREAMLINER
La bienvenida a bordo.
Welcome back on board.
If you have been following you will know I’ve just flown from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand and about to continue my flight to Buenos Aires via Santiago de Chile. I was in Auckland for just under two hours and indulged in a nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at the airport (Note to self: Bring spare NZ currency I had at home when next transiting New Zealand!). The next leg of my three sector journey is the longest taking 10 hrs and 15 minutes to travel the 9,655 kilometres. It was an overnight flight, so I was particularly interested in seeing how the seat and service stack up as well as the claim of reduced jet-lag on the 787 Dreamliner with its higher humidity and lower pressurisation.
As mentioned in the previous post, I do like the 787 and while this was my first time on the 787-9 variant, it was also going to be the longest flight I’d taken on a Dreamliner. This particular aircraft, registered CC-BGC, was very new with being delivered to the airline by aircraft leasing company AerCap on 5th May 2016, just 23 days prior to my flight.
It was going dark when we departed Auckland and not long pitch black outside. As soon as the dinner service was finished the LED lights were switched to one of the thousands of pre-programmed designs, this one obviously to help induce sleep.
Ditching the old window shades on the largest windows on any commercial aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner uses eletrochromic glass that can be darkened several shades at the push of a button. This can be overridden by the crew, which it was on this flight as only half of our overnight flight was during darkness and we came into daylight. I took this picture just a couple of hours prior to landing when the time in Santiago was about 11am and you could just make out it was daylight outside.
I was back in my same window seat 25L for this next sector. Placed on the seat was a comfort pack consisting of a thick blanket, pillow and headphones.
Unfortunately on this sector I didn’t have that spare seat next to me like on the Sydney to Auckland leg and was seated next to a couple from Argentina. Normally I am an aisle person, but travelling this far I opted for a window seat for that lean against factor. Of course it meant trying to sit still for most of the flight and only getting to stretch my legs once but I did get a solid 4 hours of sleep. The blanket was comforting, and the pillow puffy enough to lean against the window.
Service was again handled by only one crew member at each trolley around 6-8 rows apart which proved to be swift. For dinner we were offered a choice of lamb with potatoes or vegetable pasta (I was pleased to see the airline offer the pasta choice if you don’t eat meat and forgot to pre-order a vegetarian meal). I am a carnivore, and coming out of New Zealand, famous for their lamb, you can guess what I ordered.
When offered lamb with potatoes, I immediately thought of a lamb roast, so I was a wee bit shocked when it turned out to be lamb casserole in a tomato based sauce. The tray came complemented by a side salad with packet dressing, dessert and the familiar Laughing Cow cheese with crackers. A real glass for wine as well as metal cutlery and linen napkin were a welcome change from some carriers. Passengers were offered tea or coffee, water or juice and red or white wine. I chose the latter which hailed from Chile.
It doesn’t look pretty I know, but when you’re feeding the masses quickly, its probably a dish that will satisfy most. While I found the potatoes a little on the hard side (I’m fussy about my tatties, roasted spuds should be crisp outside, fluffy inside 🙂 ) the lamb was cooked right with the sauce having enough flavorous zing and not that astringent tin tomato taste some airlines can serve. It was a carefully – cooked en masse – thought out dish.
The small side salad with 1/8th of a tomato, 2 sliced olives, 3 cubes of swiss cheese and (unfortunately) browned edged iceberg lettuce tasted better than it looked once bathed in the dressing. Again, like on my first flight, the dessert, left much to be desired but the Laughing Cow cheese and crackers finished the meal off nicely. I peered at pasta dish 2 seats away on the aisle and it looked quite nice but overall I was content with this Economy Class meal.
After the trays were cleared, the trolleys once again made their appearance with what I could see were offers of water, tea or coffee. I couldn’t see any wine, so I politely asked for one to be delivered when this service was finished. Instead, I was offered a whiskey! The trolley had a bottle of it that was out if my sight and this was being offered to all Economy passengers in their tea or coffee or alone as a nightcap. I promptly agreed and a double shot on ice was passed over. What a civilised end to a meal before bed. I did expect a few water runs by the crew throughout the night, but there were none. I did find myself at one stage making my way to the back galley where there was a set up of water and ice and whiskey and toothbrush sets. Great idea for the Economy Class passengers, but as I had to wake the 2 people next to me for them to move so I could get up, I really wanted to see a few water runs through the cabin by the crew.
About 2 hours prior to arrival into Santiago de Chile, the lights started to change to a daylight option and again the trollies made their way up the aisle with one crew member operating each. For breakfast there was a choice of omelette or sandwich, I opted for the latter. It was accompanied by a side dish of fruit consisting of apple and melon, a choc-chip muffin and a bread roll with jam and butter. To quench the thirst, I had a cup of water followed by an orange juice and black tea.
The sandwich, reminiscent of the one I had for lunch between Sydney and Auckland, was a ham and cheese panini, warmed through so the cheese melted into the dish. For some the oily melted cheese might seem a put off, but for me it helped with the heavy breadiness and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The muffin and bread roll were typically dry as is usual on a long flight yet the fruit fresh and cooling.
I arrived in Santiago de Chile feeling quite ok and not like it had been almost 17 hours since I left home, so that reduced jet lag claim I think stood the test. Overall it was a pleasant flight although I may have preferred an aisle seat and would have liked to see a few water runs by the crew throughout the night. Will I fly LATAM again? Absolutely, and I am going to. Next stop, Buenos Aires.