Fly business or economy class to South America

by on 14th July, 2016

Fly business or economy class to South America

Known in the office as ‘Aviation Man’ thanks to his in depth knowledge of flight routes and planes, Alan gives us his personal lowdown and experience of business flights to South America.


He writes:

“Most of us, when we walk down the jetty and board the plane turn right.

We then bump our way along the narrow aisle, stopping while our fellow travellers find space to put their hand luggage in the overhead locker. We continue on and clamber into the middle seat as the economy ticket we purchased didn’t permit free seat reservations…oh the joys of long haul economy travel.

You then wonder what it would have been like to turn left on boarding the plane…

On my last trip I turned left.


Check in and lounges

On arrival to the airport head straight for the preferential Business Class check in. You’ll beat the long queues, check in a larger baggage allowance and soon have all your paperwork.

Some airports have a fast track or preferential immigration and in no time you will be airside. It’s now time to head to the lounge.

Most of the large airlines are part of alliances ( for example, One World which includes British Airways, Iberia, LATAM and American) and share VIP lounges. These lounges, at key airports, can be large areas offering free food, drinks, lounge areas, internet, games, showers and more.

In fact, once in the lounge you escape the humdrum of the rest of the airport and will be cocooned there until you leave to make your way to board the flight. Newer lounges are now accessed through duty free areas – giving retailers the opportunity to reach the more affluent market segment.  The lounges are also great places to refresh when  connecting between flights – especially if coming off a long-haul flight and there are shower facilities.

At Santiago airport, the LATAM lounge is huge. I made sure I explored every corner, tasted every wine and ate every piece of cheese.

Announcements will be made so that you know when to head to the gate to board. Once again, at the gate you avoid the queues and head for the preferential boarding.

And then,  stepping onto the plane..turn left.



You are now entering a new world. On modern wide body aircraft the seating configuration may be 1-2-1 (Iberia) or 2-2-2 (Latam). The look and the feel of these cabins are quite different.

For example on Iberia, with 1-2-1 configuration,  the feeling is much more individualistic, more private, all seats have direct aisle access, and yet they do feel more narrow and enclosed. Not very cosy if you are travelling with someone else.

With 2-2-2 on LATAM, there is a feeling of more space, more elbow room, but if you are in a window seat you will need to pass over your seatmate’s legs to get to the aisle. However, if you are with a travelling companion this layout is much more sociable and for the solo traveller there are privacy screens that you can raise.



I got on the plane, turned left, smoothly made my way along the aisle, quickly found my  seat and in no time was exploring my seat – there are so many cubby holes and “accessories” to investigate and buttons to press! In no time I was sipping a welcome drink, reading my menu and then working out the entertainment system. The 14-hour flight to Madrid was going to pass in no time. I already had it all planned out.

And then there is the amenity kit. Usually it is a small designer toilet bag with little bits and bobs. If you love hotel amenities you will love this. No doubt there will be eyeshades, socks, a flimsy shoe horn (mine broke the first time I tried to use it), a pen, comb and a designer hand cream (small) and more.


Wined and dined

Now you can sit back, or lie back (flat if you want to!), stretch your legs, and prepare for meal service. Out come the table cloths, nice crockery, wide drinks selection, starter, main, dessert , after dinner drink.

Once wined and dined sit back and enjoy the entertainment. With modern entertainment systems the main difference with that offered in economy is screen size and the quality of the headphones provided, although most systems now are enabled so that you can use your own headphone if you prefer.

I flew on a brand new LAN 787. I made sure I ate everything and drank everything that was on offer. Very nice steak it was too washed down with a smooth carmenere. I’m sure I put on a couple of kilos on this journey. I watched some good movies (The Martian with Matt Damon didn’t appeal to me, but I watched it anyway and it was a blinkingly entertaining film).

My only uncomfortable moment was that my glasses fell off and landed in my neighbour’s seat, between the person and the side of their seat..and the person was sleeping. I had to slip my hand down worried that they would wake up and wonder what I was up to!

Luckily, as there was plenty of space, I managed to retrieve them without my neighbour being none the wiser. The joys of plenty of space!


Night time comes

It’s time for sleep. This is one of the great advantages of Business Class. The lie flat bed. Bigger pillows, in some cases duvets, and once you have worked out which buttons to press and all the bits of your chair have whirred and moved – you now have a bed. Stretch out, shut your eyes, and soon you will be in the land of nod.

Some airlines will have asked you when and what you want for your breakfast and will wake you up according to your instructions. In this cabin there is no switching on of the lights two hours prior to landing and mass breakfast service. Here, sleep time is maximised with the cabin lights only being switched on shortly before preparing for landing.

I hope I didn’t snore. I went for the full breakfast one hour before landing (even though it was nearer Spanish lunch time) as I wasn’t going to waste anything. Another kilo put on here.

Whilst taxiing, the cabin crew handed me my coat which was stored when I boarded. I was soon strolling off the plane before the masses in economy chomping at the bit to get off.


Shower connection

I made it to passport control in Madrid at the front of the queue and in no time was enjoying a shower in the Iberia lounge and then wearing clean socks and underwear. Luxury.

Time for some chorizo and vino and then off to the gate for the short hop to London and then home. Maybe half a kilo there.

To turn left or not to turn left.

Turning left gives you more choice, more flexibility, more space, more food, more drinks, more comfort, more attention and  more time. However, it costs more money. Much more money.

For every left turn you make, you could make three or four right turns.”

Andean Trails is fully ATOL-bonded and can quote for flights, economy and business class.

Contact us for more.


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