After a summer hiatus (from blogging, but not dining or travel) I’m back. I know this will severely hamper the likelihood that I fulfill my New Year’s resolution, but I’ve got some posts in the pipeline and should catch up soon.
A few months ago, I went to Chile and Peru. I flew there in LAN‘s new “Premium Business” product. As far as business class products go, it was quite good: spacious cabin, lie-flat seats, a nice little amenity kit. But the food was quite disappointing.
The service started with a glass of sparkling wine and some “mixed nuts.” The mixed nuts were pretty strange. I got a small bowl, half-filled, with some sad looking almonds. Meh.
The JFK-LIM flight is LA 531, which is an interesting route. It’s a redeye, but there’s no (or very slight, depending on the time of year) shift in time zones. So you can sleep on the plane and not wake up feeling very jetlagged. The dinner service starts shortly after takeoff and, at least on my flight, was reasonably prompt, so you can get a meal in but still get a decent amount of sleep before landing in Lima. (This flight continued on to Santiago, Chile, but my family and I were disembarking in Lima.)
The first course looked pretty good. A small salad, a tomato and mozzarella salad with a dollop of pesto, some bread, and some cheese. Unfortunately, it looked better than it tasted. Everything was clearly just out of the refrigerator and was almost frozen. The mozzarella was bland and tasteless, like some science lab’s misguided take on what mozzarella should be like. The salad was composed mostly of “filler” — some wilted greens that had no character — and a couple of bits of frozen cucumber.
The second course also seemed like it could be good: some ravioli in an alfredo-like sauce, with mushrooms. But again, the dish was bland. the ravioli had no discernible flavor,and the sauce quickly congealed into a cold goop. The mushrooms tried valiantly to save the dish, but to no avail.
The best part of the meal was dessert, which was a piece of tiramisu. This was not life-alteringly amazing tiramisu; it was just decent tiramisu on par with something you’d see in the refrigerated display case near the cash register of your local diner. But compared to the earlier courses, it was heavenly.
Obviously, you aren’t flying business class for the food, but I think LAN has some substantial room for improvement here. I was also surprised by the very Italian theme of the meal — I would have expected at least some South American flavor, but there wasn’t really any to be had.
The rest of the flight, as I said, was quite nice. Business class is set up in a 2-2-2 configuration on the 767-300, but because there’s so much space, you never feel like you’re crammed in with a stranger. I’m not tall, but still, there’s quite a lot of legroom. Seatguru tells me there’s 74 inches of pitch between the seats, which seemed like quite a lot.
The lie-flat bed folds out to be 73 inches long. I guess if you’re taller than 6’1″ you might feel cramped but I certainly didn’t. And the seat controls look like they were designed this century, unlike some others I’ve seen recently…
Combined with the super-comfortable duvet that was provided, the sleep experience on LAN Premium Business is great (at least until your 16-month-old daughter starts crying in the middle of the night…) Throw in a Salvatore Ferragamo and you’ve got a pretty good business class experience, save for the food.
We got to Lima in the morning and transited to our connecting flight (also on LAN) to Trujillo, Peru. But the food court at the Jorge Chavez airport in Lima Peru could have been anywhere in the world. Where’s the local flavor??
All in all, the LAN Premium Business experience was very good. The seat was comfortable, I slept well (at least when my daughter wasn’t crying!), the cabin was spacious, and the service was good. Unfortunately for this food blogger, the meal was the one aspect that fell flat.