This was my first flight on LAN Chile and I had booked this ticket online directly on LAN’s website. The whole process of getting the tickets was quite straightforward and I was also able to obtain the boarding pass after online check-in using Apple’s Passbook app on the iPhone (now called the Apple Wallet).
Arriving early at the airport, there was already a queue forming at the check-in counters and with an all economy seating for domestic flights, and with me no longer having any sort of status with oneworld, I just waited patiently like all the others. Check-in was a breeze even with my snowboard bag and during the process, there was also those plastic baggage clasp that passengers could use in the event they do not have a lock. I also got a paper boarding pass even though I had the pass on my iPhone already.
With the boarding pass in hand, I made my way to security as I already had breakfast at the hotel. Another short queue before I was inside the departure hall proper. Early in this morning there was already cafes and some shops opened for business. Starbucks beside the gate where my flight was due to depart is already seeing queues for that morning cup of coffee.
There was a proper boarding queue with 2 main lines, with one for rows 1-14 and another for rows 15-29. There was also a line for passengers requiring assistance and those with small families and another one for oneworld elite members. Though on this particular flight it seems none of the passengers hold premier status on LAN or any other oneworld airlines.
LA203 Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport SCL – Concepción Carriel Sur International Airport CCP
Airbus A320 CC-BFG
Gate 28 Seat 26A
With an all economy class seating and long queues, I was in no hurry to board and waited until halfway after my boarding sequence commenced before I started queueing to board the flight. I had a window seat on this flight and surprisingly enough I had the whole row to myself so it makes for a great start this morning.
For a full-fledged service airline, the legroom on economy class was lacking and the seats also were not the most comfortable. Comfort wise I would say it was slightly better than the slim-line seats used by Lufthansa on their intra-European flights.
The seat-back pockets contained a safety manual and LAN’s inflight magazine. Fortunately there was not the usual airplane advertising common on budget carriers. Other than that, the cabin actually looks pretty fresh and clean.
Boarding took a while but it was overall a pleasant experience with music coming through the cabin. The passengers were mostly civil with nothing out of the ordinary happening.
Once boarding was completed, the crew members came around to check the cabin and positioned themselves for the safety demonstration which was screened through the overhead inflight monitors that came down.
The safety demonstration continued on and was as normal as it could be. No frills seems to work fine here. During the taxi, it was time to do some plane spotting since SCL is the aviation hub of Chile, and there was a lot of international airlines aside from LAN jets.
While it was another cloudy winter day in Santiago, there was a decently good view of the airport as we took off in the morning.
As we cruised past the cloud cover, sunlight started to stream inside the cabin, brightening things up. It is said sunshine does cheer people up and this was the case today as 2 pleasant cabin crews started the inflight service from the from.
For the short flight, all passengers were given a choice of two snack and I picked the cookie and a yogurt bar. Eventually I would get to try all of the snacks served by LAN on their domestic routes. I also got a cup of coffee to perk myself up. I enjoyed both the cookie and coffee, the latter is somewhat better than the usual cup of airline coffee. For the yogurt bar, I actually saved it for the slopes and it was equally tasty!
The time we were up in the air was quite short since the crew started collecting the trash after completion of the meal service and by then, the plane would also start its gradual descent into Concepción.
Similar to the start of this trip, the weather at our destination was also cloudy. For what was supposed to be one of the largest metropolitan areas in Chile, Concepción looks somewhat rural but the views was not bad as we passed by the Biobio river delta.
Concepción airport is actually very nice with its warm wood accents throughout the terminal and the relatively small size did make it easy to navigate. The wait for luggage was not that long and it probably took about 15 minutes after I reach the luggage claim area before I was reunited with my snowboard and I was off to meet my arranged driver who would drive me to Nevados de Chillan ski resort.
Given the short duration of the flight, the all-economy seating while lacking in legroom was adequate. An excellent inflight crew and views out of the window did keep me occupied while the absence of seat mates made the whole flight a whole lot more comfortable!
For the return flight to Santiago, I nearly missed it due to some drama at the slopes but that is for another time. Anyway I was probably one of the last passengers to check in as I was the only one checking in for what one of the last flights departing Concepción that day.
After a quick check-in by the agent, I got my boarding pass and took some fast shot of the wonderful airport terminal. Small and nice airports like this does hold a somewhat special space during my travels.
Security was equally quick with most of the passengers already in the waiting area. Friendly security officers even commented on how ‘retro’ my Fuji XE-1 looks. when I arrived at the gate, boarding has not yet commenced which meant I still had time to charge my phone with the supplied phone charging area around the gates. Another thumbs up for Concepción airport with amenities built for travellers in mind.
LA218 Concepción Carriel Sur International Airport CCP – Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport SCL
Airbus A320 CC-BFF
Gate 4 Seat 28L
For this flight, I took my time to board as I wanted to maximize the time I spent in charging up my iPhone in the terminal so I waited for the once again orderly and efficient boarding procedure.
Same seat with the same legroom and I still got the window seat again this time. While there was someone seated at the aisle, the middle seat remained empty which meant I got lucky once again.
Aside from the bare seat, there is a headphone outlet to listen to the inflight videos shown on the overhead monitors though no headphones were supplied for this short flight.
Perhaps because I boarded later this time, the plane soon made its pullback after boarding completed. Again the same process followed with the safety videos and pre-flight checks conducted by the cabin crew. With not much air traffic at this time of the day, we took off rapidly and my side of the plane (L seats) got treated to a nice view of this waterfront city at night.
Upon reaching cruising altitude, the cabin snack service commenced and this time I mixed things up a bit, going for the mixed nuts pack with the yogurt bar. For drinks I stuck with water as I was quite thirsty after snowboarding the whole day earlier on.
The rest of the flight was quite uneventful until we started our descent and the baby started crying behind my row at row 29. Unfortunately the pilot made a long turnaround on descent which I suspect is due to traffic in Santiago. Nearly all domestic flights within Chile originates from Santiago which was also the reason for me to return here for my next flight down south to Punta Arenas.
Even by circling the night skies and treating passengers to a night view over Santiago, we still arrived earlier than scheduled. However with the late arrival, there was no jetbridge for our flight and we had to disembark from the stairs. That was a good thing too since they opened up the rear doors allowing me and all those seated to the rear to disembark quickly to board the bus.
Passengers were then dropped off by the domestic baggage claim area and then it took a longer while for the luggage to appear on the conveyor belts. The return flight was probably not as fun as the outbound due to my fatigued state at night. Otherwise I thought domestic flights on LAN Chile was quite good value for money. I paid a total of close to 50,000CLP (~$60) for a the return flight and the decent snacks, complimentary checked luggage and on-time performance for both flights was all it took to make me a satisfied passenger.