Review: LAN Business, Sydney – Auckland

LAN operate a daily Sydney-Auckland-Santiago service. LAN have ‘fifth freedom’ rights to sell tickets purely on the Sydney-Auckland-Sydney service, a welcome option for oneworld flyers otherwise stuck with the miniature seats on Boeing 737-800 services that Qantas pass off as business class (even though they closely resemble the seats Qantas offer as premium economy on their Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 fleet) that ply trans-Tasman routes.

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LAN’s check-in counter is located at the ‘C’ counters at Sydney Airport, just across from the Qantas premium check-in counters. At first glance it might appear that the sign is for ‘Premium’ and ‘Business’ passengers and whilst that’s true, it is also true that LAN brand their business class product as ‘Premium Business’. The sign also hasn’t kept pace with the changes in oneworld member carriers over the years.

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For some reason, the check-in staff insisted on giving us an invitation card to the Qantas Business lounge, citing that LAN would have to pay for access. Even after pointing out our oneworld emerald status and that we would be visiting the Qantas First lounge, the check-in agent insisted that this was necessary.

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Onboard, LAN have a slightly old fashioned 2-2-2 seating configuration. These 180 degree lie flat seats are starting to show their age but are clean and well maintained.

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Cherry burlwood seems to be the colour of choice throughout the cabin. After having flown Emirates first class nothing else could be regarded as ‘over the top’ or ‘gaudy’ any more in comparison.

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LAN’s cabin is spacious and offers ample space around the seat, which is important with these 2-2-2 configurations.

It is worth noting that while this LAN service is currently operated by an A340-300 aircraft, from April 18th this service changes to a brand new Boeing 787-800, sporting LAN’s latest business class seating. While many carriers are moving to 1-2-1 configurations in business class, offering all passengers direct aisle access, LAN are sticking with 2-2-2 for their new Boeing 787 aircraft. The 787 cabin however will lose 2 rows of seats, reducing the total business class cabin to 30 seats.

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There is excellent leg room available and a reasonable size IFE screen. An odd compartment exists beneath the IFE screen, possibly to store shoes during the flight.

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Unfortunately we had little joy with the IFE on this trip. Halfway through the safety video the whole system cut out and displayed static on the screens; the crew then had to manually go through the whole demonstration manually which delayed our departure from Sydney.

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Located on the inside arm rest at each seat is the IFE remote, USB port and a superfluous network port. The little shutter you have to pull up to connect devices to the USB port is a little cumbersome and doesn’t like staying open whilst you’re attempting to charge your phone.

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Unfortunately the IFE remote didn’t work well for us this trip. The ‘Select’ button refused to select anything so we were unable to sample any of LAN’s programming during the flight.

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This was the view on the IFE screen for the entire flight. The crew were very apologetic and did attempt to reset the system at our seat to no avail.

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After a very pulpy orange juice as pre-departure beverage, the menu was presented. It offered two main options for our short flight through to Auckland.

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Following our disappointing breakfast in the Qantas First lounge we were still hungry and opted for the basic cured meat and cheese platter. Nothing particularly exciting here but the ham was tasty, the croissant warm and the fruit was not too overly sweet, something which does tend to happen with airline food.

The crew were lovely and exceptionally friendly. Sydney trips are the mid-point in several days away for them as they fly Santiago-Auckland and stay overnight. They then operate Auckland-Sydney-Auckland and again stay overnight. They then operate the Auckland-Santiago return.

Given that the crew are up ridiculously early to operate the 6am Auckland-Sydney service it’s admirable that they still manage to provide such excellent service.

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After breakfast we adjusted the seat to get comfortable. The seat controls are simple and intuitive, with four preset options for different positions. The massage function is quite poor and ends up just poking bubbles into your back so we would not recommend using it.

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The seat easily converts into a lie flat bed and was more than comfortable to sleep in. We managed about two hours sleep during the three and a half hour journey through to Auckland. There is a small privacy screen that can be raised between the seats to make some attempt at segregation between your seat partner if you don’t know them (or even if you do!).

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Overall, this flight was comfortable and well timed for departure and arrival on the Sydney-Auckland run. Far superior to Qantas’ basic 737 business class seating, this would be our recommended oneworld service between Sydney and Auckland – at least that is not operated as a codeshare with Emirates. We cannot however in good conscience recommend the Auckland-Sydney service because its 6am departure is far too early to allow for any enjoyment of the flight or feeling anything but tired when arriving into Sydney.

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