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My LATAM Business Class Experience from Santiago to Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

“The Champagne will have to wait,” I told Kel as our LATAM Airline's 787-9 Dreamliner accelerated down the runway in Santiago de Chile, pressing us back into our Business Class seats. Traveling to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the South Pacific, one of the most remote islands on Earth, was a bucket list adventure for both of us. So, why not arrive there in style?

Such was the thinking when we booked the six flights needed to travel roundtrip from Austin, TX, to Rapa Nui, Chile. To balance our spending, we flew Economy Class for five of the six flights (including two overnight flights between Panama City and Santiago on Copa Airlines). The daytime flights from Santiago to Easter Island are about five hours and forty minutes, which helps keep the cost of Business Class seating down.

Our LATAM 787 Dreamliner on the tarmac at Mataveri International Airport on Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
Passengers disembark our LATAM flight to Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

It would also mark Kel's first time flying Business Class, an experience I've relished on carriers like Turkish Airlines. My firsthand account of flying Business Class on LATAM Airline's 787-9 Dreamliner from Santiago to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) follows.

What's in a name? Rapa Nui is the indigenous name for Easter Island. Dutch explorers named it Easter Island simply because they discovered it on Easter. It's also known as Isla de Pascua, the Spanish translation for “Easter Island.” In my writing, I prefer to lead with Rapa Nui; however, I'll also refer to it as Easter Island, as it's more commonly known.

Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport (SCL)

We arrived at the Domestic Terminal (T1) of Santiago's Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport via Uber at about 7:15 a.m. for our 10:55 a.m. flight to Rapa Nui. We found the LATAM Airlines counter on the third floor and checked in through the Premium line.

Only about a half-dozen people were ahead of us, so it went quickly. As check-in with a human is required for foreign travelers, access to the Premium line was a nice benefit for Business Class passengers.

LATAM Airlines is a Chilean company and the sole carrier flying from South America to Rapa Nui (one to two non-stop flights daily). I've taken LATAM flights several times in my travels around Latin America, including the short flight from Lima to Cusco to visit Machu Picchu in Peru. But this was my first time flying Business Class with them.

After we confirmed our seats (3A and 3C), we followed the signs for Rapa Nui downstairs. We presented the required travel documents to Immigration Control at the Investigations Police of Chile (PDI) booth. Even though Rapa Nui is a part of Chile, and you depart from the domestic terminal, this step is required.

Foreign travelers must present:

If your documentation is in order, you'll receive a paper PDI entry slip to bring to the LATAM boarding gate. Gate agents will not let you board the plane without it.

Priority Pass Lounge

After Immigration, we passed through security and walked to the Salones VIP Pacific Lounge near Gate 19. We arrived at the lounge at 8:15 a.m., an hour after we arrived at the airport. Thanks to my Priority Pass membership (through a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card), I had access to it for myself and a guest. The lounge was small but quiet and, thankfully, not too busy, so we could quickly get seats.

Boarding Process

LATAM boarding gate 16 at Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago, Chile.
LATAM boarding gate

At about 9:30 a.m., we walked over to Gate 16 and awaited the boarding process for flight LA843. Priority boarding (Group 1) is a perk of LATAM Business Class tickets. We'd be among the first few people on the plane—three Premium groups board, followed by three General groups.

We were excited to begin boarding on time at 9:55 a.m. We each presented our boarding pass and PID entry slip, which they took from us. But we hit a delay once we stood outside the plane on the jet bridge.

After about fifteen minutes, everyone was instructed to walk back out, recollect their PID paper, wait, and then repeat the process. It led to a 30-minute delay in getting to our seats and taking off (11:33 a.m. departure time instead of 10:55 a.m.). It was a relatively minor disruption to a flight we were eager to take.

Dave boarding his LATAM flight from Santiago to Rapa Nui (photo by Kelly Lemons).
Dave boarding the LATAM flight after the delay (photo by Kelly Lemons)

Premium Business Class Cabin

Seats

Kel and my excitement for the flight and vacation hit a crescendo when we stepped foot on the LATAM Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner. We entered through the door nearest the cockpit and were greeted by five rows of neatly organized Business Class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. Every seat has easy and direct aisle access. Being in the front cabin of a Dreamliner reminded me of my long-haul flights with Norwegian Air.

Each seat included two cloth bags filled with a large pillow, blanket, and NASA-developed Spacer Fabric mattress pad to be placed over the seat. I appreciated the use of reusable bags instead of plastic. The seats recline 180 degrees and offer an authentic, lie-flat experience. As you'll see later, Kel took full advantage of these extra comforts.

LATAM 787 Business Class cabin for the flight from Santiago to Easter Island.
Middle seats in the LATAM Business cabin
Kel with the Premium Business Class bedding for our flight to Easter Island.
Kel with the provided bedding.

In LATAM's Business Class cabin setup, each passenger with a window seat is treated to three windows. The Dreamliner planes' extra-large windows make this especially nice. Kel is very much a window seat gal, whereas I switched from being a window seat guy to preferring the aisle in 2015 following a health scare (small pulmonary embolism, probably from a long-haul flight).

I appreciated that the drink and lunch menus were already at our seats, though the flight attendants didn't offer a pre-flight drink service. A bottle of water was provided for each passenger in the armrest.

Dedicated Luggage Space

Dedicated overhead luggage compartment.
Our luggage had a dedicated overhead compartment.

Every Business Class seat on our LATAM flight from Santiago to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) had dedicated overhead bin space. This is a real treat, given I usually fly Economy on domestic flights in the United States. The compartment was large enough to hold our Away luggage, personal bags, and my CPAP machine (a medical device), with room to spare.

Entertainment System

Once we'd stored our luggage and settled in our seats, I began to explore the in-flight entertainment system, LATAM Play. Every Business Class seat on our flight to Easter Island had an 18-inch touchscreen TV with access to more than 170 movies and hundreds of episodes of TV shows. A wired remote control is in the armrest.

In-flight entertainment screen, foot rest, and storage space.
In-flight entertainment screen
Universal 110-volt power outlet, USB outlet, TV remote, and complimentary bottled water.
Universal 110-volt outlet, USB port, TV remote, and bottled water

Between each pair of screens are cubbies with noise-canceling headphones provided by the airline. These wired, over-the-ear headphones can be plugged into the armrest. My first experience wearing such headphones on a flight came during a Business Class flight on Qatar Airways to Indonesia. I enjoyed it so much that I later bought a pair of wireless headphones specifically for air travel.

LATAM offers over-ear headphones as an amenity for their Business Class passengers on the flight to Easter Island.
LATAM noise-cancelling headphones

A problem I encountered when bringing my wireless Bluetooth headphones was that they weren't compatible with airplane entertainment systems. So, I either had to use the lesser-quality gear the carrier provided or stick to whatever was on my iPhone (usually music and podcasts). It took me far too long to learn there was a simple solution.

The AirFly by Twelve South is a Bluetooth transmitter you can plug into the airplane headphone jacks and pair with your headphones. This setup lets you enjoy the plane's entertainment with your wireless headphones.

AirFly Bluetooth transmitter.
AirFly Bluetooth transmitter

I'd also like to mention that while Chile, Brazil, and Colombia are the countries where LATAM Airlines offers Wi-Fi in-flight, there's no availability for flights from Santiago to Rapa Nui.

Takeoff

While our departure from Santiago was a half-hour late, it went smoothly once we were aboard the plane. In addition to the usual safety briefing, there was a public service announcement letting passengers know that dengue fever, a tropical disease spread by mosquitos, is present on Easter Island.

I made a mental note to buy some mosquito repellent at the island pharmacy once we'd arrived. There's no vaccine or cure for dengue, so avoiding mosquito bites where it's present is your best bet.

Takeoffs and landings on a Dreamliner plane have always, in my experience, been quieter affairs than your average plane. Such was the case when we took off for Rapa Nui, catching a glimpse of the snow-capped Andes mountains out the plane's left side.

View of the business class cabin from my seat (3C).
View of the Business Class cabin from Seat 3C
Snow-capped mountains come into view during takeoff from Santiago, Chile (photo by Kelly Lemons).
Departing Santiago (photo by Kelly Lemons)
Flying over the Chilean coast en route to Rapa Nui (photo by Kelly Lemons).
We were flying over the Chilean coast en route to Rapa Nui (photo by Kelly Lemons).

Once we'd climbed at least a few thousand feet, the cabin crew members distributed hot towels to clean our hands before lunch.

Chile being as narrow as it is, it wasn't long before we cruised over the coast and onward to a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific. Since we had about five hours of flying over nothing but the ocean, Kel dimmed the windows. It was neat that she only needed to adjust the dimmer on the window nearest her seat, and the other two windows in our row would dim accordingly.

Meal Service

Our lunch orders were taken promptly and served about an hour into the flight. Each tray table is accessible from the armrest. LATAM Business Class guests are treated to a three-course meal with an entree, dessert, and an optional wine pairing.

LATAM Business Class lunch menu on our flight to Easter Island.
Lunch menu
LATAM Business Class wine and drink list.
Wine and drink menu

I wanted an easy-to-enjoy main course and went with the four-cheese sorrentinos with tomato sauce, basil pesto, and toasted almonds. The Argentinian pasta dish was served with parmesan cheese, an appetizer of sliced Chilean abalone (sea snail), a bowl of lettuce, bread, butter, olive oil, and a small package of chocolate. I didn't care for the sea snail, but the pasta was solid. And the dulce de leche mousse with chocolate ganache and brownie chunks was divine.

Four cheese sorrentinos.
Four cheese sorrentinos
Vina Santa Carolina Assemblage 2019
Vina Santa Carolina Assemblage

My pasta was paired with Vina Santa Carolina Assemblage 2019, a Chilean red wine from the Valle de Cauquenes, one of four options available. Hector Vergara, the only Master Sommelier in Latin America, chooses LATAM Airlines' in-flight wines.

Kel opted to try the grilled tenderloin with red wine and rosemary sauce, roasted native potatoes, and caramelized onions. Like me, she didn't care for the abalone and preferred the dulce de leche mousse dessert to the alternative (fresh seasonal fruit). When I asked her what she thought of the steak, she said it was okay.

Grilled tenderloin.
Grilled tenderloin
Vina Casa Silva Carmenere 2020
Vina Casa Silva Carmenere

Kel's beef entree was paired with another Chilean red wine, 2020 Carmenere by Vina Casa Silva. After tasting both wines, I preferred the Carmenere, and we swapped glasses. Two white wines, a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc, were also available from Chilean vineyards.

Relaxing

Once our lunch trays had been cleared around 12:45 p.m. (Santiago time), we were free to sit back and relax as we continued cruising toward Rapa Nui (Easter Island) about the LATAM Airlines 787 Dreamliner. Kel used the free time to read and later nap using the eye mask in the amenity kit (which also included lip balm) and lie-flat seat. I was too excited to sleep and watched The Great Gatsby.

Kel enjoying her Business Class seat.
Kel enjoying her Business Class seat
Kel demonstrates the lie-flat seats in LATAM Business Class during our flight to Easter Island.
Kel demos the lie-flat mode.

Despite our late takeoff time, we were due to arrive at 2:15 p.m. local time, about 20 minutes early. Not that being late to a remote tropical island where we'd be spending a week would be an issue. Still, it's nice to arrive early or on time, as we wanted to make the most of our time on Rapa Nui.

A highlight of past Business Class flights has been a pre-takeoff glass of bubbly, but because LATAM didn't do a pre-flight drink service, Kel had missed out. So, about an hour before we were due to land, I asked a cabin crew member to bring us two glasses of the Champagne Vollereaux Brut Reserve.

Glass of Champagne Vollereaux Brut Reserve in LATAM Business Class as we approach Easter Island.
Champagne Vollereaux Brut Reserve

We toasted to making our dream trip to Easter Island a reality and to the six days of fun and adventure that awaited us when the wheels touched down.

Arriving on Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

As we approached Rapa Nui, the pilots flew south of the island so the passengers on the plane's right side could see it first. The Dreamliner looped around and landed at Mataveri International Airport (IPC) from the west.

It was a beautiful blue-sky day, and we had the tarmac to ourselves. Passengers disembarked the plane directly onto the tarmac in front of the wings and behind them. There was plenty of time and space for photos on the walk to baggage claim.

Kel and the LATAM 787 Dreamliner after we landed on Rapa Nui.
Kel and the LATAM 787 Dreamliner after we landed on Rapa Nui.

Landing on Rapa Nui brought our LATAM Business Class flying experience to a close, one that we both thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. Since we carried on all our luggage, there was no need to wait by the conveyor belt. We quickly found the person handling our airport transfer to the guesthouse we rented in Hanga Roa and were on our way.

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