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  • Konrad Tillman

Review: Latam A320 Economy La Paz-Santa Cruz-Santiago

Intro


After a sensational time in Bolivia, a stay at the eery Casa De Piedra Boutique Hotel, and one of my best photoshoots, it was time to head on a long journey. This flight would consist of the first of four for the day, all in economy, all on LATAM. If I can't get a good grasp on LATAM's narrowbody economy after this, I don't think I ever will😅.


Why would I take 4 flights in one day? It wasn't supposed to be this way. After my original plans changed, I switched my flight over to a routing that was La Paz-Lima (16-hour layover) and then a red eye to Rio De Janeiro. However, there was a long delay on the flight to Lima, and the LATAM app offered to switch me on an itinerary that consisted of this:


LA 890 La Paz 8:30 am -Santa Cruz- Santiago 2:32 pm

LA750 Santiago 3:43 pm- Sao Paulo 7:40 pm

LA3478 Sao Paulo 10:30 pm - Rio De Janeiro 11:30 pm


It was a crazy day with multiple tight connections, but as I work my way through the trip on the blog, this day of flying was well worth it.


So, what was the LATAM economy like? I was pleasantly surprised! LATAM offers a very solid hard product and soft product!


Let's get into the full review!


Route- La Paz- Santa Cruz- Santiago

Plane- A320

Seat- 10C

Flight Number- LA890

Date- March 22nd 2024

Flight Time: 5 Hours 1 Minute

Price Paid- Around 700$ (4 legs)(It's complicated)


How I Booked


Number one rule of flying: If your plans aren't flexible do not book book through a third-party agency such as Expedia. Well, guess what I had to do was book through Expedia. As you will read about in the upcoming week, LATAM is a fantastic airline but they also don't accept payments for one-way bookings, other people have had this issue as well😒.


My original ticket was booked on the exact route on the 24th of March. The total came out to 326$ for a one-way fare in economy. However, due to changing my ticket, I had to pay a cancellation fee of 175$ before I could use my trip credit to switch onto the flight to GIG. The differential came out to 338$ additional dollars. To add to that, I paid an extra 15$ to select a seat, which, of course, never got refunded😒. My fault though, not LATAM's.


La Paz Airport


Enough administration stuff, let's get into it! The day started with a taxi to the airport arranged by the hotel. At this time of the morning (3:30 am), I was there within 19 minutes!


Very nicr taxi if I do say so myself

Upon arrival at La Paz airport, it was quite busy. I assume this is due to the two LATAM early morning departures as well as the BoA 1 stop to Buenos Aires that I saw on the screen.


La Paz Airport entrance

La Paz airport is pretty nice. A friend in Bolivia mentioned that until a few years ago, there was no such thing as 4G or LTE in Bolivia. Supposedly, they had some of the worst cell services in the world. The point is😂, I was surprised to see how nice the airport is!


Entering the airport

The lines for check-in were busy.


LATAM check in La Paz

However, I was soon enough at the front of the line.



My documents were checked and I was issued my window seat boarding pass to Lima, followed by the red eye to Rio De Janeiro. Wait but I thought you were going to Santiago? Find out more soon!


Heading to Securuity in Bolivia Airport

There are a couple of cute cafes in the downstairs part of the terminal. I managed to stock up on my coffee mugs, bracelets and shot glasses before making upstairs.


This cafe had delicious cheap food

Dining Options are also available upstairs, but at this hour they were closed.



Another aspect that impressed me about La Paz airport was the automated scanners to let one through security. Wow!


Incredible

There were two separate parts to departures, one for domestic and the other for international. What's the difference? For international departures, there is an additional drug screening checkpoint.



As well as immigration of course😂. That's four pages filled up now in 3 weeks!


Immigration La Paz

The Change


At approximately 4:30 am local time, an announcement was sent out that the 6:30 am to Lima was delayed. Not by the 30 minutes or an hour, but 3 hours. With that flight being the only departure and maintenance issue onboard the inbound aircraft I checked the inbound of the Santiago flight. I saw it had departed on time and made the decision to switch to my new itinerary.


The New Plan

Every seat on the plane left was a middle seat bar one aisle. I quickly snapped onto that aisle seat and it was all confirmed within minutes.



Boarding


As the sun was rising, I had another couple of hours to kill before boarding. I managed to snap a couple of pictures of some BoA aircraft. This 737 was heading on the one-stop to Buenos Aires.


EZE bound

Oh, how I would have loved to fly to BoA while in Bolivia. BoA, Estelar, Conviasa, and Cubana are the airlines on my bucket list.



I briefly checked out duty which consisted of some reasonable prices.



And HAVANA CLUB!!!



The staff were so helpful while passengers were at the gate. They not only walked back to check in to grab me printed boarding passes, but they were offering free coffee and pastries to all customers!


What other airline in the world would do this for economy passengers? Wow! Huge props LATAM!


Really yummy as well😅

Soon enough, our inbound plane from Santiago arrived and it was time to board.


The first batch of passengers made their way down the jetbridge at 7:55 am.





There was a little ecojet aircraft pulling into a gate.



Beautiful little A320

Not sure if anyone knows, but why is there a Lufthansa storage facility here? If anyone knows feel free to let me know in the comments! Thanks!


peculiar as they don't fly here

It was a decent walk to gate 6 but we eventually arrived at our bird.



But not to board...


We were instructed to place all of our bags against the wall as a dog was going to sniff every bag.


A first for me

I managed to snap a quick picture before the agents told me to put my phone away😒. From what I am aware of, every international flight has to undergo this procedure.


Dog Check La Paz airport

By 8:04 am we were entering the aircraft.



Due to the aircraft being a narrowbody, the jetbridge was a little backed up.


Embarking on a wild adventure

Love this picture

A trustworthy touch of the door and we were on our way to Santa Cruz.



Premium economy is laid out in the first few rows of the aircraft. It was completely full which meant there was no hope of paying for an upgrade🤨.


LATAM premium economy A320

Eventually, I found my seat 10C. Thankfully, 10A and 10B would remain empty for the first part to Santa Cruz (VVI).


LATAM A320 Economy

Departure


By 8:15 am boarding had finished and a minute later the jetbridge detached.


The captain came on to announce our flight time of about an hour over to Santa Cruz, expecting some bumps on approach.


For those unfamiliar with how this route works, it's similar to the Avianca triangle route I flew in premium economy.


The route operates Santiago-La Paz- Santa Cruz- Santiago. Passengers can book any segment minus the sole domestic flight.


At 8:32 am we pushed back



If you enjoy seeing some rare planes, feel free to swipe through the slideshow!



We made it to the runway by 8:35 am but had to hold short due to an inbound aircraft, coming from the other direction??


I am so confused with operations in South America

Following that interesting moment, we departed a minute later at 8:36 am local time.



The Seat/Cabin


Seats on the LATAM A320s are laid out in a 3-3 configuration featuring decent pitch. All narrowbodies (A319 above & 737 & above) in economy feature a 3-3 configuration.



As mentioned, the pitch wasn't too bad on this flight!


Could be worse

Loved the fact that LATAM opted to install individual air vents. It can make a huge difference in these claustrophobic cabins.



Thankfully, I was able to stretch out during this first hour!



If only it could have stayed this way to Santiago! Beggars can't be choosers‼.


Very comfortable

I reconvened back to my aisle seat as passengers boarded in Santa Cruz.




Lastly, there were USB ports, 4 across 3 seats, located at the bottom of the seat in front.


Snack Service La Paz-Santa Cruz


I was happy to see a snack service offered on this short-hour flight over to Santa Cruz. Comparing this to premium economy on Avianca, night and day. Drinks were also available for free and I opted for a cup of water.


Relaxation mode on

This Quaker cookie is so good. I am pausing the writing of this review and going to the grocery store to buy one.


Okay, I just got back😅 and they didn't have any good cookies😒.


Impressed is an understatement with LATAM. Two snacks and a drink, are absolutely perfect!


Delicious

Arrival In Santa Cruz VVI


At 9:13 am, the captain announced our descent into Santa Cruz. The views were stunning on approach. Gosh, the more I write about Bolivia, the more I love it!




By 9:20 am, we were being thrown around like my T-shirt in the washing machine, it was horrible. Ever since I got back from Bhutan, I have dabbled in the idea of Siddartha. My prayers were going out and I am not a religious person (I respect anyone who is, I was just never raised on religion).


My heart is in Bolivia

Wow. We made it onto the ground😅 at 9:28 am after a rough landing. Credit to the pilot here.



For fellow Avgeeks, here is a look at some of the aircraft around Santa Cruz VVI. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out where the 767 was off to as the A330 was operating the Miami route that day as well as the Madrid route.



We were at the gate by 9:32 am.


Inbound passengers were dropped off and we picked up some passengers to head down to Santiago. Your LATAM UberPool has arrived!


Santa Cruz- Santiago


By 10:18 am, all passengers had boarded and by 10:25 am we pushed back.


Sadly, I was in the aisle seat and wasn't able to take many pictures of this flight. However, in the next review, you'll get a look at the Andes!


By 10:40 am, we were airborne after holding short for no reason that I could see.


Another snack service was brought around about 50 minutes after takeoff.


Great stuff again LATAM

The options were the same as the flight prior, which was fine by me! I selected a glass of water (mhm delicious water😂) and another one of these phenomenal cookies!



We touched down at 2:25 pm local time, keep in mind Santiago is an hour ahead of Bolivia. It was yet another very hard landing! It was a 10-minute taxi to the gate and we pulled in at 2:35 pm local time.


Considering boarding doors were supposed to close at 3:30 pm for my next flight, it was time to run, I mean really run!


Santiago Chile

Welcome to Country 81 kind of, Chile! For those who say stopping over in a country doesn't count, don't worry, I came back 2 days later to get a tattoo!


The transfer security was extremely long with about 100 people ahead of me.


Ugh anxietyyy

LATAM once again saved the day, more on that in the next review!


Final Thoughts


LATAM impressed me from start to finish with this flight. The staff was friendly whether it be at the check-in, the gate, or on the plane. The seats were more than adequate for a flight of this length and allowed me a solid 2 hours of rest. Perhaps I had been so used to buying on board in my past few flights, but I thought the snack offerings were terrific, and free juice/soda/water was provided.


The only issue with LATAM comes down to cost. I paid a pretty penny for this ticket, mostly my fault but looking at some of the last-minute prices for my dates, I was seeing the same route for about 900$ one way in economy. If the price is right, I think LATAM offers a very competitive soft and hard product. Combine that with the "LATAM play" IFE (which I forgot to talk about), there is plenty to keep anyone occupied.


I hope you enjoyed the read and I look forward to sharing the rest of the 5 flights in my LATAM adventure. There are a couple of big surprises in the last 2 as I had the whole Business Class cabin on the 787-9 to myself to photograph after the flight, as well as multiple cockpit visits!


JETTOAJET SCALE


Snacks & Drinks

8/10

Seat (10C)

8/10

IFE

8/10

Ground Experience

9/10

Overall Service

8/10

Total

41/50







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