There are times when a business class fare really feels worth the additional cost. It may be when you've got four flights in 27 hours with a six hour layover wedged in between. It may be an overnight long haul flight too where you just need to sleep. And it may be at an airport where there is no free wifi. This is me when I arrive n Santiago after two flights from Castro airport on Chiloe island via Porte Mont. Thanks to the travel gods, I have a business class ticket with LAN Airlines. I know, feel free to hate me... ;)
Check in for business class is in a completely separate area with its own entrance which is under construction. There is a little hurdle at check in. I have arrived six hours before my flight to Sydney and they don't want to put through my bags. Their solution is to ask me to hold onto the bags for two hours and then check them in and then go into the lounge. It is only when they ask a supervisor that they override the rule. It seems that I may have just gotten a stickler for details as when I arrive in the lounge, I see plenty of Australians on the same flight and they've checked through their luggage.
There are two LAN lounges at Santiago airport but the supervisor suggests the Naruda lounge near Gate 20 as it is exclusive to LAN customers and has shower facilities and a business centre. I try to make an appointment to have a shower later that evening before the flight but its on a first come first served basis and they page the passengers when a shower is ready.
I have a look at the food on offer and it consists of cookies, muesli bars, meat, cheese and small filled rolls. I'm not particularly hungry so I grab a sparkling mineral water and take a seat trying to find a power point. There aren't many in the lounge and you also need to bring your own adapter. I take a seat under a television showing a soccer match and juice up my devices ready for the flight home.
Sometime during the following three hours I grab a glass of apricot juice and a cookie I mistake for an alfajore. It's a healthy cookie and I look longingly at the Haagen Daaz ice cream.
With sixteen hours of flight to go and plenty of time to kill I book myself a shower. Although there are only two showers the wait isn't long and I'm pleasantly surprised at the shower facilities. There is a small closet to hang your clothes in and a LAN business class on board amenity kit.
Business class amenity kit
Wrapped in plastic are a towel, mat and hand towel. On the sink are shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and mouthwash. The only thing missing is a shower cap but these and a razor can be provided on request. I have a shower think and try to remember what Tom Hanks' character did in that movie "The Terminal".
The sleeping room
After my shower, I decide to take a look for the sleeping room. It's a room with three lounge beds with pillows and orange blankets. I take a bottle of mineral water, set my alarm to wake me in an hour, read for a bit and before I know it, I'm napping soundly and my six hours in the lounge are up.
Santiago Airport is fairly empty at this late hour and I spend my last Chilean pesos on chips and snacks on my way to the gate. They only take your water right at the gate so you can buy some to take with you but you'll have to drink it before you board. I join the queue of desperate water drinkers, our eyes bulging while drinking. There is no separate queue for business class when boarding the plane.
My seat on the 343-300 plane is seat 2L and they settle us in quickly. An offer is made for water, champagne or Pisco Sour and the drink arrives with salted cashews and almonds. I chat to my seat mate, an American financier living in Sydney who warns me that he will take sleeping pills and forego dinner. I wonder if I'll ever be cool enough to blow off dinner and take pills to sleep the flight away. Probably not.
The menu is passed out and food delivery commences quickly. I choose the Patagonian ham with marinated artichokes and fresh thyme. This comes with a side salad with toasted almonds and a Chilean olive oil and vinegar dressing. I wedge some of the Patagonian ham in the bread and think to myself how much I love sandwiches and I want to start a sandwich blog.
The conger eel is a natural choice as it is such a popular fish in Chile. Here it is a fat grilled fillet that is moist in texture with a Chilean corn casserole that tastes very much like creamed corn. The Chiloe Island potato chips are really just three chips on top and I wish there were more. But I'm just being greedy now, I'm not really hungry.
Haagen Daaz ice cream
I'm not quite sure why I love ice cream so much on a plane but I'm so glad that I picked this because it's the flavour of crack. Seriously. Well I haven't actually tried crack but it's a Dutch speculoos Biscoff flavour with little chunks of caramel biscuit. I finish every drop of this ice cream and think back to having bypassed it in the lounge. The moral of the story: get the ice cream! :P
Over the past few months I've watched movies that I don't usually go for because I'm a little bit obsessed with the Internet's husband Idris Elba (Ryan Gosling is the Internet's boyfriend and Jennifer Lawrence is the Internet's girlfriend or best friend) and Pacific Rim is no exception. I'm drifting off to sleep with the sight of what appears to be gremlin dinosaurs coming from the water. No doubt fuel for future nightmares.
I wake up grateful that I've had nine hours of sleep. The plane has commenced descent and there's just 25 minutes until we land in Auckland where we will disembark. We arrive just after 4am Auckland time and go through security but the lounge doesn't open until 4.30am. Auckland airport has 30 minutes of free wifi (if you give them an email address) and my friendly seat mate buys me a good coffee at Allpress before we make or way to the Qantas lounge.
There are mostly breakfast items on offer given the early hour and whilst my phone tells me that I should be hungry, I'm not. There are cereals, fruit and breakfast provisions and they look good but I nurse my coffee until we are allowed to board again. We are on our final leg home and the almost four hour flight to Sydney has a new crew on the same plane sitting in the same seat.
I take my seat and remember that I ordered the express breakfast. It is technically almost 3pm in Santiago and I've slept through lunch. But the form that I filled in for an express breakfast is moot as they bring around a full breakfast. There is a choice of plain omelette with mushrooms or meat and cheese.
I decide to make myself a breakfast sandwich and stuff a croissant with ham and cheese. The fruit salad is delicious and there are a couple of slices of cake for breakfast. Cake for breakfast? How did I forget this crucial detail about South America. Clearly I'm travelling the wrong way!
And the moral of the story: just get the ice cream!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever skip all of your meals and just sleep through a flight? And what food do you look forward to most while on board?
NQN tested out the flight as a guest of LAN Airlines
LAN Airlines operates six one-stop flights each week from Sydney to Santiago, Chile. LAN launched the new air connection to Chiloé Island in November 2012, enabling travellers to connect to and from the island in Southern Chile more easily. www.lan.com