A gleaming 787-9 Dreamliner. The plane touches down briefly in Auckland on its way from Santiago to Sydney. The Chilean national carrier took its dusty old A340 off this route more than a year ago. This feels like a more stylish ride, but the old bird had better seat pitch for those flying in Economy.
This is the only Dreamliner regularly flying over the Tasman and if you're a plane nerd who happens to be a Dreamliner virgin, it's worth signing up for that reason alone.
Class: Business. There are 30 seats in the Business Class cabin, laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration, and they're excellent. These front-facing lie-flats will feel familiar to anyone who's travelled in the Business Cabin of Qantas' A380s. Great for an early-morning snooze.
Flight time: A snappy three hours, departing at 7.30am.
Price: The cost bounces around between $350 and $800-ish return on codeshare flights with Qantas and Emirates. It's a wide variance, typical of this competitive stretch of airspace.
How full: Not an empty seat in the house.
Fellow passengers: Loads of South Americans on their way to Australia. There was one dramatically botoxed woman in the Business Class cabin whom I was sure had to be some sort of South American celeb — purely on account of the botox and level of service she was getting.
Food and drink: Adequate.
Service: Professional and faultless.
Entertainment: There's an impressive range of recent movie releases and the airline standard, Family Guy. For those getting a bit of early-morning work done, this is a good flight on which to slip into a little Latin easy-listening. Cue: Elis Regina, followed by a bit of Jorge Cafrune and Cesaria Evora. I also gave my nascent geography nerd a test by playing Geospot, a game in which you have to locate famous spots around the world — I scored a respectable 469,542. Mainly, being a good tool of the capitalist system, I got a spot of work done.
Toilets: Business Class seemed identical to those on the rest of the plane, with the addition of some sanitising wipes and a perfume spray. The amenities bag given to premium travellers is sparse, with just an eye mask, ear plugs and an oddly wobbly pen.
For working flyers headed to a meeting in Sydney, a toothbrush would be handy.
Airport experience: Hot tip from a well-informed Qantas staffer at Auckland airport: This Latam flight has a reputation for not mucking around in the boarding process. So don't drag your heels when the flight is called.
The arrival in Sydney didn't go so well, with passengers having to deplane on the tarmac and board a bus to the terminal.
The final word: A fine transtasman commute and this service would be a nice way of getting to South America.