Lydia Jenkin flies from Auckland to Santiago on LAN Chile LAN800.

The plane:

A Boeing 787-9. This is Boeing's newest 787 model, and LAN added several of them to their fleet in September. They are capable of carrying 27 per cent more passengers and 23 per cent more cargo than the 787-8. The new planes also have windows with up to 40 per cent more surface area, which means you've got a much better chance of seeing those Antarctic ice-floes on this southern route.

Class: Premium Business.

Price: You can get return Business Class for $7100. Economy Class return starts at $2400.


Flight time: This is a proper long-haul flight, clocking in at 11hr 10min. Spare a thought for our Australian cousins who start out on the flight from Sydney and spend 2hrs 25mins flying over the Tasman, before touching down at Auckland International Airport and continuing on their way to South America. The service runs daily.

My seat: 5C, one of 30 Premium Business Class seats, in a 2-2-2 configuration. It feels extraordinarily roomy, with miles of space between each row and, of course, the seat reclines completely and extends forward with an integrated footrest to allow you to sleep horizontally. There are useful, small storage compartments all over the place, extra-large overhead luggage lockers, extra lights, pillows, duvets, a lumbar massage system, and everything is adjustable to make you as comfortable as possible. The 787-9 also has new aerodynamics, which provide a smoother flight, and new air humidification techniques that reduce sensations of dryness and fatigue, providing cleaner air. The pitch of the Business Class seats is 75 inches and the width is 23 inches.

Fellow passengers: A mixture of Australians and New Zealanders heading to South America for business or adventure, and Chileans returning home after visiting the antipodes for family or work.

How full: There was one spare Business Class seat, and Economy seemed relatively full also.

Entertainment: There's a wide range of movies and TV series, ranging from classic, to arthouse and blockbuster, along with some great documentaries, and a handy game to help you practice some Spanish. All of which plays on a 15-inch screen.

The service: Is impeccable. Highly attentive, the bi-lingual, often South American staff generally know what you want before you do. Newspapers and magazines are offered, as well as hot towels, plenty of food, drink, and smiles.

Food and drink: The flight takes off at the perfect time for dinner, which is three courses, and paired with a lovely selection of Chilean wines. Try the carmenere - it's Chile's signature grape, a red varietal that disappeared from European vineyards in the mid-19th century and emerged again in Chile a century later.
There are generous portions, but it's all light and fresh, and the best airline food I've come across. You also get breakfast before you land, which is slightly more standard fare, but still fresh and tasty.

The toilets: Are clean, well-scented with Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries, and there's hardly ever a queue.


The airport experience: LAN's codeshare partner Qantas have a lovely, serene lounge in Auckland with some rather nice food, but LAN have just opened a two-storey VIP lounge in Santiago, which is even more impressive. It covers more than 7000sq m and accommodates 460 people with many restful and relaxing spaces, individual restrooms, showers, laundry and shoe-shining services, a sleeping room, a business centre, entertainment and videogame zone and, of course, plenty of food and drink. It's also available to Premium Economy passengers.

Would I fly this again? Yes please. I can't think of a more comfortable and indulgent way to get to South America.