Review – LAN A320 Economy Class: Lima to Cusco & Cusco to Lima

After a great stay at the Hilton Lima Miraflores, I called down to the concierge desk and ordered a car to take us to the airport to catch out flight to Cusco. The views from the Miraflores area on our way to the airport were excellent.

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Introduction
Review – Delta 767-400 DeltaOne: Atlanta to Lima
Review – Hilton Lima Miraflores
Review – LAN A320 Economy Class: Lima to Cusco
Review – LAN Boeing 767-300 Business Class: Lima to Buenos Aires

If you have never traveled to Lima before, be prepared for some really bad traffic. I am talking horrible traffic. And I lived in Miami for 3 years while I was in law school and this was even worse than that. Best I can tell, there are no enforced driving laws or rules in Peru. It took us about an hour to get the 11 miles from our hotel to the airport. Lima airport is like a compound with huge fences, gates and armed police standing at the entrance. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. Once inside the compound, you had to show your passport before being admitted into the terminal to check in. This was my first time flying LAN and to be honest, I had heard less than stellar things about them – something that would prove to be both true and false.

LAN 2039/2010
Lima (LIM) – Cusco (CUZ) & Cusco (CUZ) – Lima (LIM)
Depart: 1:20 PM/8:05 AM
Arrive: 2:40 PM/9:30 AM
Duration: 1hr 20min/1hr 25min
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 12A/12A

We booked our tickets on this flight using 4,500 Avios + $10 in taxes and fee, which was a bargain as far as I was concerned.

BA Flight options

Paid flights can be had for ~$150 round trip, but I had a ton of Avios to burn, so figured why not.

LAN has a large presence at both Lima and Cusco airport and the check-in lines were fairly long at both. Thankfully LAN is a member of the OneWorld alliance and my Platinum status on American (OneWorld Sapphire) allowed us to utilize the business class and Preferente lines where there was no wait. I normally avoid the check-in counters like the plague as most airlines these days offer a decent enough app that allows you to download your boarding pass directly to your phone. But this is LAN were talking about and neither their app, nor their website would allow me to do an online check-in for this flight.

We cleared security quickly at both airports and headed for the Priority Pass lounge in Lima to relax a bit as we had some time to kill. The Priority Pass lounge on the domestic side is, well, what I’ve come to expect from Priority Pass lounges. Are they decent? Sure. Are they good? I’d argue no, but the Delta Sky Clubs tend to set a high standard that’s surpassed only by some of the heavy hitter luxury airlines’ first class lounges like British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and the big 3 Middle East carriers.

From what I had read on FlyerTalk, LAN gate agents are sticklers for their carry-on baggage policy and enforce it pretty heavily around the gate. I hate checking my bag. I hate it more than flight delays, turbulence and having a flatulent seat mate combined. I hate it. Thankfully, we were able to avoid the gate agents who were checking by staying away from our gate until they announced the boarding.

Boarding is done in 3 segments: LAN uses a unique loading system (which the other South American carriers seemed to utilize as well) where you line up in long cues based on 3 categories: Special Needs (traveling with children, elderly who need more time down the jetway, etc.), Preferente (LANPass elites and OneWorld Sapphire and Emeralds), and then your seat assignment (depending on the size of the aircraft you’re on, it could be as few as one line and as many as 5). We boarded in the Preferente line where we were the only two on both flights.

Intro 3

LAN operates a one-class Airbus A320 on this route which only offers economy seats in a 3-3 configuration. LAN’s A320’s and A319’s are mostly set up for short haul flights and feature a single cabin setup with no main cabin extra style seats.

LAN

We boarded through door 1L and were greeted by the 3 flight attendants working the flight. LAN is not known for having the best customer service or flight crews, and both crews we had were no exception to that. Even though I greeted each of the 3 crew in (broken) Spanish, I only barely got a smile out of one of them throughout the entirety of both flights.

We quickly stored our bags and took seats 12A and B on both flights, which were exit row seats.

LAN 1

Being 6’5″, when I fly economy I like to get either the exit row, a main cabin extra type seat with additional leg room, or a front bulkhead seat. The seats were both spacious and comfortable.

LAN 2

LAN 3

It should be noted that the B, C, J & K seats all have an electronics box that somewhat limits legroom. Rows 1-5 (sans 5A and 5L) as well as the exit rows are always blocked off as preferred seats. Supposedly OneWorld Sapphires have access to this preferred seating, but I could never get a LAN agent on the phone to assign the seat for me prior to check-in. Thankfully LAN operates a bunch of daily flights to Cusco so the plane was less than half full and we were the only two seated in any of the exit row seats on both flights.

About 15 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants began their drink service. As the flight is so short, the options consisted of coffee, tea, water, Coca Cola or Inca Kola. If you have never heard of Inca Kola before, I would encourage you to try it. Not because it’s that good (frankly, it is just meh to me), but so you can tell you friends you finally got to find out what the color yellow tastes like. I kid you not, it tastes exactly like you would expect the color yellow to taste (this is weird, I know. But trust me, once you try it, you’ll completely agree with me on this).

Inca Kola
(Source: Inca Kola)

Also included with the drink service was a little snack box, which was a nice treat on such a short flight.

LAN 5

Honestly, I really like this idea. The boxes are easier to hand out than giving people a snack option and they have a very cool design. Inside the snack box had some club crackers, a chocolate vanilla wafer cookie bar and some cashews.

LAN 4

I opted for just a glass of water as we had made the trek up to Machu Picchu the day before and I was still feeling pretty dehydrated.

The best part of the trips had to be the views though.

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Both flights landed on time and when we landed in Lima we headed for the LAN Business Class lounge (which is shared with the Priority Pass lounge) hoping it was better than the Priority Pass lounge on the domestic side that we had utilized on our way to Cusco.

Notes on Cusco Airport

First, let me say that Cusco airport is smaller than some regional airports I’ve flown into and out of in the states. There are 5 gates on the domestic side, one small food stall with some snacks and two gift shops. The gate areas get very crowded as it seems like the three major airlines that fly into Cusco all board their flights at the same time. If you’re not a preferred member (find out how to achieve elite status with credit cards), then I would recommend allowing approximately an hour extra time to clear the regular line for LAN as it was quite long. Security was a breeze and we were at our gate with about an hour to spare.

One thing that I absolutely loved about Cusco airport was that we had to walk onto the tarmac to board the flight via the jetway stairs. There’s just something awesome to me about that experience.

Final Thoughts

For such a short flight, the seats were comfortable and the service was good. The views simply could not be beat though and for ~$10 out of pocket, I cannot really complain about any part of the experience.

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