LATAM launched the only direct service between the UK and Peru in December 2023, with Business Traveller attending the inaugural flight on 2 December.
While we flew in economy on the outbound flight, we experienced the carrier’s Premium Business (business class) cabin on the return journey. Note that both services are night flights with a journey duration of approximately 13 hours.
British Airways previously flew between Gatwick and Lima but cancelled the route after one season. LATAM has filled its place, with its five-times-weekly Lima service complementing its daily flights between Heathrow and Sao Paulo. This is a significant addition for LATAM, which currently offers more than 60 weekly frequencies from Europe.
The service is operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft configured with 30 seats in Premium Business (business class) and 217 seats in economy.
The return service departs Lima at 2100 and arrives into London at 1400 the following day. See a video of the flight further down in the review.
Davide Ioppolo, LATAM’s regional commercial director central and Southeast Europe, the UK, Nordic countries and South Africa, told Business Traveller:
“Our best value proposition is that we can fly all over South America. From Lima you can reach 19 destinations in the country and more than 30 international destinations. You can go to Lima and then move to Chile, Brazil and then back to London with a direct flight. If you’re thinking about South America, think about LATAM.”
“It’s also important for Heathrow to have this new route. This is a historical flight, not only for LATAM but for the pilots, for people and for the two countries. This year is the 200th year of bilateral relations between Peru and the UK. There’s no better way to celebrate.”
We arrived at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International airport at 1800 for the 2100 departure. Premium Business passengers can use the premium area at Zone 5 of the international departures area for check-in and bag drop.
This separate room includes six check-in desks, plus three self-service kiosks. It is also open to Delta Medallion customers (LATAM has a joint venture with the US airline) as well as Gold, Gold Plus, Platinum, Black and Black Signature members of the LATAM Pass loyalty programme.
Passengers in Premium Business are permitted two check-in bags each measuring 23kg. The bags receive a priority tag so it will come out first at your destination.
After a quick check-in process, we rejoined the main airport departures area and scanned our passports at automatic kiosks to reach security.
Surprisingly we were allowed to carry liquids over 100ml through to airside and did not have to remove these from our hand luggage, though laptops had to be placed in a separate tray. Queues moved quickly, though a fellow passenger had to wait to have artwork purchased on the trip signed off by the Ministry of Culture.
Passengers then have to proceed through a second passport control (this time manual) before Duty Free.
The terminal has various shops and places to eat – both of the grab-and-go nature and for sit-down meals. We had plenty of time on our hands and were keen to continue eating Peruvian cuisine until the very last moment, so we dined at La Nacional which offers local dishes and (of course) Pisco Sour cocktails.
LATAM doesn’t have its own lounge at this airport but uses a third-party lounge operated by Sumaq, located in front of Gate 17.
The lounge is open 24/7 and accessible for three hours to LATAM Pass Black Signature, Black and Platinum members (who can each bring a guest) as well as passengers travelling in Premium Business, though not for domestic flights.
It’s a sizeable lounge at over 1,200 sqm with buffet services, various seating areas (including more private work desks), showers and a separate relaxation room with six flat beds with partitions for resting and bedside USB and European plug sockets.
To use the showers, you must ask for a ticket at the front desk, after which you will receive a kit with shampoo, soap and a towel. Wifi is also password-protected and you can get this at the front desk.
With regards to lounge decor, it is on the dark side due to a lack of natural light and dark wooden features. There is plenty of seating for various interests, whether that be work or leisure, with USB ports and plug sockets throughout.
There are flight information boards and the front desk makes an announcement for flights 45 minutes before the departure.
Dining-wise there is a full buffet at one end of the lounge with hot food (both international and Peruvian), desserts, a soft drinks dispenser, coffee machines, juices and a filter tap for your reusable water bottle. There are also fridges with plastic bottles of still and sparkling water. At the far end of the lounge is another buffet space with snacks and beverages.
Between these two buffet zones is a bar, though passengers are limited to two free alcoholic drinks when they show their boarding pass.
Premium Business passengers board early, just after those passengers that require assistance, however we wanted to enjoy the lounge a bit longer so only headed to the gate at 2030.
The crew were very friendly as we boarded and my first impression of the cabin was that it was very spacious, with large overhead lockers and plenty of legroom.
The layout, however, felt a little old considering that many carriers are moving to suites in business class (see more on this in ‘the seat’).
There was a menu for inflight dining at our seats and a flight attendant took our dinner and breakfast service before take-off.
We took off at 2108 after a safety video was screened on the IFE screen, with pink-hued lighting signalling the departure. While business class was 95 per cent full, the economy cabin was very empty – perhaps Lima nationals were still unaware of the new route or were staying put for Christmas (the flight was on 8 December).
Premium Business is at the front of the plane and has 30 seats arranged across five rows in a 2-2-2 configuration, separated from economy with a galley and curtains. Window seats in this cabin do not have direct aisle access, with passengers sat here required to step over their neighbours when the seat is fully flat.
It’s worth noting that LATAM has another configuration of the Boeing 787 with 1-2-1 in business class, featuring smarter suite-style seats with direct aisle access.
As such, the seats in this cabin seem a little tired but are large with a width of 23 inches, compared to 17 in economy, and the ability to recline 180 degrees into a 72-inch bed.
The grey design is brightened with red touches in the fabric headrest and leather footrest. There’s a huge amount of legroom between the seat and the footrest and IFE monitor, located in the seatback in front. Pockets here also house the headphones, with a coat hook alongside this should you need one.
I was impressed with the storage, which many other airlines lack onboard. There’s a magazine pocket for each passenger between the seats, a small pocket for bits and bobs where the remote control and water bottle holder is located (I could fit my phone, headphones and amenity kit here), and there are two areas under the footrest where I stored my backpack and shoes.
The tray table is hidden within the armrest but it’s a little fiddly – you lift it up from a tab and then rotate it from vertical to horizontal but it’s not a smooth manoeuvre and various passengers needed help with this. Once in place, however, it is sturdy and can be moved back and forth.
The seat controls are simple to use, with buttons for fully-flat and upright positions as well as various controls to customise your posture. The seat was very comfortable throughout the journey, both when upright and extended into a bed, largely thanks to the mattress pad, soft down comforter and large pillow – all of which are packaged in reusable bags. The mattress pad stays in place thanks to straps which you wrap around the headrest. I managed to sleep quite well during the journey as a result.
For business travellers, tech features include a USB port and universal plug socket beside the seat, but there is no wifi on this service.
The IFE system, known as LATAM Play, has a fair amount of choice with over 170 movies, 430 TV series’ episodes (including a partnership with Paramount+) as well as music, games and interactive maps.
There were a few new film releases – I spotted five fellow passengers enjoying Barbie – as well as classics and films in foreign languages. As soon as you turn on the device, you can choose to customise your experience. This includes kids mode, parental controls, and accessibility features such as text size, high contrast text, screen magnification, captions and subtitles – which is a great touch.
The headphones, however, are not as good as other carriers and I found myself adding subtitles to films so that I didn’t miss anything from the plot.
One of the highlights of the service is the vibrant amenity kit which is perfectly in keeping with South America’s colourful culture and scenery. There are eight designs of the sustainable kits, featuring original works from South American artists, with the creator’s name featured in the pouch (Delta has a similar initiative).
Products include a bamboo toothbrush (with a helpful clasped lid made from sugarcane), lip balm, hand cream, a towel wipe from Feito Brasil, a soft eye mask, pair of socks and earplugs packaged in kraft paper. There are also a set of slippers at the seat, which were very comfy. The airline had plans to eliminate 100 per cent of single-use plastic in its operations by the end of 2023.
There is a toilet on either side of the cabin at the front, though these were no larger or swisher than those in economy.
I was happy with aisle seat 4C, although window seats are preferable for those that enjoy views when you come into land. The issue with the window seat, however, is that you do not have direct aisle access and have to step over someone if they have fully reclined their seat. If you are likely to use the toilet regularly then an aisle seat is recommended.
I wouldn’t want to be in the first row as you will have people passing by you throughout the flight to use the toilet, and you might also be disturbed by noise from the galley as the crew prepare meals. Nonetheless, you are served dinner first which means that you can catch some more rest.
Food and drink
Passengers in LATAM’s Premium Business cabin are offered a dinner service and breakfast on this long-haul flight, with orders taken just before you take off.
Glasses of Vollereaux Brut Reserve Champagne are brought around at 2200, followed by a hot towel which is promptly collected afterwards. Dinner was then served at 2235, which was quite late so I was happy to have already eaten at the airport.
The dining service was a little disappointing considering the fantastic cuisine experienced in Peru, although I enjoyed the nods to South America – the local delicacy of quinoa, pink Himalayan salt sachets, and locally sourced chocolate.
The dinner is served on a single tray. The starter was a side plate of prosciutto with Manchego cheese and dots of pesto, accompanied by a separate plate with a few leaves and a bottle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil for the dressing.
There were a choice of mains, including grilled tenderloin with three pepper sauce, ullucus (a Peruvian tuber), potatoes and roasted carrots; grilled fish of the day with Asian-inspired sauce, quinoa and vegetables; tagliatelle with tomato and olive sauce; and mixed greens with parmesan, Peruvian groundcherry, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and sautéed courgette (plus trout if requested).
I opted for the white fish dish – the quinoa with the teriyaki-style dressing was tasty, but the fish was very overdone unfortunately.
For dessert, passengers were offered a choice between fresh fruit, ice cream, a cheese plate or a coffee mousse with chocolate sauce, almond praline and meringue – again served on the same tray as the starter and main course.
The wine list is more impressive, curated by LATAM’s Master Sommelier Hector Vergara, and includes two bottles of red and two bottles of white from Argentina and Chile, paying homage to the carrier’s region.
Passengers can also order a few spirits, beer or non-alcoholic beverages such as fruit juice, tonic waters and soft drinks, as well as coffee, decaf coffee and Twinings tea.
Breakfast was served two hours before landing, and the options were cheese omelette with fried potatoes, parsley and tomato concassé; a ham and cheese selection; or a cheese and turkey sandwich on a croissant – all of which were accompanied by a bread roll with butter and jam, a plate of fresh fruit and then either coconut cream with fresh fruit and nuts, or yoghurt and granola. I had the omelette but the entire dish was tasteless.
We landed 45 minutes early at 1315 due to a strong tailwind on the route, and disembarked quickly. Meeting us at the end of the airbridge were police who checked our passports before we continued to passport control. Later, as we collected our luggage, a sniffer dog was on the scene to inspect our baggage.
Thankfully we were all innocent and far more interested in returning home for a long overdue shower and rest.
This is a great new service which is set to boost connectivity from the UK to the South American continent, promising greater tourism and business opportunities for the various cities in LATAM’s network.
LATAM’s business class is a comfortable option, offering a fully-flat bed with soft bedding which makes the 13 hours speed by. Friendly staff give a lot of time to passengers that need more support, and the carrier has various lovely touches and nods to the region – from the F&B to the amenity kits.
The product, however, feels a little dated in comparison to business class offerings on other carriers. Additionally, inflight dining needs improving, especially given the region’s reputation for fantastic food.
I would be interested in experiencing the airline’s newer business class configuration, as a more private suite-style seat seems to be the preferred option for the future of this cabin across the industry.
- Flight duration: 13 hours 5 minutes
- Configuration: 2-2-2
- Seat width: 23 inches
- Seat pitch: 72 inches
- Price: Internet rates for a round-trip Lima-London flight in January start from £3,206 in Premium Business
- Contact: latam.com