LATAM Airlines is going big on business class as part of a near-US$1 billion investment which will see new seats, inflight meals and bedding across all international flights.
The Oneworld member and Qantas partner, which will begin direct flights between Sydney and Santiago from October 27, is rolling out an upgraded business class across its long-range Boeing 777 and Boeing 767 jets, as well as the airline's new Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
LATAM's new international business class
For its new business class, LATAM chosen the Vantage XL platform from Ireland's Thompson Aero Seating with styling by London-based PriestmanGoode.
Direct aisle access? Check. A wide console where each passenger can park documents, laptops and other items they wish to keep close at hand? Check.
A secuded shelf for keeping said items tucked out of the way until needed? Absolutely.
A fully lie-flat bed while you catch up on movies on an 18-inch HD video screen? But of course.
The seat presents a familiar face to many business travellers, as the Vantage XL is the basis of the Qantas Business Suite of the Airbus A330s, Boeing 787s and soon the Airbus A380s.
The staggered layout sees window seats alternatively located directly next to the window, with a bench between the passenger and the aisle...
... while half of what are nominally considered 'window seats' have that bench between the passenger and the window.
Half of the paired middle seats are right next to one another (with a sliding privacy divider between passengers).
Every second row has the passengers furthest apart, with the seat directly at the aisle.
These options provide a little more choice for passengers based on their individual preference, as well as if they are flying solo or travelling with a partner.
The new business class cabin is finished in subdued tan and grey tones.
"It was important to us to imbue the aircraft with a sense of place, but LATAM Airlines Group encompasses a lot of different countries and therefore different visual identities," explains PriestmanGoode project lead Daniel Sohi.
"We decided to look through commonalities in landscape as the key element that draws everything together, with the design language of the business class cabin drawing inspiration from and reflecting iconic architecture seen throughout South America."
The standout example is a marble-effect granite for the cocktail table, "which visually references the beautiful veining seen in aerial photographs of the Andes mountain chain."
The journey to the new business class seat has taken three years, LATAM says, including consultations with passengers and experts, carrying out seat trials and ergonomic tests with customers and cabin crew as well as 'simulated flights' with sleep trials over a two-week period.
While headlining on LATAM's newest aircraft, the new cabins will be rolled out to over 200 aircraft through a retrofit programme over the next two years.
LATAM is also promising fewer interruptions during the flight, thannks to "new service protocols for cabin crew"... and when it's time to catch some shut-eye passengers will find plump pillows, new bedding and "mattresses with temperature-regulating and pressure-point technology" all conspire to get you from A to B with plenty of Zzzz.
There's also a "new culinary concept" on the menu, with meals designed by renowned Chilean and Brazilian chefs Pamela Fidalgo and Aninha.
These dishes will showcase the South American ingredients and be accompanied by a selection of South America’s best wines chosen by master sommelier Héctor Vergara.
A spokesperson for LATAM confirmed to Executive Traveller that the new meals and sleep service are "being rolled out on all LATAM international flights this month."