It’s now easier than ever for Melburnians to get to South America, with LATAM now jetting off from the Victorian capital three times a week and flying directly to gateway city, Santiago, Chile, where onward connections to more than 120 destinations await travellers.
Signature Luxury Travel & Style feature writer Joanna Tovia joined LATAM on the inaugural flight from Melbourne on 6 October, describing the check-in process, in-flight service and comfort levels as “flawless”.
“LATAM’s new route is the only direct connection between Melbourne and South America, saving Victorians a significant amount of time getting to this incredible part of the world – it doesn’t get much easier than this,” Tovia says.
The service is operated by Boeing 787-9 aircraft, where premium business passengers enjoy seats that recline into flat beds, LCD-screen entertainment, a humidification system that reduces jetlag, and a newly designed menu that showcases Latin American cuisine. The menu is paired with Chilean and Argentinean wines selected by Hector Vergara, the only master sommelier in South America.
LATAM Airlines flight LA804 departs Melbourne at 8.10pm on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving in Santiago at 7.10pm the same day local time. The flight time is 13 hours. The return flight leaves Santiago at 12.30pm local time on Monday, Thursday and Sunday, arriving in Melbourne a day later at 5.30pm local time. The return journey takes 15 hours.
Business and first-class class passengers have access to The Qantas Club in Sydney and the LATAM VIP Lounge in Santiago, which has its own check-in and customs area, saving more valuable time. The spacious, two-storey lounge features multiple seating areas, a resting room (with flat beds), showers, a business centre, an entertainment room, luggage lockers and a meeting room.
LATAM also flies direct from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland seven times a week. The airline is a member of the OneWorld alliance, along with Qantas.
Although the airline offers connections from Santiago to destinations in Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil and Peru, spending a couple of days exploring Santiago is well worthwhile. Tovia recommends basing yourself in the historical heart of the city, Barrio Lastarria, a bohemian neighbourhood bustling with street art, restaurants and life. The family-owned neo-classic hotel The Singular offers elegant boutique accommodation in Lastarria, with exceptional service and great food at its rooftop bar and restaurant.
“It’s definitely the place to stay if you’re stopping over in Santiago for a night or two on your way to or from Melbourne or Sydney,” Tovia says.