LATAM Airlines on Tuesday announced several investments it will be making to improve passenger experience at an event in São Paulo. Estimated to cost over $500 million, the main enhancements come in product and service improvements across its fleet, including new seats and meal options.
Enrique Cueto, LATAM Group CEO, prefaced the event by saying that the toughest part of the merger between LAN and TAM is over; hence, it is time to consolidate the group’s importance in Latin America.
First, approximately 200 aircraft in the airline’s fleet, around half of the total number of aircraft, will receive cabin renovations. To this effect, the airline debuted the new cabins to be featured on the Boeing 777-300ER, the airline’s largest aircraft. LATAM currently owns 10 of them, all based in Brazil, and uses them to connect São Paulo to Frankfurt, London, Madrid and Miami.
In LATAM’s business class, dubbed “Premium Business,” the airline had evolved from its previous high-density configuration to a more modern layout. Previously, the Triple Seven was very much dismissed by business class customers owing to two major issues. First, the seats were allocated in a 2-3-2 configuration, which granted no direct aisle-access unless sitting in an aisle seat. Second, the seats were not capable of reclining to a full lie-flat position.
The retrofit with new Thompson Vantage XL seats addressed these two problems, solving them entirely with a new 1-2-1 configuration and fully lie-flat seats. Standard aisle and window seats line the cabin wall with two types of seats, honeymoon and aisle seats, dominating the center aisle. The fabric and color of the seats were also changed to a more modern template and the personal entertainment systems were also refreshed to a current, up-to-date model.
The new cabin, with full aisle access and full-flat seats, is also a part of this rest-focused renovation of the cabin. Now, passengers will no longer need to bother – or to be bothered by – other customers when leaving their seats. The privacy afforded by these seats is crucial to acquiring rest on long-haul flights when sleep is paramount.
In economy class, the airline maintained the 3-4-3 configuration that’s standard on the Boeing 777, but revamped the seat designs. The new seats feature a new red and blue gradient design, more representative of the airline’s colors, set into the fabric.
The personal entertainment system was also changed to provide a more modernized offering. The size of the screens, though, wasn’t changed in order to save money in the retrofit process.
In the economy cabin, however, the biggest change is the addition of the “LATAM+” seats. This concept is already used on domestic flights and will serve, in the 777, as an enhanced economy class though not at the level of a full-fledged premium economy class, which the airline has opted against. The benefits of LATAM+ will include more legroom and boarding priority while seat width and layout will remain the same.
Onboard Service Enhancements
When developing this new cabin, especially the business class product, the airline focused on maximizing the rest of the passengers. This included the food options, which, according to LATAM, will “provide the passengers even more comfort during the rest time and power for the awakening process.”
Instead of drawing out the service, multiple plates will be served on a single tray. When traveling for business, rest often trumps the meal service though a speedy service may entice those travelers to stay awake.
With the merger between LAN and TAM a distant memory, the airline is finally taking a look at its product to see where it can improve as it faces heavy competition on most of the international routes it serves from São Paulo.
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