LATAM flies a 787-9 Dreamliner between the two (and onwards to their primary hub in Santiago, Chile), with their respectable long-haul Business Class and Economy cabins.
Update: note that LATAM will leave the oneworld alliance, probably in 2020, which will end redemption opportunities with Qantas Points, Asia Miles, British Airways Avios and other oneworld points currencies.
A couple of Point Hacks editors had the chance to fly on LATAM’s Business Class between Sydney and Auckland in the last 6 months, and we’ve updated our guide to their 787 with some new images and thoughts.
LATAM are also launching direct service between Melbourne and Santiago in October 2017 using their Boeing 787s, with the same cabin – so we’ve created a full guide for how to use points for LATAM flights.
While there are a few downsides to picking LATAM (we go into these below), the clincher for us is the competitive price for a premium Business class product with a comfortable seat and decent in-flight entertainment system.
Aircraft and schedule
LATAM has quite a lot of competition on the Sydney to Auckland route as one of four airlines, joined by Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand. They operate a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with one daily flight in each direction.
LA801 departs Auckland at 7:30am for a 3 hour 40 minute flight to Sydney, arriving at 9:10am.
The reason for the affordability of LATAM’s service is this early departure timing from Auckland to Sydney, meaning you should really be at the airport around 5:30. If you’re staying at an Auckland Airport hotel, that means rising around 5 to get there for 5:30, or if you like pushing it a bit, rising at 5:30 to get to the airport for 6. Your call.
The airport is understandably quiet at this time, with few people around. The Qantas International Business lounge is open from 4am though, so you can grab a bite to eat before you depart. As there are two of Qantas’ three daily flights leaving at 6 and 7:20, the lounge can get a little busy.
You can expect the sun to be up by the time you’re in the air, assuming everything is running on schedule. This makes for some great views over NZ and across the Tasman to Australia as you chase the sunrise to Sydney.
LA800 then leaves Sydney at a more reasonable 11am, and 3 hours 20 minutes later arrives in Auckland at 4:20pm.
Check-in at Sydney
Check in at Sydney is handled opposite the Qantas premium desks at the far left of the international terminal, with LATAM-specific signage but handled by Qantas staff. A handy location, as this is right next to the Express lane which you have access to as a Business Class passenger.
LATAM’s 787 Business Class cabin & seats
The 787 has 30 flat-bed Premium Business seats in a 2-2-2 configuration (and 283 standard Economy Class seats), with a 75″ pitch and 23″ seat width.
The seat can be adjusted with this control.
The seat reclines 180 degrees into a lie-flat bed.
The little sleep pack with socks, earplugs, etc. was a nice touch, not flashy, but these days you don’t normally get anything flying across the Tasman in Business.
There is ample space to rest your feet and store your belongings.
Business Class Seat Choice
Out of rows 1-5, the best seats are in rows 2-4 to provide some buffer from the lavatories and galley in the front and the galley in the back.
Obviously a 1-2-1 configuration would be more ideal than the 2-2-2 layout, so there is no direct aisle access for those on the sides, but if you’re travelling with a companion, that shouldn’t be a problem. Even if travelling solo, for the price, it’s still good value.
There is in-seat power and a USB port, but no wifi is available on this aircraft.
Business Class Food & Drink service
The inflight service is all perfectly acceptable – nothing amazing, but we’ve always found LATAM’s crew to be polite and helpful at a minimum.
On the Sydney-Auckland leg, you’re served lunch, normally a sandwich or salad, and as much alcohol as you’d like. The food is generally adequate – we think Qantas do better here.
On the Auckland-Sydney leg, breakfast is usually served quickly and you can settle back for 1.5-2 hours sleep on the lie-flat bed, which helps to take the edge off the early wake-up time.
No alcohol is offered on the westbound flight, presumably because it’s early in the morning, but we still thought it odd to not offer it at all given many passengers would have been travelling from Santiago.
LATAM’s 787-9 has 232 Economy seats with pitch at 32 inches, and width at 17.3 inches. Pitch is decent but width is not so great. There are also around four or so rows of Space+ seating (rows 12 to 16), with pitch at 34 inches.
LATAM’s Business Class has a sizable 15.4″ individual screen and an above-average in-flight entertainment system, with which has a decent selection of English movies. It’s a superior system to some of Qantas’ 737s that ply the route but not as good as Qantas’ A330s.
How to book this flight
Lounge access in Sydney
LATAM is part of the oneworld alliance, meaning you’ll have access to the nice Qantas International Business Lounge in Sydney, the same as if you were travelling with Qantas.
Lounge Access in Auckland
In Auckland, you have access to the sub-par Qantas International Business Lounge, but the early departure means that you won’t spend much time in there anyway.
Why choose the LATAM 787 flight across the Tasman?
- Opportunity to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points and status credits
- Decent inflight entertainment system
- Good departure timings
- Cost and value, especially for Auckland-Sydney return or one-way tickets
- Early departure time from Auckland, although you get most of the day in Sydney, if that’s what you need
- Lack of flexibility and reliability with the once-daily only service. Both services are subject to delays or cancellations thanks to the long-haul sector from Chile prior to the 787 arriving in Auckland. Generally passengers are rebooked on Qantas or Air New Zealand in the case of cancellations
- Not amazing lunch food, but breakfast is fine
Summing up – LATAM 787 between Auckland & Sydney
We’d recommend flying LATAM on this route if price, travelling in Business and Qantas Status Credits are important to you, the timings suit, and you don’t mind being flexible if there are problems with either flight.