Buying a ticket in economy and getting to fly in business is never bad. On this flight from Madrid to Santiago we were able to benefit from a free upgrade with LATAM Airlines. This meant we were able to try out the LATAM 787 Business Class product.

LATAM have a pretty horrible frequent flyer scheme. It’s difficult to get status, earning points is a slow process, and using them isn’t easy either. Buying a ticket in economy and getting a free upgrade to LATAM business class is never a bad thing. In fact, it’s one of the few perks of LATAM’s frequent flyer scheme. We used it so we could try out the LATAM 787 Business Class product.

A while back we wrote about a promotion LATAM were offering which allowed you to apply for a status match. If you already had elite benefits with another frequent flyer scheme. This now appears to be on a hiatus, but with the Delta deal and their plans to leave oneworld in 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised if they launched a similar promotion again. Although I’d expect it to be in a format more similar to the Delta status challenge.

As a result, I became LATAM Black for free. In short, this means I was able to apply for a space available free LATAM business upgrade providing I either purchased a paid ‘Plus’ or ‘Top’ fare. Alternatively, it’s also possible if you purchase a reward ticket.

Better still, I was able to obtain this reward flight by spending avios through the British Airways scheme. All while still being able to benefit from adding my LATAM number to the booking and gaining LATAM Pass benefits as a result.

So, in the end the ticket cost 30,000 avios, plus just €25 each from Madrid to Santiago. Not bad, right? The process of applying for an upgrade was fairly easy. It’s done on a first come, first served basis. This meant checking in online exactly 48 hours before the flight and applying to be on the upgrade list. 12 hours prior to flying the upgrade was confirmed.


We were travelling light, and didn’t need to check-in any bags. Madrid works fairly efficiently, and we were through fast-track security, and over to the T4s lounge in under 20 minutes. LATAM use Iberia’s excellent business lounge, which we’ve previously reviewed before.

The Cabin

Boarding was an efficient process and we were fully boarded a good 30 minutes or so before departure. Upon boarding their was a menu at each seat, and amenity kits were delivered shortly afterwards. A pre-flight welcome drink was offered, with a choice between water or champagne. Service throughout the flight was efficient, although the crew were not particularly personable.

Unfortunately I am not a huge fan of the LATAM 787 business cabin, which is a 2-2-2 layout. It is a significant downgrade when compared to Iberia’s service on this route, which is 1-2-1. Although the seat is comfortable, the cabin lacks privacy, especially when full as was the case on this flight.

As I also discovered, the tray tables are annoyingly small. This means when eating there is hardly any space for objects such as phones. As a result I placed my phone on the small cocktail style table situated between the armrests, only to knock it off during the flight.

This resulted in it falling into the gap the tray table pulls out from. This unfortunately meant my phone was irretrievable for the majority of the flight. The crew subsequently had to call the maintenance team upon arrival into Santiago to get it back for me.

Food and Drinks

Shortly after takeoff the cabin crew took meal orders. LATAM do not offer any sort of pre-booking service for meals, although I have never had a problem reserving my first choice of meal onboard. As I’ve previously written, LATAM’s catering can be extremely variable, as I discovered flying from Barcelona to SΓ£o Paulo.

Drinks were served with the meal, and top-ups offered during the service. LATAM offer a decent selection of wine options, and I particularly like the fact that apart from the champagne they stick to promoting South American options. The Argentinean Malbec was particularly good. Unfortunately, as I have consistently experienced, LATAM appear to close the bar after the meal service. If you’re in the mood for something else afterwards you’re likely to be out of luck.

LATAM business class Madrid to Santiago 787 Dreamliner


The flight had a scheduled departure of 23:55, indeed, all of LATAM’s longhaul departures from Europe depart during the evening. As such, I find the cabin crew tend to follow a pattern of serving the meal quickly, turning-off the cabin lights, and then retreating for a good 7 or 8 hours before serving breakfast.

This can be a good or bad thing depending on how you plan to spend the time, but I admit to much preferring daytime business flying than overnight sectors. I particularly like the fact, however, that LATAM offer proper duvet style bedding, which is super comfortable and far preferable to a blanket.

Breakfast was served around 90 minutes prior to landing. Before sleeping the crew encourage you to fill out a breakfast card, which is a nice touch. This allows you to choose whether you want to be served breakfast before landing, and if so what options you would like. Sadly, the breakfast on LATAM isn’t really worth waking up for. It consisted of rock hard toast along with some tasteless cured meats and cheese.


Considering the price we paid, and the fact this was essentially a free upgrade, we were happy with the experience we had on LATAM. This said, had we paid for our business class ticket with cash my perceptions of the experience would have been significantly poorer.

The LATAM 787 business class product falls behind that of its main competitors on this route. Both the hard and soft product could do with some significant improvements. Whilst we enjoyed the free LATAM business upgrade and would fly with LATAM again, they’d never be my first choice. I certainly wouldn’t choose them over most rival options.