Showing posts with label business class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label business class. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

British Airways 747 Business Class Review

I had about 100,000 British Airways miles to start the year, mostly left over from buying money for credit card points. I wanted to spend my miles before British Airways devalued their award chart (advanced notice to members helped me save their value) and booked a trip to the UK and Ireland.  I would go business class over and premium economy back. I had the miles for round trip in business, but wanted to try a true premium economy product (Premium economy review).  I booked on and payed a large fuel surcharge fee. I didn't mind because this was my best shot at an interesting looking business class.
Business Class Seat - Upper Deck
I flew on a 747-400 from Denver to London Heathrow. BA has a strained relationship with the 747. It was the long haul workhorse for many years, but they are retiring the fleet for 777, 787, and A380 aircraft. There are already a dozen or more in the desert being scraped. Since the fleet is being retired, BA is understandably not updating the interiors or going beyond basic maintenance. That was until I read yesterday that 18 747's will be upgraded with more business class seating (and less economy) and new TV screens.  Great news once the upgrades start, but I flew on one that was, at the time, slated for parting out.
The lack up upgrades was evident. The aircraft interior looked tired, almost worn out. The TV system had an older, low def, flat screen with some bright hot spots scattered about. The aircraft also needed a good vacuuming and a cleaning crew with more attention to detail. Once settled in my rear facing seat, it was comfortable and drinks were served as doubles. 
Not Going To Be Parted Out Just Yet
The dinner service was pleasant and ended about two hours after take off.  This left me not tired with 5 hours until breakfast and landing.  I took a trip down stairs to stretch and make small talk with other people who couldn't sleep. The crew had some whiskey bottles and light snacks left out for the business class cabin at the bottom of the stairs by the second door. I enjoyed making myself a drink and munching to pass the time. Eventually I went back to my seat and got a short and restless nap in before breakfast. The Denver flight arrived at LHR terminal 3, so customs was a breeze and I had a quick bite at the AA arrivals lounge (nothing like BA in terminal 5 of Lufthansa) before hopping the underground into London. Good trip, but it showed that BA was not giving maximum effort on the Denver flight.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Etihad Starts Race To Bottom in Middle East

Etihad is pulling a Delta by making a new fare class that comes with fewer benefits and the same price as the previous cheapest fare.  The new Business Breaking Deal fare class doesn't even include a chauffeur to the airport.  Who could fathom business class travel without the airline sending someone to pick you up?
How About That? I Had An Etihad A330 Picture

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Lufthansa 737 Business Class Seats

Lufthansa has the same seats from nose to tail on their 737's.  Business class gets better catering and an open middle seat on every flight.  It's not the large recliner seat like in United Airlines' first class, but on short hops, it is still comfortable.
Blocked Middle Seat Every Trip
Thin Seat, But Still Relaxing

Monday, May 18, 2015

Frequent Flyer Program Points / Miles Inflation

Airline Award Price Inflation
Inflation is a great way for governments to take wealth and reduce their debt. It happens continuously, but no one really notices, so it's a low risk political move.  By creating more currency, the government receives the full value of the new money while everyone's existing money is worth slightly less.  It's something everyone endures, but no one enjoys. 
South American Style Currency
Recent Inflation Victim
Airlines also manage a currency and create inflation. Airlines created their own currency with points programs and have been adding more currency than is being redeemed.  This creates an over supply of currency against a static (more or less) supply of awards.  The unbalanced supply and demand creates an opportunity for point inflation. Airlines manage their currency like Venezuela or Argentina.  There is constant inflation by creating more currency with fixed award opportunities.  They also engage in large and sudden devaluations periodically.  Venezuela has inflation every day, but they will also suddenly change exchange rates.  Both destroy currency value, but the gradual devaluation stings less.  Airlines do the same when they change their award charts (British Airways most recently).  Awards that cost 80,000 miles yesterday can cost 100,000 points today when the award chart changes over.  These massive changes are usually, but not always, announced several months in advance.
More Miles Pursuing Same Seats
Hyper Inflation Airlines
Airlines create new currency, point or miles, at no cost to them.  They sell this currency to partners, like credit cards or hotels and receive real money for their proprietary money.  United Airlines sold $2.9 billion of frequent flyer miles in 2013 and has about $4.9 billion of frequent flyer miles outstanding.  They expect 20% these miles to expire, so the mileage expiration policy creates $1 billion in profit.  They did not disclose how they value a frequent flyer mile.   

“Five million and 4.7 million MileagePlus flight awards were used on United in 2013 and 2012, respectively. These awards represented 7.7% and 7.1% of United’s total revenue passenger miles in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Total miles redeemed for flights on United in 2013, including class-of-service upgrades, represented approximately 80% of the total miles redeemed.” (UAL annual report)  20% of mileage redeemed was used for partner flights, merchandise awards, and other ground based awards. That’s a massive amount of miles chasing relatively few awards and creates a great inflation opportunity.
Costs More and More To Sit Up Front
44% Inflation over 9 Years
When I started collecting United miles in earnest, a round trip to Europe in business class was 80,000 miles.  Then it became 100,000.  Now it's 115,000 on United or 140,000 on a partner.  1,000,000 United miles was worth 12.5 round trips, but is now worth 7 trips.  This is a massive currency devaluation of 44% over 9 years.  Frequent flyers should be marching and banging pots in front of United's corporate office, but I doubt many realize their miles are worth so much less.  Most customers measure their balance by the number of miles in it.  This is a poor indicator of value though.  Viewing it as the number of awards you want (business class tickets to Europe in my example) is a better indicator of value. 
Program Changes Can Reduce Award Balance Value
Reducing Inflation Risk
Collecting miles and points creates an inflation risk.  The more you collect, the larger the risk.  Inflation can't be eliminated, but the risk can be managed.  Here are a few tactics to help support an inflation hedge strategy:
  • Collect Points in Multiple Programs – All programs have inflation, but at different rates and different times.  Diversification reduces your exposure to a single program's risk.  It also creates more reward opportunities.
  • Spend Points Regularly - A smaller point balance lowers the potential loss of value to inflation.  Also, why bother collecting miles if they are never used?
  • Be Aware of Pending Award Price Changes - Don't be taken by surprise, read emails from your programs.  If a change is coming, book at the lower prices if able.  I booked a round trip to Europe before British Airways changed their award chart this year.
  • Change Programs if Required - Most airlines have partners and one partner may have a more rewarding and stable award structure.  Alaska miles seem more stable than Delta miles and you can earn either on a Delta flight.
  • Set Award Based Goals - Don't set a balance number as a goal.  1,000,000 United miles has a nice ring to it, but it isn't an end in itself.  4 round trips to Europe in business class is a better goal because it has a fixed value while the miles could change value.  Redeem when you reach your goals.
  • Create A Single View of Your Assets – Take a look at your award balances on one screen.  Copy and paste into Excel or Gmail if needed.  Looking at your assets on the same page will help you understand where your risks are.  It also may help you be more creative with your awards. 80,000 Delta miles and 62,500 American miles is a round trip to Australia in business class.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Austrian Airlines Business Class Smart Upgrade Auction

Austrian Airlines is setting up an auction that will close 72 hours before flight to sell business class upgrades. The winners are based on price bid, but not told other bids.  The outcome also doesn't factor in fare paid or miles co-pays, so there is a chance of buying a very discounted fare and flying business class for not much more. Interesting way to maximize revenue, but it's not very sporting since you don't know other bidders' offers.  
Austrian Airlines Airbus

Sunday, January 6, 2013

United Airlines 777 Rear Facing Business Class Seats

I always wondered what the rear facing business class seats on United were like, so I grabbed one (with an upgrade) last month on a flight from Denver to Chicago to find out; I didn't want a longer test in case I didn't like the feeling. I really didn't notice a difference in flight.  The bigger issue with seat 9A was a missing window and claustrophobic feeling.  The forces experienced at take off and landing are reversed too; it wasn't uncomfortable, but just felt a little off.  
United Airlines 777 Seat 9A Rear Facing Business Class Seat

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Helsinki – Munich – Tokyo Lufthansa Business Class A340-600 and A320 Review

After an enlightening conversation about customer experience management, I was heading from Helsinki to Munich and then off to Tokyo.  Lufthansa recently implemented a new strategy to upgrade the intra-European flight experience, upgrading seats and meals in business class and coach.  The improvements are a stunning innovation in the inflight experience.  The seats are super slim line; the seat backs have been redesigned to create more room for your knees.  The seats are comfortable too, at least for the two hour flight.  The rows are actually closer together than before (with one or two more rows on board), but it feels like there is more space in the cabin. The business class seats are the same as coach in size in pitch (distance to the row in front), but you have an empty middle seat every time (the flight wasn't full, so I had an empty row).
Lufthansa A320 Business Class Seats
Everyone gets something to eat, even in coach.  Lunch in business class was really tasty and had a great variety of flavors.  The portions were not large, but it felt more filling and satisfying that the standard large United offering.  The meal consisted of tatar of smoked trout on beetroot slices, ragout fin with mussels and basmati vegetable rice, and lime-blossom pudding with mulberry jam (yes, they included a menu).  All were delicious and accompanied by attentive service.  I doubt these are much more expensive or more difficult to prepare than domestic meals and I wish United will follow Lufthansa’s lead.
Lufthansa A320 Business Class Meal
The Munich Airport ground experience (in the new international terminal) has a great visual design with a modern German look, but it also includes an excessive amount of walking.  I first had to walk to customs to leave the EU (there is an elite lane at the far end).  I then walked a bit to the Lufthansa Senator lounge.  I enjoyed some pleasant German snacks and some local beer.  The lounge is a great place to relax even if for only 15 minutes, like my travels for example (tight connection + excessive walking).  I grabbed an ice cream to go, did some duty free shopping (got a cool poster by of all the different planes that fly out of MUC), and arrived at the gate just in time for the start of boarding.
Lufthansa Senator Lounge - Munich
The seat map online showed the rear business class cabin only had four other people in it.  This is great news because the plane wouldn't feel crowded like on my flight from Denver.  I had open seats all around a sense of privacy.  I would be the last for dinner and drink service, so I risked some options not being available, but I think it is worth it for the secluded environment.  
Quiet family on other side of cabin and many open seats
The business class seats (ditto first class) on Lufthansa's fleet of A340's and A330's are dated. So much so that Lufthansa has started to slowly replace them.  I was not fortunate enough to fly in the new layout, but instead became very familiar with angled lay flat seats.  They can be a comfortable chair, but they are awful as a bed.  The seats are a little too firm and are at a ~30 degree to the floor, so you slide out of them.  The tv is a good size and full of movies and shows you actually want to watch (it did break for about 20 minutes, the seat controls are on the same system and were inoperable).  Luckily Lufthansa's service is superb, so the flight was enjoyable.
Lufthansa A340-600 Business Class Seats
Lufthansa A340 Business Class Leg Room
Broken AVOD Screen, the Seat Controls Also Froze
I wanted to start my transition to an Eastern mentality on the flight and (daringly) ordered the Japanese meal to start.  The flight attendants brought me a fork too, I didn't even need to ask.  When the tray arrived I felt a little perplexed with what was in front of me.  I must have looked perplexed too because the flight attendant offered to explain what was before me and how it worked.  I also got a few pretzel rolls (and more Johnny Walker Black) just in case.  The meal was very tasty and there were some new flavors and textures for me.  The eel (upper left) was outstanding.
Lufthansa Business Class Japanese Meal pt 1
After reading the menu to know what I just ate (best done after eating Japanese food, not before), I was looking forward to my next course.  I was hoping to have the Western meal for my main dish, but was told I couldn't switch half way. I was a little disappointed that this wasn't mentioned when ordering, but resigned to a fate of further adventure.  I wasn't keen on the soup, but the fried duck and rice were excellent.  I went farther outside my comfort zone than planned and enjoyed the experience.  
Lufthansa Business Class Japanese Dinner pt 2
After a movie and less than comfortable rest, I opted for the Western breakfast before landing.  It was all very good and my last safe meal (or so I thought) before I landed in LA three days later.  
Lufthansa Business Class Western Breakfast
Once I landed and cleared customs, I headed to buy a ticket for the Narita Express train.  Cabs are crazy expensive, so the train is the way to go.
Narita Express Train

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Denver to Frankfurt and Helsinki - Lufthansa A340 & A320 Business Class

“I flew around the world last week” is fun to say. Give it a try, I’ll wait. Earlier in the year I booked US Airways’ around the world award (on the award chart as a round trip to North Asia) and ever since I was patiently waiting for this trip. Once my departure date finally came, I arrived at Denver International Airport early and I was almost jumping with excitement when I saw the aircraft taxi to the gate in Denver.
My Trip Map, from
The first flight was on Lufthansa’s A340-600 aircraft from Denver to Frankfurt.  I was eager to fly a new airplane model (for me) and this one is special; it is the longest Airbus made.  It looks cool from the outside, but the plane feels crowded, even in business class.  I took a lap of coach and it seemed to be a never ending expanse of seats, all filled. 
Pretzel Roll and Tender Steak Appetizer 
Back in business class, the seat is flat, but at a noticeable angle, 30ish degrees, to the floor (more detail in my MUC-NRT post).  It is more than six feet long and has decent, but not great, padding.  Each seat has its own video on demand system with a mix of music, movies, and tv shows.  A bottled water and amenity kit are waiting at each seat when boarding.  Lufthansa knows this business class seat (First class is a large recliner, even more dated) is at least one generation behind the current marketplace standard and will be upgrading their fleet with the new seats similar to those on the 747-800.  There are a few A340's with these new seats, but I didn’t luck out.
Business Class Steak Entree
Cheese Plate and Another Pretzel Roll
I didn’t sleep well on my flight; I tossed and turned for a while then just watched a few movies before breakfast.  Sun rise came quickly and I had an omelet.  It was a little bland, but the tater-tots and coffee were both great and picked me up.  
Lufthansa's Business Class Breakfast
Once on the ground, I quickly cleared customs (thank you Irish passport) and went straight to the arrivals lounge.  Lufthansa has an welcome lounge for business and first class passengers on the ground floor in FRA (Lufthansa and SWISS passengers only, Star Alliance Gold won’t help).  It has showers, good food spread, and comfortable seating.  It is on the ground side of security, so you’ll need to leave early to clear security and find your gate.  I left a little premature and went to the business class lounge by my gate.  It was crowded, but had a hot dog cart with good German mustard, so I didn’t care.  I also had an ice cream cone and a Scotch.  Not a bad lounge really and not a bad way to circle the globe.
Lufthansa FRA Business Class Lounge Hot Dog Cart
Crowded Lounge in Frankfurt
Lufthansa has invested in their intra-Europe inflight experience with new seats and upgraded meals.  European business class seats are just coach seats with the middle seat empty.  The seats are comfortable for a 3 hour or shorter flight too.  The flight attendants were friendly and very attentive on this flight.  The meal was a delicious currywurst paired with a salmon something and mint chocolate dessert.  It was a very enjoyable flight and I read up on Helsinki on the way. 
All Delicious, But No Pretzel Rolls
Once the flight landed, I headed straight for the tourist information desk to buy a Helsinki Card and then catch the Finnair City bus into town.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

United Airlines 777 Business Class Seat

I had to fly to White Plains, NY, for work last week. And had a full day to travel, so I picked the most interesting flight I could find.  I was able to book an international configuration 777 with the new lie flat beds in business.  My upgrade cleared (I wish I could book business directly) and I was flying 6A to Chicago. 
United Airlines 777 Business Class Flat Seat
United Airlines 777 Business Class Flat Seat
The United 777 business class seats are set up with five rows of 2x4x2 seating.  The middle seats don’t have a lot of privacy and the cabin felt a little crowded. 
United Airlines 777 Business Class Flat Seat
United Airlines 777 Business Class Flat Seat
United Airlines’ business class seat is one of the best in the air.  It is about six feet long is truly flat (parallel to the floor).  There is a good AVOD system with a great selection of movies, new and old.  I watched Wall-E on my trip and a bit of Toy Story 3.  There is no under seat storage with these seats, so I grabbed my Bose headphones and Economist and tossed my bag in the overhead bin.  The seat controls are easy to understand and there is a myriad of comfortable positions for the seat.  The window seat has a good feeling of privacy, but it is not impossible to have a conversation with your seatmate either. 
New United Airlines 777 Business Class Flat Bed Seat
United Airlines 777 Business Class Flat Seat
United does not have the best food in the air, usually their good meals can be described as edible.  Breakfast was an egg McMuffin and yogurt.  Not bad, but not filling or exciting either.  Continental has a much better breakfast spread and I hope the new United keeps what Continental serves.  The Bailey’s and coffee was ok, United switched coffees and I am not a fan of the new blend (United Club coffee is unpalatable).  Increasing the ratio of Bailey’s to coffee fixed the taste problem. 
United Airlines Business Class Breakfast
United Airlines Business Class Breakfast
The flight went quickly and the service ended early due to turbulence over Illinois and Wisconsin.  It was a pleasant flight staffed with a senior crew that was very professional and enhanced the experience. 
Rainy day at ORD
It was raining in Chicago and my E170 flight to HPN was canceled.  I lost my first class seat, had an extra three hours at ORD (I wasn’t the only one with an extended stay, there was not a single open seat in the F gates United Club), and was stuck on a CRJ.  Still, could be worse, I could have been in the office.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

South American Adventure - MVD-SCL-MIA-IAD-DEN

  1. Booking
  3. Miami
  4. MIA-SCL
  5. SCL-IPC
  6. Easter Island
  7. IPC-SCL
  8. Santiago
  9. SCL-MVD
  10. Montevideo
What would you do with a 13 hour layover in Santiago?  I could go into town and see something or stay in the airport and fill up on sushi and beer in the lounge.  I had just been in Santiago the day before and there wasn’t anything in town I felt I had missed, so I took the lounge option (it was also less risky as the public transit is not exceptionally reliable and saves me 2 hours standing in line at customs). 

Lucky for me, LAN helped shorten the layover because my flight from Montevideo was delayed an hour.  I arrived at the airport about 75 minutes before departure to check my bag.  Check in was very leisurely and the agents were exceptionally friendly and talkative. They seemed sincerely interested in my experience in Uruguay and my travels that day. Once my boarding passes were printed, I asked how long customs would take; they said not to worry, there was no need to rush because the flight would be a little delayed.  
Montevideo Airport, MVD
Montevideo airport has an entertaining display about the history of aviation in Uruguay that includes photos, tickets, and a small plane (not as large as MKE's museum, but still a welcome enhancement).  I also picked up some souvenirs (the tea cup and straw things that everyone has in town) and enjoyed the grand vistas the terminal provides. For an airport with four gates, it presents an impressive figure and has quite a few amenities like an observation level and indoor garden.

Montevideo Airport, MVD
I love airports that give large sweeping views and Montevideo is the best example I have found. Airports should inspire and build excitement about flight. Large windows that lift your view to the sky are a great way to convey those strong feelings and emotions. Seattle's food court area does a similar job too, though on a smaller scale. Too many airports in the US, like LGA, IAD, and BOS, have low ceilings with limited windows and views blocked by jetways.  Airports should be inspirational, not a utilitarian exercise in moving people and things.  Montevideo does a great job at this and new terminals should aspire to be like it.
Montevideo Airport Aviation Display, MVD
Montevideo Airport, MVD, Gate Area
Customs and security took maybe 5 minutes.  The duty free store had a very good wine and liquor selection, but no cigars (US$17 for a carton of Camels though).  There was a very wide selection products and decent prices.  The terminal has free wifi and little else to do but look out the window. Regional carrier Pluna has some really cool looking paint designs, take a look at their planes.
Montevideo Airport, MVD
LAN Chile 318 in Montevideo
My flight boarded 30 minutes late and departed about 90 minutes late.  This was my first flight on an Airbus 318 and I was excited to try out an new airplane model; turns out it is just like a 319 or 320, just not as long (the nerd in me was still happy to check off a new aircraft type).  The in-flight entertainment was a news program (looked recently updated with a long sports section) and a light snack served in coach.  The plane did have 6 flight attendants; double what a US airline would staff.  It turns out two of them are dedicated to duty free sales.  The flight was enjoyable with some great views of Argentina and the Andes.
LAN Chile 318 Business Class
LAN Chile 318 Coach Class
Snack in coach on LAN Chile 318
LAN Chile 318 Leg Room in Coach
Once on the ground, I went to the connecting passenger area and entered the departures area.  Once there I found the first LAN VIP Salon and took a seat with a view.  I had wifi, two magazines to read, and endless plates of sushi and finger sandwiches.  After a few hours, I was bored and went for a walk to see what each end of the terminal looks like.  There are quite a few stores in the airport, but they all seem to carry the same items.  Still, it is a good way to kill time and stretch. 
LAN boarding area, makes Denver look orderly
Next I decided to check out the other LAN VIP Salon in Santiago.  It was like the first one but slightly larger and with many more people.  I found a nice quiet corner to do some work, but after an hour or two, a family tried to take it over for their exclusive use.  They knew that being loud and letting their children run around and scream was a great way to get their own space.  A short while after I moved (and refilled my plate and glass) a lounge attendant told them to keep it down and start parenting (or so I thought, her tone sounded like she was threatening to kick them out). There was also a couple that rearranged the chairs to make a bed; again detracting from the lofty feel of the place.  I was able to keep occupied with work emails, Google voice calls home, and Netflix for the next couple hours while trying to tune out the increasingly louder lounge (the smaller more peaceful lounge closes at 6pm).

After filling up on sushi, beer, and reading material, it was time to go home. Boarding was delayed again though after 12 hours, what's another 20 minutes? Business class was about 40% full, so I had no seat mate and spread out.  I was really tired and ready to pass out asleep, buy stayed up to have dinner.  It was a similar dish to my previous meals on LAN, but just tasted a little off, maybe the soy sauce and wasabi effected my palate. The cheese plate was welcome as always and I wish United would add it to their in-flight service. I also never got my ice cream for desert; a problem with the crew's attention to customers, not limited catering supplies.
LAN Chile 767 Business Class Meal from Santiago (SCL)
After my tray was cleared, I reclined the seat flat and was out like a light.  The crew woke me 30 minutes before landing for the light breakfast option, a croissant and fruit.  I nibbled for a few minutes, trying to shake my groggy feeling. Before I knew it, the cabin was being prepared for landing.  The customs line at Miami was short and slow, but I wasn’t in a rush because I checked my bag. 

I made it through customs (polite and friendly agents, just very slow and methodical), grabbed my bag and went to check in for my United Airlines flight 3.5 hours away.  The United agent said it was too early to check in, but I could get on an earlier flight.  I was inside the checked bag window, but she said it would most likely make the flight.  I jumped on the offer to go home early even though if my bag didn't make it, I would have to wait 4 hours for it in Denver. 

The flight to Dulles was a little delayed, good news for my bag, but I couldn't see the loading operation to make sure it was there.  I didn’t clear an upgrade, but had the first row in coach with miles of legroom.  My flight seemed to be a regular commuter flight for United employees.  Everyone knew everyone and there was a lot of shop talk.  The segment was uneventful and before long I was in Dulles and off to the final part of my trip.  I had a 40 minute connection, not enough time to visit the Lufthansa lounge, but fine for a leisurely stroll to the gate.
First row in coach on United E170
The flight to Denver was 99% full and my upgrade didn’t clear again.  I slept most of the flight so it was the best of the day.  The landing was smooth and the taxi quick.  I made it to the baggage claim area in time to see my bag pop up on the belt.  My trip was over and my bag made it with me, if a few minutes later.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

South American Adventure - SCL-MVD

  1. Booking
  3. Miami
  4. MIA-SCL
  5. SCL-IPC
  6. Easter Island
  7. IPC-SCL
  8. Santiago
  9. SCL-MVD
  10. Montevideo
I was surprised to find a 767 going from Santiago to Montevideo on a Sunday morning. Could there be such an increase in traffic to merit the significantly larger plane than the standard A318?  I wasn’t going to complain because there was excellent business class availability and it is equipped with the long haul lay flat seats.  This was going to be a fun hop over the Andes. 
Santiago Airport Mass of Coach Passengers
I arrived at Santiago airport and found a giant mass of people by the LAN check in desks.  I looked for the business class desk, but couldn’t find it.  I asked an agent and she directed me to the far end of the airport.  After I walked from one end to the other, I found the LAN international business class check in lounge.  There was no line and plenty of people to help me with my flight.  The space feels private and removed from the rest of the terminal, but that is balanced out by the lack of signage. 
LAN Business Class Check In, SCL - Santiago Chile
There is nothing really to do on the ground side, so I went into the customs line and then to security.  The customs line looks long, but moves fast.  There were a few Asian passengers that blatantly cut the line, but they didn’t respond to people’s comments in Spanish or English, so they got away with it.  After customs and security there is the duty free shop.  It’s large, but doesn’t have anything special.  Most amusingly, the walk in humidor’s door was broken in the open position, so all the cigars were ruined (but still for sale).  I wasn’t interested in shopping because I would be back in a day and have a long layover.  I did grab some prices off the Scotch to compare with Montevideo.  Both airports price items in USD making shopping simple unless you, like me, were in a habit of dividing by 500 to convert into dollars.  3000 pesos ($6) for dry Cuban cigars isn’t bad, $30 for the same broken cigars is a rip off.

Looming over this trip was my 13 hour layover the next day.  I didn’t want to see or do anything so I can have something new to see the next day.  I quickly found the LAN VIP Salon lounge and grabbed a seat.  The free wifi was lightning fast and there was a decent food and drink spread for mid-morning.  The lounge was comfortable and quiet; I was the only tourist in the place.  I enjoyed some surprisingly tasty finger sandwiches and a few Cokes while I caught up on email.
LAN VIP Salon, SCL - Santiago Chile
I went to the gate a few minutes before boarding; SCL is a small airport so you are never more than 5 minutes from your gate.  When I arrived, I saw the crew still in the gate area and settled in for another delayed LAN experience.   When the boarding announcement was made, the gate agent started with families, but it was a tad messy because they had to fight their way, strollers and all, through all the other passengers lined up for boarding.  When general boarding began, business class went first.  The agent stopped me to put a gate check on my roller bag.  I knew it would fit no problem, even in the crazy small 767 bins.  Luckily he put the tag on the top of my bag, so I just placed my backpack on top of my bag to hide the tag.  I boarded, tossed my bag in the bin and it was a non-issue. 
LAN Chile Business Class Preflight Snack
I was settled with a Coke and some nuts while the rest of the plane boarded.  Late in boarding an American family of four sat down in business class and one of their grade school age children said “What is this Mom?  I thought we were sitting in first class.”  Wow.  Really, it was said as obnoxiously as you think.  After my initial shock, I started laughing.  The parents noticed and then explained to their son that not all planes have first and they were in the best seats on the plane.  The explanation also made me laugh (I would have preferred a “be polite or sit in the back” style reprimand).
LAN Chile 767 Business Class Cabin Panorama
A few minutes after takeoff we were flying over the Andes.  There was an announcement made to stay buckled up even though it was smooth sailing.  There are some great views too and 15 minutes later, it was over and then came the plains of Argentina. After the Andes, a simple, but flavorful, turkey salad was served for lunch.  The cheese plate was great as always, but there was mold on the fruit (gross, but noticed before I ate any).  I substituted wine for fruit and vegetable serving.  
Andes Mountains
Business Class Meal on LAN Chile 767 to Montevideo
A gentle landing was followed by a quick taxi.  I was first off the plane and first in line for customs.  The customs agent was friendly and worked quickly.  I grabbed a Champaign sample on my way through the duty free store after customs and found the taxi desk.  I had less than 24 hours in Montevideo and I needed to make the most of them.