LATAM Airlines marked the beginning of the end of three years of work last week when the inaugural flight of the first retrofitted Boeing 767 traced an airplane in the sky south of Lima.
Following the completion of the first retrofitted aircraft, LATAM looks to retrofit about one third of its total fleet. The 200 retrofittings will be complete in the coming two years and represent an investment of $400 million. Along the way, LATAM consulted travelers to see what their passengers look for in business-class accommodations and service.
“We wanted the passenger to be at the heart of every decision in the development of our cabins, so we talked to them and asked them what they wanted,” explained Claudia Sender, VP, customers, LATAM Airlines Group.
While LATAM officials and experts worked to overhaul some of its oldest, but still viable, aircraft, they prioritized three main points for the new business cabin. Allowing passengers an opportunity to rest, easy access to the aisle, increased privacy and lots of room to work and store personal items topped the list.
The most robust changes to the interior cabin are present in LATAM’s Premium Business class. Here, the seating is arranged in a 1-2-1 style, ensuring every passenger has easy aisle access. In the 767, the business cabin houses 20 custom-made Thompson seats. The seats are equipped to lie-back and feature 16-inch entertainment screens. The seats are also designed with the soul and aesthetic of South America in mind, with granite tabletops and ridged backings, reminiscent of the mountains of the Andes and deserts of Patagonia.
In addition to the physical accommodations, Premium Business service is getting overhauled as well. This transition is still in progress, but when it is finished later this year, crew will follow new protocol to minimize interruptions of passengers, a new dining concept will promote restful sleep and energized mornings and new sleeping furniture will provide a new comfort standard.
LATAM’s economy cabins also receive an overhaul, including the ability to upgrade to LATAM+, which features priority boarding, more legroom and access to the same dining as standard economy passengers.
All throughout the aircraft, the in-flight entertainment is a state-of-the-art product from Panasonic. Content is updated every month. Customer feedback features directly into the entertainment team’s decisions as to what content stays and which goes.
The cabin retrofits will go a long way toward keeping popular, but aging, aircraft airborne even longer.
“Technology is alive, and we need to keep on the top of our game,” said Sender, moments before the 767 took off on its inaugural flight.
The new 767 business cabin features 20 seats, previously 18. The additional legroom in LATAM+ service resulted in a row of seats removed from the plane. In total, there are five fewer seats on the retrofitted 767s.
According to David Harry, manager of corporate communications, LATAM, the first of the retrofitted aircraft have flown more than three weeks. Feedback from customer surveys on these flights have been overwhelmingly positive, LATAM officials said.
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