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Sunday 2 July 2023

My First South American Domestic Flight With LATAM's Babybus

 Welcome to my first Brazilian domestic flight! 

 This is LATAM's standard livery, which can be seen in the fleet of  LATAM group's subsidiary. 


Initially my plan was to fly to Sao Paulo and catch a bus to VCP (Campinas) airport but checking the feedback from the forums, I wasn't so comfortable about the safety over there and after much consideration, I decided to take catch a couple of domestic flights at the smaller airports in Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro so my itinerary from GRU (bus ride to VCP-GIG became GRU (bus ride to) CGH-SDU-VCP-GIG instead. Before I booked this flight, I was deciding on which airlines to fly me on this route. I was looking at GOL, LATAM and Azul. The deciding factor was LATAM because since I was flying on the airline's 767 and 787, I might as well do a domestic flight with this airline on the A319. Furthermore I was already booked with GOL (2 flights) and Azul (1 flight) so this makes the most sense to go with LATAM. So without further ado, let's start this trip report! 

Here are some photos of Sao Paulo

This is Theatro Municipal de Sao Paulo


Taking the metro train, I had to purchase this ticket. (below)

Off I go to my next destination, CGH Airport! 

This is where the bus stops, just in front of the airport. 

About LATAM 

Latam Airlines group came about with the merger of Lan and TAM Linhas Aereas. In August 2015, these 2 airlines were rebranded to LATAM and the LATAM livery would be applied to all the aircraft. LATAM Airlines group currently operate quite a number of hubs and they are Santiago (Main hub), Sao Paulo (GRU), Lima, Bogota, Quito, Guayaquil and Asuncion. This LATAM group's main office is based in Santiago, Chile and it controls the subsidiaries, giving this group a huge presence in the South American continent. The owners of this group are Banco De Chile, Delta Airlines, Qatar Airways and Banco Santander Chile. Currently it is not in alliance (TAM was formerly a member of Star Alliance and LAN was formerly an Oneworld member), but it has a good relationship with the following airlines, Delta Airlines, Aeromexico, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Swiss Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. This means if you have LATAM Pass, you can earn or redeem miles with these airlines and vice versa if you are a member of the mentioned airlines. 

These are my photos

LAN Airlines livery (There are still a few aircraft left in this livery) 

This is TAM's livery, the airline used to operate A330-200 before it was replaced by Boeing 767-300ER when LAN Airlines took over this company. 


No matter how many times I tried to book my with this airline through the airline's website, I ended up unable to do so due to the webpage refusing to get past the booking stage. I tried using VPN, but to no avail. With or without VPN, I had no issues booking with the likes of Delta and Emirates. Apart from LATAM, GOL, Azul and Avianca's websites also gave me problem (in their own ways but at least I manage to reach the payment page before they failed on me) so as a result, I turned to the 3rd party websites to book flights with these airlines. For LATAM's Airbus A319 flight, I booked with Cheaptickets.sg. Once the booking was done, I was able to access it on LATAM's website and no issues doing my check-in with the mobile app. As I had to pay for my seat selection, I decided to wait until check in to select my seat. 

Later on I received an offer to upgrade myself to the Premium Economy Class. Same seats as the Economy but the middle seat remains vacant and the seat pitch is better (34' inch). Initially I didn't want to upgrade as I feel it wasn't so worth it for such a short flight and besides I read a review from another blogger that no meal/snack service was served on this route. 

As I didn't purchase the seat, I was assigned to an aisle seat, 12C. Aisle seat for me? That was not an option. Checking the airline's seat map, there was no window seat available in Economy Class, only aisle seats were available. 

At this point, I was concerned so I used Expertflyer app to check my flight and I saw window seats available in the Premium Economy Class, so I went to make a bid for it, U.S$14 and luckily for me, the bid was accepted and I was assigned to row 1A. It was a risk, if I had lost the bid, I may probably just pay up the $30 just for the window seat. 

With that, I was all set to go. 

How did I get to CGH Airport from town area? 

I took the train from Anhangabau on the line 3 train and changed for the line 1 to Jabaquara station. From there, I walked to the nearby bus stop, thanks to the local people. I took the bus 576M to CGH Airport, the ride took about 15 minutes. There are other ways to get there but I was recommended this way by the hotel staff. 

About CGH Airport (Aeroporto Congonhas - Sao Paulo)

Sao Paulo/Congonhas- Deputado Freitas Nobre Airport (CGH) is one of the 4 airports based in Sao Paulo. It is named after the neighbourhood where it is called Vila Congonhas. This airport was built in 1936 but renovation and enlargement work was done to the airport to keep it more modernised. In the past, the airport has wide-body operators operating at this airport, but not today. The airport had seen A300 and Boeing 767-200 formerly operated by defunct airlines, VASP and Trans-Brasil respectively. It used to be host international flights but that ended in 2008 and so for now it only operates domestic flights and are operated by 3 airlines: GOL, Azul and Latam Brasil. 

Exterior of the airport 

The bus stopped in front of the airport terminal. This airport is in the middle of the city, so it is more convenient to fly in and out of here compare to GRU Airport.

Somehow the exterior reminds me of the good old days of flying.

This airport is located in Campo Belo district, Vila Congonhas. It is about 8km away from Sao Paulo City Centre. 

I really like the classic look of the terminal. 

The airport isn't big. It contains 12 gates with a number of restaurants and cafes in both air and landside. 

Photo: Airportguide.com (below)

Interior of the airport (Landside)

The terminal is easily recognised by its black and white floor tiles. The airport has complimentary wifi 

I did my check in over here, at the premium economy class check-in counter. (below)

As I couldn't change my seat on the mobile app, I went to the counter to change my seat to 3A. Fortunately they spoke English and I got it done within a couple of minutes. The reason I changed was that I wanted a view of the wing and engine (check the window view photos below). 

Once that was done, I explored the airport. 

This is where you take the escalator up to the departure hall. 

There is the Advantage lounge. I couldn't access this lounge as only passengers flying on Premium Economy can access lounges on selected routes (not mine) at LATAM's lounges and not 3rd party lounges like this. 

I certainly like the interior of the airport. 

The history of the airport in Portugese. 

This leads to a cafateria which sells local food. 


Security check was done swiftly. I was questioned by a friendly staff but after a short while, I was free to go. 

There are some cafes for you to enjoy while waiting for your flight. 

The airside was crowded as this time was considered a peak period for Brazilian travel. Airfares at this time was very expensive. 

The walk took about 10 minutes to get from one end to the other. 

Plane spotting time! 

 Azul's ERJ-195-E1 

Latam's Airbus A320

GOL's Boeing 737-700

GOL's Boeing 737 MAX 8 

GOL's Boeing 737-800 Smiles 2022 livery 

LATAM's Airbus A319 

GOL's Boeing 737 MAX 8

Azul's ERJ-195 E1 (special sky livery)

Azul's ERJ-195 E1 

One observation, I didn't spot any of Azul's E195-E2 version at this airport. My guess is the airline's E2 version was operated at other airports. 

While waiting, I did a check which aircraft would I be flying on? PR-MYC gets the honour. 

Once it was time to board, I was one of the first after those that needed assistance. I needed help from one of a friendly fellow passengers to translate what the gate agent was saying. 

Flight route: CGH-SDU 

Miles: 227 

My ride: PR-MYC (Photo: Paul Spijkers)

PR-MYC in TAM livery (Before the merger) Photo: AlphaJuliet 

Airbus A319-112 (Leased from Castlelake)
Transferred to LATAM Brasil (From TAM) on May 2016
Configuration: Y144 (12 Premium Economy seats)
Engines: 2 X CFM 56-5B6/3
3733th A320 family built 
Built in Hamburg (XFW)

Time to board! 

This would be my 3rd time flying on the A319. Easyjet and United Airlines were my other rides on this babybus. 

Date of departure: 29 May 2023
Airline: LATAM Brasil 
Flight: LA3916 
Aircraft type: Airbus A319
Registration: PR-MYC
Seat: 3A (Premium Economy)
Gate: 10 
Schedule Departure: 1445
Boarding: 1416
Doors closed: 1513
Pushed back: 1516
Take off: 1526
Flight duration: 40 minutes
Actual flight time: 39 minutes
Schedule arrival time: 1550
Actual arrival time: 1605 
Departure runway: 35L
Arrival runway: 20L

Premium Economy Class 

This seat configuration is similar to European's Business Class. Same Economy Class seats with the middle seat blocked out and better legroom space. 

First row looks spacious. 

There are 3 rows of Premium Economy Class seats (12 seats altogether) 

I had a seatmate sitting at seat 3C who turned up later. 

Good legroom space 

The IFE box below the seat reduces the leg space. There is a universal charging port underneath the seat, 2 per row if I am not wrong. 

Overall, I find the seats to be comfortable especially on such a short flight.

I didn't walk to the back of the aircraft to check out the Economy Class seats but they should be similar, with lesser legroom space and the middle seats are sold along with the other seats. 

My experience

The turnaround for flights was quite fast, as soon as my plane arrived, the ground staff worked their socks off (Thank you very much) to get the plane prepared for the next flight. As this was a smaller aircraft, the A319, it took about 25 minutes after arrival before it was ready for departure. The largest aircraft that flies to this airport is the 737-800/737 MAX 8 and A320. Anything bigger than these, will operate to the other airport, GRU. 

Boarding commerced with the passengers needing special assistance boarded first before those with airline status (LATAM Pass/ Star alliance Gold member) and Premium Economy Class passengers can board. Even though we settled quite early, the Captain made an announcement in Portugese and we sat at the tarmac longer than we should. Departure time came and went, the front door was finally closed about half an hour after our schedule departure. What's the reason for the delay? I have no idea. The cabin crew on board was a bit grumpy, hardly any smiles from them. At least they understood me when I replied in English. 

Our aircraft pushed back 3 minutes after our door was closed and aerobridge was retracted. We taxied fast to our runway and took off with stunning views around me. The short 39 minutes flight consisted of magnificent view thanks to the wonderful weather, a nice snack and drink and good legroom space making the ride even more enjoyable. 

Once we touched down, we taxied quickly to our remote gate where I managed to catch some nice shots at the tarmac. The weather on this day was great, I can't ask for more. 

What's available on this flight?

The safety card 

A bottle of water was distributed. 

A disposal bag 

In-Flight Snack 

A complimentary drink and snack were served on my flight for this class and Economy Class passengers also gets a snack (packet of nuts) and complimentary drink, no BOB (Buy On Board) service on LATAM’s flight.

We had a choice of either non vegetarian or vegetarian sandwich. I chose the latter, it was not bad. I wasn’t expecting a meal/drink service to be honest. 

In-Flight WiFi

The airline offers in-flight WiFi which consists of complimentary messaging and in-flight entertainment (streaming) and you can pay to use the WiFi for faster speed for internet surfing or even watching Netflix. As the flight was short, I chose to enjoy the view instead. 

Can you spot a mistake below? The routing was showing the previous flight's. 

I used the messaging service and the speed was ok. 

R$135 is about US$28. 

The system also shows the in-flight map. 

The flight was mostly smooth with a few bumps during climbing. 

Window shot photos 

It's time to go! The excitement was there. 

Once pushed back, we taxied quickly to the runway. You can tell they were trying their best to make up for loss time.

We took off at runway 35L and I was glad I sat at the correct side of the aircraft. 

We were cleared for take off! Off we go. 

The familar CFM56 engine is music to my ears as we rolled down and lifted off effortlessly. 

This is the reason I chose this seat, as I can photograph both the engine and the good view of the city in a photo.

It feels like I am on a flight simulator. 

Thanks to the weather, I get to enjoy such great view. 

This has to be one of the shortest flights in my logbook. The distance is slightly longer than SIN-KUL by about 40 miles. 

This is the main airport of Rio De Janeiro, GIG (Riogaleao - Tom Jobim International Airport). 

At this point, we started our descend and this bridge below is called Ponte Pres. Costa e Silva. 

Isn't the view magnificent?

We caught up with our shadow and landed on runway 20L. 

The taxi towards our gate was around 5 minutes, SDU is also a small airport like CGH. 

Azul's pink ribbon special livery A320NEO spotted at this airport. 

We parked at a remote parking lot.

The walk to the terminal was less than 5 minutes. 

Thanks for the ride, PR-MYC! 

My flight summary 

Welcome to SDU Airport (Santos Dumont - Rio De Janeiro Airport)!

I made my way to the exit and and catch my uber ride to my accomodation. 

This painting caught my attention, you can find this at the arrival hall. 

Here I go, its time to explore the city! More photos of this city in my next trip report. 

My rating 

Airline's website/mobile app: 2/5 
Airport staff at CGH Airport: 4/5 
In-Flight Service: 2.5/5 
In-Flight Experience: 4/5
Cleanliness of the cabin: 4/5 
In-Flight Entertainment System (Wi-Fi): 3.5/5 
In-Flight Snack: 4/5 
Punctuality: 2/5
Seat comfort: 3/5
Cabin interior: 4.5/5 
Overall rating: 33.5/50
Percentage: 67%
Verdict: Average 


Latam is considered one of the best airlines in South America but there are some issues they need to work on to make themselves a top choice for passengers to choose when flying to South America or within the continent. One of the issues is the website. The frustration of using the website is massive as I keep getting error and if I am lucky, I get to the payment page after many attempts only to find my credit cards are not accepted for whatever reasons the company thinks. Besides this, I didn't find the crew friendly as a few of them seemed quite grouchy but I won't judge the service of the airline based on one flight. At least I was given a sandwich and drink for this short flight, that was definitely a surprise especially with the warm sandwich. Anyway, I still have 2 more flights with this airline and will do an overall review once I am done with the 3rd flight. 

On the positive note, I am impressed with the CGH Airport. Apart from the language barrier, I find the airport staff to be helpful and even the security staff at the airside was friendly towards me. Plane spotting is definitely friendly at the air side and I was able to photograph most of the traffic that come in and out. Flying out of this airport and landing at SDU offers a magnificent view as seen as many photos online. To get to see it for myself is absolutely fantastic, I would recommend you to fly in to CGH Airport (I should do this next time), as you can also get fantastic view of the city. This airport reminds me very much of TSA (Taipei Songshan) but I have to admit the view here is better. 

CGH - Sao Paulo Congonhas Airport
SDU - Santos Dumont Airport 

Hope you enjoyed this trip report! Stay tuned for my next report with GOL Airlines flight from SDU to VCP (Campinas). 

For my previous trip report (Delta Airlines A330-300 ATL-GRU), click here.

For my next trip report (GOL Linhas Aereas B737-800 SDU-VCP), click here

Have a good one! 

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