Earlier this week, Simple Flying had the opportunity to fly between Mexico City and Santiago de Chile aboard LATAM flight LA620 and a Boeing 787-8 registration CC-BBA. This is a trip report of the flight and current requirements to be completed before flying to Chile.
Flying to Chile as a foreigner – a bit of a nightmare
Despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the Americas, Chile still has many travel restrictions. As of April 8, here are the requirements I had to meet before entering Santiago:
- Creation of an official profile on the mevacuno.gob.cl website of the Ministry of Health.
- After filing the profile (and adding some weird requirements like a scanned photograph of your passport and a photo of you holding your passport – I’m not kidding), every traveler must file a vaccination certificate. Please note that the validation of the vaccination certificate can take up to ten days, and if it is incomplete, you will not be able to enter the country.
- You must take a PCR test up to 72 hours before departure on the flight that has Chile as its final destination.
- Before boarding the flight, you must present the airline with all of the following documents: passport, mandatory health form and Covid test and/or vaccination certificate. LATAM Airlines has set up a WhatsApp channel called LATAM Ready to Fly, where you can download documents and optimize the check-in process. It’s really easy to use.
Once all of that is done, you’re good to go. The number of requirements to fly to Chile has greatly impacted international traffic levels. Chile is currently in the last weeks of the high season, but it doesn’t look like it. Hotels have empty rooms, flights have low occupancy rates and Chile’s tourism industry has been hit hard.
LATAM’s Boeing 787-8 has a capacity of 217 standard seats in 3-3-3 configuration and 30 seats in premium business class. Photo: Daniel Martinez Garbuno | Single flight.
On board LATAM’s incredible B787-8
The flight aboard the LATAM Boeing 787-8 was very pleasant. Due to current travel restrictions, few people travel to Chile. LATAM currently has three weekly flights between Santiago and Mexico City (in 2019 it flew daily between the two cities). The flight left on time.
We traveled economy class. The boarding process in Mexico City was quick; as I said, the flight was not full. Maybe it had a 50% load factor.
The economy seats on board the LATAM Boeing 787-8 are really good. The aircraft has 217 standard seats in a 3-3-3 configuration and 30 premium business class seats. Economy seats have a pitch of 31 inches and a width of 17 inches. For me it was good enough (I’m not that tall, about 5.74ft so I don’t need that much space). Also, the other two seats in my row were empty, so I was even more comfortable.
LATAM provides you with a blanket, a pillow and headphones that do not work perfectly. Photo: Daniel Martinez Garbuno | Single flight.
LATAM has an extensive catalog of entertainment, with enough movies, TV shows, music and more for any long-haul trip. However, the headphones provided by the airline have a two-part plug, which does not fit the headphone inlet on the screen. If you don’t bring your own headphones, be prepared to hear only one of the drivers. Also, there is no WiFi on board.
The LA620 service is an overnight flight and LATAM serves dinner and breakfast. Dinner options were chicken or pasta, and we took the latter. It came with drinks (wine, soda, juice and water were available).
After that, I slept through the night until the crew served breakfast. The options were an omelette and a cheese sandwich. I opted for the latter, and the presentation of this one was disappointing. It was tasteful, though.
It was the food provided by LATAM. Photo: Daniel Martinez Garbuno | Single flight.
Landing in Santiago – more requirements
Landing at Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago was uneventful. The plane parked in the old Terminal 1, but not in the new Terminal 2, which was built and recently opened for international travel. Later this week we will post a guided photo tour of Santiago’s new Terminal 2. I was later told by a LATAM employee that the LATAM CC-BBA landed in T1 as it was to operate a domestic flight after ours.
Flying on the LATAM Boeing 787-8 was a great experience. Photo: Daniel Martinez Garbuno | Single flight.
We disembarked at the tarmac and took a shuttle bus to Terminal 2 to go through the immigration and passport control areas. Additionally, all international passengers must also pass through a checkpoint set up by the Chilean Ministry of Health. There they tell you if you are subject to an additional PCR test (paid for by the Chilean government). According to other passengers we speak with, the queues to get the PCR test can be very long during peak hours. We spent about 40 minutes getting our new PCR test.
So what happens after the PCR test? Should I quarantine? No. You don’t have to quarantine yourself. You can travel, but you must review your PCR result online within the next 24 hours, and if you test positive, you must self-quarantine.
So, is Chile considering removing its travel restrictions?
In recent weeks, other South American countries, such as Brazil and Uruguay, have eased travel conditions for international visitors. Many others have already relaxed entry requirements completely (or have none), such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Chile has become the odd duck but may be on the verge of easing requirements.
During the International Air Travel Association’s Wings of Change, the Chilean Ministry of Tourism hinted at the possibility of relaxing travel requirements in the next two weeks. Although there is no official announcement yet, the Chilean airline industry would welcome the news.
LATAM, JetSmart, and Sky Airline have seen big domestic takeovers in recent months. Yet international traffic figures continue to be very depressed compared to pre-pandemic traffic levels.
According to data provided by the Chilean civil aviation authorities, the country welcomed 953,644 international passengers between January and February. That number was a 54.8% decrease from 2019 levels.
Meanwhile, domestically, the country welcomed 2.59 million passengers in those two months, just 13.8% below pre-pandemic traffic levels. Further easing of travel restrictions to visit Chile would certainly encourage international travelers to visit the country. Keep an eye out for news from the Chilean authorities.
What are your thoughts on Chile’s current travel restrictions? Let us know in the comments below.
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