LAN airlines Peru

Picture Southwest Airlines with assigned seating and higher prices, but without the snacks and friendly service. That’s LAN Peru.

There’s no business class and everyone is jammed into seats with the very minimum pitch: at 5’11″ my knees were rubbing against the seat in front of me and when the person in front leaned back, I had to recline mine fully to use a 10-inch netbook.

Seats are leather and comfortable otherwise, but service is minimal. Lima to Arequipa gets a snack and limited selection of drinks. Arequipa to Puno gets nothing. Puno to Cusco gets a piece of candy. Yes, I’m serious: the flight attendant came around with a little basket of cheap hard candy and that was it.

With almost no competition, prices are higher than they should be: I paid $416 for an advance ticket from Lima to Arequipa to Cusco. (When I last visited Peru three years ago, that same ticket plus a Cusco to Lima leg was $248.)

Where there is some competition, there’s still no break on price. I got a coach ticket on Taca from Cusco to Lima for $76. A LAN ticket for the same route was $138. For $70 more than the LAN fare you could get an unrestricted Executive Class seat on Taca.

My one other LAN experience, on LAN Argentina, was similarly overpriced and underwhelming. Of course when you’re competing with equally underwhelming Aerolineas Argentina, where foreigners pay a huge premium, the bar is pretty low anyway.

I haven’t flown on LAN from the U.S., but when I was searching flights from the U.S. to Peru on LAN, only the New York option was any cheaper than the competition. New York to Lima was cheaper than Miami to Lima—so much for fuel prices as an excuse. If you can find a deal or you are trying to earn points on the One World Alliance (for American Airlines or British Airways), it could be worth it. Just don’t expect your experience to be any better than you would get from one of the American carriers. Seat pitch on their international flights is 32 inches, with a tight width of 17 or 18 inches. Business class gets you a lot more legroom, but only two or three more inches of width according to SeatGuru.com.

There is one reason to fly LAN Peru though: they’re a near-monopoly. Their ticket counters take up 3/4 of the space in the Cusco and Arequipa terminals.

For more information, see LAN.com