Every so often TAM Airlines offers some pretty steep discounts for the business and economy class seats on their fifth freedom route from JFK to Toronto. I’m pretty sure this is due to the fact that this plane flies mostly empty (especially in business class) on the route at the moment and they want to make sure it’s full up. I took advantage of this a few months ago and bought tickets to visit my cousins and Grandma this weekend in T.Dot. What follows is a look at my experience at JFK yesterday on my way up.
I arrived at check-in and, instead of waiting in the longer Economy lines (it was maybe 30 people long but I forgot to take a photo) I walked to the empty Business class line and was waived over immediately. I got my ticket and was told that boarding would take place about an hour before the flight was schedule to leave. I asked about TSA PreCheck but apparently TAM is not on the list of airlines associated with it (oh well). But security was not so bad at 9:30am on a Friday so I was through in about 10 minutes.
As a business class passenger on a oneworld airline I have access to the Admirals Club Lounge at the terminal. I was at Terminal 8 which has a lounge right after security up an elevator so I went directly there, reading that it had more amenities than the lounge closer to my gate. Apparently I was incorrect in this because the lounge is currently under construction. While the food options were the same, the space and other amenities were severely limited. I definitely had a sufficient breakfast for my own tastes but there could have been a lot more fruit, oatmeal, and savory options than existed there right now. And, the bathrooms were located a few minutes walk away from the lounge, snaking around back hallways. The one fairly redemptive aspect was that in the bathrooms were some nice soaps for use by users.
I left the lounge and headed to the gate at the proper time only time find out that our flight was delayed and – unfortunately – they couldn’t tell us for how long. It turned out to be one hour late (which was very annoying) but then we got on just fine. I had a smaller line to enter the plane before the regular economy passengers and sat down in my wondrous seat quite quickly. It was very comfortable and had LOADS of legroom. The width of the seat was not spectacular – only 20″ – but it is wider than a standard economy seat, so I appreciated it. The controls for the In-Flight Entertainment and seat movement were right at your fingertips as well. We also received some nice (albeit not the best quality) noise-cancelling headphones.
After sitting down and getting myself situated (I put all my bags in the overhead compartment – there was so much room – I was offered my pre-flight drink: some nice orange juice. Once the plane had taken of I was offered a small meal of two half-sandwiches – one turkey and one ham and cheese. I opted to trade the ham and cheese for another turkey, which at first they were hesitant to do, but in the end just gave to me. It was a nice meal and fancier than anything in economy, definitely!
Overall, the flight experience was a little nicer than economy on this route. I didn’t use the lie-flat seat option because the flight was really only an hour long but the meal was helpful and the in-flight entertainment system was bigger than the one they have in economy for those flights. I would not splurge for this seat in the future but whenever you can get a deal, I’d suggest paying for it!