As my around the world tour continued, my next stop was Paris, and after just a day layover I had to leave the fantastic city of São Paulo to continue my trip. Although my trip was booked in First Class, I was booked in TAM Business Class for this leg of the trip. As of November 1, 2014 TAM no longer sells or offers First Class on long haul flights.
I had spoken with the Special Services agent in Miami and São Paulo asking to be seated in row 1 from GRU to CDG, the former First Class cabin. Neither the agent in Miami or São Paulo, who met the incoming flight from Miami, could make the change. I was informed by the agent at GRU only the agent assigned to the specific flight is allowed to Upgrade customers to row 1. She was nice enough to pass on the request to the oncoming special service manager.
After a day of exploring the city, I returned to GRU by EMTU bus, gathered my luggage from the luggage locker and proceeded to the short business class check in line. While standing in line I heard an unfamiliar voice call my name and when I turned towards the unfamiliar women she quickly introduced herself and one of the chief supervisors and special service agents and informed me she had changed my seat to 1K and she wanted to ensure I was happy with the seat. With a big smile from ear to ear I thanked her, finished checking my luggage and headed towards immigration and security and then on to the brand new LAN/TAM lounge in T3 for a few minutes before departing to Paris.
About 5 minutes before the scheduled boarding time, I left the lounge and made my way to my gate. The gate was a 10 minute walk from the lounge and I noticed plenty of shopping that could be done at GRU to pass the time for those without lounge access. When I arrived at the gate, I was surprise that they were still not boarding. Yet unlike in the USA there were not gate lice swarming the gate and I actually walked up to the gate agent and was the first to board, because at the same time I asked the gate agent if the flight was delayed the other agent announced business class boarding!
Once on the plane, the cabin crew was still busy prepping the galley and no one was at the door yet to greet customers. Although I knew where I was sitting and I walked past the forward Business Class cabin and made myself comfortable in the same seat I flew from Miami to São Paulo in that morning. Already knowing the seat, I quickly stored my stuff and made myself cozy.
The business class seat I was supposed to fly GRU-CDG. This seat has be upgraded. Lay flat seats are now available on Tam.
Pre-departure was not nearly as grand on this flight, but then again I was comparing it to my First class experience. Despite being in the forward cabin, it truly was just business class service. It was still better than many business class experiences, but it wasn’t grand. Gone was the pre-departure canapés and nifty china . Instead, options include cheaper champagne, water, or juice. I opted for a glass of champagne and water. Comparing the bubbly from the previous flight, Business class champagne is cheaper and more bitter. But then again, this isn’t first class! Nuts are available to snack on with the drinks.
During boarding, the FAs pushed a cart through the aisles with amenity kits and magazines. The addition of pre-departure mix nuts was surprising for being business class. Already, I was nostalgic for the extra attention and amenities from my previous first class flight. Overall the pre-departure service was better than whats found in North America. Also using china instead of plastic cups adds a nice touch. So despite the downgrade to business I was still winning!
Once we reached cruising altitude service was much slower, or I was impatient. Then again, this was business class not first. The flight to Paris was longer than my flight to Miami. However, with a late night departure I was sleepy and ready to pass out. Initial drink service began about 40 minutes after takeoff. Then, meal service began with the main dish, salad, and soup all on on tray. Drinks refills are available throughout meal time.
There was a long lull in service between drink service and dinner. I noticed that most passengers in the cabin had finished their drinks before dinner service began. Sitting in the first row, I received my meal about 1.5 hours into flight. I am glad I wasn’t further back in the cabin, as otherwise I would have fallen asleep waiting. I picked at my mediocre dinner and before I could even be offered a drink refill, now almost 2 hours and 15 minutes into flight, I fell asleep.
I woke up only one time mid flight, just long enough to make my seat into a bed and then passed back out until breakfast service. Breakfast was better on this flight then the flight from Miami. The eggs on Tam are flavorless. Breakfast service starts approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes before landing in Paris.
Overall my flight experience on TAM was better than expected and I was very happy to fly TAM. I didn’t count, but it seemed that the business class cabin had fewer flight attendants. With the removal of the first class cabin, there were 3 fewer FA working the now larger cabin. Service was slow on this flight and the FAs on tam tend to be stand offish. I couldn’t fully assess though as I slept the large majority of the flight.
I found for a Latin American carrier the service and product to be nice, but still lacking. The Business class hard product is below the standards of their competitors from North America and Europe. The First Class Seat is top notch! Yet, this seat will only be around for a few more months. Once cabins are refurbished, the cabin will have a true lay flat business class seat. This will be a big upgrade to business class flyers!
For a full review of the seat and IFE, read my farewell to first review of Tam’s last first class flight (link below).
More from this trip:
- Around the world in First for 120,000 miles
- How much did my 120,000 mile + $300 ticket really cost?
- Courtyard Airport Hotel – Mexico City
- American Express Centurion lounge Mexico D.F. terminal 1
- American Airlines Admirals Club Mexico D.F.
- American Airlines Premium Lounge Miami
- Saloon VIP Terminal J Miami
- Tam Farewell to First Class B777 Miami (MIA) to Sao Paulo (GRU)
- 15 hours in Sao Paulo 15 Hours In Sao Paulo – Graffiti, History, Laughter, and Caipirinhas
- LAN TAM VIP Lounge Sao Paulo Terminal 3 (GRU)
- TAM “Business” Class B777 Sao Paulo (GRU) to Paris (CDG)
- Marriott Champs-Elysees Paris
- Malaysia Airlines “First class” lounge Paris – ICARE Lounge
- Malaysia Airlines First Class A380 Paris (CDG) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
- Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – First Class lounge
- Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur Regional Golden Lounge Review
- Cathay Pacific First and Business Class lounge Kuala Lumpur (KUL).
- Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class A330 Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Hong Kong (HKG)
- Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Hong Kong (HKG)– The Wing
- Cathay Pacific First Class B777 Hong Kong (HKG) to Los Angeles (LAX)