Curitiba, the capital of the Brazilian state of Parana, has some of its charms that actually wowed a lot of city planners. What stuck in my mind the most is how the scenery dramatically changes if you say drive from Sao Paulo state. It starts with tropical foliage with bananas and other trees similar in my home country and then as we ascend towards the mountains, it changes into pine trees and subtropical plants.
They say that Curitiba is the coldest among the state capitals in Brazil thanks to its high altitude. By the time we reached the airport it was almost 4pm and by at 7pm we are already freezing.
Our flight is JJ3336 with LATAM Airlines. It used to be TAM Airlines, the largest in Brazil since the collapse of its flag carrier VARIG. Recently, TAM merged with Chile’s LAN giving birth to the new airline – LATAM – which has extensive routes across South America with focus on Brazil, Chile and, through its subsidiaries, in Peru and Colombia. LATAM has recently unveiled its new livery which symbolizes the new merger but for this flight, the Airbus 320 still displays the distinctive red TAM livery.
Checking in at Curitiba’s Alfonso Pena International Airport (CWB) is a bit unique for me although I’ve seen these arrangements in Schiphol (AMS) and Kingsford Smith (SYD). One has to check-in using self-service electronic kiosks first and then drop your luggages on manned counters.
The airport is mid-size and there are several shops and restaurants. International flights are available but few and most of the flights are domestic ones. TAM, along with GOL and Azul regularly connects Curitiba to major Brazilian cities like Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and even to Manaus.
The A320 aircraft is quite new with comfortable seats and a decent seat pitch. There is no inflight entertainment onboard and I don’t really mind since the flight only takes 1 hour. Also, no snacks were served only beverages – fruit juices, soft drinks, coffee and water.
The flight was rather uneventful and the weather is fine with no turbulence at all. However, during our approach at GRU, the aircraft was already descending when it climbed up suddenly rattling a few passengers. Any aborted landing would usually mean trouble or traffic.
As I found out later, GRU runways were congested during that time. I checked it on my FlightAware app – a fantastic app really that provides real time tracking of flights – and saw that we went on circles a few times after the aborted landing.
In overall, LATAM is a decent airline with passable service. I would give my entire experience on this flight three stars out of possible 5. LATAM is perhaps the most decent among the Brazilian airlines nowadays and is the de facto flag carrier of Brazil. On any domestic trips in Brazil, I would really make LATAM as my first choice. The other alternatives are GOL and Azul which are all low-cost carriers which imposes fees on anything from snacks to extra luggage.
Categories: Flight Reviews