After Brasil´s old national airline VARIG disappeared from the market over a decade ago, TAM Brasil was the countries national carrier and loyal partner to the Star Alliance network grouping around Lufthansa and the other founding members.
Just last year, TAM Brasil merged with Chilean national carrier LAN, rebranding both airlines into the new LATAM Airlines Group. With a very strong network on the South American continent, LATAM was just the right choice for a full-service airline on my flight from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro.
Since we only had roughly 24 hours in Rio, we took the first flight out of Congonhas Airport. Congonhas is the city´s downtown airport while Guarulhos is Sao Paulo´s international link to the world. If you are connecting right away from your international flight to Rio de Janeiro, changing airports does not make too much sense since transfer can easily take up to 2 hours, depending on traffic.
But if you have stayed a night or two in Brasil´s megalopolis, Congonhas is definitely the more convenient choice as most of the flights arrive to Rio de Janeiro´s Santos Dumont airport, which lies, similar to Congonhas, very close to all of Rio´s most popular sites.
LATAM operates Airbus A319´s on this route. While most aircraft still wear TAM´s old livery, the flight attendants are already equipped with the airline´s new uniforms.
Both planes were very tidy and in absolutely good shape. On the sector to Rio, the cabin featured a newer leather coated seating product and retractable monitors in the ceiling, as well as power plugs in-between the armrests.
On the way back, the A319 was equipped with an older seat product with none of these features, yet there was a WiFi onboard entertainment system available if you had downloaded the associated App in advance.
Seat pitch was a little dense though. I am 5 foot 7 inches tall and did feel a little cramped, but as the flight time was only about 35 to 45 minutes each way, nothing to complain about.
LATAM offers both beverage and meal services on these short flights. Flight Attendants distributed non-alcoholic drinks as well as coffee and tea and handed out a small sandwich (without choice).
Flights were extremely punctual and the whole flight experience was absolutely satisfactory! Try to get a window seat on the right hand side for the flight to Rio. The final approach is breathtaking! I have uploaded a video to my Facebook page of the landing in Rio de Janeiro! Check it out!