As a travel blogger it would only make sense that I would sample a plethora of airlines and airline cabins (first, business, premium economy, and economy), so when my friend invited me to meet her in Thailand to go diving, it only made sense to use every trick up my sleeve to have the best inflight experience possible. The timing of the invite perfectly coincided with TAM’s last first class flights (the airline discontinued First Class as of November 1st), therefore I booked my award trip using US Airways miles for 120,000 miles in First class and routed myself from Mexico City to Kuala Lumpur via Miami, Sao Paulo and Paris. After a flight on AA which was uneventful and I slept through, I enjoyed a 14 hour layover in Miami where I visited with friends, ate lunch, and lounged hopped. When it was time to fly TAM, I used Car2Go to get back to the airport and worked my way to the J concourse to check-in.
TAM First Class Check In & Security
TAM operates out of concourse J at Miami and shares counters with TAM, and offers dedicated check in for first, business, and economy class passengers. Despite having a dedicated line for TAM First Class, the narrow partition makes it clear that TAM doesn’t expect anyone to actually use it, myself and my carryon bag hardly fit through the narrow passage as I worked my way to the forward counter. Once at the standard countered marked first, the agent quickly checked me in, but only after she finished with a business class passenger and then she asked me to stand by for special services. I waited about 10 minutes for the special service agent who was outside waiting to greet another first class passenger who was being transported by TAMs chauffeur service. After about 15 minutes, the special service agent greeted myself and the other passengers flying first and escorted us through security to the lounge. The entire process was a bit of a joke, as the agent first tried to take us through the crew only lane in concourse J and then unsuccessfully tried to escort us to the front of the TSA security line and then to the front of the screening process. I had a good laugh at the entire process and thought to myself that I could have easily walked myself the lounge quicker without the escort of special services. Once we arrived at the lounge, the agent told use she would pick us up at 6:15pm to escort us to the plane.
check in line & Special Service Agent Escort
TAM First Class Boarding Experience
At 6:15 the three of us were ready to board, but the special service agent told us the crew was late therefore she would retrieve us in another 20 minutes. She asked us to have a seat and she would find us when it was time to board. Around 6:30 she returned, collected the three of us from the lounge and escorted us to the plane. At the gate, there was gate lice galore waiting to board and the special service agent took us around the crowd and had us board before those in Business class or Economy were allowed. If I were to take an honest guess, there probably were about 100 people crowded in a mob around the gate, and we squeezed by them in order to enter the aircraft.
The special service agent escorted us all the way to the plane, introduced us to our inflight crew, and made sure we were comfortable. Then right before we departure, the agent shook our hands, thanks us for flying TAM First Class and left the plane. In the meantime, the other two TAM first class passengers and I took pictures of the plane and danced with glee at the fact we were all flying first class. It was clear that not a single one of us had every flown first before, and each of us was ecstatic. We were all taking pictures of the cabin and the seat and took turns taking photos of each other. Once we had all settled in our seats, the FAs working the flights brought us a preflight snack and offered us a drink of our choice. The preflight appetizer included three small dishes and included: one of the tastiest shrimps I’ve ever had, gorgonzola cheese with a Kalamata olive and sundried tomato, and roast beef with a cantaloupe garnish. I also took part in a glass of champagne which was refilled twice before departure! This was by far the most amazing reception I have ever received on any flight, but then again this was my first time in first class. Before takeoff, menus were provided along with two different amenity kits and pajamas. Pajamas only came in extra-large and large, and thankfully large wasn’t that large, so despite normally wearing a medium or a small a large fit me just fine. In additional magazines and newspapers were offered before takeoff, but the only downside was that magazines were only available in Portuguese.
like the new look?
TAM First Class Inflight
Flying TAM first class is similar to flying business class but with a much more dedicated cabin crew. There were two first class flight attendants working the cabin for 4 seats, and in this case only three passengers. Because there was a 1:1.5 passenger to crew ratio, service was spot on and the FAs did not miss a beat. Drinks were always full, crew were extremely attentive to details, and were extremely professional. About 30 minutes after takeoff dinner service began with drink service and a hot towel followed by a salad that was mixed on a cart at the seat and then topped with either marinated duck or shrimp skewers. Before the meal was served, the dinner table was set with a white towel, an individual salt and pepper shakers, butter, and silverware. Included in the set up was a bib, which I did not use, but defiantly made me laugh. After the starter, a sorbet pallet cleanser was offered and then the main course was served followed by a cheese plate. Once the cheese plate was cleared and drinks were refilled for probably a tenth time, the FAs appeared in the aisles with the same chic cart that held the salad supplies earlier but this time with dessert options. I asked for the cheesecake, but the FA insisted that I ate the cheesecake with some vanilla ice cream, I took both. Overall dinner service was impeccable and I felt like I was in a Michelin 3 star restaurant. Except for the initial cart which was an elegant cart in itself, all service was more personal and was served from a personal tray which made the experience more memorable.
Dinner and drink menus – click for larger image
Dinner: appetizer, pallet cleanse, salmon, cheese plate, dessert, & one of many hot towels provided
Shortly after dinner finished, I made my seat into a bed and the FA asked me if I would like to be woken up for breakfast. I asked her to wake me up, and she took my breakfast order before falling asleep in order to ensure everything was ready for breakfast. Shortly after, I fell into a deep sleep and slept for a solid 7+ hours. There was no turn down service, as I made my own bed, but the bed products did include a fitted sheet, a large pillow, and a nice down comforter.
When it was time for breakfast, the FA woke me up with a gentle touch and hot towel and told me breakfast was about to begin. I re-positioned my seat, used the warm towel, and was greeted 10 minutes later with breakfast. The table was set again, in the same fashion as dinner and I was brought a fresh fruit plate followed by meat and cheese salver. I was already stuffed by this point, by an omelet and home fries followed and the FA also offered me yogurt with granola. I declined her offer and barely touched my omelet as I was still stuffed from dinner. Overall the fruit and cheese was the best part of breakfast as the omelet was flavorless and only half warmed. After breakfast another warm towel was offered and the FAs informed us that we would be landing in about 30 minutes.
TAM First Class Arrival – Personal Escort
Upon arriving at GRU, it was a mad dash for the door. Since we exited from 2L instead of 1L, the first class passengers were not the first to deplane and had to wave down the Special Service Agent who was waiting for us upon exiting the aircraft. The Special Service Agent did not have a sign or anything, but we were told to look for them by the FA upon arrival. Overall it was a poorly design process. One of the first class passengers was staying in Sao Paulo, so the Special Service Agent just directed her to customs. The agent instructed me to follow the other lady towards customs, but as I was connecting 14 hours later and already had my boarding pass I asked to go to the lounge to shower before heading into the city. The agent then asked to see my boarding passes, both my MIA-GRU and my GRU-CDG passes to ensure I was both connecting and a first class passenger. Once she confirmed this, she escorted the other gentleman and up the ramp and immediately into the terminal. Unlike other connecting passengers who were required to be rescreened by security, the Special Service Agent escorted us up the jet bridge and directly into Terminal 3. I thought it was a bit weird, but was happy to no have to be rescreened. The agent then escorted us to the lounge, confirmed with the other passenger a pick up time to be escorted to his next flight and thanked us both for flying TAM.
TAM First Class Seat and IFE
TAM’s first class seat is honestly among my favorite airplane seat to date. The small four seat cabin is not very private or overly exclusive as each passenger is offered a large lazy boy style chair that becomes a full size bed, which is easily the size of a twin bed. There are privacy screens that extend about 18 inches above each seat, but only offers real privacy when lying flat. Despite this, the overall feel of the cabin is very comfortable and feels more like a private jet or a living room then it does a commercial airplane. Even though the seat does not provide the private cabin/suite that many customers have come to expect in First Class, the cabin is extremely snug and exclusive with only four seats. Each TAM First class seat is equipped with a large TV screens (24”) and offer a wide array of entertainment options, especially for a short 9 hour long-haul flight. At each seat there is also tons of storage options which includes a personal closet, a pull out drawer, and an armrest storage unit. There are no overhead storage in the first class cabin which provides an more open feel and so the closets are provided instead which easily hold a rolleraboard and more. I was able to store both my laptop bag and my full-size rollerboard in the closet and keep smaller items in closer to me in my seat. Coat hangers are also available in each closet to hang coats or clothing after switching in pajamas. Overall the closet and deep side storage pockets, or under ottoman storage provided more than enough storage for any passenger. In addition, the ottoman included a seat belt so passengers could easily dine with their companions if they were to choose.
October 31st was a sad day for Latin America when TAM stopped offering a dedicated first class cabin. TAM First Class was the only Latin American airline to offer a first class product and distinguish themselves with a solid first class product. Despite investing in an amazing new product, the airline has since merged with LAN and has discontinued this offering. I feel honored to have flown this product on Tam’s Last first class flight from North America. In flight service was excellent, but Ground service/lounges for TAM First Class is lacking, but as I said, inflight services and amenities were top notch. I will say that if you did not get to experience this product, you truly missed out, as I would fly TAM to South America before I would consider flying any other airline’s first class. TAM First Class, you will truly be missed.
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)