There have been many events over the past 25 years that have made LAN Airlines Captain Instructor, Jaime Quiroga Jamed proud to be associated with Chile's principle airline. However it was news of, what is most likely, the youngest passenger ever to fly with LAN that really swelled his heart.
"On a long haul flight coming from Auckland to Santiago de Chile, a baby was born on board. When the crew were notified of the impending birth the entire crew helped out. They transformed the crew rest, the space in the ceiling of the aircraft, into a birthing room. Once back in Santiago, the flight arrived "without notice", but with one more passenger on the list," said Jaime.
"I was first attracted to the airline because of the history behind LAN Airlines in our country, as it's one of the oldest carriers of the world; it was founded in 1929. I've always been interested in the ongoing renewal of the fleet of LAN Airlines, which gives me the opportunity to operate one of the most modern fleets in the world. I'm very proud of everyone at LAN who puts in an incredible effort to make every trip a wonderful experience."
It was the Chilean Air Force Commodore, Arturo Merino Benitez who set up the airline as Línea Aeropostal Santiago-Arica in 1929 with the primary intention of serving domestic destination throughout Chile. The airline was rebranded in 1932 as the Línea Aérea Nacional de Chile, which is abbreviated to LAN, as its most commonly known now. The first international flight took place in 1946 to Buenos Aires, before expanding to Peru in 1954 and onto the United States in 1958.
From these humble beginnings, LAN is now the principle airline for South America. Domestically, the airline connects 17 cities in Chile and operates affiliate airlines under the branding of LAN Argentina, LAN Peru, LAN Ecuador and LAN Colombia to offer passengers access to cities throughout South America.
"One of the things that make LAN very special is the excellent customer service offered during the flight. We have great connectivity all around the South American continent, through our affiliate companies in Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. And now – we have an association with TAM Airlines, which means our customers have access to Brazil through TAM's network, which is huge," said Jaime.
TAM Airlines, the largest airline in Brazil, formally merged with LAN in June 2012, and in doing has created a mega-airline company that controls more than 40 per cent of the Latin American air passenger market. At the time LATAM CEO Enrique Cueto said, "The creation of this group of airlines is an opportunity to take South America to the world and to allow us to position ourselves to operate in an increasingly competitive environment due to the continuing consolidation of the global airline industry."
When including all its affiliate airlines, LAN serves 150 destinations in 22 countries using a fleet of 320 aircraft.
Australian travellers have the opportunity to experience the special Chilean hospitality by flying LAN six days a week direct from Sydney to Santiago de Chile or travelling across the Tasman Sea to Auckland, New Zealand. By flying the national airline of Chile, Australian travellers can commence their South American experience from the moment they board the plane.
When asked about advice for flying long haul, Jaime recommends that travellers check all the documentation required for the trip and also confirm any specific medical requirements, such as vaccines, for the countries that they intend to visit. He also stresses that it's very important for travellers to respect the biodiversity requirement in all foreign countries that they visit.
When it comes to flying with children, LAN is committed to ensuring the comfort of youngsters.
"For children, flying is always a very special experience. For this reason, LAN will do everything in its power to guarantee their wellbeing and comfort both on board and at the airport. When booking, remember that you should consider the age of the minor on the date of travel in order to obtain the correct fare for each passenger. Minors travelling with only one parent must have all the documentation required both for the country they will depart from as well as for their destination," said Jaime.
"Passengers travelling with infants can request a crib through any LAN office. This service should be requested 24 hours in advance. To ensure the infant's comfort and safety, cribs can only be used by infants weighing less than 10 kilos and measuring less than 71cm, irrespective of their age."
Jaime's favourite international destination is New York. He loves the fact that it's a cosmopolitan city, with great theatre shows, museums and incredible restaurants. When he visits New York, Jaime also enjoys wandering through Central Park.
But when asked about his dream holiday destination, Jaime's response was very surprising.
"I would definitely like to explore Tibet. It's such an enigmatic place with an historical background that's worth knowing."