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In Anatomy of an Award: São Paulo to Madrid in Iberia Business Class for 42,500 British Airways Avios I told you guys that I was headed to Europe come the end of May. It’s been getting cold here in the Southern hemisphere (Buenos Aires, to be specific), which means it’s time for me to head north.

Very early Thursday morning I flew from Buenos Aires, Argentina to São Paulo, Brazil. More on that to come. I then spent the day Thursday in the LATAM VIP lounge at Guarulhos International Airport. I began writing this post in Iberia Business Class on my way to Madrid, and now sit here finishing it in a cafe in the Lavapies neighborhood of Madrid.

Here’s an index to give my whole travel experience from Argentina to Spain some cohesion. You can see which posts I’ve already written and which to expect soon.

If you read my post covering the Amex Bradesco Lounge in São Paulo, you’ll know the airline isn’t high on my list. Flying between Argentina and Brazil however, I’m not left with tons of options and often end up flying them anyway. Due to my distrust of the airline to run flights on time, I made sure there was plenty of space between my arrival in São Paulo and departure for Madrid. Not to mention a long layover isn’t a pain if you have a lounge to relax in, which I would since my separate ticket onwards from GRU would be in Business Class.

I arrived at Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in São Paulo early so had to wait around for about an hour before the Iberia desk opened. I was happy to see these screens turn on so I could go ahead and get to a lounge–I had been awake since 9 am the previous day and it was 11 am at that point.

Yes, that says LATAM and not Iberia, but they were sharing the same desk.
Yes, that says LATAM and not Iberia, but they were sharing the same desk.

After checking in my bag, the Iberia agent told me my Business Class ticket granted access to the LATAM VIP Lounge. Before arriving in São Paulo, I hadn’t looked up which lounge I’d be directed to–and what a pleasant surprise it was. Granted, I still haven’t visited a Centurion Lounge, but the LATAM VIP lounge at GRU is the nicest lounge I’ve seen in all of the Americas. I had only read about the Admiral’s Club in terminal 3 of GRU, so was a little surprised but excited to see what I was in store for. I was also exhausted and ready for some serious pampering.

What I walked into honestly shocked me a bit. You rarely see lounges this nice and large in South America from my experience (and from the experiences I’ve gathered from friends). There are five different sitting areas, each very large, not including the massive dining area which offers even more seating.

Along the length of the lounge was a row of chairs facing the glass wall of the terminal, with a view facing the tarmac to watch planes take off.

One of the sitting areas was outfitted with a very large flat screen TVs. Scattered throughout the entire lounge were other smaller TVs, some playing the news and others updated consistently with departure info.

I loved the vaulted ceilings and flood of light pouring in from the glass terminal wall.

Most groupings of chairs had their own lamp and power outlet.

I particularly enjoyed the chaise lounge chair area, great for stretching all the way out for a nap.

If you really want privacy and a true sleep, you can utilize the designated sleeping area, separated from the rest of the lounge with taller walls and a door.

Excuse the blurriness of the next photo, I didn’t want to intrude on these guests’ sleep so popped in and out quickly!

If you’d rather get work done then rest, there’s a dedicated work space with a conference table and printing station, as well as some groupings of computers scattered throughout different areas of the lounge.

As far as the wifi speed, the ping and upload speeds were very good, and the download was decent.

Hungry? The dining area has tons of options. Everything I tried was tasty. It’s a lovely place to sit and eat as well.

Fruit, yogurt, cereals, pastries, desserts, breads, jams, granola bars, salads, quiches, soup, various tapas, and a variety of small savory dishes in ramekins were just some of the food options offered.

Tabule/cheese/eggplant casserole
Tabule/cheese/eggplant casserole
Bobo de camarão
Bobo de camarão

Pão de quiejo
Pão de quiejo
Brazilian desserts
Brazilian desserts

I tried a fresh fruit bowl, Pão de Quiejo (one of my favorite traditional Brazilian snacks, cheesy bread balls), a tabule/cheese/eggplant casserole, bobo de camarão (traditional shrimp stew), fresh cheese and cold cuts, bacon quiche, and leek soup–all delicious. I washed it down with multiple espressos and cafe americanos, tomato juice, and coconut water.

There are two wine stations set up in the dining area with three different Chilean wines: Chardonnay, Carmenere, and a Sauvignon Blanc.

There’s also a full bar stocked with draft Heineken, wines, and a large variety of liquors and garnishes available to pour your own drinks.

All of the food and drinks (non-alcoholic and alcoholic alike) were free.

The kids zone looked pretty ideal–and not just for babies like you see many family areas aimed towards. I’d say it’s probably even harder to keep a pre-teen occupied, but this lounge had it covered with multiple Xboxes.

I think my favorite part of my experience at the LATAM VIP lounge was the luxurious shower I took. You don’t need to set up an appointment ahead of time, I just requested to use one at the front desk and was handed an “occupied” sign to hang from the doorknob.

I can’t remember the exact number but there were six to eight shower rooms available, each outfitted as a full bath stocked with everything you’d need to refresh and recharge.

Me, feeling revitalized after a hot shower!
Me, feeling revitalized after a hot shower!

I was in the lounge for about three hours total, and the later the in the day it become the more people filled in. Even so, it never felt crowded.

Entrance to bathroom area.
Entrance to bathroom area.

Bottom Line

Looking into it for a friend who also had a long layover in São Paulo recently, I had read that the Admiral’s Club was the nicest option in Terminal 3 (the terminal I knew my friend would fly out of). That advice must have been outdated, because what I’ve seen from photos, the LATAM VIP lounge is 10x better.

Not only is the lounge beautiful and new, it’s big enough that I doubt it ever really feels crowded, comes with a view that would make any aviation geek happy, and is stocked with an impressive amount of high quality amenities that are constantly replenished, from food and beverage to private showers. Big thumbs up.

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