As I made myself comfortable in a window seat of a LAN flight from Ecuador’s largest city of Guayaquil to Baltra Island in the Galapagos, I had two reasons to be excited. For one, I was finally visiting this island chain in the eastern Pacific that has been on my travel dream list for years. Two, I was on this route’s inaugural flight (September 16), happy to know this world’s wonder has finally become more accessible to U.S. travelers. For the next 90 minutes up in the air, there was much flashing of the cameras and plenty of champagne flowing, but I spent most of the midair time staring down at the immense blue of the ocean below. I was soon to land in the “living laboratory of evolution," as Charles Darwin called these isolated and pristine islands.
Until September 16, travelers could only reach the remote Galapagos via two local airlines: TAME and Aerogal. With LAN’s new route on the modern Airbus A320 (which uses state-of-the-art technology to significantly decrease emissions), those planning a trip to the Galapagos have more flights and itineraries at their disposal. LAN has direct flights from New York to Guayaquil, and a new nonstop service from Miami to Guayaquil launches today, October 8. That, paired with the new Galapagos flight, has opened up easier connections to the islands for visitors flying from the East Coast and the Southeast. LAN Airlines and its affiliates also belong to the Oneworld alliance, so this route also opens up new travel options for passengers who fly on partner airlines, such as American and British Airways. Plus, passengers can accrue frequent flyer miles on those larger carriers for their Galapagos flights.
We're quite keen on LAN's recent service launches, which are serving to provids American travelers with efficient travel choices that allow them to discover more than one of South America's wonders in one trip. Other notable launches on the horizon include routes to Easter Island via its Lima hub. Now, travelers who have only one week to explore South America can easily combine an adventure to Machu Picchu with a visit to the Galapagos or a trip to Iguazu Falls.