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Redeeming LATAM Pass miles is almost impossible

Mattg

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Aug 21, 2011
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I'm currently visiting a friend in the US who happens to have a bunch of LATAM Pass miles. He needs to travel to New York next week from Cincinnati so I suggested he could redeem some of his miles to fly American Airlines. I had a look and found AA award availability on the flights he wanted. So now we just had to book - simple, right?

Wrong.

It took 3 frustrating hours just to book a round-trip award ticket from CVG to LGA - a 2 hour domestic flight - using LATAM Pass miles!

The flights we wanted to book were as follows:

AA3688 CVG-LGA on 5 September, showing as available on all of these American Airlines partner websites and Expert Flyer...


Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 12.38.12 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 12.38.50 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 12.40.32 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 12.40.57 PM.png

And AA3425 LGA-CVG on 8 September, showing as available on the same websites...

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 12.38.22 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 12.39.15 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 12.40.45 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 12.41.08 PM.png

So, we know there is award availability. But now what?

We first tried to book on the LATAM Airlines website. It wouldn't even let us enter New York as a destination, but it didn't matter - no American Airlines award flights appear on the LATAM website anyway.

Next we tried calling.

Call 1
We were told that only the CVG-JFK flight and none of the return flights on the required dates had award availability. I thanked the agent and decided to HUACA (Hang Up And Call Again).

Call 2
We had to wait quite a while to speak to somebody for the first call, so this time we decided to try selecting the Spanish option. My friend spoke to the agent in Spanish and was told there were no flights available at all.

Call 3
We reverted to English but the agent insisted he couldn't help unless my friend could provide his "call centre ID". The agent was unable to advise what this was, or how it could be set/reset. We had to end the call before even discussing award availability.

Call 4
This time we're put on hold for ages while the guy checks for award availability - to no avail. Again, we're told there are no seats. I knew this was not true, so I asked to speak to the supervisor this time. I was told there was no supervisor.

By this point I was becoming suspicious that LATAM's systems were not showing any award availability on any American Airlines flights at all. I asked the agent to check for availability from LAX-SFO (a route I know has tons of availability) and asked if he could find any seat in any class of travel and on any date. He couldn't. Again I asked to speak to a supervisor and was refused.

I then figured there must be a problem with their system not showing any partner airline award availability, so asked him to check availability on British Airways from LHR to CDG. I'm told there are no seats at all for the entire month of November.

I then asked about Qantas award availability from SYD to MEL - another route which I know has lots of seats. This time he actually could quote me a flight with award seats showing as available. Hmm.

Nonetheless, he still couldn't help us with redeeming LATAM miles for an American Airlines flight. Eventually he must have got fed up with me and actually offered to transfer me to the supervisor. Voila, she exists now!

Call 4 - part two (the supervisor)
The supervisor checked for the same American Airlines flights and suddenly they all had award availability! We proceeded with the booking but there was a problem with their systems and it didn't accept any of my friend's credit cards. The supervisor promised to call us back after discussing this with their support department.

To her credit, the supervisor did call back 10 minutes later and eventually the booking was ticketed.

In the end it was actually a very good deal - 11,000 LATAM Pass miles and USD20 in taxes for the round-trip!

But my conclusion is that something is seriously wrong with LATAM Airlines' systems, and blocking LATAM members' access to AA award seats is a clear violation of Oneworld guidelines regarding partner airline award availability. If an AA award seat is available to Qantas & BA members, it should also be available to frequent flyers of any other Oneworld airline. Turns out they are - but the regular call centre staff cannot see them! I have to wonder how many others have given up trying to do the same thing.
 

Shikakui

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2018
Messages
26
Yes, I have heard similar stories from many people.
That´s why I have decided to stay away from the program in the first place:).
 

juddles

AFF Supporter
Joined
Aug 2, 2011
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Latam pass is both good and bad. As you found out, their online system is shiite for partner airlines, and it is a very rare staff member via the phone who has any idea at all. They also only allow return bookings using points, which I hate.

But, if there is something you can do online, it can be a very good value program. There are certain city-pairs which you can get at very good rates, by buying points during promotions and then redeeming for J class flights.

They also used to be extremely good at accumulating points through travel - you earned per km, not mile. They tidied that up in the last year or two :(
 

Mattg

AFF Supporter
Joined
Aug 21, 2011
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Yes, I have heard similar stories from many people.
That´s why I have decided to stay away from the program in the first place:).
Indeed, I have never bothered joining the program for this reason. My friend has also decided now to ditch the program and start crediting flights elsewhere.

It's a shame because it's actually not a bad value program on paper.
 

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