LATAM Compensation Merry-Go-Round

LATAM Compensation Merry-Go-RoundAnother passenger booked on a Qantas flight operated by LATAM Airlines has been bumped from their flight due to overbooking. Yet again, neither LATAM Airlines nor Qantas are accepting any responsibility. LATAM has not offered compensation, with both airlines telling this passenger to speak to the other airline.

This is not the first time that LATAM Airlines has denied boarding to paid Business class passengers booked on Qantas codeshare services to South America. Late last year, a passenger booked on a Qantas-marketed flight from Auckland to Santiago experienced similar problems. Each instance appears to be a result of the flight being overbooked by LATAM.

ff-sorc, a Qantas Platinum frequent flyer, recently flew from Melbourne to Santiago on a Business ticket. The flight was operated by LATAM Airlines but this member decided to book the Qantas codeshare in order to earn more Qantas points and status credits. (Qantas penalises its frequent flyers for booking flights on partner airlines.) This member was subsequently denied boarding at the gate as somebody else was already sitting in their seat.

At check-in, it was obvious the flight was heavily overbooked – economy passengers being offered to rewards for being bounced. Long wait in the business-class queue. Then a further 20 minute as my booking didn’t seem to exist. It seemed all the QF code-share passengers had been deleted from the system. Problem fixed and issued boarding pass. Enjoyable time in the Qantas First lounge. At boarding, my boarding pass wouldn’t scan. I was told the booking didn’t exist, and that someone was already in the seat documented on my board pass. Flight full, no options. Escorted out, thankfully skipping the full imigration queue since I didn’t actually leave MEL!

Being involuntarily bumped from a flight when you’ve paid for a full-price Business ticket is bad enough. But to make matters worse, LATAM Airlines is refusing to take any responsibility for the situation. They insist the fault lies with Qantas, as they are the airline that sold the ticket.

LATAM indicated that the mistake was Qantas who should not have issued a QF ticket for LATAM flight but I am sure this not accurate, and I suspect LATAM are at fault here, bouncing QANTAS code-share passengers either erroneously or delibierately, to deal with the overbooking situation.

But when ff-sorc tried to contact Qantas, they were fobbed off and told to speak to LATAM Airlines.

Response from Qantas is that they are unable to raise compensation claims on behalf of a passenger with another airline. I will follow-up with LATAM but it doesn’t seem right because the ticket was booked QF as a Platinum Member.

Frankly, this is not good enough. In theory, both the marketing and operating airline share responsibility in these situations and the customer has a right to request recourse from either airline. Buying a codeshare ticket does not waive your right to be compensated if you’re denied boarding.

Under consumer law it doesn’t matter, either the manufacturer or seller must take responsibility. So in this case whatever QF decides to call itself (or is, legally), it should be responsible to at least facilitate an outcome.

In this case, the victim is ff-sorc who has incurred a 24-hour delay, major inconvenience and extra costs after being denied boarding. It seems that LATAM Airlines ought to have offered compensation. Instead, the customer is stuck on a compensation merry-go-round with no end in sight.

Unfortunately, in the experience of other AFF members, receiving compensation from LATAM Airlines can be like trying to get blood out of a stone.

Don’t let Qantas try to fob you of to LATAM – It will be as black hole you’ll never escape from.

And I got nowhere with LATAM when I cancelled refundable tickets with them and no refund. Only changed when Amex got their fraud department on to the case. They ignored the charge back.

Qantas has not responded to a request for comment.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Overbooked: 2 boarding passes for 1 business-class seat (LATAM-QANTAS)


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]