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Chile with Iberia and Latam mini trip report

Chile with Iberia and Latam mini trip report

Old Feb 5, 19, 6:02 am
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: London
Programs: AA Lifetime Platinum
Posts: 238
Chile with Iberia and Latam mini trip report

Ju-Mainly a few notes about my experience as an (AA) OW Sapphire flying domestically in Chile.

Pre-trip planning
This trip was the result of IB’s generous June 2017 promotion. We fly to and within Spain a lot, so we were able to actually use most of the tickets we bought. I must admit I was surprised that IB actually delivered on its promotion and even more that we were able to redeem for 2x J tix MAD-SCL almost entirely paid for by the promotion’s earned mileage.

Initially I looked at redeeming AA miles for the domestic segments on LA. But when I checked the air fares, it was clear there was no point in doing this. The fares were MUCH cheaper on LA’s Chile website than on their US or European sites, particularly when booked in August for travel in Jan/Feb, which is a peak season in Chile. All in all, Santiago-Puerto Montt-Punta Arenas-Santiago-Calama-Santiago, 8000km of travel on 6 flights cost just CLP140,000 ($215) per person. I recall the USD or EUR fares were about three times that amount. LA does not operate a business cabin on domestic flights. These were non refundable basic fares, with no luggage or seat assignments. I booked them all as one ways on separate PNRs. The website accepted foreign credit cards. There was no apparent citizenship or residency requirement to take advantage of these fares (as I had encountered on Latam’s Peru site.)

IB MAD-SCL
I have taken many IB LHs and this was no different. The hard product is good, better than BA’s. This (along with some other southern cone flights) is still operated with the A340s. However, the soft product has deteriorated.

Before the refurbishment of the 4s lounge, there was a Bistro section on one end that offered a very acceptable plated dinner service to LH red eye passengers to SA. You had to show your BP to be seated. This has now been replaced with a warm buffet section on the west end of the lounge (its a cold buffet in the east end) with fairly poor cafeteria style food. With our flight scheduledto leave at 11pm (it actually left at 1am) most biz passengers skipped dinner and went straight to sleep. Breakfast was served 11 hours after boarding, with very few snacks and (barely edible) sandwiches available in the galley until then. This is far too long a wait in my view.

OW Sapphire benefits on Latam
-I was allowed a single piece of checked baggage free as a OW sapphire. I did not try it with the other pax.
-On Latam’s website and app seat selection was at a cost with most of the best seats blocked out (even if you were willing to pay for them), however I was able to check actual availability on Expert Flyer and call to request them. The best seats are the economy window seat with no seat in front, just behind the emergency row. There are 4 on the A321s in rows 12 and 26. Although the free seat assignment benefit is only supposed to be extended to the elite member, in practice I was able to secure excellent seats on all flights for the rest of my party who were all on the same PNR. Calls to their international call centres (I used Skype in Chile to call their US call centre) were usually answered promptly once you reached the right queue. HOWEVER reaching the right queue involved listening and responding to tedious automated menus and would take a long time. Agents were generally competent and well informed but were forced to spend a lot of time on identity verification and on reading their scripts (about your options when a flight is rescheduled or the eligibility requirements of exit row seats). This became very tedious because between August and February almost all the flight originally booked on were either cancelled or rescheduled requiring calls to accept or select new alternatives and to secure the desired seat assignments. With one of the PNRs this occurred 4 times! In the end this turned out to be a good thing as we decided to skip the flights to Calama in the end due to adverse weather there and extend our time in the South.
-There were no priority check-in desks but the person managing the check in line directed us to the front when I mentioned my status to her.
-No priority security line, but they were moving quite fast and appeared very relaxed. We did not have to remove laptops, there appeared to be no restrictions on liquids. A bag containing hiking poles and a large pair of scissors was flagged for secondary inspection but was let through. The security agent said we should check in the scissors ‘next time’.
-There are no domestic Latam lounges but in some airports you can access a third party lounge using Priority Pass.
-As a OW elite you can board immediately after special assistance pax. My boarding pass did not indicate my OW status but showed PRIORITY on the ‘Class’ field. My 2 companions, one of which is IB Gold (OW Sapphire) had ECONOMY displayed. We were all allowed to board together.
-Latam iOS app was buggy.

Flights were generally on time. Food and drinks had to be paid for.

Miles were posted promptly to our AA and IB accounts.

Chile is an excellent tourism destination, a close second to my favourite Latin American destination: Bolivia.



Last edited by UKdiver; Feb 7, 19 at 1:49 am
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