Reader Question: Issues Crediting LATAM Flights To Oneworld Programs?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question about an issue with adding and crediting LATAM operated flights to Oneworld programs now that they (LATAM) has decided to exit the alliance.

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I’m a long-time reader and thought I would alert you to an experience I’ve just had booking with LATAM. As has been well publicised, LATAM are leaving Oneworld as of October next year. There has also been some talk that they might bring forward this date.

Anyway, I am Oneworld Emerald (through Qantas) and just booked on a LATAM flight for travel next May. I am assuming they will still be part of Oneworld then, but even if they are not, Qantas have indicated that points and status credits will be earned for travel up until 30 Sep. I booked the flight through Gotogate however there was no option to enter my FF number during the booking process. I’ve subsequently tried adding my FF number through the LATAM website, however there is no option to do this. I therefore emailed LATAM and asked them to add my number manually. I received the following reply:

Dear Passenger.

Good morning.

Please be advised that we are not longer linking the passenger Frequent Flyer number to their bookings due to security reasons, if you cannot add your Frequent Flyer number to your booking via our website, you must do the accrual post-flight with the airline that holds your Frequent Flyer number or add it directly at the airport.

Thanks for your understanding.

Personally, I feel this is totally unacceptable and nonsensical if this is now LATAM’s policy. I’m also sceptical that I will be able to add my frequent flyer number at the airport. Besides, adding a FF number to a booking is about more than just earning points (eg, advance select seats, increased baggage allowance, priority check-in, lounge access, etc). All this is thrown into doubt, not to mention the hassle of potentially chasing up missing points. This does so much damage to LATAMs brand and I’m already regretting booking flights with LATAM.

In your opinion is there anything I can do to resolve this?

This doesn’t make much sense. There is nothing security related that would prevent LATAM adding a frequent flier to a reservation besides the incompetence of its employees dealing with customers over the phone and online.

You should be able to add the frequent flier number when making the reservation or at the time of checking in online or at the airport. The miles will post to partner programs until the Oneworld withdrawal has been completed and beyond with current partners that continue their agreements with the airline after the Delta (read more here) deal (wonder what happens with Alaska too).

LATAM has indicated that they would prefer expedited Oneworld exit (read more here), but usually, it is a year from when the withdrawal announcement is made (read more here).

There is an often an issue with less known and less technologically competent OTA’s not allowing other than operating airline’s FF number at the time of ticketing. You can usually fix this on Oneworld tickets by going to Finnair’s website (sometimes Cathay or Qantas may work too).

Conclusion

Things like this and the ability to pull up a proper e-ticket receipt that shows the fare base and ticketed fare classes drive me nuts. These airline websites are so dumped down nowadays that getting any useful information or even a proper eticket is just impossible.

LATAM is passable on-air (second/third tier Oneworld Airline), but their phone and customer service is an utter disgrace. I am certain that the reader can add the correct frequent flier number at the time of checking in.

I was almost offloaded earlier this year when on QF coded LATAM flight from Sydney to Santiago in business as they were struggling to check me in. The airport was unable to fix whatever issue they had, and they had to contact Santiago for assistance (never works). I believe that LATAM uses different GDS than most Oneworld airlines.

Even if LATAM is not up there with first-tier Oneworld airlines, they have been invaluable for flying around Latin America and a massive loss for the alliance. There is no other airline in the continent that could replace the connectivity that LATAM provides.

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