I have never given LAN much coverage on Head for Points, even though I have written articles covering redemption opportunities with most of the other oneworld partners.
I recently helped a friend with some research into Avios redemption options to Chile and I thought it would be useful to share some of the things I discovered.
LAN is a long-time member of the oneworld alliance. In 2012 it merged with Brazilian-based airline TAM and the two airlines are now owned by a new holding company, LATAM. The combined group flies to 150 destinations in 22 countries. As well as Chile and Brazil, there are subsidiaries based in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay.
Chile remains the heart of the LAN business and is where the airline is headquartered and listed.
There are no direct flights from the United Kingdom to Santiago in Chile, either with LAN Chile or British Airways. The only direct flights from Europe are from Madrid.
The 2nd best option is from Frankfurt. The LAN plane from Madrid carries on to Frankfurt after a short stop – you can even book Madrid to Frankfurt on LAN as a stand-alone Avios redemption if you want a flat bed for that service. I am keen to try this ‘fifth freedom’ flight out one day.
The Frankfurt – Madrid – Santiago services uses a brand new Boeing 787 which features the latest LAN seating in business class. Take a look at this:
What does it cost?
Due to the ludicrously over-complicated Avios restructuring recently, it will now take me seven paragraphs to explain how much an Avios redemption from Madrid to Santiago will cost!
Using the Avios pricing chart at ba.com, Madrid to Santiago prices out at 180,000 Avios plus £39 in business class. That £39 is not a typo – there are no fuel surcharges to pay on LAN flights.
There are 10 flights per week on LAN. Availability seems to be very random – on March 1st, for example, there are six first class seats available on the 20.45 from Santiago to Madrid but none on the 20.20 departure half an hour earlier!
There is also a competing daily Iberia service. On an off-peak date, this costs 102,000 Avios + £532 return in business class if booked via ba.com. On a peak date, the cost is 150,000 Avios + £532 via ba.com.
(If you are wondering why the flight is 150,000 Avios via Iberia and 180,000 Avios via LAN, it is because Iberia has a separate reward chart with different pricing bands. All other redemptions booked via ba.com are priced using the standard BA price chart.)
If you book at iberia.com, the pricing changes.
The LAN flight reprices to 175,000 Avios + US$60 (ie the same £39). However, it is not cancellable if booked via iberia.com so you should use ba.com instead.
The Iberia flights become substantially cheaper because the Iberia website does not add fuel surcharges. The cost to Santiago drops to 102,000 Avios + US$214 off-peak and 150,000 Avios + US$214 peak.
The LAN flights are still attractive on peak dates. You need 30,000 more Avios but you are saving over £100 in tax. You are also flying on a new Boeing 787 service with the latest LAN business class product. The seating is far more spacious than the Iberia business class cabin.
In a future article I will take a look at using LAN for flights to Easter Island and the Galapagos, two of the outstanding but hard to reach tourist destinations they cover.