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Before LATAM quits oneworld – a good Avios redemption to Santiago, Chile with just £44 tax

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As we covered on Friday, LATAM – the South American airline – is resigning from the oneworld alliance following a major investment from SkyTeam member Delta.

This means, once LATAM leaves the alliance, it will no longer be possible to earn or redeem Avios with the airline.

With the clock now ticking, there is one excellent Avios redemption with LATAM from Europe which is worth knowing about.

Chile remains the heart of the LATAM business and is where the airline is headquartered and listed.  British Airways launched direct flights to Santiago in Chile a few years ago.  It remains the longest non-stop BA service.  Before that, the only direct flights from Europe were from Madrid on either LATAM or Iberia.

(The 2nd best option is from Frankfurt.  The LATAM plane from Madrid carries on to Frankfurt after a short stop – you can even book Madrid to Frankfurt on LATAM as a stand-alone Avios redemption if you want a flat bed for that service.  Anika reviewed that flight in Business Class here – it often uses a new Boeing 787.)

LAN

Why should you redeem on LATAM instead of British Airways?

Whilst it is great that you can redeem your Avios for flights to Chile on British Airways from London, economy redemptions come with the usual heavy taxes.

A British Airways World Traveller redemption requires £355 of taxes plus either 70,000 Avios (peak) or 45,500 Avios (off-peak) for a return flight. 

Booked at ba.com, Madrid to Santiago, flying on LATAM, prices out at 62,000 Avios plus £44 in economy class.  That £44 is not a typo – there are no fuel surcharges to pay on LATAM flights.

You save over £300 if you can make your way to Madrid, although the amount of Avios needed may be higher or lower than the BA alternative depending on whether you are on a BA peak or off-peak date.

Business Class is even better value but availability on LATAM between Madrid and Santiago is hard to find.  If a seat did come up, it would be 185,500 Avios plus £44, compared with 175,000 or 210,000 Avios plus £589 on BA from London.

There is also a competing daily Iberia service from Madrid to Santiago.  On a peak date, this costs 84,000 Avios + £150 return in Economy if booked via iberia.com.  On the few dates when cheaper ‘Blue Class’ economy redemptions are available, this drops to 51,000 + £150.  The LATAM option will be better value in most cases.

For reference, Business Class on Iberia between Madrid and Santiago is 150,000 Avios peak / 102,000 Avios off-peak return plus £168. (Do not book Iberia flights via ba.com as the taxes are at least double.)  Seats on this flight in Business Class are readily available, unlike the LATAM one.

Whether the LATAM flight is attractive or not depends to some extent on how cash rich you are versus how Avios rich you are.   If you can get to Madrid easily and cheaply from a local airport, however, an Economy redemption with just £44 of tax will be hard to beat.

LATAM has a one year notice period to leave oneworld so, even if notice has already been served, you still have time to sneak one of these in.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. I totally forgot there was a BA option. Thanks for the reminder; helps with decisions.

  2. London to Santiago can be had for £600 direct in economy on BA. So the LATAM redemption option is not great value, but still makes the BA redemption look laughable.

  3. Just did a quick comparison for off-peak…

    Flying from the Highlands with BA it’s about £100 cheaper than LHR, a total of £478 and 175k points in CW

    So although you avoid APD, the BA YQ/CIS to SCL from INV is more at £406, it’s £349 from LHR.

  4. We flew MAD-SCL with Iberia and SCL-MAD with LATAM over Easter. The Iberia leg cost us £83.50/51,000 avios each, with the LATAM leg being another £40/90,000 avoid each. Tagged on an economy Avios return to MAD from LHR, as well as an internal flight within Chile to get down to the Lake District area, and the whole trip cost us less than £300 cash and around 330k Avios for the pair of us.

    The trip felt like great value, even if just compared to the direct BA redemption cost, but even more so as it was during the school hols and we booked it quite late (booked end Jan to go early Apr). We will definitely look at going to SA via MAD the next time we venture that way. And hopefully internal LATAM flights will still be able to be redeemed using virgin points

  5. Stop calling the bogus fees taxes.
    It is getting annoying.

    • Lady London says:

      +1. When the extra money demanded by British Airways is so very higher (clearly a multiple of over 7 times thé actually required taxes and airport fées, in this type of article it’s time to start calling it what it is – extra fees BA demandes for you to be able to use your Avios that you already paid to earn.

      I know you’re already doing it by lining up the fees across the airlines for the same trip, Rob. But when the differences are so much higher and all the extra money is kept by British Airways, on this scale and in this type of article, reference to the fact that of £355 co-pay on your award ticket, at least £311 is being kept by British Airways as well as your avios and is not taxes and is not airport fees would be in order.

      • +1 I wonder if BA would cut out the Advertorials and such If Rob constantly referred to the charges they impose as rip of fees, instead of the more BA acceptable term “taxes” Maybe, a bit of don’t bite the hand that feeds logic.

        • Lady London says:

          I’m OK with that. In line with Rob’s answers to another poster who challenged in past couple of days that Rob could say more in comments than in actually articles, actually Rob has cône as far as hé can with the figures ‘above the line’ , laying it out for us so we as reader can calculateur how much extra money BA is taking for itself as well as Avios, on your award ticket. It may be only we as readers can take that extra step as we are allowed to be inaccurate or biased but Rob really isnt. My préférence though would be that Rob doesnt call the whole amount taxes but maybe something like ‘taxes and co-pay’.

      • What do you object to, the misuse of ‘taxes’ as a a term, or the amount you have to pay? BA are not going to swallow a huge chunk of revenue disappearing, so regardless of term used, one way or another you’re going to pay. If you look at short haul they’ve really provided the option to pay all the cost in Avios, if that was an option long haul would people be happy? New York 100K Avios and £600 or 220K Avios?
        I’d say part of an escalation in these additional charges is the ease with which Avios can be earned outside of flying. Expecting to have lifelong returns around the world off the back of grocery shopping and using an Amex when doing it was unrealistic, it may have been nice, but it wasn’t sustainable.
        I’m sort of surprised people get quite so excited about this, the taxes and airport charges being set out are just as bad as the YQ in principle, yet that doesn’t seem to anger people in quite the same way. I don’t buy a box of cereal in the supermarket and get asked for 1p contribution to the delivery lorry having to drive into the congestion charge zone, so why would I care that an airline has to give £4 to the airport for this, and £7 for that, I just care what the ticket costs in the end.

        • Doug, I’m relatively care free about what people want to call the fees but it’s untrue that they are all taxes.

          What I would point out is that it isn’t really that outrageous to expect a scheme designed to reward frequent flying with some actual rewards.

          There are instances where you can buy economy tickets for the same or less as the tax and fees on an economy return to, for example, the USA. That’s a bit rediculous.

          It’s also not true that you could travel round the world on the back of shopping at Tesco and putting that spend on an amex. Even if you spend £10k a year on groceries which is on the high side you might be able to earn 15k avios and £100 of clubcard which gets you another 24k avios. 39k avios isn’t going to get you much even with a companion ticket.

          • I specifically said misuse of the term taxes. I know what’s a tax and what is going to the airline. I was asking whether peoples real concern is the description used by Rob, or just the cost.
            You’re comparing a completely non-refundable economy ticket with flexible award economy ticket. You will not get a cash economy ticket with similar flexibility to a redemption for anything like the taxes and fees on the redemption. It needs to be a like for like comparison.
            There were loads of Tesco offers where people bought items solely to get disproportionate amounts of Avios. Printer ink springs to mind. Whilst there may not be as many Avios available from non-flying as there used to be, there are still many.

          • Lady London says:

            It was true, Will, it was.
            sadly, I missed out on that too.
            I wasn’t in the game then.
            and I’m not smart enough anyway.
            But others were.

            Have you ever heard of the legendary Squills ?

        • Lady London says:

          @Doug M re your comment “the ease with which Avios can be earned outside of flying”… [is the problem].

          Ummm and who’s been selling all those Avios to Tesco (in the past) and Amex, then? Which company got the money for those Avios that were sold….?

          This sounds awfully similar to Eurostar taking a bung from Amex to let all Platinum cardholders into Eurostar lounges. The Plat cardholders took up the invitation, and now Eurostar has basically vastly increased the requirements on its own customers to achieve the status level that gets those passengers into Eurostar lounges! And Eurostar is saying effectively “our lounges are too crowded now, so we thought we’d make it easier for you, our own high spending customers, to access the lounges by making you spend much, much more money with us in the first place in order to qualify for the status that gets you into our lounge, so that we’ll exclude quite a lot of you ? !!!

          So BA (or whoever) flooded the market with Avios, taking big chunks of money for this from supermarkets, credit card companies, and petrol stations who bought those avios off British Airways (presumably) to give to their customers. And now the problem is that we have to pay loads of taxes er… sorry Carrier Imposed Surcharges, because …er…. enough of us have enough avios to actually use them ? someone;s having a laugh here… !

          • Oh yes, BA are selling those Avios for sure. I’m no economist, and no one outside of very senior BA/IAG will know what they’re being sold for. But I was trying to point to a possibility as to why the additional payments when using them on Long haul are so high. I think Avios are almost an alternate currency rather than a frequent flyer unit. Ultimately the fees are what they are because enough people still use the scheme for it to be a real money maker.
            My ultimate points remains, are people angry at the level of these charges, or them being misdescribed (outside of BA where it clearly offers a breakdown) as tax. I suspect they are really about the former but always point to the latter as a way to vent.

    • +1

      It feels lazy or misguided journalism. Or maybe BA have have voiced their displeasure for HFP separately referring to APD and Carrier Imposed Surcharges? (Note: they are absolutely NOT fuel surcharges)

      So then Rob, can you enlighten us as to why you persist with incorrectly referring to them as “Taxes”, is it to increase the number of comments/article?

  6. “ Business Class on Iberia between Madrid and Santiago is 150,000 Avios peak / 102,000 Avios off-peak return plus £168”
    Does that mean I’ll need to create an Iberia account, transfer Avios across from BA and then only be able to book?

    • Yes. And you can’t transfer until the IB account is 90 days old and has earned 1 Avios (Amex MR transfer is ok)

  7. AA has already pulled code share flights – cash and rewards – with LATAM from its system.

    Existing bookings will be honoured though. as will OW benefits such as lounge access.

    • Lady London says:

      Any excuse to avoid passengers buying tickets AA might have to pay another airline for I suppose.

      Wonderful how alliances work, isn’t it? Latam isn’t even out the door (and wont be for a very long time) and already alliance benefits are being withdrawn from passengers.

  8. All future LATAM bookings should be eligible for Avios / tier points until they have officially exited (which could be a while in the future), right?

  9. Can I still redeem some flights with Latam? Or is there an exit-date? I’m planning a 3 months trip next year in South America and planning to get some flights using avios.

  10. OT — I rang up to cancel my Gold credit card earlier as it’s just entered the second year (my 10,000 bonus points from year one have posted) and was offered 20,000 bonus points if I kept the card and spent £4,000 in the next three months. Given this period will include Christmas and I have a few flights to book in the coming weeks, this seemed like an easy one to say yes to.

  11. Curses! I was looking at some LATAM flights for my trip in 2021. Will have to think of alternatives now.

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