LATAM Pass is the frequent flyer program of the LATAM Group. This is the combined operations of TAM Airlines and LAN Airlines who merged in 2012. The LATAM Group primarily flies from South America with hubs in Sao Paulo, Santiago, Bogotá,, Lima, Guayaquil and Buenos Aires.
- Competitive reward chart
- Good reward availability
- No surcharges
- Allows for stopover on reward tickets
- Reward search has adjustable results calendar
- Searching is transparent for total cost
- Excellent earn rate when flying LATAM
- US branded credit card with some good benefits
- Can purchase points in bulk for reasonable price
- One-way rewards are not allowed
- Only 5 US gateway cities
- Extra cost for Oneworld North American connections to gateway cities
- Uncompetitive Oneworld reward chart
- Only 3 oneworld carriers for reward redemptions
- Service fees expensive and based on distance of trip
- Infants require full fare rewards
- Points expire 36 months from earn date
- Reward search engine has issues
- Searches are limited to international routes
- Upgrade information is incorrect on website
- Only one credit card transfer program
LATAM Pass points are based in kilometers, called KMS in the LATAM Pass documentation. For this reason the redemptions may look expensive, because other programs are designated in miles. Typically points are earned by flying miles. With LATAM points are earned by flying kilometers.
The distance from Miami to Santiago Chile is 4,118 miles. If a program earned points by miles flown that would credit 8,236 points for a round-trip. Kilometer based the mileage flown is 6,627 or 13,254 points earned round trip. Obviously it stands to reason rewards would be priced higher.
They have 3 levels of economy rewards; Classic, Plus and Full. Classic is the saver reward and a reward chart is published for this level. Plus and Full are standard rewards and priced based on market conditions. No methodology is provided for this pricing. Premium Business and Premium Economy has two levels, saver and standard. Premium Economy is available on aircraft that do not have business cabins.
LATAM Pass publishes the Classic saver reward chart for International destinations as well as a LATAM Domestic reward chart. These are region based. The Oneworld reward chart is distance based.
Rewards are round-trip. One-way trips are not allowed.
LATAM gateway cities in North America are:
- New York JFK
- Washington IAD
- Orlando MCO
- Miami MIA
- Los Angeles LAX
Extra points are required to connect to a gateway city on a Oneworld partner. The Oneworld chart below explains how this works.
From these gateway cities you can fly to South America which is divided into regions:
- Chile / Argentina / Brazil (Typically known as Deep South America)
- Easter Island
The complete LATAM reward chart for all South American regions as well as other areas of the world they fly to.
You can only book Oneworld rewards for American Airlines, Qantas and Iberia using LATAM Pass points. Other Oneworld carriers are not available. Round trips are required. The Oneworld chart is ONE-WAY kilometer based, so you must calculate the one-way distance in kilometers, find the appropriate level and double it. Saver reward levels are all that's available for Oneworld redemptions. A few examples:
- Rome - Madrid (Iberia): 1,334 kilometers = Economy 12,000 x 2 and Business 24,000 x 2
- Dallas - Buenos Aires (American): 8,507 kilometers = Economy 35,000 x 2 and Business 100,000 x 2
You can mix Oneworld carriers within a ticket including LATAM rewards. For connections to LATAM gateway cities you can add in American Airlines connections for extra points. If you live in Charlotte and need to catch a LATAM flight out of Miami you can add in CTL-MIA. This is 1,046 kilometers each way or economy 10,000 and business 20,000. Flying round trip to Santiago in business totals:
- CLT-MIA: 20,000
- MIA-SCL-MIA: 150,000
- MIA-CLT: 20,000
- Total 190,000
This compares to American at 115,000 AA points which is about equal to the 190,000 LATAM points after doing a kilometer adjustment, but more expensive when buying points at the prevailing rates.
LATAM publishes a number of domestic reward charts, which are region and zone based. For flights within South America follow this link.
You are allowed to make date and time changes for a fee to your itinerary as long as they are not route changes up to 48 hours prior to departure on the website or same day by calling their service center. Changes resulting in fewer points for the reward (i.e. standard down to saver) are not refunded, so it makes sense to weigh cancellation and rebooking fees before forfeiting points. Changes requiring more points are charged to your account. Partial refunds for tickets not completely used is not allowed.
Tickets are valid for 12 months from the date of first issue. If not used or returned the points are forfeited.
Rewards originally reserved and ticketed online do not carry a fee. Reservations made through the call center have a fee of $15 for domestic flights and $25 for intercontinental or international flights. However if the reward can not be booked online this fee is waived.
LATAM Pass has a complicated method for calculating change and cancellation fees that's based on the reward's flight distance and time to departure of the change. Presumably the distance is for the complete round-trip and not one-way:
Reward tickets are charges all taxes and applicable fees. LATAM does not levy surcharges however it is unclear how they handle Iberia's surcharges. The link to the website page for this information is broken.
Reward reservations made for another person other than the member must be accompanied by a signed authorization form as well as the LATAM Pass account number, passport copy and Chilean Tax I.D. if necessary. (Presumably this is waived with a LATAM Pass account.)
Infants / Children
Infants and children do not receive any discounts and are required for a full reward ticket to travel.
Points expire 36 months from the date they are earned. Points purchased expire on the last day of the 3rd year from when they are purchased. (i.e. purchase points October 2014, expire December 31, 2016).
Round-trip rewards are the only type of reward ticket issued. One-way tickets price at full round-trip fares.
Reward redemptions do not include Alliance or Partner connections to gateway cities. These connections are extra.
Stopovers / Open Jaws
For LATAM rewards one stopover is allowed in either the outbound or return of the trip. Stopovers may not be available on Oneworld rewards depending on the carrier's policy. (read AA or QF no, IB yes) In lieu of a stopover the reward ticket may contain an open jaw where the return begins from a different city that the original destination. However the open jaw must be in the same region.
You must be a LATAM Pass member to search for rewards online.
From the home page simply enter the details and check "Use your LATAM Pass KMS". The cities are programed to only offer available routes. Notice this example the departing city is Los Angeles (LAX), Los Angeles (LAX). The selection Los Angeles (LAX) didn't work as it would not allow any destination cities. This wasn't the only issue encounter on their website.
Just one "LAX" in the "From" field wouldn't accept any "To" entry.
If any flights are available you will get one week of departure dates and one week of return dates. You may adjust those buy using the respective arrows. Redemptions are color coded with the light blue color being saver rewards.
Select one and click continue. Itineraries for the dates selected appear. You can click on oneworld flights to see if any partner flights are available as well.
Once you flights are selected you get this page showing total cost. This reward is 150,000 KMS, the saver amount for North America to Chile plus $52.06 in taxes.
I don't have any LATAM Pass points. Yet it shows me that I can get this reward by purchasing points. They charge 2 cents a point. So for $3,052.06 this round-trip LAX-SCL can be mine.
Want to save some cash? This is the business class fare for the exact flights on the same dates. $5,730 versus $3,052. Plus if desired, I can get a stopover in Lima and see the sights for a few days.
Online Route Issues
There are plenty of issues with finding flights online. Basically searches are limited to international flights between US and South American gateway cities that are paired routes. For example:
A search from Miami to Medellin returns a reward. The same day search from Orlando to Medellin does not.
A search from JFK to Easter Island returns a reward. The same day search from Washington to Easter Island does not.
A search from LAX to Sao Paulo returns a reward. The same day search from LAX to Rio de Janiero does not.
Regional cities never return availability. Therefore the advice is if you can't find a reward that you are looking for, it's best to call for assistance. 1-866-435-9526.
It is difficult to compare LATAM Pass pricing to other programs because of the kilometer to mile conversion. If you fly LATAM and are earning KMS you're getting the full value of a KMS point. However if you are getting points from charges or card bonuses then essentially the value of a KMS point is based on the program's conversion rate.
This comparison adjusts the LATAM KMS points into miles at .6213 per KMS.
Comparing the 3 big domestic program; AA, US and DL show that LATAM's program is competitive and in some cases excellent if you are earn LATAM points by flying.
The other way to compare is if you purchased the points. You can buy LATAM points for 2 cents each. American and United are 3.5 cents but regularly sell them for around 2 cents plus tax. I used 2 cents for LATAM and 2.25 cents for AA and UA in the comparison. Delta was not considered as their points sell for 3.5 cents and they were the most expensive rewards anyway. Unless you are going to Columbia the LATAM program is not as attractive, and doesn't include any US connections to gateway cities either.
You can upgrade using LATAM Pass points, however their upgrade chart has some discrepancies. Little useful information is given on their website.
Points earned by flying LATAM itineraries are based on the kilometers of each flight segment. LAX-LIM-SCL earns points on LAX-LIM (6,716) and LIM-SCL (2,459). These base values are adjusted for the fare you purchased.
- Economy Base: 50%
- Economy Access: 100%
- Economy Control: 125%
- Economy Flex: 150%
- Premium Access: 200%
- Business Flex: 300%
LAX-LIM-SCL equals 18,350 KMS round trip. A business class flex (non-refundable) fare pays 300%, so 55,050 KMS points for this route. Additional bonuses are available to Elite members as well as LATAM Pass credit card holders who meet spend requirements.
To make matters more complicated, if you are traveling within Brazil, points are earned based on USD spent on the fare. If it is too confusing, you can contact the call center for help figuring it out, at a cost of 1,000 LATAM points.
LATAM Pass has a US branded credit card offered through US Bank. The card pays bonuses as well as having other benefits. There are multiple cards available. The Signature card is the most lucrative:
- 32,187 KMS Bonus on first use
- 6,437 LMS annual renewal bonus
- 20% discount on LATAM tickets upto to $1,000
- 1 MILE per $1USD spend credit (converts to 1.62 KMS)
- 25% LATAM points bonus (spend requirement for renewal)
- Upgrade coupons
To apply for the card click here.
LATAM only has a single credit card transfer partner in SPG. Unfortunately the miles to kilometers conversion is not to your benefit as it is 1:1.5, not 1:1.62 or more. In addition you can transfer hotel points.
- SPG: 1 : 1.5 (20,000 bonus is at 1 : 1.5 as well)
- Hilton: 2.6 : 1 (This is Hilton's best exchange rate)
- Hyatt: 5 : 4 (Another good rate)
- IHG: 5 : 1
- Marriott ?
Hotels earning LATAM points:
- Marriott: 1.6 - 3.2 LATAM points for each $1USD depending on location
- Intercontinental: 2 LATAM points for each $1USD
- Carlson Rezidor: 1,000 LATAM points per stay
- Hyatt: 1,000 LATAM points per stay
You can earn LATAM Pass points when booking hotels on these sites:
You can purchase up to 400,000 KMS over a rolling 12 month period. The cost is 2 cents each and there is no tax. The minimum purchase is 1,000 points. As shown in the example above, if you are short on LATAM points, or don't have any, this could be a good way to get the reward you are looking for.
You must be enrolled in the program for at least 3 months before you can purchase points.
I have mixed feelings on the LATAM Pass program. Above all it is confusing. The website has many broken links and it is difficult to find answers. There are a lot of words, but little information. For example from their terms and conditions:
Good luck finding the detailed section.
If you fly LATAM and earn points this is a good program. LATAM probably has the best reward space to South America of anyone, and it is competitive. Plus they are flying new B787 and A350 aircraft with lie flat seats. If South America is on your agenda then this is certainly a program to investigate, but only if you wanted a reward flight to South America because they aren't competitive anywhere else. Other Oneworld programs can get you LAN flights like SYD-AKL for less. A plus is if you live in any of their gateway cities, on the flip side if you don't it will cost you to get to them.