American Clarifies Status Of LATAM Partnership

Filed Under: American, LATAM

This has been a huge week in the airline industry, as Delta has announced that they’re buying a 20% stake in LATAM, and will form a joint venture with them. This is a massive development, since American and LATAM had been pursuing a joint venture, but were facing regulatory challenges.

This transition won’t happen overnight, and American has said that they’re committed to a smooth transition. That’s why I wrote about something very surprising yesterday — suddenly Sabre showed that American Airlines no longer had a ticketing or checked baggage agreement with LATAM.

Within hours American claimed this wasn’t their doing, though that does the raise the question of who was behind it, then.

What American Says About LATAM Relationship

American Airlines has now provided an update as to their current situation with LATAM.

Here’s what American Airlines says about their current situation with LATAM:

American Airlines continues to accept customers and baggage of ticketed LATAM customers who are scheduled to fly on American in accordance with our current interline and oneworld agreements. Additionally, LATAM continues to accept American Airlines customers as well. There is no change for American or LATAM customers, and American is not aware of any customers who are being denied travel.

There is currently no change to our frequent flyer agreement or reciprocal club access for eligible customers of American or LATAM. AAdvantage members will continue to earn miles on flights marketed by LATAM.

Over the next few months, as we wind down our agreements with LATAM that are still intact today, American will work with LATAM to ensure all of our customers are taken care of. American has suspended new codeshare bookings only. American remains the largest U.S. carrier to both Latin and South America and we look forward to competing and growing in this region of the world.

American 787

American also provided the following FAQs:

Q: Is American or LATAM refusing to accept customers and baggage for either American or LATAM customers who are currently scheduled to fly?

A: American is not aware of any customers of American or LATAM who are being denied travel. We are accepting customers and baggage of ticketed LATAM customers who are scheduled to fly on American, and LATAM continues to accept our customers per our current agreements that are still intact.

Q: Is the codeshare cancelled? What does this mean for customers?

A: There is no impact to customers who are currently booked on American or LATAM. We have suspended new codeshare bookings only. If a customer needs to make changes to an existing itinerary involving an American codeshare flight operated by LATAM to a market that American serves, we will rebook the customer on an American flight.

Q: Will American rebook customers on LATAM during irregular operations?

A: Yes. In the event of irregular operations, customer service and reservation agents will use the existing process for rebooking our customers, which includes the ability to book on LATAM as a oneworld carrier.

Q: Can customers still access the lounges?

A: Yes. The oneworld lounge access policy has not changed.

The lounge access policy remains unchanged (as of now)

What All Of This Means

To summarize the above:

  • Existing customers booked on American & LATAM shouldn’t see any changes, and should be able to check bags through on their itineraries
  • At some point American & LATAM will cut their frequent flyer partnership, though a timeline for that hasn’t been shared yet; so it could be that even a ticket already issued may not be eligible for mileage accrual after the partnership ends
  • Going forward American and LATAM have suspended their codeshare agreement for new bookings; if someone needs to make a change to an existing itinerary on a codeshare flight operated by LATAM to a market American serves, they’ll be rebooked on American

LATAM 787

Delta Is Making This All More Confusing

To make matters even stranger, Delta has issued a press release saying that they will honor tickets for those who had their flights canceled due to this situation:

Following the recent announcement of a partnership with LATAM Airlines, Delta became aware that LATAM customers who had purchased tickets under their former partnership are seeing canceled flight segments or itineraries. To provide assistance to these customers, Delta will honor these previously purchased tickets.

LATAM customers who have current or future itineraries that include a canceled segment on American Airlines may contact Delta to be reaccommodated. Routing changes will be permitted in order to accommodate origin and destination on the Delta network.

Delta is committed to doing right by people and will do everything possible to ensure that impacted customers are cared for.

But at the same time American is insisting that no flights were canceled (and I believe them, because they told me to let them know if any readers have experiences suggesting otherwise), so what on earth is actually going on here?

Delta is offering to help stranded passengers… but no one should be stranded

Bottom Line

The good news is that the situation doesn’t seem to be quite as drastic as was feared yesterday, based on the update in Sabre. For now LATAM continues to be in oneworld, so American flyers can still access lounges and earn miles for LATAM flights.

However, American and LATAM have cut their codeshare agreement going forward, so it’s no longer possible to book a LATAM codeshare through American, and vice versa.

I’m still curious who is behind the update that happened yesterday, and for that matter which party decided to suspend the codeshare effective immediately, given that there is quite a long transition period. It seems to me like that’s not in the best interest of either airline.

Comments
  1. I really hope Delta starts flying A350s with suites to South America. The market needs a decent product to shake things up a bit.

  2. Do you expect Delta to expand their operations at MIA being that their terminal H is a short walk to LATAM terminal J and that LATAM will now become an important partner at MIA to the Latin American market ?

  3. That’s just DL trying to preempt AA. Imagine the positive publicity when DL takes the passengers AA stranded, even if that didn’t actually happen in this case.

  4. I am predicting that Delta will start to ramp up Miami a bit now. Not full on growth but as a light focus city. Adding A220 flights to north east markets and to other focus cities like Austin, Dallas, Seattle, LA. I think this is going to get even messier for American as they watch their significant dominance in Miami being chipped away at. To be honest they deserve it, the agents and ground staff there are the rudest and laziest of any American station I have ever encountered….and that’s saying something given it’s AA.

  5. I expect LATAM to start flying to Atlanta? That’s usually what happens when Delta buys an airline – they reduce their own flights to make way for their subsidiary. That way they can redeploy their resources elsewhere

  6. Right now I think Delta and American, and their passengers, should be more concerned about the FAA requiring inspection of their 737NG’s for cracks. (Fortunately, Latam doesn’t fly them.) According to Reuters, “KOMO News reported on Friday the issue involved cracked ‘pickle forks’ in some 737 NG jets. The pickle fork attaches the plane’s fuselage, or body, to the wing structure and manages forces. A failure of the part in flight could pose a serious risk. KOMO said workers found a severely cracked pickle fork on a Boeing 737NG earlier this month.”

  7. @Ray I imagine that will be the case with an additional flight on LATAM.

    BUT…Brazilians are very much in tune with two destinations: Miami and Orlando. It comes down to shopping given the high tariffs and how expensive foreign made products are in Brazil. They like quick trips to Miami for iPhones and Laptops that cost two to three times the price there. It’s become a ritual for many middle and upper class Paulistas to take one or two trips a year there to “stock up.” As an example? I can sell my used iPhone in Brazil for around $1k. Far better than a trade-in here.

    Just go to Aventura Mall on any day and listen to the Portuguese. It’s everywhere and that’s there go-to spot.

  8. What about booking award tickets on LATAM using AAdvantage miles? Or has that stopped effective immediately?

  9. I’m booked on a latam flight in dec with AA miles. Does this mean if I change the ticket that I can switch to AA? Or only if they have award availability? Color me confused.

  10. @Stuart I can attest to what you said. As a Brazilian myself, I grew up going on family trips to the states not only to have a good time, but also primarily for shopping. We would even get lists of friends’ requests to purchase clothes or perfumes for them or even small things like American candy. That’s when we would “stock up”, and I can’t even remember the last time I had a shopping spree in Brazil. Things are just too damn expensive, and yes, it is cheaper to fly all the way to the states to purchase high valued goods like Apple products and some clothing items than to just buy them in Brazil. Sad reality of “país dos impostos”

  11. Why must there be any change? Delta kept exactly the same relationship with China Southern as far as earning and burning, MQDs, MQMs etc. after it left SkyTeam and began partnering with AA. If anyone (Ben) knows, please explain.

  12. The ads spliced into the middle of the articles when viewing on mobile devices make the site feel rather clunky and more like a tabloid. Sometimes it is difficult to know when the article ends and the ad begins and vice versa.

  13. I actually wander what Aerolineas Argentinas feels about its biggest competitor forging a partnership with its US partner? Will they be leaving Skyteam as a consequence or will the oneworld carriers try to launch a partnership with them?

  14. So will Delta still maintain association with Aerolineas Argentina? I live and work in Argentina and despise Aerolineas as they are such a second-rate airlines, but Lan has always put forward their A game. I do hope Delta grows their flights in South America where American has traditionally maintained a strong presence.

  15. Phil: Aerolíneas is far, far less important than the Avianca and LATAM groups, so what it does makes no difference.

  16. @ wadacash — Appreciate the feedback on the ads! We are in the process of testing a new mobile ad system, so you may see different sizes and density of placements while we test and configure everything.

    To share a bit of background, for the past 3-4 years we’ve made essentially nothing on the mobile site, with mobile ad revenue being less than 20¢ (yes, cents) per thousand pageviews. Earning less than a dollar for every five thousand times the blog is read obviously isn’t sustainable, and as more and more of our traffic shifts to mobile, we’re having to make adjustments.

    We’re committed to finding a balance that doesn’t negatively impact the overall experience. Previously there were basically no ads on mobile (the majority of ads on the desktop site are in the sidebar, which on mobile doesn’t display until after all the content and all the comments, so was almost never viewed), so we know it’s going to be an adjustment regardless. But you won’t see pop-up ads, auto-play videos, things that float and are hard to close, etc. — those types of ads are much more lucrative, but they’re also annoying.

    So we’ll get this dialed-in, in a way that is hopefully not too obnoxious, and very much appreciate your patience and feedback in the meantime. Nothing has changed on the desktop site, if that helps.

  17. I may have the first instance of an AA cancellation. I booked a roundtrip LAX-LIM-LAX with AA on LATAM flights and everything was fine with seat selected and everything until the day of the announcement. All of a sudden the reservation did not show on AA’s website and app and LATAM’s website showed multiple flights. Called AA and they first said LATAM reported the flight booked and then said that since the contract expires by then (Dec 19th 2019) they were not able to get me on that flight but could rearrange on a 1-stop flight via DFW. Called LAN and they claimed the agent (AA) actually canceled the reservation but that the same schedule is still available but under a different flight number but that they cannot book me on that one without prior approval from AA. I’m inclined to think AA actually canceled my reservation since their reason is the least convincing and now I’m stuck between the two divorced parents trying to figure out how to straighten this out. I definitely prefer LATAM remodeled airplanes to the old 757s AA uses to/from Lima even if it costs me some EQD and EQMs. Wish me luck.

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