Latam refund wanted: Paid business, put in economy- twice!

By dmulally | Feb 05, 2018, 12:11 PM
A week ago today, for the second time, I was put into economy by Latam on a full fare business ticket between Sydney and Rio. I've been met with radio silence since requesting a refund and I'm keen to hear other's experiences with paying full business fares and being put in economy, as well as the best way to get a refund. Is legal action the best course?


Given this experience, I'm nervous about buying business again. Should I be worried about this or is it easily avoided by avoiding Latam? The cause, by the way, was that my connecting flights in Santiago were not accessible to check in staff on the ticket I bought from Latam. The problem happened on both legs, clearly a systemic issue, with their own systems struggling even more than the staff who try to make it work.


I'm really keen to hear your thoughts.

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By ChrisCh | Feb 05, 2018, 12:38 PM
If the airline won't budge, talk to your credit card provider about doing a 'chargeback' for services paid for but not provided. In short, you paid for a business class ticket, and the airline did not give you a business class seat. They may decide you're not owed a full refund but you'd at least be entitled to a partial refund (and you should argue for a substantial refund, not just the difference between the price of your ticket and the cost of the most expensive flexible economy fare that you wouldn't have purchased, but an economy fare in the same grouping: so if you paid for 'discount' business class, I'd be asking for a refund of the difference between that and 'discount' economy).
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David Mulally

By mannej | Feb 05, 2018, 01:09 PM
Chargeback would probably be cheaper than legal for a situation like this.
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David Mulally

By AlexTravAddict | Feb 05, 2018, 01:12 PM
I regularly fly between Australia and South America and I'm sorry to say it but I avoid booking through LATAM because I have had numerous system problems with bookings and their website and their phone and online support is shocking.

In particular, their Australian website has the most ridiculous 20 character limit for names (even though South Americans have ridiculously long names) so that when you receive your booking confirmation the name is truncated which means FF numbers don't attach to the booking. This happened recently when I was traveling with my partner who has a long name and was such a hassle to chase up and when they finally fixed it they issued a new booking with a new reference number so we ended up on seperate bookings (and of course when there was a last minute aircraft change we werent seated together!). On another occasion we didn't bother to chase it up and then it took 6 months chasing up the missing status credits with Qantas because there was a name mismatch between the booking and the FF name.

I've also had the issue when flying from Melb-auckland-santiago-sao Paulo on a LATAM issued ticket where the Qantas staff are unable to check-in the Santiago-SP leg. In Auckland I asked the LATAM service staff to print a boarding pass and was told that they didn't have access to TAMs systems even though LAN and TAM have been LATAM for several years already.

Then there is the numerous problems with their website, managing a booking, and selecting seats. Not to mention the appalling way they treat Oneworld Emerald member (eg Emeralds can't use the Business-Premium Economy check-in counter at Guarulhos).

Dmulally, stick to booking with Qantas. They might not be perfect but they are much better than LATAM. I think the first thing to do is contact LATAM and ask for a refund or compensation. If you don't receive a satisfactory response then escalate it with a regulatory body or take legal action. Keep copies-details of all your correspondence. I assume that your booking is covered by Australian consumer law which provides quite strong protections (although enforcing them is another issue).
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David Mulally

By Covvers | Feb 05, 2018, 01:26 PM
I agree with the observations of the previous commentator. I have had nothing but bad luck with LATAM. I think they are a thoroughly unprofessional outfit. I particularly echo the comments about their phone support. It is a complete joke. On a flight about 12 months ago the chap was not even able to speak enough English to provide basic information about, for example, when bag drop closed at SYD.

I suppose we can't be too judgemental about a Latin American airline. In my experience, the level of dysfunction with LATAM is reflective of broader dysfunction in Latin America.
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David Mulally

By newbieADL | Feb 05, 2018, 01:31 PM
A week ago today, for the second time, I was put into economy by Latam on a full fare business ticket between Sydney and Rio.

Hi dmulally - I fly yearly to South America and always choose LATAM over QANTAS, because in my view, LA has a superior product on their 787 vs the ageing QF 747.

Did you have this experience on the Sydney - Santiago leg, Santiago - Rio leg, or both? Between SCL and GIG, LA only flies the A320 which doesn't have a business cabin. You would either get economy or what they call 'premium economy' which is akin to European business class, same seat with middle seat blocked in a row of 3.

For this reason I usually fly in to Sao Paulo (GRU), before Rio, as you can often get the 787 the whole way. It's then a much shorter hop to Rio on a TAM A320.

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By dmulally | Feb 05, 2018, 01:40 PM

Did you have this experience on the Sydney - Santiago leg, Santiago - Rio leg, or both? Between SCL and GIG, LA only flies the A320 which doesn't have a business cabin. You would either get economy or what they call 'premium economy' which is akin to European business class, same seat with middle seat blocked in a row of 3.


Hi newbieADL, it was on the SCL-GIG leg (premium economy) and again on the SCL-SYD leg (business). The common denominator was that it was the second connecting flight each time and staff were unable to find my ticket in their system at check in for the second leg, which meant I ended up in an economy seat each time despite the $7K ticket.
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By turner773 | Feb 05, 2018, 01:48 PM
I have received a charge back for several flights I booked on LATAM using an American Express card. They seem quite aware of LATAM's poor customer service, in my case the inability to change the flight time of a flexible fare months before departure either online, by phone or by contacting LATAM through email.
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By sanj747 | Feb 05, 2018, 01:52 PM
After reading this makes one want to stay clear of LATAM. I would have to agree with AlexTravAddict and follow his recommendations. I have a family holiday later this year to South America and am so glad we booked on QF.
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By StuParr | Feb 05, 2018, 02:57 PM
I have been flying backwards and forwards to Sth America for 20 years now and I saw the decline of LAN and TAM (now LATAM). I now use Air NZ via Buenos Aires. its easier and more comfortable despite the stop over in Auckland. If you don't want to take the QF flight they are a good option.
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David Mulally

By dmulally | Feb 05, 2018, 03:52 PM
All good advice to stick with QF or Air NZ. I will update the thread when I have an outcome with LATAM, but the option of going through my bank for services not rendered is a good suggestion that I will also look into.
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By cdirnber | Feb 06, 2018, 04:38 AM
Did you book through a travel agent? If yes, the agent can put in a so-called IATA-BSP downgrade refund application which the airline MUST deal and provide you with a partial refund.
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By dmulally | Feb 06, 2018, 10:53 AM
Did you book through a travel agent? If yes, the agent can put in a so-called IATA-BSP downgrade refund application which the airline MUST deal and provide you with a partial refund.

This is great to know. Unfortunately, I booked directly with LATAM on their website.
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By Rita Cavanagh | Feb 09, 2018, 05:59 PM
I'm flying to South America in March, so will be interested to see what happens then. It should be business class, MEL to AKL, then 4 days later to SCL. I'm joining a tour which includes flights, which will be in economy, then back Rio to SCL and on to MEL the next day. My booking is with QANTAS, with QF flight numbers on the international legs. Looking at my booking online (and I did book through a travel agent), the flight from Rio to SCL is in a space seat and has a LATAM flight number. I assumed that the pricing would take account of this, as when I've bought a Britrail pass, they are also priced on the basis that not all trains have first class.
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