LATAM-Delta Codeshare & SkyTeam Award Bookings Now Bookable Online
The LATAM-Delta codeshare and the ability to book LATAM flights through SkyTeam award bookings are now live. Those looking to book future travel can. It’s now possible to make LATAM award bookings via SkyTeam, due to the new LATAM-Delta partnership that led to LATAM’s membership in SkyTeam.
LATAM Left Oneworld, Joined SkyTeam
We previously reported on Delta buying a stake in South America’s largest carrier, LATAM. That led to LATAM leaving oneworld alliance and joining SkyTeam, of which Delta is a major player. On March 4, 2020, we talked about frequent flyer benefits with LATAM going live in SkyTeam. With the LATAM-Delta codeshare in place, that left only the final phase, which is now live: award bookings via partners.
LATAM Award Bookings on SkyTeam Partners
The ability to make award bookings via SkyTeam partners is now live. For those planning future travel to South America, you can now book LATAM flights using miles & points. To go along with this, it’s no longer possible to make LATAM bookings via American Airlines AAdvantage. However, British Airways Flying Club does still show limited options for LATAM bookings. How do the new bookings compare to previous bookings now that LATAM changed alliances? Let’s look.
São Paulo, Brazil GRU to Santiago, Chile SCL
Starting soon, 4 airlines will fly this route. LATAM and Gol will be joined by discount airlines JetSmart and Sky. The direct flight is 1,624 miles.
Using Delta SkyMiles, we need 12,500 miles for economy or 25,000 for business. The taxes are only $22.50. The taxes are low for 2 reasons: Delta only charges fees sometimes, and Brazil limits fees that airlines are allowed to charge on award bookings.
Is this an improvement? Here’s a comparison of one-way mileage requirements:
Economy flight GRU-SCL:
|American Airlines||10,000 miles|
|British Airways||11,000 miles|
|Delta Airlines||12,500 miles|
|Air France||17,500 miles|
Business class flight GRU-SCL:
|American Airlines||20,000 miles|
|British Airways||22,000 miles|
|Delta Airlines||25,000 miles|
|Air France||43,000 miles|
There’s a significant jump in miles required when using Air France for bookings. The number of miles you need has not increased much when using Delta. However, it is an increase.
Comparing to New York JFK to Denver DEN
For comparison, let’s look at a domestic U.S. flight of the same distance. New York JFK to Denver DEN is 1,622 miles. A difference of 2 miles makes for a good comparison.
Given that Delta has no standardized award chart, take the comparison with a grain of salt. What we do see, though, is that the mileage requirements are roughly equivalent for the same distance. But what about domestic flights inside Brazil?
Domestic Flights In Brazil Were AA Sweet Spot
Domestic flights entirely within Brazil were a sweet spot on the American Airlines award chart. At just 7,500 miles in economy for a one-way ticket (15,000 for business), where does this award stand now? Here’s a look at booking via SkyTeam.
São Paulo GRU to Recife REC
Located on Brazil’s northeast corner, Recife is a large city and gateway to beaches & islands nearby. Flight distance is 1,306 miles.
Surprisingly, business and premium economy awards are not available. Only main cabin fares are bookable online. Is this due to LATAM being famously difficult to book online via partners? Could be, since Air France doesn’t show any LATAM flights on this route, only GOL. Here’s the comparison on mileage requirements:
Economy flight GRU-REC:
|American Airlines||7,500 miles|
|British Airways||11,000 miles|
|Delta Airlines||10,000 miles|
|Air France||14,500 miles|
Comparing to Los Angeles LAX to Kansas City MCI
For comparison, let’s look at a domestic U.S. flight of the same distance. LAX to MCI is 1,361 miles, roughly the same distance. Here are the award mileage requirements.
Again, without a standard award chart from Delta, the mileage requirements fluctuate. 2 days before or a day after this flight, prices were 11,000 or 9,5000 miles for economy. Awards across dates appear more standardized with the LATAM-Delta and LATAM-AirFrance partner award bookings.
International Flight Comparison: New York JFK to São Paulo GRU
New York City to São Paulo is a flight distance of 4,762 miles. Both Delta and LATAM run direct flights on this route. What are the mileage requirements? Let’s look.
Look at that massive difference! For the same route and equivalent flight time, Delta wants 5x the miles for its own flight as the LATAM flight when booking economy. It becomes even stranger when you realize that nothing but main cabin is available for the LATAM option.
Even stranger: the fact that AirFrance prices the Delta option at 29,000 miles in economy. It has no space in anything but main cabin on that flight. Weirdness part 3: AirFrance doesn’t even find the LATAM flight.
Summary of Changes With LATAM Partner Awards
There are some positives and negatives in these changes. Award charts are always ripe for devaluation when airlines shift alliances. As LATAM left oneworld and joined SkyTeam, I worried about these changes. After comparing some popular routes that LATAM flies, here are the key takeaways.
- Delta SkyMiles are really easy to come by, given the frequent promotions we see with welcome offers on cards like the Delta Gold and Delta Gold Business Card from American Express.
- LATAM flights can be booked for lower numbers of points than Delta’s own flights. If you don’t care about which plane you’re on, there are opportunities for savings.
- Mileage requirement increases were less than I’d expected.
- Delta & Air France using dynamic pricing means savings can be found during off season bookings.
- Even though the increases were small, they’re still increases. You now need more miles for flights within South America.
- Premium cabin space is really difficult to find on the LATAM flights.
- You may need to call to check space & make bookings for premium seats, which is annoying. If the flight exists and can be found, all cabins & all seats should be bookable online. This is a weird quirk that will hopefully be fixed going forward.
It looks like there are still bugs to work out on premium cabins, but economy flights are easy to book. The LATAM-Delta codeshare announcement in the past was the final step before these award bookings went live. LATAM award bookings via SkyTeam partners are possible, especially for economy seats. Premium cabin seats still have some bugs, but patience and maybe a phone call should sort it out.
With dynamic pricing now at play, it will be difficult to find flights for a decent amount of miles. If you can be flexible with dates to travel in the off season, you’ll need less miles. Popular routes on popular travel dates will need a ton of miles now.
My remaining question is what will happen with the São Paulo to Johannesburg route. This is a route I’m worried about. After South African Airways announced they were pulling out of this route (and now are looking at bankruptcy), LATAM is the only carrier on this route. Will they increase prices? Will the mileage requirements skyrocket? So far, this route isn’t bookable online, so we’ll have to wait to see.