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LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

Perth, Australia
posts: 1,545
reviews: 98
LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

Lan has moved our flight next Thursday from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. We are due to join a Glacier Cruise for 3 days on the 12 April. Booked the flights in January to arrive a day earlier into El Calafate now LAN can not get us there in time to meet the ship. I have been fighting with them for a week now and not getting any service at all. The situation is complicated with them making refunds difficult see below. The flight is on a LAN Pass so to cancel the flight they have moved they tell me they have to cancel the whole booking, so the three flights and I need to re book the other 2 flights I need but now the seats are super expensive and this will cost me US$1,035 dollars more.

Here are the details that they have requested which I sent them 34 hours ago. They sent an automated reply saying "Our service commitment is that we will respond to all requests within 24 hours of receipt', well guess what still no reply.

I have a thread running on the Buenos Aires forum but a member has suggested I post it here as someone may have some helpful advice for me. Thread: tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g312741-i979-k6…

I am totally stressed with the flight next week. So if anyone can help me I would really appreciate it.

Lan requested that I send them all the details of my dealings with the Customer Service Center so this is what I sent them:

After 7 days of phoning them, speaking to 9 different staff and waiting for 6 return phone calls from a Supervisor, that have not been received, I have today been told that I need to email them all the details. This took me 5 hours to get the information together and type up today. I have spent days trying to sort this mess out.

I will post the outcome when I hear. The problem is the time delay between Australia and Santiago with it taking an extra day. These flights are in 8 days time.

This is the email of all the details for those of you that are interested.

To Lan Airlines:

We have been trying to sort out a change of LAN flight for nearly a week now. Pam has phoned the 1800 558 129 number on numerous occasions, waiting on the line to talk to someone for very long periods and then not being able to get the problem fixed but promised that we would get a phone call back but no phone calls ever got returned.

Pam was speaking to Sharlene in your office this morning and she said we need to email you with the details of our booking. Below you will find all the details of Pam’s contacts with LAN together with a suggested resolution to these problems. This has taken Pam 5 hours to prepare and write today.

This request needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency as the flights involved are next week.

The Problems

We have a problem with the flight that was changed by Lan from Buenos Aires to El Calafate on 11 April transferred to 10 April and then transferred to 12 April. We arrive into Santiago with Qantas on flight QF 27 at 10.55 (the flight time has changed since the attached ticket was issued) on 10 April and we need to be in El Calafate by midday on 12 April to meet the Santa Cruz ship that we are booked on.

These are the sequence of events:

Please note that these are Perth, Western Australia times quoted and the spelling of some of the staff names may not be correct. All 9 phone calls and contacts have been made by Pam who provided two telephone numbers for return calls but no return calls were ever received to either number and she explained that we were in Perth, Western Australia.

• 24 March – Email received at 10.39pm advising that the flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate has been moved to 10 April departing at 15.00. This email was not read by us until 26 March.

• 26 March - phoned the 1800 558 129 telephone number, which we now understand is the Santiago Call Centre and I spoke to Jefferson at 9.30am and explain that we can not meet the 10 April flight at 15.00 because our flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires on 10 April does not arrive into Buenos Aires until 16.35. I also advised that we are arriving into Santiago from Sydney with Qantas on QF27 at 10.55. I was told the matter would be referred to a supervisor and someone would phone me back. As I did not receive a return call I phoned back at 12.30pm and asked for Jefferson and was told he did not work there and went through the story again with Uralaumb who said someone would phone me back. No phone call was ever received back.

• 27 March – phoned back on 1800 558 129 and went through the story again with another staff member and was told someone would phone me back but no return call has ever been received. A staff member advised me that they do not believe that LAN can offer me a flight to El Calafate to meet the ship so LAN will provide a refund of the ticket but I was told because the flight is on a LAN Pass the whole reservation will have to be cancelled and the 2 flights I still need, Santiago to Buenos Aires and El Calafate to Buenos Aires, will have to be rebooked. When I checked this possibility it was going to cost us A$2,247.80 with only a refund of A$1,213.20 on the reservation. I asked if LAN could book us the flight with another airline and I was told that LAN does not have agreements to do this. We had no other choice at this stage than to book a flight with Aerolineas Argentinas on 11 April and had to do so this day as the seats were becoming limited. This costs us a further A$541.85. I was told the matter would be referred to a Supervisor and someone will call me back but no return phone call was received.

• 28 March – I phoned your Sydney office and she advised I needed to phone 1800 221 572 and speak to the Reservation Supervisor Sandra. I phoned the 1800 221 572 number around 9.30am and was told Sandra was not available so I left a message for her to phone me back. With no return call at 11.30am (2.30pm Sydney time) I phoned back and asked for Sandra and was told Sandra had left and the office was now closed until 2 April.

• 29 March 9.30am – phoned back on 1800 558 129 and spoke to Sabina who I told the story again to and she promised that she would phone me back within 30 mins. I told her that I had received previous promises but nobody phones me back and she assured me she would phone back. At 12.10pm after no phone call I phoned back on 1800 558 129 and was told there is no Sabina that works there. I spoke with Yermon who advised that the Supervisor was not available. I asked him to leave a message for the Supervisor and he told me that he could not leave a message for the supervisor to phone back because he did not know which supervisor was on the next shift.

• 30 March – I phoned Qantas to see if we can move our flights to a day earlier or if they can help us but to change our flights it would cost around A$1,371 more per ticket so a total of A$2,742 extra.

• 31 March (it may have been the 30th) – I log into My Trips on the LAN website and notice that our flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires had been changed to a departure time (around 9.30am) before we arrive into Santiago. No email was received to advise us of that. I phone the 1800 558 129 number and speak with Consuelo and explain to him that we can not meet the changed flight. I also explain to him the problem with the Buenos Aires to El Calafate flight and he understands that LAN can not offer me a flight to El Calafate that suits our needs. He tells me that to change the departure time of the Santiago to Buenos Aires flight on 10 April to a later time he will need to change the Buenos Aires to El Calafate flight now showing on 10 April to 12 April because the booking system will not allow him to change a flight where the following flight leaves before the previous flight arrives. He said the only way to fix it was to move the Buenos Aries flight to 12 April, so he proceeded with these changes. A confirmation email of the changes followed and these details are below.

• 2 April – I phoned the 1800 221 572 Sydney office number and waited for 55 mins before the call was answered and I asked for Sandra (the Supervisor) and Sharlene told me she is not available so I explain my problems again to her and she told me that I have agreed to the change of the Buenos Aires to El Calafate flight on 12 April and that can now not be refunded. At no point in my conversations with Consuelo did he inform me that changing this flight to 12 April will not allow me a refund on the flight. If I had understood that I would not have agreed to change the flight.

I contacted our Travel Insurance Company Zurich Australia and they have advised me that it is LAN that has to correct these problems so Travel Insurance will not apply.

We booked these flights on 2 January through the LAN Australia website because we could not find a Perth Travel Agent who would book LAN flights within South America. Pam has spent a large amount of hours over 7 days holding on LAN telephone lines trying to sort this problem out talking to 9 different staff members with promises of 6 return calls that never came and staff members I can not talk to again because she was told they do not work there. This has caused us a huge amount of stress and anxiety over the past 9 days particularly when we leave now in 7 days and will continue to cause us stress until a favourable reply is received from LAN.

As the tickets have been issued with the address of Level 12, 403 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia then we understand that Australian Consumer Law will apply.

Our resolution request

This is our request to solve all the problems that LAN has created for us:

• Reservation is to be cancelled.

• LAN to immediately book the Santiago to Buenos Aires flight on 10 April as early as possible after our 10.55 arrival with Qantas and the El Calafate to Buenos Aires flight LA4431 at 19.10 on 15 April on a new Reservation number at no further cost to us. As our Santiago to Buenos Aires flight was changed from a 13.30 departure to a 17.25 departure, because there are no economy seats available on the 15.00 flight, as a matter of good will and to compensate us for this stress and anxiety we believe that LAN should upgrade us to Premium Business Class on the Santiago to Bueunos Aires flight LA445 at 15.00. We are in our mid to late 50’s and having to spend 6.5 hours in Santiago Airport after the long flight with Qantas will be very uncomfortable for us.

• The Buenos Aires to El Calafate flight on 12 April be fully refunded to us at A$210 each, total A$420.

Documentation attached:

• Qantas ticket for arrival into Santiago

• LAN email for change of Buenos Aires to El Calfate flight

• Email from Santa Cruz ship for arrival time required into El Calafate on 12 April

• Email for change of Santiago to Buenos Aires flight

Edited: 12:06 pm, April 03, 2013
10 replies to this topic
Brisbane, Australia
posts: 572
reviews: 12
1. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

LAN are handling your situation very badly, especially as you are travelling within 7days and can no longer connect to your destination due to their reschedule change. Can any airline experts help here!!! Maybe someone with experience with LAN and involuntary schedule change resulting in not being able to get to your destination in time.

Even though your tickets were issued prior to the schedule change I am not sure if they are obliged to endorse the coupon to another airline in order to get you to your destination for the cruise. LAN's minimum obligation is to get you there which they are sort of doing. If that is the case I believe that your insurance company should then be covering all the extra costs under "additional expenses", "special events" (getting to your cruise on time) - that is why you bought travel insurance. They should pay for the AR flight and maybe any revised fare calculation/reissued tickets (as you are no longer eligible for the LAN airpoass), so that you can get to your destination in time for your cruise. Check the fine print for exclusions etc then try them again and ask for a supervisor etc. Try the insurance ombudsman as the insurance company is based in Australia.

/can you get to El Calefate via a different route with one of the LAN airpass airlines. They should approve the reissue of your ticket on their airline due to their reschedule.

You must be immensely stressed this close to departure. I hope LAN will get their act together and that insurance may actually cover you. Let us know the outcome.

Pico Rivera...
posts: 16
2. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

I know that if an airline makes any schedule changes especially major ones like this you have 2 options either they try to confirm you on the best flights that they can offer you or give you a full refund. I can imagine the frustration over this especially close to your travel dates. I was checking the schedule to El Calafate on April 11, no air schedule on LAN that day from Buenos Aires. So if they canceled the flights all together I don't see why they won't just give you the refund that's the rule on cancellation of flights done on their part. Let me ask you another question were your tickets on QF and LAN issued together or separately? Considering they are ONE WORLD partners, just wondering as that would change the whole thing here and why they are giving you such a hard time. Just a thought!

Adelaide, Australia
posts: 9,233
reviews: 32
3. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

Ummm - a few observations may or may not be very helpful

I can understand how stressful this would be.

BUT

1. The language you have used is quite complicated. People who speak English as a second language will find it very difficult to understand. I have read it several times and still struggle.

2 Just put the facts who spoke to whom and who didn’t respond is a red herring.

3. I am way older than you and would not be bothering to mention your age in relation to your waiting time in Santiago. It is irrelevant to your problem and anyway not at all uncommon. We will have several such layovers on our next trip.

4. If you have to wait buy a ticket to the Lan lounge in Santiago. It is very comfortable.

5. I would be pursuing your travel insurance re this.

6 I wouldn’t be mentioning upgrades etc - just get you to your destination on time.

Edited: 4:58 am, April 04, 2013
Perth, Australia
posts: 1,545
reviews: 98
4. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

Jo_rey63 - We have seperate bookings with Qantas and LAN. The problem is that the flight they have cancelled is on a LAN Pass that must have a minimum of 3 flights on it. They moved our seats on the cancelled flight to another day that will not get us to our ship on time. They are telling me I have to cancel the whole LAN Pass and rebook the other 2 flights on it and this is going to cost us US$1,035 extra.

Nozzie - The email has gone to the Sydney office and they have requested I advise them of all the details of my dealing with the Santiago Call Centre so that is what I have done. You may notice at the very end I have suggested a solution to all these problems. If it gives them pain to read it I would be very glad considering the pain I have been through.

Adelaide, Australia
posts: 9,233
reviews: 32
5. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

<<If it gives them pain to read it I would be very glad considering the pain I have been through.>>

Yeah but that wont help you. I find if i want people to help me sort out a mess (wherever the fault lies) it is necessary to explain things clearly and simply. Flights do get cancelled/changed all the time. Whats happened is horrible fo ryou - but upsetting the LAN staff in Sydney or whereever will not help you to get the problem solved.

AND telling them you want an upgrade will probably just irritate them.

BUT if it was me. I would just go ahead and spend the $$ to get me where I needed to be and would sort out a refund or an insurance claim - (whichever works out) later.

Pico Rivera...
posts: 16
6. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

"Jo_rey63 - We have seperate bookings with Qantas and LAN. The problem is that the flight they have cancelled is on a LAN Pass that must have a minimum of 3 flights on it. They moved our seats on the cancelled flight to another day that will not get us to our ship on time. They are telling me I have to cancel the whole LAN Pass and rebook the other 2 flights on it and this is going to cost us US$1,035 extra.

They shouldn't be charging you anything else to change your flights, that's the rule on any type of schedule changes done by any airline, if the day they pick doesn't suit your needs then they should just do a full refund all together. I've been in this industry too long and I know how these airlines work. If they can't put you on the AR flights than request the refund as per rule 240. Here is a link about this rule. Good luck and hope you make it to your destination to catch that cruise.

executiveblueprints.com/agenda/rule240.htm

Perth, Australia
posts: 1,545
reviews: 98
7. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

A resolution at last after 14 days holding on LAN telephone lines for an enormous amount of hours trying to sort this problem out, talking to 13 different staff members with promises of 7 return calls that never came and staff members I can not talk to again because I was told they do not work there. Even one request to speak to the supervisor was denied because I was told she did not have a phone!!!!!! This has caused us a huge amount of stress and anxiety over the past 14 days particularly when the resolution was only offered 4 days before we leave Australia and within 4 days of the first flight on the reservation.

I totally believe that they make it difficult and do not provide good service expecting passengers will just give up but they did not know me. I fight for my rights and justice. I am sure the only reason I got a resolution was because I did my research on Australian Law and could recite to them my rights.

Thank you to everyone who has offered me advice and support through this process.

On return to Australia I am going to write to LAN's CEO and inform him of the terrible service his staff offer. This whole process would make for a comedy movie.

For those of you that have been following my fight with LAN Airlines over the past 14 days here is what has happened since my last posting:

• 3 April – No email reply received from LAN

• 4 April – I contact the Travel Agent who booked the cruise for us and he gives me the names of some staff to ask for at the Sydney office but the Sydney office is now closed for the day

• 5 April – I phone the Sydney office (number 1800 558129) at 6.50am (9.50am Sydney time) hold on until 7.18 am before Carolina answers the phone. I ask for Shalena the Supervisor and am told she is not available. I explain that I have to speak to her as she is the only one I have been told that can solve my problems. Carolina then tells me that Shalena does not have a phone. I find this seriously hard to believe. I explain the problems to Carolina and she tells me she will discuss it with Shalena and phone me back today as she feels they can assist me because the flight was an ‘Involuntary Cancellation’. I wait at home all day and with no phone call 6 hours later I phone the Sydney office back and speak to Ana who tells me Carolina went home at 1.00pm. I then ask for Shalena and am told she is not available. I explain the problem and say that I need a resolution today. Ana tells me I will have to cancel all the reservation (the 3 flights) apply for a refund and rebook the 2 remaining flights I need. I tell her I am not prepared to do that when LAN has caused all these problems for me. Ana asks me to hold on, is gone for 15 mins, and comes back to tell me Shalena says she can do nothing and I have to speak to Customer Service in Santiago and will need to phone them between 8.00am to 10.00pm Santiago time. Why did she not phone me back earlier in the day to tell me this, leaving me waiting all day for a phone call from them.

• 5 April – I speak to Martin at the New South Wales Fair Trading office (a Government office that managers consumer protection). He advises me that as LAN Australia has breached their contract with me, due to the cancellation of the flight, they will be required to refund my cancelled flight and they are responsible for any further out of pocket expenses that I may incur rebooking flights, however I must officially notify them that if they can not rectify my problems then I will book things myself and claim damages from LAN.

• 5 April – The Australian number 1800 558 129 to call the Santiago Call Centre only operates Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm Eastern Australia Time which is 10.30pm to 7.30am the previous day in Santiago. Then Western Australia is 3 hours behind this. I am therefore required to phone the 56 2 6872400 number at normal international phone rates.

• 5 April – I phone the 56 2 6872400 and it takes me through to the Santiago Call Centre and I ask for Customer service, the staff member will not put me through until he knows why I need to speak to them so I go through this whole story again, then go on hold for 25 minutes before Catalina van der Goes answers. She started with the usual “we will need to cancel the reservation with the 3 flights and rebook the remaining 2 flights but fees and penalties will be applicable”. My response was this “As the ticket is issued with a Sydney address and we paid in Australian dollars then Australian Consumer Law is applicable and I am officially informing you that if LAN does not rectify this situation with no further cost to us then we will be claiming a refund and damages of our extra costs from LAN on our return to Australia”. I asked if she understood that this was an official notification I was giving LAN and she said she did. She asked me to hold on while she referred the matter to her Duty Manager. I told her that I was calling on International phone rates because the Australian line is not operating at this time and I would like someone to phone me back today. We confirmed my telephone number and I hung up. Approximately an hour later Catalina phones back, the first call I have received back in 14 days from a LAN staff member, and advises that she has allocated a case number 13795352 to our reservation and that she will email me later that day with the outcome.

• 6 April – A resolution at last with an email from Catalina at 3.45am below:

As per our conversation, I deleted the Buenos Aires - Calafate flight from your reservation so you can use the rest of your ticket. I have entered notes informing the airport agents that we have authorized the use of non consecutive cupons due to the flight cancellation you suffered.

Please have your claim number available in case the airport agents have any questions regarding this authorization.

Once you have finished your trip, please contact us again so we can request the refund for that flight.

I apologize on behalf of LAN for any inconvinience this situation may have caused you.

Kindest regards,

Catalina van der Goes

Customer Service Support

LAN AIRLINES

Brisbane, Australia
posts: 572
reviews: 12
8. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

Great news Pammies, as per my msg on the other site.

Jo_rey63. Great info. Is rule 240 an American rule or an IATA rule? I have worked for about 20years in the travel industry (not at present) so I don't have access to current info. Is this a universal rule applying to all airlines etc? or specific to carriers etc. I knew that Pammies was entitled to invol reroute after travel had commenced but was not sure of the ruling if travel had not yet commenced. The question was whether LAN had to endorse the coupon to an alterntive carrier or not? Rule 240 would appear to support this. Can you confirm if this is an IATA rule meaning that it would apply to airlines worldwide, not just carriers within the USA.

Thanks so much for your advice and guidance here.

Perth, Australia
posts: 1,545
reviews: 98
9. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

An update on my fight with LAN Airlines.

We paid A$220 each for the flight LAN cancelled on us and they have offered us A$189.65 each as a refund which I told them I would not accept and have given them 21 days to reimburse us the $550 we are out of pocket.

They have credited our account with one payment of $189.65 on 13 May.

They are in for a legal fight with me because I am not giving up like they hope I will and probably most people do give up because of the stress and lack of communication from them.

Lucky for me my daughter is a Lawyer and I am doing this for the principal of the matter and am considering claiming for the stress, pain and suffering they have caused me.

Will keep this thread updated with the progress but it may take awhile.

Perth, Australia
posts: 1,545
reviews: 98
10. Re: LAN Airlines South America - I need some advice please

After 6 months fighting LAN Airlines to get the money they owe me for cancelling our flight they have finally paid me but it took a stern letter setting out the legal procedures I was going to take through the Australian courts to recover what they owed us. Luckily for me my daughter is a Lawyer so she wrote the letter for me.

This has been a very stressful and time consuming 6 months and we would never use LAN again. We can not believe the absolutely terrible service, or no service, that they provide. A company that operated like this in Australia would be out of business in a short period of time with customers not booking with them.

I am sure most people give up their fight and LAN wins but if this happens to you keep fighting them. Better still don't book anything with them and use other airlines. We found Aerolineas Argentinas provided good service and were reliable.

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