How to Get Delta Airlines Benefits on Your Latam Airline Bookings
In case you haven't heard, Delta Airlines and Latam Airlines are now good buddies. In other words, they are code share partners. This means they have each other's backs. I recently traveled to Peru and thought I would try to use my Delta miles to book my flights in Peru between Lima and Cusco. I discovered this travelhack which might work for others as well.
Here's what happened when I booked my Latam flight on Delta Airlines.
One thing to be aware of is that code sharing doesn't mean that the airlines partners don't have access to every seat on every flight. But in this situation, there can be an advantage in buying and paying for a ticket for a flight on Latam Airlines through the Delta portal. At the time I did it, in December 2020, I had to call Delta directly because it was not possible to make a reservation online. You don't have to have a Delta frequent flier account to do this. Anyone can call Delta to buy a seat on Latam.
First, I asked the Delta agent to check availability for any flight from Lima to Cusco on my travel date. On December 27, there was not even one seat available using my points. Then I asked if there were any seats I could buy. Again, none were available for this date. I figured this had something to do with Christmas holiday travel patterns and I was right. So I was forced to search for other options. All flights from Lima to Cusco on Dec 27 on Latam Airlines website and other 3rd party portals were a whopping $450 USD roundtrip, or one way!
My flight on Sky Airlines from Lima to Cusco.
Sky Airlines offered a one-way ticket for $157 USD not including checked baggage fees. Although I tried to get advance info on baggage fees it was impossible and I was instructed to do this at checkin. So I took a chance. When I showed up to checkin 2 hours prior to scheduled departure, I found out that I would have to check my rolling carryon bag as well. I was charged $72 USD for my 23kg big bag and my small rolling carryon. However, when I boarded the plane I noticed that other passengers brought their rolling carryon bags into the cabin and they fit the overhead bins just fine. I wasn't happy about the situation, but I had no choice at the time. They also stuck me in a middle seat. I supposed it's because I refused to pay extra for a pre-assigned seat. At the checkin desk, I was so focused on the luggage fees, I completely forgot to ask about my seat assignment. Fortunately, the duration of the flight is only 1 hour/20 minutes.
Many lessons learned. The most important is, I should have booked my local flights right after I booked my international flights. The rates were low at the time and I stopped tracking the rates.
My flight on Latam Airlines from Cusco to Lima.
Getting into the Cusco airport on January 11 was a bit of a problem, but that's another blog post for another day! I arrived a good solid 2 hours prior to departure. The Cusco airport is pretty small and 2 hours is plenty of time. There was no line at Latam and I had the benefit of all the agents's full attention. All my bags were thoroughly examined. Checkin was pretty easy and there were no issued with my checked bag which was at the maximum weight. I changed bags with my friends in Cusco so I didn't have to deal with a rolling carryon that might not fit the overhead bin. I was carrying a small duffle bag and a briefcase with a laptop. The handle on my big checked bag had a cover that zipped over it when not in use. The cover was getting threadbare and the Latam agent made me sign a paper saying that Latam was not responsible for the condition of my well-worn luggage. I was fine with that. Again I forgot to ask for a seat assignment and was happy to discover I was on the aisle about 3/4 of the way back in the cabin. In Cusco they allow people to enter both the front and rear doors. However in Lima, everyone exits out the front. So I had to wait a bit. All in all the flight was fine. My total cost came to $123 USD.
The total cost for roundtrip flights between Lima and Cusco came to $352 USD, which was a savings of $100 USD if you consider that the going rate was $450 USD.
Is there a downside to booking codeshare flights?
Yes. The price could be different. And if the flight is cancelled last minute you would need to contact Delta to get rebooked. And reserving seats is best done at the Latam counter when you check in. Although I have seen emails sent in advance offering seat reservations for a fee.
Next time I fly to Peru and anywhere in South America, I will certainly consider contacting Delta Airlines to book my flights on Latam Airlines.