LATAM is the largest airline in South America. With Delta’s move to acquire 20% of the airline, LATAM is leaving oneworld and its planned joint venture with American Airlines to align itself with the Atlanta-based carrier.
News of Delta’s plan only came out in the fall, and they’re already launching reciprocal mileage-earning and redemption starting April 1.
Expect the best award availability to be within a month of departure, based on my past experience with the airline. And expect Delta’s award pricing to be higher than what you’d come to expect from their partnership with American. I’d expect to see business class awards cost about 100,000 miles each way between the U.S. and Southern South America.
Alaska Airlines remains a LATAM partner (although I don’t expect that to remain the case in the long term) and offers outstanding value redemptions, e.g. 45,000 mile business class awards each way between the U.S. and South America.
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While LATAM isn’t joining SkyTeam, elite benefits across the two airlines will begin later in the year, and are expected to include lounge access, baggage allowance and priority seat selection as well as priority boarding.
In addition Delta will move its operations in with LATAM at São Paulo/Guarulhos airport, and they’ve added codesharing on LATAM Colombia, Ecuador and Peru flights. An agreement has been reached for codesharing with LATAM Brazil.