You aren’t entitled to LATAM’s fares for Peruvians if you are traveling on a US passport


Charlotte West buys a ticket on LATAM Airlines and books the the cheaper rate for Peruvians. But, she’s flying with a U.S passport, so the airline won’t honor the fare. She had to pay another $177 for the ticket. Can our advocates get the money back?

Question: I booked a round trip flight from Lima to Cajamarca, Peru, on LATAM Airlines. I’m a U.S. citizen but was a resident of Peru at the time that I took the flight.

LATAM has special rates for Peruvian residents. I booked my ticket with my Carnet de Extranjeria, which is a Peruvian identification card for foreign residents. I used my U.S. passport to check in for the flight and LATAM refused to honor the resident fare. I had to pay another $177 because I didn’t have my resident card with me.

I asked if I could get a refund if I showed my resident card at a later date, and the airport staff gave me a phone number to call in Lima. I called later and was directed to the LATAM website. After I filed the claim online, I called again. The customer service agent said she couldn’t help and I would have to seek resolution another way.

I emailed a company executive listed on your site, but have not received a response. I’ve waited two months and haven’t received anything other than a form reply indicating that these are special fares for Peruvian residents.

I’ve left Peru and returned to the U.S. But I was a Peruvian resident when I bought the ticket and took the flights, so I was eligible for the same fares as Peruvians. I acknowledge that this is partially my fault because I should have brought my resident identification to the airport. But I would have thought twice about paying the $177 if I didn’t think it was possible to get a refund.Charlotte West, Camano Island, Wash.

Answer: It is unfortunate that you did not bring your Peruvian resident card to the airport when you checked in for your flight. Subsequent to the flight, you produced documents that established that you were eligible for the fare. But producing the required documents retroactively was insufficient for the airline to refund your money.

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Although you acknowledge that this is partially your fault, I think that’s it’s more than partially your fault. Airlines are very clear and very strict about the types of identification required to check in. Beyond government issued identification, such as a passport or driver’s license, airlines commonly require proof that a flyer meets the criteria for a special fare.

As an example, many airlines offer discounts to those serving in the U.S. Military. You can be assured that if someone books with this discount and can’t produce military identification when required by the airline, the fare won’t be honored.

The LATAM transport agreement provides that:

Passengers are solely responsible for informing themselves about, and obtaining and fulfilling all travel requirements imposed by any authority in the place of origin and the place of destination, and must present identification documents, permits for exit, transit or entry, visa and any other required documents dependent upon the destination. The Carrier will not be held liable whatsoever for any delays or boarding refusals passengers may experience in association with, or arising from, their failure to comply with this obligation.

In trying to resolve this yourself, you did what we recommend. You started with customer service agents on the phone and contacted LATAM Airlines by email. Then, you escalated your complaint to a company executive. We list company contact information for LATAM Airlines on our website. You also could have tried posting your question to our help forums. Our help forums are staffed by travel industry experts and they may have had helpful suggestions about how to address this issue with the airline.

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We sympathize with your situation, and we’re writing about it because it’s a cautionary tale for other travelers. We’re sorry that we couldn’t help you resolve this, and we have to file this as Case Dismissed.


Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from Elliott.org, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight.

  • SirWIred

    It’s time to just let it go. It’s not surprising that there’s zero regular channels for applying the Peru-resident rate after-the-fact. As far as life-lessons go, $177 isn’t very expensive.

    (I’m surprised that it’s even legal to travel in Peru without the resident card; as an example, in the US, Green Card holders must have it with them at all times.)

  • RichardII

    > …US, Green Card holders must have it with them at all times.

    Same thing goes in France.

  • Michael__K

    “Airlines are very clear and very strict about the types of identification required to check in. “

    Has anyone actually checked and verified that the requirement for Peruvian residents to present their Peruvian identification card at checkin, beyond providing the card info at time of purchase, was in fact disclosed with the purchase of this particular fare?

  • Michael__K

    Did LATAM respond to the customer’s emails at all?

    LATAM promises in its Customer Service Plan to acknowledge all written complaints within 30 days and to send a substantive written response within 60 days.

    If LATAM is ignoring the customer’s written complaint — and she’s used the email address published in the Customer Service Plan (customer_service@cc.lan.com) — then a complaint to their regulators is warranted.

    If the flight itinerary was entirely outside the US, then I’m not sure the US DOT would have any jurisdiction, but a US DOT complaint would probably at least compel the airline to give her a response. Or else she can contact the Civil Aviation Ministry in Peru (not sure how responsive they are, but there’s little to lose by trying).

  • RichardII

    The entire itinerary was within Peru.

  • Michael__K

    Which is why I listed the regulators in both countries.

  • RichardII

    How about…
    TICKETS MAY ONLY BE SOLD IN PERU.
    NOTE –
    PROMOTION–APPLIES FOR PERUVIAN RESIDENTS–
    RESIDENCE IN PERU SHALL BE ACCREDITED WITH
    PERUVIAN ID OR ALIEN CARD OTHERWISE AN ADDITIONAL
    CHARGE OF USD 178.5 WILL BE APPLIED OR BOARDING
    WILL BE DENIED.

    And, from the article above…
    Passengers are solely responsibility for informing themselves about, and obtaining and fulfilling all travel requirements…

  • Annie M

    I don’t quite understand why you recommend directing people you can’t help to the forums. If you can’t fix the problem with the many company contacts you have, why would the forums be able to?

  • RichardII

    It would appear, from the LATAM Customer Service Plan, that the response times you quoted apply to complaints received through their website’s the contact page, a specific email address or a specific postal address. That commitment probably does not apply to messages sent to an email address provided by a third-party organization, and which may no longer be valid and is directed to someone who may no longer be employed.

  • Kevin Nash

    Why did you list the US DOT when the itinerary was entirely within Peru?

    It has no jurisdiction and telling OP to file a complaint with the US DOT just wastes the time of US regulators.

  • RichardII

    Another interesting angle to this story are the two statements:
    > But I would have thought twice about paying the $177
    > if I didn’t think it was possible to get a refund.
    and
    > I asked if I could get a refund if I showed my resident card at
    > a later date, and the airport staff gave me a phone number to call in Lima.

    It was not reported the agent made any promise or representation of a refund. So, taking the LW at her word, she thought she would get a refund and therefore continued with the flight. BTW, it is not clear that if she had not paid whether she would have been considered a no show, or been given a credit or refund.

    By the way, I thought the “Elliott” response was right on the money.

  • Michael__K

    Because the airline has a Customer Service Plan which it must comply with and because the airline operates in the United States and must adhere to this plan to do so.

  • Michael__K

    Where did you find that where someone could verify it? It’s something, but it’s still not clear that providing the ID information at purchase (which the OP *did*) does not qualify to “accredit” the ID.

    Passengers are solely responsibility for informing themselves about, and obtaining and fulfilling all travel requirements…

    This wasn’t a “travel requirement” that a passenger could inform themselves about by contacting any embassy or consulate (or else the customer wouldn’t have been allowed to travel).

  • Kevin Nash

    Please cite a FAA regulation that states that it has jurisdiction over purely overseas flights. Thank you in advance.

  • Kevin Nash

    Why does one need to “inform themselves” of something that is obvious from the get go?

    OP obviously knew the fare was only for “Peruvian residents” otherwise she wouldn’t have written to this website asking for assistance otherwise. If I try to book a fare only available to AAA, AARP members, active military, etc., it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that I am going to have to show some evidence that I qualify for those fares.

  • Michael__K

    14 CFR 259.6 requires that each U.S. and foreign air carrier that has a website marketed to U.S. consumers post its customer service plan. Failure to abide by the posted plan is an unfair and deceptive trade practice.

  • Michael__K

    You must have missed the part where she wrote:

    I booked my ticket with my Carnet de Extranjeria, which is a Peruvian identification card for foreign residents.

    So she may have had reason to believe that they already had the information to verify her residency at the time of booking.

  • Kevin Nash

    In fact, you can only book those Peru resident only fares on the LATAM Peru website which is entirely in Spanish and don’t require the customer to input any additional information at the time of booking.

  • Michael__K

    If so, then I agree she should have known to bring it. But what you assert wasn’t apparent from the article.

  • KanExplore

    I think my situation is a different kind of fare rule, but I worked through a travel agent in Lima to book flights within Peru. They did book at a special in-country rate, and a representative came out to the airport to meet me in the middle of the night. I paid cash for the domestic tickets and although I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing, it worked fine. In my case, though, it was apparently sufficient to purchase the tickets in country, as opposed to being a resident of the country. It looks like the OP actually was entitled to the special rate, but was unable to prove it upon trying to check in. I would certainly echo the recommendation always to carry the verifying documentation when using any kind of special rate in any context.

  • C Schwartz

    At the time this happened the OP was not a resident of the US and not
    protected by US consumer laws and issues. The OP was a resident of Peru
    and bought a fare that was marketed only to residents of Peru and was
    not marketed to the US — so basically I agree with you.

  • Marc

    I’m disappointed the Elliott team didn’t make more of an attempt (or seemingly any attempt?) for the OP on this one. I don’t see the OP as trying to get one over on someone; she qualified for the fare when she booked, didn’t have proof at the time of check-in, but has been offering proof since then. This didn’t even merit someone sending a quick e-mail to the airline, just to ask if they could take another look?

    Let’s get Michelle Couch-Friedman to give this one a go.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    When I book international tickets on AA, I enter my passport information…does it means that I don’t have to bring my passport? On the Hilton website, it requires my AAA number…does it means that I don’t have to show AAA card at check-in?

    Even if someone enters something (passport, id, AAA, etc.) on the website…the “number” or “id” could be stolen thus is why airlines, hotels, amusement parks, etc. ask to see the actual ID at ‘entrance’, check-in, registration, etc.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    We went to a zoo when we were on a vacation. The zoo had an AAA rate. Our AAA membership just renewed and I forgot to put the new card in my wallet. I explained to the person that I forgot to put the new card in my wallet; I pointed out that printed on my old AAA card that we have been members for over 15 years; etc…no AAA discount. I called AAA and had them to fax my a copy of card to the zoo…we received the AAA discount.

    The OP forgot her resident card. As it was pointed out by other readers, she needed to carry her resident card with her at all times.

  • Michael__K

    A Passport on an international trip is for immigration. Apples and oranges.
    If you booked with an AAA card number which the business can verify is under your name, and you have another photo ID with your name on it, then they know the card was not stolen.

  • Blamona

    She’s not partially at fault, she’s completely at fault

  • Lindabator

    You do not qualify for a special fare without the documents when checking in – so her own fault

  • Lindabator

    +1000

  • RichardII

    Not exactly. A passport for a domestic flight, like within Peru, is for identification. The passengers do not even see the immigration officers. In this case the airline wanted to verify two things, the identity of the passenger and the passengers status as a resident. They accepted the US passport as personal identity it still needed proof of residency. I am not familiar with a Peruvian resident card, but, I would imagine it would have also been acceptable as personal ID.

    How about instead of a AAA card, it was a military or government employee, or University, or Medical, ID, etc, etc. It is just conjecture to state what a hotel would, or would not, accept in lieu of the actual identification card.

  • RichardII

    On the other hand, @Kevin Nash didn’t assume anything. It was also not apparent that she purchased the ticket in person at a LATAM office or from a travel agent. Since the sales channel is unknown, it is up to the reader to consider all possibilities and then, by reasoning, come up with the most likely scenario.

  • Michael__K

    Your comments and his comments clearly presume that the residency card was not “accedited” at the time of booking (for example, by buying the ticket in person from a ticket office in Lima).

  • Michael__K

    She had a passport for identification. Their demand for the residency card also specifically at check-in had absolutely nothing to do with security requirements and everything to do with their pricing strategy for maximizing profits.
    The business can demand you show your card again and again at as many points in time as they want. I was just pointing out that the OP might have believed in good faith that she had already proven her residency. If that’s not the case, then this doesn’t apply.

  • joycexyz

    Absolutely right!

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    You are assuming the airlines, hotels, car rental, etc. are actually interfacing with AAA, AARP, federal government, etc. databases.

    When I am entering my AAA membership number on the Hilton website, Hilton is NOT checking 1) that my name of my AAA membership is matching the name on the reservation and 2) that my AAA membership is current. They are just checking that my membership number is in the correct format and falls within the range of membership numbers. A few times over the years, I have typed the wrong AAA number and I still received the AAA discount when making the reservation.

    When I enter my passport number on an airline reservation, the airline doesn’t check with the US government to make sure that 1) my passport is active; 2) the name on the passport matches the name on the ticket (if it did…this site will lose several articles a year about different names).

  • Michael__K

    I’m not assuming. You are assuming that there must not be any up-front validation and that the booking could not have been made (for example) in person at a local ticket office.

  • Marc

    I forgot one of my GoPass Cards while visiting the San Diego zoo. I asked and assumed they wouldn’t be able to do anything, but they offered if I paid the full fare on entry, they provided me a refund form and said to mail in my GoPass Card afterwards and they would refund the amount paid. And wouldn’t you know it they actually did it?!

  • Marc

    The point of providing proof is to ensure you qualify for the fare. I still miss the point of why they couldn’t charge the difference at the point of sale, but then provide a refund after the evidence was provided. Seems a pretty hard line approach.

  • El Dorado Hills

    All of this for $177.00. Get a life. There are a lot more important issues than this.

  • C Schwartz

    It is a hard line but one I think done out of necessity. I could easily digitally manipulate a scanned document — put my photo and name in and have a legitimate passport number.
    The airlines do not have access to the government databases to verify number of ID card and name — this is the same reason that when flying on an international ticket, I still have to show my passport when checking in even though I have input my passport information into the reservation. I still have to show my passport (as a US citizen) when checking in for on international flight as there is no exit immigration when leaving the US.

  • C Schwartz

    The input of information for the resident translates out to validation — but what that means to the Peruvians legally is another question.

    These resident vs non resident fares are common in South America — so common that there are posts on various websites telling people how to game the system — the most common being check in online with no luggage and bypass check in and go straight to security and hope that no one notices when boarding/

    Many of the reservations have the following text as a disclaimer:

    JULIACA INCO XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    LIMA JORGE ARRIVAL TIME: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    CHAVEZ INTL

    AT CHECK-IN, PLEASE SHOW A PICTURE IDENTIFICATION AND THE DOCUMENT YOU GAVE FOR REFERENCE AT RESERVATION TIME

    The airlines do not have access to the government databases to verify that the inputed number is valid.

  • C Schwartz

    The traveler indicated that a respsonse was received but it was not a personalized response:

  • C Schwartz

    The traveler stated “I booked” and I input so that sounds like the traveler did it and not a TA

  • Michael__K

    That original form reply was not a substantive response because she is/was a Peruvian resident, and asking how to show this so she can get her non-resident surcharge back.

  • C Schwartz

    But the traveler writes “I booked” .. not the travel agent, not the airline ticket office. If either a travel agent or a city ticket office had booked the flight and seen the resident permit when booking wouldn’t the traveler have mentioned that? Mentioned I showed my resident card to X at the ticket office in Y city when I bought the ticket on Z date?

  • Michael__K

    “Many of the reservations have the following text as a disclaimer:”
    And that would be entirely appropriate. I was curious if the author (and others) have verified that such a statement was in fact present in this case, or if people are merely assuming so without checking.

    “The airlines do not have access to the government databases to verify that the inputed number is valid.”
    I have no idea and I’m not sure you do either in this case. Some “government databases” (e.g. driver’s licenses in the US) are public record and private companies offer verification services. Also, as far as we know from the article, the ticket could have been purchased from a ticket office with the residency card presented.

  • C Schwartz

    No not a substantive response but a response. The issue is that she could not prove that she was a Peruvian resident when checking in. She could have canceled the flight and left and rebooked and brought her card.

  • C Schwartz

    I would hope that the traveler had received such a disclaimer. But without the actual confirmation we are left in the dark, I have a strong idea that the Peruvian databases are not accessible to the airlines because of all the post on traveler forums talking about the issue in South America (not just Peru with resident fares). Just check on forums and people that are in Peru as tourists were able to book the resident fares and did not take the restrictions seriously — and had to pay the $178. Some forums even have advice on how to game the system check in online, print out boarding pass, no luggage to check — and hope that one is not challenged at the boarding gate. Unless all the various people on the traveler forums are fabricating stories for fun since 2010 I have no reason to doubt them.

  • Michael__K

    If I book/purchase something in person I would still say I did it, even if technically a retail agent processed my request. “I booked my ticket with my Carnet de Extranjeria.” implied to me that either the card was presented in person or that she entered information and there were cues to suggest that this information was verified.

  • Michael__K

    “LATAM will acknowledge in writing receipt of any complaint regarding its scheduled service you [sic] within 30 days of receiving it and shall send a substantive written response to you within 60 days of receiving the complaint. “

  • C Schwartz

    That statement is in response to the Customer service requirements that you posted — 14 CFR 259.6 — which is for fares marketed to US consumers. The traveler was not a US consumer at the time as she was a Peruvian resident. Her complaint has to do with a ticket that is not marketed to US consumers only Peruvian residents. So it is debatable as to whether she is even covered — she may need to assess her rights under Peruvian law.

  • Michael__K

    Maybe. But if LATAM thinks it is entitled to keep her surcharge then it is treating her as an American customer, not a Peruvian customer. In which case maybe the extra $177 at least entitles her to a substantive response ;)

  • C Schwartz

    if an airline ticket office or a TA had misrepresented what documentation is needed at check in during the purchase of the ticket it would be likely that the traveler would have mentioned it.

    The traveler admits “I acknowledge that this is partially my fault because I should have brought my resident identification to the airport.” — there is no assignment of fault to a TA or other ticketing agent

  • C Schwartz

    The airline is treating her as a person who booked a resident fare and did not bring her resident card to prove that she is a resident. This was not a fare marketed to US consumers or Australian or any other consumers — Peruvian residents only. It is not treating her an American, people from other countries try to the same thing. So no it is not by default treating her as an American it is treating her as a non Peruvian resident. There are many other countries the that a person with a US passport could have legal residency.

  • Michael__K

    An omission is not the same as a misrepresentation. Admitting partial fault is perfectly consistent with her not confirming and the agent or website not conspicuously volunteering the info either.

  • Michael__K

    You could say that the surcharge she was forced to pay to travel is ‘marketed’ to non-Peruvians, including Americans.

  • C Schwartz

    I would not say that because I do not thrive on disingenuous arguments. The fare is for Peruvian residents. She bought a fare for Peruvian residents. Had she purchased a Peruvian resident fare on the US website it would be different. The LATAM US website does not offer the fares for Peruvian residents. Neither does the LATAM France website have the Peruvian resident fares for purchase.

  • Michael__K

    What’s disingenuous is a business not even having the courtesy to respond to what their customer is asking them, contrary to their own written policies, even if their answer is ‘no.’
    The customer was a Peruvian resident and that is not in dispute. And it is not in dispute that at the airport she was sold and paid a non-resident surcharge which is marketed to non-Peruvians including Americans.

  • RichardII

    There is no evidence the LW followed the website instructions. She says only that she filled in a claim online and then contacted someone from the Elliott executive contact list. As I noted above, but perhaps you missed, The LATAM Customer Service Plan response times you quoted apply to complaints received through LATAM’s website’s contact page, a specific email address or a specific postal address. That commitment would not apply to messages sent to an email address provided by a third-party organization which may no longer be valid or is directed to someone who may no longer be employed. Not all emails that fail to be delivered return a bounce response, so it is quite possible that nobody ever saw her message.

  • Michael__K

    She followed the instructions of the airport agent, and called an office which gave her different instructions which she followed online to submit a claim which was not addressed…. She proactively called since there was no response, and speaks to someone who says they can’t help and also can’t tell her who can….
    Then she emails Elliott’s contacts — the first of which exactly matches the email address in LATAM’s Customer Service Plan…

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