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.
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.
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.