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Make the most of your miles! Award booking strategies for LAN Airlines flights.




We’re working on strategies for booking award tickets on various airlines (not necessarily using that airline’s own program). Next, an airline that doesn’t see a whole lot of attention, is LAN Airlines. While LAN and TAM have joined as LATAM, this post applies primarily to LAN flights.

Where can you go?

Destinations served nonstop by LAN from the U.S. are Buenos Aires, Santiago, Bogota, Guayaquil, Quito and Lima.

LAN serves Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru, and also has nonstop service to Argentina as well as flights within South America. For most cities within Argentina, you’d have to fly via SCL, or to EZE and then continue on from Buenos Aires’ other airport, AEP.

Map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

Map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

There are some interesting possibilities on LAN’s route map to work in a stopover in Mexico, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic using Southwest award tickets. Full LAN route maps are here.

The Product

All LAN long-haul flights from North America to South America are on A340, 763 or 787 aircraft with 32″ seat pitch in Economy and lie-flat beds in business class. The competition with the most award availability is Copa, which has no lie-flat beds at all. That’s worth considering if you’re looking for a more comfortable ride, as many of LAN’s flights leave the U.S. late at night and are 7-13 hours.

Miles or points to use:

American miles – the 5-day hold offered by AA may be critical to getting the flights needed for award travel to South America on LAN, particularly in premium cabins. From North America to Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, AA award tickets on LAN including AA, Alaska or US flights require 17,500 miles each way in coach or 30K in business class. That’s a 7-8 hour overnight flight in business class for 30K miles – a similar length flight to Europe requires 50K!

LAN’s own program, LANpass Kilometers, and miles and points from any other Oneworld airline as well as Alaska Airlines and Aeromexico can also be used. Hereare some sample roundtrip costs:While LAN prices appear much higher, remember that this is partly due to the fact that they speak metric 😉

Starwood points can be transferred to LANpass kilometers, and by taking advantage of the bonus given for transferring in blocks of 20K, 20,000 SPG points will give you 37,500 LANpass KMs. US Bank also issues a LAN co-branded credit card. The standard bonus is 20K – occasionally the bonus is doubled.

Searching for space:

For space available to LAN partners, I use britishairways.com and search one segment at a time. Unfortunately LAN flights are not displayed online at aa.com or alaskaair.com.

Space available using LANpass KMs can be searched at lan.com – simply click LANPASS on the top right corner of the search box. The full LAN saver level award chart is here.

When to book:

You’ve probably heard the advice: “Plan to book family award travel early! Like as soon as the schedule opens up!”

And then you’ve heard the counterpoint: “Some airlines don’t even offer saver level seats at the end of their calendar, plan to book 8-10 months out (or at the last minute or some other time frame).”

LAN takes the guesswork and tracking out of it – in order to redeem with partner programs you pretty much have to plan 11 months in advance. But if you can, it has the best availability and route network to much of South America. That’s why I recommended using AA miles and AA’s free 5-day hold policy on award tickets for booking travel on LAN (except Easter Island or Avios sweet spots). Here’s what I have found in searches over the past couple of months:

  • There are 4 business class award seats (occasionally 5) and at least 7 coach award seats available on nearly every single flight and on nearly every single day.
  • With the exception of a few routes and lone coach seats, all long-haul flights are available for booking at 329-331 days out, and available for one-two days only! These seats are not being booked during the one+ day they are available, LAN simply opens them only for that short window and then pulls them from partner award inventory.
  • The routes that most frequently have seats for longer are from Miami and Mexico City. However, even those rarely last a week.
  • Some short-haul flights within South America have generally good availability throughout the calendar. Other routes have similar availability to the long-haul calendar. I recommend doing dummy searches 340-350 days before your planned travel, for flights a few weeks before you plan to go, so you’ll know what to expect.
  • The exact timing for releasing seats seems to vary a little by route but be consistent for each route. As I look right now, JFK-SCL is available only for 331 days out, LAX-SCL only for 330 days out.

AA award holds are free. They cost nothing. Use them. Yes, you have to call. But by placing each direction of your travel on hold as soon as the flight you want opens up, you give yourself 5 days for AA/US/AS flights to open up and figure out plans. However, you should expect that LAN seats will not become available again if you allow the award hold to run out.

I found availability using LANpass KMs to be good at 110%-140% of their saver level rates on coach seats throughout the schedule, as well as on business class seats if booked well in advance. Business class rates for this summer were generally much higher.

Booking difficulties:

LAN will not show you a route online with mixed fare classes, so many routes that require a short flight on a single-class plane can’t be booked online as part of a business class ticket. You’ll have to call in to confirm pricing and book. Otherwise LAN’s site works well for LAN space and also shows TAM space for some routes.

Recent reports indicate SPG transfers to LAN take a few days.

If you are calling AA to book, record and be prepared to give the agent the full flight number with airline code that you found at BA’s site, which may begin with LA for LAN, LP for LAN Peru XL for LAN Ecuador and so on.

After Robert commented below on the lack of LAN Ecuador seats, I found that BA only seems to show XL flights when combined with another LAN flight. So for the JFK-GYE flight he needs, I could only find it by searching JFK-LIM.

AA will not allow you to get to Southern South American via Northern South America. So no LAX-LIM-EZE or anything like that when booking with AA miles, unless you want to book two separate awards which would allow a stopover and cost 32,500 miles in coach or 62,500 miles in business class.

The fact that the time window to book flights is so narrow basically rules out any of the awesome stuff you could do on LAN flights with stopover-friendly programs such as Japan Airlines miles. Unless you can find a way to put your award on hold for as long as your trip will be.

There are a few airports that don’t show up on britishairways.com, including San Andres Island (ADZ).

LAN’s transpacific routes are supposed to be difficult to find. This is, of course, due to people not studying LAN award availability and understanding it. It’s wide open to partners at 331 days out and gone after that! The same is true of their SCL-AKL flight which presents a potentially fun way to get to New Zealand (or continue on to Sydney) in business class with a stopover in South America.

Bring the family, pose with the Maori!

Bring the family, hang out with the Moai!

And then continue on to Tahiti a day or two later!

And then continue on to Tahiti a day or two later!

By using Alaska’s stopover rules, you could book U.S.-SCL, stop over, and then continue on to Easter Island, all in business class for 45K miles and then use 12,500 Avios to get to Tahiti in coach.

Other stuff

Ecuador is particularly interesting both for award pricing and family adventure possibilities. From the Galapagos Islands to volcanoes and the Amazon rain forest, it offers an incredible diversity within a relatively small area. And one-way flights within Ecuador on LAN can be gotten for 4,500 Avios or 5,000 AA miles!

I’m hoping to put this research to use myself very soon, so I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the release of award seats. If anything changes with LAN’s award seat schedule, I’ll update this post! Is there an airline you’d like me to dig into the nuances of award booking for? Let me know in the comments!

– Kenny

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Robert February 24, 2015, 9:34 pm

    If only there were some flights with LAN available on either AA or BA from JFK to UIO. I keep on searching on the latter one’s website but there is not even a single flight either next week or January or so.

    • Kenny February 24, 2015, 9:53 pm

      When I search JFK-LIM January 20 it’s showing availability JFK-GYE as well as JFK-LIM, and you can continue GYE-UIO 1/21. XL0593 JFK-GYE 21:20-04:00+1, 4 J seats. I’m getting odd error messages right now at britishairways.com. Search LIM-UIO to find the GYE-UIO flight you want.

  • Marc February 24, 2015, 11:00 pm

    I ended up using AA miles for a recent trip on LAN from SCL>IPC (Thanks to BA.com). Business class seats were the only ones available, but I wasn’t complaining. I was actually surprised that seat availability stayed up there for a few days.

  • mike February 24, 2015, 11:09 pm

    Might be worth noting that LAN frequent flyer program LifeMiles periodically offers 2×1 sales. I’m in Quito now with an upcoming UIO-MGA flight booked during a September sale at about $200 all-in. Coach fare is about $600. Availability was rife. Personally, I’d like to see nuances of award booking for South America generally — I understand several airlines consider the entire continent a single region for US-originating travel, which opens up lots of possible itineraries depending on stopover/open-jaws permitted on ANA, Turkish and, I think, Alitalia.

    • Kenny February 25, 2015, 11:52 pm

      I’m not sure about LANPASS promos for purchasing points – the Lifemiles program is Avianca’s. LAN definitely does run some very good fare sales at times.

  • John February 25, 2015, 11:50 am

    LAN also flies PUJ-MIA which might be a good way to use avios. not sure of other implications

  • Secretary Toaster February 25, 2015, 7:50 pm

    Hey just FYI this is great. Thanks for putting this together.

    • Kenny February 26, 2015, 9:59 pm

      Thanks! I hope to put it to good use myself next month.

  • saianel February 26, 2015, 12:51 am

    Are you sure LAN Argentina shows on BA? I’ve looked for flights 330-331 days from JFK/MIA to EZE and zero appear. I then tried looking for short flights such as EZE to COR, and there’s nothing. BA doesn’t even list other Argentinian airports such as Medina or Iguazu.

    • Kenny February 26, 2015, 8:28 am

      I would call AA or AS and ask (actually I will but you should if you’re currently trying to book for next January). The JFK-SCL flight continues on to EZE as a direct flight. There are also direct JFK-LIM-SCL flights with one flight number that may be able to be booked with AA miles as a single award.

      • saianel February 26, 2015, 9:50 am

        I called last night & looking 330-331 days in advance, two agents were perfectly able to see LAN Chile, LAN Colombia, LAN Peru, LAN Ecuador, etc… However, they cannot see LAN Argentina. When I called and mentioned 4M, one agent immediately said ‘I don’t think I can do that one’.

        Something is definitely off.

  • Barb March 6, 2015, 6:40 am

    I am having the same problem as saianel.

    I followed your directions and found the exact flight combination I want for Buenos Aires to Miami to RDU available on LAN Argentina (fight 4M4520) on the British Airways website in January 2016, but when I call American Airlines to book it, none of the agents see it as available to book (tried HUCA several times). Any suggestions?

    • Kenny March 6, 2015, 7:38 am

      Very frustrating, unless you have the Avios to just book with them. Or possibly US Airways miles. I won’t have time to look at anything today or this weekend, but is there by any chance an available EZE-SCL-MIA that would work on LA flights rather than 4M?

      • Barb March 7, 2015, 12:20 am

        Yes, it is so frustrating: Only need 2 seats and there are currently 7 business class seats available on LAN for my flights on the British Airways site. Would prefer to fly from EZE to Miami nonstop. I might have the Avios miles needed; will call British Airways and see how many AVIOS it would take and what the fees are; that is if they can actually book it (BA website shows the award flights I want (on LAN from EZE to MIA and on American from MIA to RDU), but when I choose the itinerary the system doesn’t allow them to be booked directly on the website and says to call). Do you think LAN is purposely not releasing the seats to American Airlines or is this more likely just an unfortunate programming glitch?

        Also, I am a bit concerned about booking an international flight on LAN with BA so far in advance…… recently had a problem with a domestic US Airways flight booked with AVIOS; the US Airways flight was cancelled about a month before the flight, a similar flight that would have been perfect on American Airlines existed; AA referred me to British Airways to fix this since the ticket was booked through BA; BA would not put me on the AA flight; instead they refunded my taxes and AVIOS. It was not a big deal in this case; I didn’t push BA/AA further on this since the fare on the AA route was very reasonably priced at the time this happened, and it was easier (and probably a better use of resources all around) to just let it go and pay $ for the flight. But it would be a very big deal if I booked the LAN flight thru BA, the flight was cancelled at some point before January 2016, and BA just refunded the AVIOS rather than put us on a different flight, when there might no longer be other viable options for using miles. It seems like dealing with American might be easier if a problem came up (AA Platinum and the LAN flight connects to an AA flight in Miami). Should I be concerned about booking LAN through British Airways?

        If worst comes to worst, we will use an AA Business Anytime Award (no saver availability). Bummer- Liked the idea of LAN better than the AA flight: the AA award costs way more miles and from what I read the AA seats do not lie flat but the LAN seats do.

  • skor March 8, 2015, 12:03 pm

    Great post!
    Since the LAN awards open up for only 1-2 days, doesn’t it make booking LAN with US Airways Dividend Miles extremely difficult due to the round-trip restriction? any way around that? Do you book a round-trip with dummy return date and then change the award (paying the change fee) when the return date availability opens up?

    • Kenny March 9, 2015, 1:36 pm

      Yes, US Airways Dividend miles aren’t really a good fit for LAN flights unless you have the status to make fee-free changes.

  • Taz May 14, 2015, 5:02 pm

    Hi, 11 months out if you use partner programs. How far out do you have to book if you want to use LAN kilometers to fly LAN?

    • Kenny May 14, 2015, 11:02 pm

      Lanpass KMs required go up at the same time as ‘Saver’ flights, those available to partners, go away. But the increase is often very slight. I’d do some shopping around on their site – It’s pretty easy to use. Roundtrip or multi-city travel is required.

      • Taz May 15, 2015, 3:16 pm

        I’m looking at the LAN Visa offer for 48000 km after $2500 spend in 3 months. It says I can travel from US to Peru for 48000 km but the lowest I’m getting when I search is 48000 km each way, not round trip. I’ve checked dates in June, September and December 2015 and January 2016 and tried MIA and JFK as starting points. I’m trying to figure out if I should get that card or not.

        • Kenny May 15, 2015, 3:32 pm

          MIA-LIM is 24K one-way at LAN’s lowest level, and it goes up from there to 28K, 34K and so on. With the roudtrip requirement it is difficult but possible to get a ticket for 48K. Currently 4/1-4/8 is 48K roundtrip, and most combinations returning at 330 days out and leaving a week or two prior are 48K-58K.

          With coach seats on that route on both AA and LAN at 12.5K Avios each way, I don’t think the LAN card is a great deal. Even though it does earn 1.6 LAN KMs per dollar spent.

          • Taz May 15, 2015, 4:32 pm

            Thanks!

  • Tara May 23, 2015, 10:57 pm

    I just got the Lanpass Visa that gives 20k (32187 km) miles with first spend. The statement won’t go out until the middle of June and in the meanwhile awards between GYE or UIO and both Galapagos airports is skyrocketing. I was just going to buy the extra km to round it up assuming I needed 36k for 2 tickets. Just a few days ago, there was availability for 18k RT on most dates in 2016. I just looked now and they are ALL at 23-24k RT. What happened in the last few days?

    Also, it doesn’t seem possible to book open jaw awards, there is no multicity option. The rules do say that open jaws are allowed in the same zone and all of Ecuador is in one zone.

    • Kenny May 23, 2015, 11:15 pm

      On what’s going on with LAN Ecuador, I don’t know. But I also found saver availability on U.S.-Ecuador routes disappeared in the past few weeks while Peru routes remain unchanged. Routes other than simple roundtrips must be booked over the phone when booking with LAN KMs, and the only hard and fast rule AFAIK is that you can’t book a one-way award ticket.

  • smbayguy August 11, 2015, 1:59 pm

    Thank you Kenny. Got the seats I wanted on LAN: SFO-LAX-LIM-CUZ and returning back on: IQT-LIM-LAX-SFO. Now, I need to find out the activities and book good hotels.

    • Kenny August 11, 2015, 10:44 pm

      That’s great, so glad this post was helpful to y’all! I did this research primarily for our own trip, but it seems to be getting several families to Peru to explore next summer!

    • Steven January 12, 2017, 3:52 am

      smbayguy – how far out did you book your SFO flights on LAN? Also, was LAN able to ticket the SFO-LAX segments too? Interested to hear how much in advance you needed to plan. Thanks!

      • smbayguy July 20, 2017, 12:00 pm

        I booked exactly 300 days out as suggested by Kenny

  • Ryan September 8, 2015, 7:15 pm

    I booked Mia to Lima tickets for this July as soon as they were available. BA.com showed “7 reward seats available” at the time of booking. When trying to book my return flight from Lima to Miami, the site now shows only “1 reward seat available” even though I am attempting to book the earliest date possible. Any idea as to why that might be?

    • Kenny September 15, 2015, 9:39 pm

      Sorry, I likely didn’t get to this in time to try to help. AA has also been opening seats on their LIM-MIA and LIM-DFW flights if you’re looking for coach. I have also seen single LAN seats but within a day it has showed 7 in coach each time I’ve searched.

  • Gary October 7, 2015, 8:39 am

    Excellent post. Up until recently I was consistently seeing LAN award seats available 330 days out when searching on British Airways but over the past couple months, I have stopped seeing this pattern. Now when I search for a flight like JFK-LIM 330 days out, British Airways award search engine doesn’t show any seats. Are you aware of any recent changes in the way they are issuing award availability? Or perhaps this is just an issue with the BA search engine? Or perhaps I am doing something wrong.

    • Gary October 7, 2015, 8:43 am

      Slight adjustment to my comment as I am still sometimes seeing exactly 1 business class seat available 329-331 days out when searching on BA.com. But I am never seeing more than this. Are they only releasing 1 J seat nowdays?

    • Kenny October 7, 2015, 10:35 pm

      Not good. I’m also seeing just one seat on LAN long-haul flights. I’ll do more digging when I can, but I’d call AA and check to see if more seats are actually available.

      • Jeremy December 18, 2015, 10:24 am

        Any updates on this? Is LAN not releasing space any more – Cant find anything from GRU to EZE

        • Kenny January 9, 2016, 11:06 am

          LAN Argentina (4M) has always been a different deal than LAN Peru/Chile/Ecuador, but both they and TAM fly that route. Neither LAN Argentina nor TAM have been consistent in my searches. Both do release some space that shows up on BA.

  • Sean September 21, 2016, 1:15 am

    Colombia *********

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