Last week, the huge news broke that LATAM, the large South American airline that previously had been two airlines (LAN and TAM), had a 20% stake of it purchased by Delta Air Lines. This was a big move, not just because it would really open up South America for Delta and its passengers, because it would pull LATAM out of the Oneworld alliance (and away from American Airlines) and give Delta passengers a huge South American door of opportunity.
Some of the Interesting Options the Big LATAM Move Could Bring to Delta Customers
There had been no prior leaks that such a massive move was about to take place and many passengers with upcoming flights on LATAM that were ticketed by AA were confused over some mixed messages over the weekend as to what AA was doing with this news.
There have been many, many stories written about this news already so I will not add to them here. I was traveling the whole day this broke so this is the first time I have had to really put together a post about some of the things I have been thinking about in this move.
Granted, there are going to be a lot of things going on but here are some of the initial options I had thought about as far as what this deal opens up for Delta customers. Do note that LATAM has said they will not be entering into an alliance after their withdrawal from Oneworld but will be going it alone. It will remain to be seen how this may affect customers wanting to use Delta partner mileage programs – like KLM/Air France – for travel one LATAM.
The Obvious – South America!
While Delta had a partnership with GOL, a Brazilian airline, it really did not make as much as available as this partnership with LATAM. LATAM is the largest South American carrier so this will open up a lot of South America to Delta flyers. This is good news for any Delta customers that want to fly to cities not currently serviced in South America by Delta since buying tickets for inter-South American flights on LATAM can be expensive for one-way travel.
Now, it will make it easier and likely cheaper to buy a ticket with Delta for travel from your home airport in the US to some more remote city in South America. However, it will remain to be seen as to what kind of deals we see with this new partnership.
LAN (and then LATAM) has been the only airline offering flights to the remote Easter Island, a 6 hour flight from Santiago, Chile. While award seats are not something that are all that plentiful on this route, it will be a great way for US travelers that like to fly Delta to be able to finally get to Easter Island – even if they have to pay for the ticket with cash.
It also opens up another fun little option for flights to Tahiti as LATAM flies once per week between Easter Island and Tahiti. I am not sure if award availability will ever get good on these routes since they are the only ones available, but at least Delta passengers could now look for cash deals from the US to Easter Island and travel with Delta and a partner all the way through.
Australia to South America
One of the rarest routes in the world for commercial passenger aviation has to be the corridor of Australia to South America. Qantas (a Oneworld airline) flies non-stop from Sydney to Santiago and LATAM flies from Sydney to Auckland to Santiago as well. Since both had been Oneworld airlines, it meant that Skyteam flyers that wanted to make that continental hop would be forced to go through the US or some other Pacific city to get there.
Now, this route will be open for travelers with Delta Skymiles or anyone that prefers to travel with Delta (if you have status with them or need more miles for elite qualification, for example). Not only that, but since I flew that route, LATAM also now flies from Melbourne to Santiago non-stop! This gives two options to fly from the land down under to South America with a Delta partner!
South America to Africa!
Now let’s go another direction on the rare-route map! While South African Airways (and thereby Star Alliance) has their route from Brazil to South Africa, LATAM also flies that route. This means that you could also fly with a Delta partner and get from South America to Africa without having to transit through either North America or Europe. For people wanting to see more of the world with less hassle, this has made travel through the Southern Hemisphere as a Delta flyer much easier!
Bonus: A Quirky but Fun Route – Frankfurt to Madrid
There is a fun little route in Europe that LATAM flies there excellent 787 aircraft on and that is Madrid to Frankfurt and back. This is because they fly from Santiago to Madrid and they want to be able to pick up passengers in Frankfurt as well.
This little route is available for sale and at a pretty low price for what it offers, namely, a lie-flat business class seat on an inter-European flight. How will this matter for Delta flyers? It won’t that much in regards to using miles because there is no reason to when the flight is this cheap. But, it will be a nice way to pick up some miles and elite miles on the cheap and in comfort while touring Europe.
With this just happening last week, there is still a lot to happen. Delta is already getting going with it as they had a team fly to Santiago already so things are in the works. But, it will still be a while before we see how this will all shake up. However, these are a few things that could be of interest to Delta flyers going forward and to Skyteam flyers if LATAM is bookable with Skyteam partner miles as well.
Featured image courtesy of LATAM