While I have top tier status with American AAdvantage, I’ve been looking for a way to earn either oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status with another oneworld airline. I explained the reason for this in a post last September.
Why it’s valuable to have status with another oneworld airline
American has recently opened up new Flagship Lounges in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. These lounges are open to international first and business class passengers, American AAdvantage oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members when traveling internationally, and all non-AAdvantage oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members whenever traveling oneworld, even if it’s just a domestic flight.
As you can see, non-AAdvantage oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members have quite an advantage when it comes to lounge access. If you have oneworld Sapphire status through British Airways you can access the Flagship Lounge prior to a Los Angeles to San Francisco flight, while you couldn’t access the same lounge if you have oneworld Sapphire status through American.
Note that you don’t actually have to credit the flight to that airline in order to get lounge access, so you could credit your flight to American AAdvantage, and still access the lounge using your British Airways elite card.
The basics of LATAM status matches
There aren’t many airlines that offer oneworld status matches nowadays (a few did following airberlin’s bankruptcy, but that was targeted mostly at airberlin elites), though LATAM seems to be an exception. Here’s what their general policy is, based on everything I’ve read:
- They’ll match all the way up to LATAM Black status, which is the equivalent of oneworld Emerald status
- They’ll only match you if you’ve flown with LATAM at least once in the past 12 months (lucky for me, I just finished a trip on them)
- I don’t know what the cutoff point is, but they’ll typically match status through March of the following year; for example, I just completed a status match, and my status is valid through March 2019
- LATAM seems really inconsistent with granting status match requests, and it’s not a quick, reliable, or straightforward process; come in expecting that it won’t work, and you won’t be disappointed
How to request a LATAM status match
I used this awesome FlyerTalk thread as my basis for status matching, as it has some great tips. It seems as if the best way to request the match is through this online contact form, as that actually goes to the correct department in Chile, rather than some of the email addresses that are available online.
It seems as if you’re best off sending the message in Spanish, so I sent an email based on the following template shared by ChocolateFactory:
Estimados Sres de LATAM,
Tengo planes de viajar en el futuro varias veces desde <your country of origin> hacia America del Sur y he tenido en varias oportunidades experiencias positivas con vuestro producto a bordo.
Para mantener mis beneficios habituales con (insert airline, alliance status) me gustaría solicitarles el reconocimiento de mi estatus de viajero frecuenta (status-match) con vuestro programa LATAM Pass.
Mi número de LATAM Pass es: <LATAM Pass FF number>
Os ruego de consultar los documentos que anexo para su consideración:
Foto de mi tarjeta élite actual (<name of program to be matched>, <FF number>)
- Captura de pantalla de cuenta élite y perfil
- Tarjeta de embarque y ticket de vuelo LATAM de los últimos 12 meses <booking reference and routing of LATAM ticket within the last 12 months)
- (Optional:) Volveré a volar con LATAM pronto, mi número de reserva para el vuelo es <PNR of upcoming LATAM flight>.
Muchas gracias por su atención
I submitted the request on December 16, 2017, and immediately received the following response (translated with Google Translate):
We want to inform you that we have created a support request with the following information.
preferred means of contact:
I didn’t hear anything for a while, and then on January 3 I received the following email:
Dear Benjamin Schlappig:
We want to inform you that your application for match status is being processed. As we get the answer, we will contact you to give the result.
If you have any questions, please call our Contact Center , marking Option 1 and entering your case number _______.
Thank you very much.
And then finally on January 10, I received a message stating that my status match request was approved:
Hello Benjamin Schlappig:
Please be advised that the approval of categories (Match) has been successful. We welcome you to our frequent flyer program LATAM Pass, and its new membership category is Black.
We invite you to review your Statement in latam.com for more information .
We look forward to assisting you again in the future.
So all-in-all the process took about three weeks, and didn’t require much intervention on my part. That’s pretty good, if you ask me.
Why I’m looking forward to LATAM Black status
My LATAM status will give me access to American Flagship Lounges and the Qantas First Class Lounge LAX whenever I fly American, even if it’s just a quick domestic flight. That’s pretty awesome.
However, there seems to be value to this beyond that. LATAM also offers unlimited complimentary upgrades to elite members. I want to do more travel to South America over the coming year, so this could really come in handy for those flights.
Hopefully the above is useful for anyone else considering a LATAM status match. I think the thing to stress the most is that LATAM seems to be wildly inconsistent when it comes to status matches, so come in expecting it not to work.