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LAN is an interesting airline – it’s sort of like a hodgepodge network of airlines operating out of various South American countries that all fall under the LAN umbrella including LAN Chile, LAN Peru and LAN Colombia and soon TAM, the Brazil-based carrier that LAN took over. While they’re all pretty integrated, there are still some loose ends and gaps. For instance, LAN just announced this week that LAN Colombia is now officially a part of Oneworld so that Oneworld members, like American AAdvantage and British Airways Executive Club flyers, can now earn and redeem their own miles and points on LAN Colombia flights – and more importantly for LAN Colombia LANPass members, they can now earn and redeem miles on Oneworld partner flights.
In addition to the new earning and redeeming benefits, elites will have a more integrated experience as well. LANPass Comodoro and Comodoro Black cardholders now have Emerald status in the Oneworld frequent flyer program. LANPass Premium Silver are equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire and LANPass Premium are Oneworld Ruby. This entitles them to special privileges when travelling on any oneworld partner, including access to Business Class check-in and, when offered, pre-reserved and preferred seating, and priority on waitlists and on standby when flights are full.
LAN Colombia’s network is now covered by Oneworld’s alliance fares and sales options, including its Oneworld Explorer round-the-world fare and its Visit South America pass (TAM’s network will be covered from March 31, 2014).
Until now, Oneworld carriers including American, BA and Iberia, only flew to Bogota, Medellin and Cali, but the incorporation of LAN Colombia into the network is expected to bring a total of 21 Colombian destinations online.
The move is interesting because, long troubled by a civil war, a violent drug trade and myriad other problems, Colombia has experienced an almost miracle-worthy turnaround and has emerged in recent years as one of South America’s hottest destinations with the Colombian Civil Aviation Authority noting that the country is Latin America’s fastest growing domestic market with a passenger increase of over 20% so far this year over last.
Avianca – a member of Star Alliance – is still the dominant airline in this market, but LAN Colombia’s affiliation with Oneworld might soon challenge that as passenger numbers and specifically those on LAN Colombia (which is almost 15% higher this year than last) continue to rise.
While most of us US-based travelers are probably thinking of how to use our American miles or British Airways Avios to fly down there – Cartagena is one of the top destinations on my to-do list – it’s worth looking at a current limited-time offer on US Bank’s LANPass Visa Signature available now through October 15, 2013 where you receive 30,000 miles upon first use of the card and an additional 10,000 miles when you spend $5,000 within 120 days for a total potential bonus of 40,000 miles. The other benefits of the card include:
- First Use Bonus Miles
- Up to 20% off (up to $1,000 maximum) your first LAN or TAM purchase one time per year
- Up to 4,000 Annual Renewal Bonus
- $0 Introductory Annual Fee the First Year, thereafter $75
- Double miles on LAN and TAM purchases
- 25% flight bonus when flying on LAN
- 3 upgrade coupons each year
40,000 miles might not seem like a huge amount, according to the LAN award chart, a roundtrip economy ticket from the US or Mexico to Colombia only requires 48,000 miles, so with the bonus and minimum spending requirement, you’re almost there. A ticket in Premier Business requires 100,000 miles roundtrip, the same as flying to Southern South America like Chile or Argentina, so better to use those miles on the longer flights than to get to Colombia.
Also remember that LANPass is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest, and though the transfer ratio was recently cut 25% to 1 Starpoint : 1.5 LANPass miles, you could always meet the minimum spending on the card with everyday purchases, transfer 2,000 SPG points to LANPass, and have enough miles for a roundtrip economy award.
I’m not running out to get this card myself, but if it’s something you were considering, I’d think about getting in on the current limited-time bonus since the bonus on this card is usually around the 20,000-30,000 mile mark.