Why I hate Lan Chile

This dumb airline has been the biggest thorn in my side since moving to Chile. LONG GONE are the days of safe, reliable and feasible commercial flight alternatives such as Southwest, Jet Blue and Virgin.

Sure, there’s random airlines like Sky, but they certainly don’t get me where I want to go most of the time (namely outside of Santiago.) Southwest and the other airlines I mentioned didn’t do that either but at least they gave me options to get to ANOTHER major city, where, nine times out of ten, there would be some option for a larger carrier taking me out of the country.

Here’s the thing about LAN:

1) it’s basically the ONLY real option in Chile for national and ESPECIALLY international travel. Thus, they’re basically a monopoly. That means their prices are always the most expensive. And since there are usually lack of other options, you are forced to pay exuberant prices.

2) they have the worst – THE WORST – online customer experience EVER. 8 times out of 10, you can’t accomplish ANYTHING on the dumb site and when you call to figure it out with an actual person, they want to charge you for not having used their site in the first place.

3) their award travel is ridiculously hard to redeem and forget about MOLDING it into what you might need … if you want to book a one-way flight anywhere, you simply can’t. It will automatically charge you for an Round Trip flight, no matter what. Whereas American let’s you do whatever the hell you please, so long as you have the miles to do it and if not, the $$$ to buy the miles to do it.

4) The flight attendants are stiff and overly made up. It’s like talking to Mormon’s and watching them flinch when you say something they don’t like. They may bat their eyelashes a bit harder but their plastic smiles never waver. I’m sorry, but that freaks me out.

Now, of course, with the bad and the ugly comes the good:

1) Piggy backing off the flight attendant comment, I do commend them for having generally attractive flight attendants who aren’t disgruntled and who aren’t old enough to be my grandmother. While having flight attendants of ALL AGES is what I personally think would be best, they do have an extremely lopsided crew… leaning towards 35 and under. And also, Chile certainly isn’t a monument for fights against age discrimination laws. In fact, I’m sure LAN’s executive board is the one promoting the age range acceptance in job descriptions.

2) The planes are squeaky clean and very new. And they have TV’s with a laundry list of movies (old and new) and TV Shows, as well as games and music. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up! It made my 17 hour flight go by entertainingly fast!

3) Free food and free alcohol on all flights. Enough said.

Yet despite these three oh-so-fabulous points, LAN remains a thorn in my side for so many reasons and most have to do with just being the only option you really have in Chile. I hate lack of options. Especially when I come from a country where I had a million airlines to choose from to get from Point A to Point B. And here I find myself with just LAN…just good ol’ LAN. With their fake customer service and its circa 1999 website. Because they’re the only option, they can’t be bothered to fix their website, their travel award nuances and their scary, Valley-of-the-Dolls flight attendants.

And thus, I can’t be bothered with coming up with more than three good points about them.

Also – side note – one of Chile’s current presidential candidates used to be the President of Lan Chile. Is that good or is that bad given what I have just laid out for you here? Discuss.

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13 thoughts on “Why I hate Lan Chile

  1. i whole heartedly disagree with you. this airline kicks ass compared to nearly every other airline in the world. i am biased because we just started covering it so i've had to learn a shit load about it…and we put a buy on it so clearly think it's gong to do well…and about Lan and Pinera, i think that most companies he touch turn to gold. Lan's management in general has very high ratings…same management in place since 1993 (unheard of in airline industry)…because of the Cueto family mixing Lan passenger planes w/cargo, lan is also one of the MOST efficient airlines in the world in terms of how many hours their planes fly consistently. you were correct to point out that their fleet is young- one of the youngest in the world in fact. and i dont know why you think their website is bad…i think it's totally kick ass…their investor relations page is incredible w/everything in perfect English…(and if you want some comparaisons go online and take a look at, say, eva air's website and tell me if you see anything in ENglish…or any sort of financial information…Lan is 100% transparent..that goes for their fuel surcharge policy which is right smack dab on their website unlike most carriers who just charge you if fuel prices go through the roof…GO LAN!

  2. I have to agreen with Kem. I love Lan. And they have the highest and strictest safety standards in South America, and someone even told me, one of the highest in the world. I've had great service and an overall pleasant experience everytime I've flown with them. But then again, that's only my personal experience.

  3. I've never tried doing award travel with LAN, but that sounds a lot harder than American. Then again, for normal flight purchases I haven't had problems with their website. Maybe it just recognizes your IP address and hates you 🙂

    I DEFINITELY miss Southwest though! We're flying Pluna to Uruguay next weekend, and if you have time for a layover they'll get you to Buenos Aires cheaper than LAN (5 hrs total travel time). They have pretty good reviews too. But with Aerolineas holding strong as the worst airline in the world (delays, cancellations, just awful) and Gol always leaving late (and lying about it when you call to ask what time your suegra is getting into SCL so that your suegro doesn't have to wait for hours at the airport in the middle of the night), there aren't too many great alternatives.

    I think LAN is objectively a good airline, but a little budget airline competition never hurt anyone, right?

  4. I stand by my opinion. Sorry. I deal with Lan because I have to living here. Also, I can def agree on their high points. But their bad points are many, namely their website. Bad, bad, and worse, each time I try to use it.

  5. I think Lan is a great airline, in fact Airbus has catalogued as the world's top operator for some models, besides Lan has won 3 times consecutive "best airline for southamerica and caribe" award.

    P.S.: Sorry for my english

  6. That's so funny that you say that, on our way to Argentina Seba and I were just talking about how much we love Lan. I've only ever used points to buy flights twice and neither time had a problem, and I've definitely never had a problem with the website.

    Plus, once in Miami, right after Seba and I thought we were going to have our lives ended in Costa Rica on Taca Airlines, I was so freaked out about flying that I was having a panic attack and didn't want to board the airplan. The Lan flight attendants introduced me to the pilots and the pilots were really nice and answered all of my questions about crap that I was scared of. That really impressed me.

    And I've had nothing but nightmares with both American and Delta!

  7. Oh guys, don't get me wrong, I only TRULY commend American for their Award Travel and AAdvantage Program (seriously TOP NOTCH)…but again, feel the need to point out that LAN isn't my fave either.
    Do I have a fave? Probably not… but for different reasons, tengo que destacar different airlines.
    LAN just isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Maybe I try to do more than the normal on their website, but I kid you not, 8 times out of 10, whatever it is I'm trying to do, can't be done with them.

  8. What about American? I always buy tix on American because their Santiago-Miami flight is $50-$80 cheaper than LAN. And I'm always stoked when they put me on LAN, because of the pros you mention. Plus I like the ear plugs and eye mask.

    I've also had problems with Lan's website. Last summer, I tried to buy tix to Iquique and could not do it on the website. I finally went to the Lan office to pay and turns out that between my husband and I we'd reserved like 6 sets of tix to Iquique because the website wouldn't let us pay online. The lan website valía callampa.

  9. Hahah I just read this post (linked from Kyle's) which is why I'm just now commenting. My brother-in-law runs the LAN website. I'm forwarding him the link 🙂

    1. LAN is the WORST airline in the world. My sister-on-law was meant to fly yesterday from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Sydney Australia, with her niece and nephew. My sister-in-law is a permanent resident of Australia and the nephew has been here before, so we all know exactly what paperwork is required.

      However, yesterday the LAN staff refused to let the niece and nephew check in because they didn’t have a particular letter of certification from their parents. Their parents were AT THE AIRPORT TO SEE THEM OFF!!! But apparently this wasn’t good enough either.

      So, the parents stood there and wrote the appropriate letters (because LAN wouldn’t accept one letter for 2 children). But this wasn’t good enough either. It had to be certified by an attorney and LAN sent them back into the city to find one. They returned to the airport just 10 minutes after check-in closed and were not permitted on the plane.

      Now, today LAN Sydney office has confirmed that the document was not requred at all. We have an email from the Australian Embassy in Brazil confirming that such a document is not requred by them or Immigration in Sydney. The nephew has been here before without ever having this document. This is a new document that’s just been invented by the airline. But the airline has also admitted it wasn’t necessary.

      So, things get worse. This is LAN after all. Nothing is worse than LAN!!! The airline wants to charge R1000 for EACH ticket to reschedule. So, now we’re supposed to pay for LANs MISTAKE!!!

      Even worse! The purpose of the visit was for the kids to attend a wedding. Guess what! That wedding is this weekend. And they are stuck in Brazil. My brother is best man, my sister-in-law is matron of honour. Well, thanks to those bumbling fools at LAN none of them are going to make it.

      Could it even get worse than this? Yes! LAN Chile don’t care! They are hopeless, rude and dismissive. They don’t care about the wedding or their own mistake. But they do want the R1000 per ticket … still!!! Oh, did I mention that today is Thursday, 15th December 2011 and LAN has just informed us that there are no seats now before Christmas?

      Merry Christmas LAN, you bunch of idiots. We’ve spent over $10,000 on tickets for this flight and you couldn’t give a damn! Well, neither could we! So, what we’re going to do is this: We’re going to post on every website we can find. We’re going to start a new Facebook Page. We’re going to hire a lawyer in Brazil. We’re going to get our money back and NEVER FLY WITH YOU AGAIN.

      Adivce for travellers to South America: Fly to the USA with a reputable airline and use an American airline to fly to South America. The only thing this bunch of unprofessional mugs at LAN can do is guarantee your misery!

      By the way, the LAN Chile website has no email contacts and no phone numbers except a help line which will see you sitting on hold for nearly an hour before the call is answered.

      Don’t fly LAN Chile. Don’t trust LAN Chile.

      This is why I hate LAN Chile.

      Got any concerns? Feel free to email me at nigel@npaa.net.au

  10. I totally agree, some two years since your experience lan.com is a waste of space. I tried to update my contact details as a British person both on lan.com in English and in Spanish. The form fields are set out as if you are a Chilean citizen both for telephone numbers and address, surely they should have researched other countries data requirements. Anyhow after trying various ways I have given up, it bluntly refuses to accept updates and lan.com refuse to accept the problem is the website, they also seem to have zero customer skills and lack of IT understanding and would rather blame the problem on Lanpass. From US prospective I wish they’d bring back Continental or American Airlines to Chile and end the Lan Chile dominance. British Airways is equally as expensive as Lan Chile so I can’t win flying from London.

  11. I had the rather unpleasant experience of dealing with LAN lately. I was bumped off a flight from buenos aires to Lima and had to catch the next flight 14 hrs later. I was on a tight schedule and this was not welcome. Also naively, I was not really aware of ‘involuntary denied boarding’ till then! The nightmare went on with error after error from LAN. The best one was 2 days later while in the amazon I received an email from my travel agent telling me they were going to cancel the rest of my tour because I had been a ‘No Show’! Yes that is right, ‘A No show’ on the flight they had refused boarding!!! Flying has just basically become very unattractive and hard work, indeed stressful! Sad really, as my kids are just off my hands, and was looking forward to travel a bit with wife. Not so inclined at moment.

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