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Latam business-class pax get downgraded Today's News

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Schedule changes by Latam Airlines that include switching to an all-economy-class aircraft on domestic and regional flights, have left business-class passengers with no option but to downgrade to economy class or change their date of travel.

The schedule changes have also left travel agents confused as to how they can claim the fare difference to refund their clients.

Mohammed Mirza, consultant of A2Z Travel Services, booked return business-class tickets for clients travelling from São Paulo to Santiago and was later informed of schedule changes that included operating the flight without business class.

Isla Moffett, sales and marketing manager for GSA of Latam, acknowledges that involuntary schedule changes sometimes occur. However, she explains that if the ticket is plated on another carrier – for example, if the passenger flies from Johannesburg to São Paulo on SAA and from São Paulo to Santiago on Latam, then Latam is unable to work on the PNR and process the refund as it is ‘secured’ by the issuing carrier. Furthermore, when a ticket is plated on another carrier, any changes are governed by their schedule change policy.

Isla explains that travel agents need to contact the plating carrier of the ticket issued for instruction on how to reissue and claim the fare difference in such a case. If the passenger’s ticket is issued on Latam paper (957), the ticket is reissued in conjunction with an EMD for refund of the downgraded sector at the time of the schedule change.

In response to the issue, a senior manager from SAA said: “Refunding a codeshare or interline ticket particularly when we are the marketing carrier is not straightforward. There are many rules of the underlying agreements that must be considered.”

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