Written on: 30/07/2012
Flying a lot in between Europe and S-America I know from experience avoiding LAN is not easy, still I recommend, pursue and underline: DON'T fly LAN. I've used a lot of international airlines from Europe to and from Asia, North, South and Central America, etc, etc, but never had such a dreading experience as with LAN.
I booked a flight Europe-Lima at Iberia.com, I paid through the website of Iberia, but the flight was operated - partly - by LAN. However, it turned out not even the employees of LAN understood their airline was operating my flight. At my transfer airport Madrid, the LAN-employees told me I should not have showed up at the gate of LAN but the gate of Iberia. Upon that statement, they referred me to the wrong airline (Iberia) and the wrong gate; the gate of an Iberia flight leaving for Lima at the same hour/date. By the time I arrived at the gate of the Iberia-flight, my own LAN-flight was closing its gate. When then finally I arrived at the correct gate, I was refused to board, leaving me with the message the gate had closed. (However, LAN-employees did manage to still get my luggage of the airplane 45 minutes later?!) No LAN-employee was available all night long. I came across 5(!) other passengers who for the same reason had showed up at a closed gate and had been denied boarding, plus 1 other passenger who had been denied boarding since she was carrying 1 extra piece of carry-on luggage(?). We were told to wait 8 hours; the sales office would open in the morning. The (expensive) LAN-customer service reached per telephone refused to help, referring us to the sales desk. The sales desk opened 10,5(!) hours later at 11AM. Upon waiting 10,5 hours, the only message the LAN-sales desk would give me, was that it was my own responsibility to show up at the correct gate (although their own employees refused to let me board and referred me away, to the wrong airline!) and that I would have to wait 9-10 days (at my transfer airport?) since there were no seats available in the upcoming week.
I paid 1110 Euro's for a flight, and there was zero, NONE, service to help a passenger stranded at an airport as a result of mistakes made by LAN-employees. On top of it the LAN-sales desk told 'us' (the stranded passengers) that they had called our names upon the closing of the gates but that we hadn't showed up. All of these six passengers - myself included, have never heard their name calling while we were in the appointed 'wing' hours before flight departure, about 50-70 meters removed from the correct gate. As one airport employee suggested who informed me the LAN-flights to Lima were overbooked these weeks - which seems likely given the refusal to let passengers board and the fact all flights to Lima were booked for the next 9-10 days: it seems very likely that LAN overbooked this particular flight too.
As LAN left her passengers stranded and without any help, I spent hours waiting upset at an Iberia-sales desk, fortunate enough to - paying a penalty - receive a 'blanc seat'-ticket and thus get onto an airplane to Lima with a 14-hour delay. I left another stranded passenger who was not fortunate enough to have booked/paid through Iberia.com at the airport of Madrid. Appalling, that is my one impression of the ""service"" of LAN. I launched a complaint - asking for a refund of the penalty I paid to Iberia, plus expenses such as missed airport pick-up - and received one reply that it was the responsibility of the passenger to show up at the correct gate and that with this reply the complaint was considered a 'closed' matter.
Faulty information, overbooked flights, leaving customers stranded at transfer airports without any willingness to help/any service: I would de-advise anyone to with LAN.
I will be starting a 'Facebook complaint site' as LAN has been unresponsive to my complaint, neither to complaints voiced by customers at review sites. Facebook might offer a helpful media platform to voice my and your complaint about LAN Airlines, to hopefully spread the word and to - finally - receive a proper reply to our complaint. Part of being a paying customer, is receiving service, and being heard when a concern arises to come to a suitable solution. Please feel free to express your experience at 'LAN Complaint Site' at Facebook; add, share, express your experience and get your voice out there to get a well-deserved reply to your customer experience.