Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Whatever happened to LATAM 704/705 FRA/MAD?

A big blow for aviation geeks: Europe's most popular fifth freedom flight between Frankfurt and Madrid is dying. Rumour has it that the service will be replaced by direct flights between Frankfurt and Santiago de Chile. This means that the intra-European hop has been made redundant.

It used to be a great catch if you wanted to experience a real business class with lie-flat seats without breaking the bank. Last time, for May 2020, I managed to book a return just below 150 euro. But, given the news about the change of service, I checked my itinerary, only to find that my outbound flight between Frankfurt and Madrid had been cancelled.

So in addition to disappearing altogether, all weekend flights (at least the Saturday flight, I'm not sure if there was a service on Sunday) have been cancelled. If you've made your booking through an online travel agency, you probably haven't heard anything.

What to do? First check your booking online here. Look carefully: only one flight (outbound or inbound) may have been cancelled. Then call 00496986799099 (Latam customer service). Be patient as you have to go through quite some options.

I ended up with a very capable agent who, despite the fact that I had booked through an OTA, rebooked my outbound flight at no fee. I'm don't know exactly what your rights are, but if you booked through an OTA, in principle they have to help you and they're usually very hard to do business with.

Lesson learned: booking through an OTA might save you a few euros, but poses a risk that you're not made aware of changes and that you have to rebook at additional cost via the OTA. I consciously took that risk, but will be more careful in the future.

You can read my review of a previous Frankfurt-Madrid flight here.

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