TAM joins Oneworld alliance, partners with Qantas

By Chris Chamberlin, April 2 2014

TAM Airlines is now part of the global Oneworld airline alliance, further extending Qantas’ reach into Central and South America alongside its existing partner LAN Airlines.

The Brazilian airline's initiation marks the biggest single-day expansion of the alliance since its launch 15 years ago, with US Airways also taking a seat at the Oneworld table.

Members of Qantas Frequent Flyer can now earn and redeem points on TAM Airlines flights, and eligible frequent flyers now hold the keys to the airline's business class lounges.

UPDATE: Owing to capacity constraints, the airline has restricted its First Class lounge in the São Paulo hub to passengers travelling in first on any Oneworld airline, with Emerald members in all other cabins required to use the Business Class lounge until later this year when the airline moves to the new Terminal 3.

Although TAM doesn’t fly to Australia, partner airline LAN flies from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland (LA800) in addition to Qantas’ thrice-weekly direct Sydney-Santiago (QF27) service – both of which allow onward connections to Brazil and beyond with TAM:

Soccer fans will also be pleased to hear that TAM flies between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro – a route certain to be taken by many international visitors during the FIFA World Cup!

Qantas + TAM

Qantas frequent flyers can now earn points and status credits on TAM Airlines flights with a JJ flight number, while access to TAM's lounges is granted to Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members of Qantas Frequent Flyer whenever travelling with TAM or another alliance member.

Priority boarding on TAM Airlines flights and access to preferred seating (where available) comes as standard at the Gold tier and above, although priority check-in is currently restricted to Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers.

This means that the business class check-in lines at São Paulo's Guarulhos Airport (GRU) are off-limits to Gold frequent flyers and other Oneworld Sapphire members, although a TAM Airlines spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that priority check-in will be available to Sapphires when the airline moves into the airport's new Terminal 3 after the World Cup.

At the Silver tier (Oneworld Ruby), passengers who are waitlisted for a TAM Airlines flight or travelling on standby are given preference over non-status passengers, with a higher priority given to Sapphires and Emeralds on the waitlist.

Expedited screening is available in selected airports for Oneworld Emerald members, while these Platinum-grade travellers may also check an additional bag or an extra 20kgs, depending on whether your ticket mentions a piece or weight allowance.

The benefits are reciprocal – members of TAM’s Fidelidade loyalty program can earn and redeem points on Qantas domestic and international flights, while similar checked baggage and priority boarding perks are all on tap.

Lounges

Now available across the breadth of the alliance is reciprocal lounge access, whereby TAM will open its lounges to Oneworld travellers based on their travel class or frequent flyer status, and Oneworld airlines will open the doors to their lounges for elite TAM travellers in return.

Gold-level flyers can access the airline's Business Class lounges, although Platinum and Platinum One members will also need to make themselves comfortable in the Business Class lounges until the airline completes the moves to Terminal 3, with the current First Class lounge in the São Paulo hub closed to Emerald members unless actually travelling in FIrst Class.

When quizzed on the reasoning behind this, a TAM AIrlines spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller that Emerald members can't access the current FIrst Class lounge "because of capacity constraints" – which the airline hopes to overcome with a larger lounge in the new terminal.

Closer to home, the same lounge rules apply – Qantas’ first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne are open for Red Plus and Black Fidelidade members, while the welcome mat is also rolled out globally at lounges operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and the rest of the Oneworld family.

Here's how the Fidelidade tiers stack up for Oneworld lounge access:

  • TAM Fidelidade Blue equates to Oneworld Ruby and Qantas Silver – no lounge access there
  • TAM Fidelidade Red matches Oneworld Sapphire and Qantas Gold – these flyers can access Oneworld business class lounges
  • TAM Fidelidade Red Plus and Black line up with Oneworld Emerald and Qantas Platinum – access is offered to all Oneworld first and business class lounges

Flying with TAM

With a respectable network across Brazil and the Americas, the airline has three main Brazilian hubs – São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

From here, the airline serves a total of 62 destinations worldwide, including direct flights to Buenos Aires, Caracas, Lima, Madrid, New York, Paris, Santiago and Zurich.

If you're in Frankfurt or London, Brazil is just 12 hours away... why not make yourself at home in TAM's Boeing 777 living room in the sky?

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Joshb

Joshb

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 213

According to another travel site, an Emerald status (non TAM) member tried to access the TAM First lounge in Sao Paulo and was denied.

If the account is true & proved to be a correct procedure from TAMs end I honestly think alliances such as these become less valuable. They need to be consistent across the board, no ifs/buts/maybes etc 

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

Interesting... I've asked TAM to clarify the access rules for their own lounges, and their spokesperson said that "Emerald passengers can access the First Class lounges. The Sapphire members can use the Business Class lounges, and so (can) the Emeralds."

Hopefully just some early day jitters!

Joshb

Joshb

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 213

Thanks Chris, hopefully first day jitters. Still cannot believe Qatar's lounge access policy was accepted with Oneworld...

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

Hi again Joshb,

I've just had another chat with the TAM media rep, and pointed them to this anomaly.

The airline has issued a revised statement in light of this:

"There’s an exception for Emerald passengers at GRU (São Paulo's Guarulhos Airport). They can’t access our first class lounge because of capacity constraints. That will only be possible after we move to the new terminal .... it is going to happen after the World Cup, in a date to be confirmed."

(This differs from what we'd been previously advised, so I've updated the article to reflect that.)

Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention Joshb! A shame travellers for the World Cup won't get a First lounge though...

Joshb

Joshb

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 213

Thanks for the update Chris, not the greatest first impression for their entry in to OW. Oh well!

GG

GG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2013

Total posts 13

and of course we now have Qantas' winding back on the FFlyer earning power when using alliance members - so we should not get too excited before we read the fine print


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