LAN airlines has begun charging foreigners who bought their tickets in Peru at promotional prices geared toward residents of Peru $178 at the airport counter. I do this all the time and have never had a problem, but apparently for tickets purchased after September 1 they have begun implementing these fees. It doesn’t matter that the LAN agent who booked your ticket in the office knew you were a foreigner when you filled in your passport number and country of residence. Plenty of travelers buy their intra-Peru tickets from travel agents who purchase at these rates, so all of these people are affected. It’s all blowing up right now and LAN has added a small note on their main page (when you click on Peru as your location to start). As far as I know this is only occurring in Peru. The funny thing is the difference in prices between a resident promotional ticket and the normal fare for an international traveler within Peru is not $178, so apparently this fee acts as a fine.
Typically LAN fares are cheaper if purchased from within Peru, so foreign tourists traveling there are gouged when purchasing online abroad. A loophole in the past was that someone in Peru could purchase the ticket for you or if you had a credit card from Peru (as many Peruvian expats who now live outside of the country do), you could get promotional rates that usually were less than $100 for a roundtrip ticket within Peru. For tickets purchased after September 1st of this year however, you are slammed at the airport counter with the fee which has only in the past week become an issue that is getting PromPeru slammed with calls (though they claim they cannot do anything).
What can you do? I don’t think this will hold up for long, but if you bought a promotional ticket for Peruvians and do not have Peruvian residency after September 1st I would call immediately to see if you will be affected. The $180 fee is more expensive than any roundtrip flight in the country so, if you can get a refund you can fly with Star Peru, the only other national airline in Peru, or if going to Cusco, Taca.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.