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Cheapest Miles to the Caribbean

Renaissance Aruba BeachThis is continuing a series I started recently that makes a chart of nearly all miles options (including their transfer partners) and shows them in order of the cheapest miles. The idea is that you can quickly look and see of which miles/transfer options you have, which will be the cheapest options.

And some of the best info is below in best uses of miles to the Caribbean section, and stopover section. To see the other parts of the series check out these posts:

Mileage Prices to the Caribbean

Economy Business Alliance Transfers From
AA 25k – 35k 60k OneWorld SPG
Alitalia 30k 60k SkyTeam Amex MR, SPG
Air France 30k 75k SkyTeam Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
Alaska 35k 60k SPG
United 35k 60k Star Alliance Chase UR
Singapore 35k 60k Star Alliance Amex MR, Chase UR, Citi TY, SPG
Delta 35k 60k SkyTeam Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
Lufthansa 35k 60k Star Alliance SPG
Avianca 35k 70k Star Alliance
Hawaiian 35k 70k Amex MR, SPG
Air Berlin 35k 70k OneWorld SPG
Korean Air 35k 75k SkyTeam Chase UR
US Airways 35k n/a OneWorld SPG
Air Canada 40k 60k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG

 

Distance Based Programs

If you’d like to see the specific award chart, see the complete list of airline award charts. Use each distance based program’s award chart to figure out the prices to the Caribbean for your specific itinerary. Here are some examples though.

Example: MIA – SJU 

BA Avios 15k 30k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG
LAN 20k 40k OneWorld SPG (1:1.5)
ANA 22k 43k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
JAL 25k 45k OneWorld SPG
Asia Miles 35k 70k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG

 

Example: SEA – AUA

JAL 40k 65k OneWorld SPG
ANA 43k 68k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
BA Avios 45k 90k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG
LAN 52k 108k OneWorld SPG (1:1.5)
Asia Miles 60k 85k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG

 

Southwest is still great

I want to first point out that Southwest doesn’t have a fixed price but is actually growing to be competitive in the Caribbean/Mexico market. Some routes are under 5,000 points each way. See our post on the Southwest Companion Pass to see how we got two tickets to Puerto Rico for 8,000 points.

The problem is their award prices are tied to the price of a cash ticket, and I can’t just put a single price in the chart.

 

Best Uses

AA Off-Peak

One of the cheapest prices is AA off-peak, although the window is quite small. The discounted price of 12,500 miles each direction is good for flights for September 7 – November 14. This is only good on AA flights.

 

British Airways Avios

This is definitely one of the cheapest ways to get to the Caribbean if you have a direct flight. See not only is British Airways frequent flyer program distance based, it’s priced per segment. So short flights on partner airline American Airlines can be as cheap as 4,500 Avios each direction. Made even better because you can transfer from Chase UR and Amex MR points.

The best way I can think to display the information is an idea stolen from Kenny of Miles4More who did a series of Award Sweet Spots by Origin. These maps are customized versions of what he made.

The maps below show you what routes are available to the Caribbean for super cheap.

  • Red = routes of 4,500 Avios
  • Blue = routes of 7,500 Avios
  • Green = routes of 10,000 Avios

MIA

East

(Some of the green routes in the second one are 12,500 Avios).

 

LAN has an extra SPG bonus

If you have a very short route, similar to BA but have to connect, then LAN might be your cheapest option. This is barely worth a mention because few people are willing to give up SPG points.

But the best part here is that the transfer from SPG to LAN is 1:1.5. Actually, it’s even better when you transfer 20,000 SPG points, as you’d get 37,500 LAN miles.

This means that for a simple route like Florida to Puerto Rico, you could get enough miles for 2 people with 22,000 SPG points.

 

ANA & JAL for stopovers

One thing that is huge for some people is the fact that ANA & JAL allow stopovers. You get 3 extra stopovers with ANA and an extra 6 with JAL. And a lot of ANA awards can even be booked online.

Although note that ANA has a new award chart starting in April, but if you book before then you can get certain routes to the Caribbean with stopovers for 22,000 miles.

 

Stopovers

See the list of airline stopover rules.

United

In the post on the Caribbean Hopper I pointed out that you could book two islands for the price of one, and using United miles people were able to book tickets to St Martin and Aruba (with a layover in Panama) for 35,000 miles.

In the Latin Hopper post I suggest that you could go anywhere in Central America, the Caribbean, and Northern South America for 10,000 miles and therefore could do a roundtrip for 20,000 miles. When we did this in our free trip to Latin America, we open-jawed so we returned to a different place than starting.

You could do the same but starting in Puerto Rico and ending in Cancun. Then stopover in another island and a place in Central/South America. All for 20,000 miles + getting to and from SJU and CUN, which is really cheap if you have Southwest points. If it doesn’t make sense, see the Latin Hopper.

ANA & JAL

I’ve already said that I think ANA & JAL are especially useful for a number of people who like stopovers. And even more extra special for those in the Southeast or a hub that can take off and enjoy the Caribbean with stopovers for 22,000 miles roundtrip.

 

 

Fuel surcharges + taxes

Truthfully, there is no need to worry about fuel surcharges for flights within the Americas and the Caribbean. For whatever reason the airlines don’t bother.

But the annoying thing is that basically all the airports in the Caribbean have high taxes. So when I booked my ticket to Cancun for only 3,500 Southwest points, we had to pay another $40+ just in taxes. The price in miles to the cost in dollars just feels wrong but it’s dependent on each airport.

In my post on the Southwest Companion pass I actually make a chart of airport stopovers, but it only includes southwest airports. But basically, you’ll just have to price it out and see what the taxes come out to be.

 

Conclusion

For those of you planning a short trip to the Caribbean, the price in business class is pretty similar with all region based airlines and not too different in economy sometimes. But hopefully this helps people figure out how to save a little extra with their transfer options or miles they do have. And figure out what is the best set of miles to use to see more than one island in the Caribbean.

Related Posts:

15 Comments

  1. What is the lowest mile redemption to South America besides Avios? Panama or Costa Rica specifically

    Reply
  2. Sorry I meant: Central America

    Reply
  3. Thank you for providing these charts. They are so helpful and I reference them often when friends ask for the best way to get to a specific location! I look forward to the South America chart!

    Reply
  4. I know you’ve said you’re not a fan, but since I’m super-duper frugal, I feel obligated to mention Spirit for those of us lucky to live in Florida or even the SE US in general (and are willing to have their credit card).

    2,500 miles for up to 1,249 miles for about four months out of the year. Yes, it’s spirit, but we’re not talking about long-hauls here.

    Reply
  5. Hey Drew. I really enjoy your website. Thanks for what you do.

    Quick question that you may be able to help with…I’m excited to be expecting to qualify for a SW companion pass by the end of the month. I’ve been looking for flight info to Nassau, Aruba, and Puerto Rico but every flight I look for, even from ATL seems to be not available. Are these flights all sold out or am I missing something? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Wes, try routing from other SWA airports too. Don’t know where you’re starting from, yet I’ve of late been noticing good availability and rates from BWI (Baltimore/DC – esp. for Nassau) and MCO (orlando) to many of spots you mention, even FLL and Tampa….

      As for ATL, check to see if they even have direct flights from there to the destinations you mention. Yes, flights to CUN are there… yet seems cheaper for me to price via other SWA airports like RIC or ORF. (go figure)

      Reply
  6. The sweet spot from Orlando to Montego Bay is Southwest from around 6500 to 8500 points +$100 from October until about April.

    Reply
    • Indeed, JamaicaReefer,…. and about that 6.3k, that’s roundrip from MCO! I’m thinking about doing this. (and using Hyatt free nights to stay part of the time at the new Zilara all-inclusive) Yet as you also appear to note, the taxes to and from MBJ are severe — $110 and up, per person, r/t. I’ve also been hearing warnings from friends about getting around Jamaica… that renting a car is a no-no, that class polarization is horrendous, crime high, and as such, all tourists are warned to rely upon expensive tour operators…. have checked a few on line and am facing serious sticker shock…. Any recommendations or tips? Would like to do a serious week in the island, studying history first hand…. but am getting looks from friends like I’m likely to get badly burned, or worse.

      Reply
    • That’s a pretty hot deal right there. I’m MCO-based and hope to hit that route later on this year (maybe stay in Negril for a bit???). Sadly though, there’s no way I can squeeze in a trip worth taking before April :-/.

      Reply
    • Very comprehensive list you’ve made there. Thanks for sharing it. I know I’ll be referencing it in the future.

      Reply
  7. First, I love your blog. I currently do my best to send any new cc signups thru your links before any other bloggers. A little off topic for this post, but I have spent hours trying to see reality for the United stopover rules. I travel from the usa to bkk frequently. If I do a rt and stopover in Japan on the way to bkk the total miles should be 70k instead of 80k. When i try to set up a multiple destination trip on united’s website I almost always get an error. Why? What am I doing wrong. I am trying to do the most simple routing just to see 70k. sfo-nrt nrt- bkk bkk-nrt nrt-sfo 4 segments total. no luck. I have even ensured that there are saver awards available for each date that I want to travel. Any help would be appreciated!

    Reply
  8. Hi Drew- Thanks for all of the great info. I’m wondering, have you done analysis as to the best miles for flights from west coast USA to east coast USA? Specifically I have some flight coming up from Seattle to Vermont.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Time to update this post to include Cuba.

    Reply
  10. Great content Drew! Very thorough and, as always, helpful!

    Reply

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