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Cheapest Miles to South America

This series is about figuring out which one of your miles or points transfer partners is the best miles program to use for redeeming flights to specific regions. And with South America, redeeming miles is easier as for once we don’t have to worry about fuel surcharges. However, it does open up award program options that we normally wouldn’t use because of fuel surcharges.

If you want to see the posts in this series so far, here are the other links:

Chart of miles prices to South America

The thing to know about the prices before looking at the chart is that South America is almost always broken up into two regions, the northern half and the southern half. The problem is that different award charts divide north and south differently. Most commonly award charts have Chile and Argentina as “southern South America”. But sometimes Paraguay, Uraguay, and Brazil will be in the southern half as well.

If you’re looking at a trip to Brazil or Paraguay, make sure you don’t just assume it’s the lower half; check the award chart.

Most of the time the range in price will be north to south.

However, sometimes there will be exceptions or off-peak prices. I’ll list the exceptions in prices below the charts.

  Economy Business Alliance Transfers From
AA 30k – 60k 60k – 100k OneWorld SPG
Alaska 30k – 60k 60k – 125k   SPG
Alitalia 35k – 50k 60k – 75k SkyTeam Amex MR, SPG
Air France 35k – 50k 87.5k – 125k SkyTeam Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
United 40k – 60k 70k – 110k Star Alliance Chase UR
Avianca 40k – 60k 80k – 120k Star Alliance  
Korean Air 50k 110k SkyTeam Chase UR
Air Canada 50k – 60k 75k – 95k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
Singapore 60k 100k Star Alliance Amex MR, Chase UR, Citi TY, SPG
Lufthansa 60k 105k Star Alliance SPG

 

Distance Based Programs

Example: MIA-LIM

BA Avios 25k 75k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG
ANA* 38k* 63k* Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
JAL 40k 65k OneWorld SPG
LAN 48k – 54k 100k – 108k OneWorld SPG (1:1.5)
Asia Miles 60k 80k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG

 

Example: SEA-DFW-SCL

ANA* 60k* 90k* Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
JAL 70k 100k OneWorld SPG
BA Avios 70k 210k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG
LAN 70k – 120k 150k – 280k OneWorld SPG (1:1.5)
Asia Miles 85k 115k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG

* = ANA changed their award chart, so these needs updated. Will do when I return from the Great Firewall of China.

 

Price Variations

AA off-peak to Southern South America

One of the best deals to Southern South America is AA’s off-peak price which brings the price for a oneway down from 30,000 AA miles to 20,000 AA miles.

Off-Peak times:

  • Mar 1 – May 31
  • Aug 16 – Nov 30

 

AA off-peak to Northern South America

Surprisingly a lot of people don’t realize that AA has an off-peak to Northern South America but it doesn’t get quoted because it’s not on their OneWorld award chart.

That’s because this off-peak price is only for flying American Airlines.

Off-peak times:

  • Jan 16 – Jun 14
  • Sep 7 – Nov 14

 

Alaska has different prices with different partners

As shown in Alaska’s Award Chart, the amount of Alaska miles you pay depends on who you fly. But the best prices seem to be flying on AA. And Alaska mimics AA’s award chart in that it will have the exact same prices and off-peak times if you fly on AA.

 

LAN

When using LAN “Kilometers”, awards on LAN flights are priced out by region, and flights on OneWorld partners are distance based. Barely worth mentioning since it’s rarely used, but the LAN awards were cheaper. Also, the transfer from SPG is more generous for LAN Kilometers, as 1 spg point transfers to 1.5 LAN Kilometers.

 

The Latin Hopper

The basics would be that it’s only 10,000 United miles to go from one region to another in Latin America (with exception to Southern South America). To go from northern Mexico to Northern South America as a roundtrip would be 20,000 miles.

Why do this?

Because United allows 1 stopover and 2 open-jaws. One of the many possible variations could be the following route:

Cancun, Mexico – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Lima, Peru – San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Starts in Cancun and ends in San Juan and has two stops (a stopover and the destination) along the way. The entire trip would be 20,000 miles.

After you include the oneways to Cancun and returning from San Juan, all in all, it would be about the same price as a trip to Peru would be in the first place if you’re taking the Southwest Companion Pass down.

See more here: Latin Hopper with United Miles

 

Best Miles to South America

One thing to note is that for the few programs that consider South America one region, like Singapore and Lufthansa, the prices aren’t that bad for Southern South America. 60,000 miles is a lot to Peru, but it’s par for the course when going to Chile. Or better yet, Korean, which is only 50,000 miles to all of South America.

Best miles to northern South America

The best prices to the top half of the continent seem to be the following:

  • AA’s off-peak using 30,000 AA miles or Alaska miles
  • AA’s regular price using 35,000 AA miles or Alaska miles
  • 35,000 Flying Blue miles
  • British Airways Avios from OneWorld hubs

Best miles to southern South America

  • AA’s off-peak using 40,000 AA miles or Alaska miles
  • 50,000 Flying Blue miles

Then there’s always the Latin Hopper mentioned above as well.

Related Posts:

26 Comments

  1. Do you have or plan to have an article on cheapest miles to Africa (specifically Sub-Saharan Africa)?

    Reply
    • Yep, planning on. Guess it will probably be the next one, since there isn’t a lot left. 😀 or Oceania I guess.

      Reply
  2. Re generous transfer from SPG to Lan, that’s misleading. 1 mile = almost 2 km, so you’re actually getting less value when transferring SPGs.

    Reply
    • Huh?

      Reply
    • “1 spg point transfers to 1.5 LAN Kilometers”

      1.5 kilometers is LESS than 1 mile (0.93 of a mile to be exact), so you’re not getting any added value with this conversion.

      Reply
    • It doesn’t work like that. “Miles” is the name of a currency that’s arbitrarily priced. 1 mile doesn’t get you 1 miles of flight, and similarly 1 LAN kilometer doesn’t get you 1 km of flight.

      It’s like saying money, you need to know how strong that currency is is. But calling it dollar or rupee doesn’t change the price.

      So use the award chart I give above.
      A lan flight from MIA-LIM would be 48,000 KMs. And using AA miles it would be 35,000. (The prices are in no way based on miles and kilometers)
      If transferring from SPG, technically you’d need less SPG points if transferring to LAN for that flight, since the transfer rate is 1:1 with AA, and 1:1.5 with LAN.

      Reply
  3. Shouldn’t ANA be in the zone-based section now?

    Reply
    • Bah, yes. I need to update that but I’m in China and they hate they internet apparently. Will get to it soon, I’ll put a note in.

      Reply
  4. I’m curious about other options other than United from Mexico and the Caribbean. Using the SW Companion Pass to get two people to Cancun and then going from there would likely save on a number of charts. I’m going to have Amex points, so I’m going to have to check Aeromexico’s chart too.

    Reply
    • Yea, actually that’s the original Latin Hopper concept, I wrote about taking SW down to Cancun and Puerto Rico… I believe. But it’s a good idea to look into with other award charts. Thanks.

      Reply
  5. It looks like with American starting service between MIA and BAQ in June, it will be possible to fly between North and South America for only 7500 Avios each way. Unfortunately, there aren’t many oneworld options from BAQ (LAN Colombia flies to BOG but that’s about it), so this probably isn’t a situation where you can save Avios with stopovers. On another note, Delta flies to South America and charges 45K/60K Skypesos roundtrip to Northern/Southern South America.

    Reply
    • Unfortunately China blocks anything google powered (like everything) so I can’t load the OneWorld route map but will look at it later. Then I can also google image search the town. 😀

      Reply
    • I’ve been to MDE and environs a number of times, but nowhere else in Colombia. My understanding is that Barranquilla isn’t very attractive, but has an incredible Carnival (second to Rio). SPG has a Four Points in the city that is charging $400+/night during the festival (in Feb 2016) but awards are available and only 7000 points. Who knows if they will be honored. Another use for the cheap trip to BAQ would be proximity to Cartagena, which AA does not fly to.

      Reply
    • Interesting. I want to go back to Colombia but wouldn’t be too sure where to begin, it’s a big country. I’d like to do the coast but here it’s super touristy at Cartegena.

      Reply
  6. Never done it before, but noticed you can fly Delta to South America using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles. It says 45k to South America,so I take that to include Southern South America. Then to boot, Amex MR is giving a transfer bonus, which takes it to 36,000 miles. Don’t know how hard to book or if fuel surcharges would be included.

    Reply
    • Interesting, will have to look into that.
      There shouldn’t be any fuel surcharges at all. Just make sure there is award availability before transferring, call VA.

      Reply
  7. I am looking at going from Hawaii to Lima or Rio. When I priced it on AA, HNL to LIM through LAX is as low as 15K (also get 10% back because of the credit card, so net is 13.5K) on April 28th or May 4th. Same day flights HNL to LAX are all 22.5. I have never seen lower than 17.5 to LAX from HNL on AA. Rio is 20K best pricing from Hawaii. Seems cheaper to go to South America than the mainland. Am I missing something?

    Reply
    • That’s right and I will have a post explaining the off-peaks of AA… It’s a lot more odd than one would think. But this is a great/funny example.

      Reply
    • Maybe you shouldn’t make a post focusing on the AA loophole – it seems like the kind of thing that will get shut down if it gets too much attention. Especially since they’re ripe for a deval…

      Reply
    • Well, it’s already written and set to post for Monday morning… so soon. But it’s not just focusing on that. It’s mostly focusing on the different off-peak combinations. Hawaii and south america, or Europe, or even Asia. Or the Caribbean and those places. It’s not just the US. And oh yea, Hawaii to latin america is cheaper, but you could make it an actual trip because it saves so many miles.

      Reply
  8. I am trying to book LIM to EZE on United, and it is showing as 20k miles, not 10k. am I missing something?

    Reply
    • Oops. Some how I totally didn’t realize that price changed forever ago in the devaluation and I just remembered it being 10k. But I fixed to an actual example. Thanks for letting me know.

      Reply
  9. Lufthansa miles are pretty good option as well because they give 2 stopovers and 2 open jaw for a roundtrip. Plus options include Tam that Lufthansa partners with but not a part of star alliance. There are no fuel surcharges for this redemption because it’s not on the miles and more airlines.

    Reply
  10. Looking for a simple RT from NY to Medellin in August… how would I use Avios? I can’t find any availability even just RT from NY to MIA

    Reply
    • Since there are no non-stop flights between NYC and MDE on oneworld, your best bet is probably to start with a search on aa.com, and then search for the segments that have availability on ba.com. I do see some availability in August between NYC and MDE on aa.com, but it goes down depending on the number of seats that you need. The Avios price from NYC-MIA (7500) + MIA-MDE (10000) is the same as the (peak season) AAdvantage miles price. So, this would mostly be useful for someone that has more Avios to spare than AA miles; or alternatively, for someone that wanted to build in a longer stopover in MIA.

      Reply
  11. A recommendation…

    You should include a section in each of these guides of how (which miles to use) to maximize within the same region (or a separate guide for each region).

    For example…Singapore treats all of South America as one region and allows 2 stopovers on a roundtrip so can hit several places in north or South America for 25,000 in economy.

    Reply

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