Earlier I wrote about this “Caribbean Hopper” ticket, that was using United miles and hopping around South America. Basically a roundtrip ticket from Mexico to Peru would be 20,000 miles and allow a stopover and two open-jaws.
This post will be talking about the other options not mentioned in the Caribbean Hopper. 1) Getting to Central America as the first step, and 2) other airlines that have cheap tickets from Central America and the Caribbean to South America. But if that’s not totally clear, let me start from square one.
Why do this?
Well you don’t have to book it this way, but this shows some interesting route ideas, and gives the ability to see more places with the same amount of miles.
First we book a ticket South, then book a ticket… more South. Then do it reverse. You’ll see.
Cheapest way to get to Central America, Mexico, and Caribbean
The first part of this trip is a oneway/roundtrip to somewhere just south of the USA and Texas. Here are the cheapest ways I can think of.
British Airways Avios, which transfer from Chase points and Amex points.
Avios are part of a distance based program, and the odd part is that you pay per segment. So a direct flight from Dallas to Cancun is only 7,500 Avios. But if you’re flying from Denver to Cancun via Dallas, you would price out two tickets and add em up. Denver to Dallas is 4,500 Avios and Dallas to Cancun is 7,500 Avios. The trip from Denver to Cancun would be 12,000 Avios.
From Miami here are some cheap Avios flights:
Notice that Miami to:
- Jamaica is 4,500 Avios
- Cancun is 4,500 Avios
- most of Central America is 7,500 Avios
- Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico is 7,500 Avios
From Dallas here are some cheap Avios flights:
Good routes are, Dallas to:
- All of Mexico for 7,500 Avios
- most of Central America for 10,000 Avios
From Charlotte here are some cheap Avios routes:
You get the point. Do the same yourself with other hubs, like NYC, PHL, and ORD.
By far my favorite way to get to Mexico, the Caribbean, and now a limited number of Central American destination is with Southwest points. Not just because prices are often cheap in advance (and you can cancel/change for free!), but because we have had the companion pass.
Our flight to Cancun was 6,000 points down, and our flight to Jamaica was 10,000 points. And both of those prices are for both of us, because since Caroline got the Companion Pass, all my flights are free.
If you’re interested in getting the Companion Pass (via getting both the personal and business Southwest card) read this post: Maximizing the Southwest Companion Pass.
Here are the Latin American destinations (excluding Texas) that Southwest serves:
This serves many of the most popular destinations and again, prices can be super cheap.
American Airlines Off-Peak Prices
I wrote a good post on AA’s different off-peak award charts. That has everything you would want to know about off-peak and more, but I’ll simplify it.
If you fly on American Airlines or US Airways to these certain destinations in the “off-peak” times, the price is cheaper. I’ll list the specific dates for the off-peak times and their prices.
AA/US Air Off-Peak to Caribbean and Mexico for 12,500 Miles.
The dates for these flights are September 7 – November 14. 12,500 each way is a good deal and that’s from anywhere in North America and the normal price is 17,500 miles.
AA/US Air Off-Peak to Central America and “South America Region 1” for 15,000 Miles.
The dates are January 16 – June 14, September 7 – November 14.
Region 1 refers to northern South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela).
15,000 Miles instead of 17,500 Miles isn’t a big savings, but it includes northern South America which is a plus for anyone looking to skip straight down.
Now that we’ve gotten down to Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean we’ve set ourselves up for cheap flights down to South America.
Not to get confusing yet, but we can book a ticket down to Mexico and then return back home from Jamaica. This might make more sense after I explain the next part, but basically you book two oneways. One to Mexico, then one returning from Jamaica.
Then the next ticket will be two oneways. Say we went to Peru. We book a oneway from Mexico to Peru, and then a oneway from Peru to Jamaica.
See what’s going on? That’s the big picture. Let me back up and talk prices.
Cheapest ways from Central America/Mexico/Caribbean to South America
Perhaps this needs to be broken up into two different parts. Tickets to northern South America, and then tickets to southern South America.
These prices are roundtrip. Also, I’ll sum up Central America, Mexico, Caribbean into Central America. Know that the titles below include the Caribbean.
Miles for Central America to northern South America
Miles for Central America to southern South America
Again, those are roundtrip prices. So let me break down what this means.
We’ve already gotten to Central America and now we’re looking to go to Peru, for example. Now looking at prices from Central America to Peru (northern South America) I can see that a roundtrip would cost only 20,000 miles with United or AA miles. Or 10,000 miles for a oneway.
Now let’s come up with a hypothetical ticket. Actually the to/from Mexico and Jamaica prices need not to be hypothetical as I recently flew them, but we’ll round up and say that it cost 10,000 miles.
Here’s how a ticket could break down, prices are for two people:
- USA to Cancun, Mexico for 10,000 Southwest points (for two people with Companion Pass)
- Cancun to Cusco, Peru for 20,000 AA/UA miles (for two people, 10k each)
- Cusco, Peru to Montego Bay Jamaica for 20,000 AA/UA miles (for two people, 10k each)
- Montego Bay Jamaica back home to the USA for 10,000 Southwest points (for two people with Companion Pass)
Total that’s 60,000 miles or 30,000 miles each for a roundtrip to Peru.
Guess what? That’s cheaper than a normal ticket to Peru.
And guess what? We get to see 3 places instead of 1.
And guess what else? We still haven’t used any stopovers yet.
For people with the Southwest Companion Pass, or in short distance to one of the routes you can use Avios with… this could be some incredible savings. For many miles collectors, it’s seriously cheaper to hop down to Cancun on Avios or Southwest points first, and then go to Peru.
For others this is just a way to see more places. And trust me, you can see a lot more with this.
The [inception] Stopover Version
The thing I haven’t mentioned is that if many of these tickets are allowed to have stopovers. United allows one and an open-jaw, Air Canada allows the same or 2 stopovers. See the list of stopover rules.
And you’re booking two separate roundtrip tickets, right? One to Central America then one from Central America to South America.
So you could build a stopover ticket inside of a stopover ticket.
Your ticket to Mexico if using Southwest points doesn’t get a stopover, although you could try seeing how much separate tickets would cost for the city you’d pass through anyways.
But if you were using United miles, Air Canada miles, Lufthansa miles, etc… to get down to Central America you can have at least 1 stopover.
And with any of the three miles I just mentioned you could also have an open-jaw.
In other words, you could stopover someplace on your way to Cancun, like Panama City. Or do a stopover in Cancun on your way to Panama City. And then open-jaw so your ticket has a gap, and you continue your ticket home from Jamaica. It would look like this:
That is ticket 1!
Now we book another ticket starting in Panama City down to Peru. But we could stopover in Ecuador on the way to Peru. And we can still open-jaw so that instead of returning to Panama City, we return to Jamaica. That way we can continue our ticket 1.
So ticket 2 is Panama to Ecuador, to Peru, to Jamaica. (Then ticket one continues, Jamaica to home).
That’s 5 destinations for nearly the same price as a normal ticket to a normal roundtrip to Peru.
With United miles that would be 55,000 miles instead of 40,000 miles. But you could use Lufthansa miles to get to the Caribbean, or a cheaper set to get down. And there’s much more you can do
This is one example of many many many other tickets possible. And you can still use the miles you want for each leg. Technically you could use four different sets of miles to book this ticket. Or you could use Southwest points or Avios for the first ticket, and do the stopover only on the second part.
The big benefit I see is this: Instead of taking my valuable United miles (or whatever you’d normally use) to fly down to Peru, I’ll use Southwest miles to get me down to Mexico and pay 10,000 United miles to get down to Peru from there.
Instead of using 20,00 United miles, I use 10,000 Southwest points and 10,000 United miles.
But do that for two people. For a oneway, I’d use 10,000 Southwest points for the two of us, then 10,000 United miles each. That’s instead of 20,000 United miles each.
And if you lived near a OneWorld hub and had cheap Avios tickets, you could have the same savings as someone with the companion pass.
- Save miles
- Use less of my more valuable miles
- See more places.
And that’s what this blog is about. Doing more with less.