The Best Ways to Fly to South America With Points and Miles [Step-by-Step]

american airlines business class 777

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South America is a country I have been wanting to visit for quite some time. It’s high on my list, so I know I’ll get there soon!

In this article, I will cover the best programs you can use to book award flights to South America, how to book an award flight, and how to earn enough miles for your next redemption.

Best Programs to Use to Book Flights

South America is well-served with nonstop flights from the U.S. by airlines across all the major airline alliances.

As with most award searches, premium cabin award space is easiest to find by searching close-in (within 2 weeks of the travel date) or far out in the calendar (10-11 months).

The article below covers the best programs to use, including Asian carrier Japan Airlines, U.S. carrier Alaska Airlines, and Middle Eastern carrier Etihad, among others.

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank 

american airlines business class 777
A lie-flat seat with direct aisle access to keep you comfortable in business class. – Image courtesy of aa.com

The Japan Airlines Mileage Bank program provides value to nearly every destination in South America across all cabin classes.

Japan Airlines is a member of the Oneworld Alliance, which is great because airlines in the alliance offer a number of nonstop flights from the U.S.

Oneworld members offering nonstop flights from the U.S. to South America include American Airlines and LATAM.

Book Awards With JAL

japan airlines award chart
Japan Airlines uses a distance-based award chart for its partner airlines. – Image courtesy of Japan Airlines

JAL uses a distance-based award chart and a mileage calculator to determine the amount of miles required. I recommend using Great Circle Mapper to calculate the total mileage of your itinerary and then refer back to the award chart.

Japan Airlines will have a devaluation on November 20, 2018, so the mileage shown in this article should be accurate until that date.

When searching for American Airlines business class award availability, I recommend using the American Airlines or British Airways website first and then confirming that same availability on the Japan Airlines website.

If you’re unable to confirm availability on the Japan Airlines website, you can call the airline at 800-525-3663 to search for and book the award ticket.

  • To find American Airlines and LATAM economy award availability: Use the Qantas website and then confirm that same availability on the Japan Airlines website. If you are unable to confirm availability on the Japan Airlines website, you can call Japan Airlines.
  • To find LATAM business class award availability: Use the British Airways website first, and then confirm on the Japan Airlines website. If you can’t confirm availability on the Japan Airlines website, call Japan Airlines.

Hot Tip: I use the Qantas website to search for Oneworld availability because it uses a month calendar view. With American Airlines and LATAM, nonstop business class will likely not show up on the Qantas website.  I recommend using American Airlines or British Airways to search for business class availability. 

JAL determines the mileage required by the using the total distance of your itinerary and the cabin class. Simply use Great Circle Mapper to calculate the total distance, and then reference the award chart to see how many miles are required.

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both American Airlines and LATAM round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

Argentina (EZE)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy40,000-50,000$132
Business65,000-80,000$132
First100,000$132

 

Bogota (BOG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy21,000$7521,000$116
Business42,000-60,000$7542,000$116

 

Brazil (GRU)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy40,000-50,000$9340,000$93
Business65,000-85,000$9365,000$93
First100,000-115,000$93N/AN/A

 

Chile (SCL)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy40,000$9350,000$93
Business65,000$9380,000$93

 

Peru (LIM)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy37,000-39,000$10937,000-40,000$109
Business60,000-63,000$10960,000-65,000$109

 

Rio de Janeiro (GIG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy40,000$92
Business65,000$92

Hot Tip: Need help booking an award flight? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking American Airlines business class.

American Airlines and LATAM fly nonstop from the U.S. to South America on a number of routes. If you are looking to fly first class, Dallas (DFW), Miami (MIA), and New York (JFK) offer it on select routes.

Here are the nonstop flights to several locations in South America that are bookable with Japan Airlines miles:

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Brazil (GRU):

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • New York (JFK)

Nonstop LATAM flights to Brazil (GRU):

  • Boston (BOS)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Orlando (MCO)

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Bogotá (BOG):

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Miami (MIA)

Nonstop LATAM flights to Bogotá (BOG):

  • Miami (MIA)

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Brazil (GIG):

  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Chile (SCL):

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Miami (MIA)

Nonstop LATAM flights to Chile (SCL):

  • New York (JFK)

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Peru (LIM):

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Miami (MIA)

Nonstop LATAM flights to Peru (LIM):

  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Argentina (EZE):

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)

Earning JAL Miles

Japan Airlines miles are hard to earn due to 2 factors:

  1. JAL only partners with 1 transferable point program, Marriott.
  2. JAL does not offer a credit card with a meaningful sign-up bonus.

Japan Airlines does offer a co-branded Mastercard, but I do not recommend it due to its small sign-up bonus.

The main way to earn JAL miles in the U.S. is by transferring points from Marriott. The good thing is that Marriott points are easy to earn with credit cards that we recommend, like these:

Alaska Airlines MileagePlan

LATAM's B787 Business class has a fresh new look and you can use your American Airlines miles to fly it! Image courtesy of luxurytraveldiary.com.
LATAM’s B787 Business class has a fresh new look and you can use your Alaska Airlines miles to fly it! Image courtesy of luxurytraveldiary.com.

Unlike Japan Airlines, Alaska Airlines provides value to only a few South American destinations.

The best way to use Alaska Airlines miles is for American Airlines first class flights to Brazil (GRU), American Airlines business class flights to Peru (LIM) and to Argentina (EZE). 

Alaska Airlines is not a member of an airline alliance, but instead has individual partnerships with airlines. They partner with American Airlines and LATAM, both of which offer nonstop flights from the U.S. to South America.

Book Awards With Alaska Airlines 

alaska airlines award chart
Alaska Airlines partner award chart. – Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines uses a zone-based award chart for each of its airline partners.

When searching for American Airlines award availability, I recommend using the Alaska Airlines website. When you find availability, you can book the flight directly on the Alaska Airlines website.

  • To find LATAM economy award availability: Use the Qantas website, then call Alaska Airlines at 800-252-7522 confirm the award space and book your flight.
  • To find LATAM business class award availability: Use the British Airways website and then call Alaska Airlines to confirm space and book your flight.

Hot Tip: The British Airways website is the best way to find LATAM business class. The Qantas website does show LATAM availability, but it generally does not show nonstop LATAM business class flights. 

Alaska Airlines determines the amount of miles required by the zone you are flying from and the zone you are flying to.

When you use the award chart, the Alaska website will show all the airlines that offer flights between your travel zones, and the required mileage for each cabin class.

For American Airlines flights, Alaska Airlines divides South America into Zone 1 and Zone 2. Zone 2 includes Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. All other American Airlines flights to South America are considered Zone 1.

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for American Airlines round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

South America 1
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy40,000$75-$109
Business60,000$75-$109
First110,000$75-$109

 

South America 2
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy60,000$92-$132
Business115,000$92-$132
First170,000$92-$132

For LATAM flights, Alaska Airlines treats South America as 1 region. Also, Alaska offers off-peak award pricing for LATAM economy flights, which are available from March 15-June 30 and all of August, October, and November.

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for LATAM round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

South America
Cabin ClassLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy Off-Peak50,000$93-$116
Economy Peak60,000$93-$116
Business90,000$93-$116

Hot Tip: Book LATAM economy award flights during off-peak pricing dates to save 10,000 miles round-trip!

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

Alaska Airlines miles are much easier to earn than JAL miles. Here’s how to earn them:

  • Transferring points from Alaska’s transferable point partner, Marriott
  • Spending on Alaska’s own credit cards
  • Shopping through Alaska’s shopping portal and dining program
  • Spending with Alaska’s travel partners

Alaska Airlines offers 2 co-branded Bank of America credit cards that have generous sign-up bonuses:

Another way to earn Alaska miles is by transferring Marriott points to Alaska Airlines. As previously noted in the JAL section, you can earn Marriott points and transfer those points directly to the airline.

Etihad Guest 

Etihad Airways is similar to Alaska Airlines in that the program can be used in niche circumstances for flights to South America.

The best ways to use Etihad miles are for American Airlines first class flights to Brazil (GRU) and AA first and business class flights to Argentina (EZE). 

Etihad is not a member of an airline alliance, and instead has individual partnerships (like Alaska Airlines). One partner is American Airlines, which offers nonstop flights from the U.S. to South America.

Book Awards With Etihad 

Etihad
Etihad uses a separate award chart for each airline partner. – Image courtesy of Etihad

Etihad uses a zone-based award chart for each of its airline partners, which includes American Airlines.

When you find award availability, call Etihad Guest at 877-690-0767 to confirm award availability and book the ticket.

Hot Tip: Etihad uses American Airlines pre-devaluation award pricing. Booking this award does require a phone call, but you can get good value if you are patient. 

The Etihad award chart is driven by 3 factors:

  1. The zone you are flying from to
  2. The cabin class
  3. The date of travel

For American Airlines flights, Etihad divides South America into Zone 1 and Zone 2. Zone 1 includes Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. All flights to other countries in South America will price as Zone 2.

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for American Airlines round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

South America 1
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy35,000$75-$109
Business60,000$75-$109
First80,000$75-$109

 

South America 2
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy Off Peak40,000$92-$132
Economy Peak60,000$92-$132
Business100,000$92-$132
First125,000$92-$132

Hot Tip: It’s also important to note that Etihad offers off-peak pricing for flights from North America to South America Zone 2 between March 1-May 31 and August 16-November 30. 

Earning Etihad Miles

Etihad miles can be earned from its transferable point program partners, American Express and Citi, and through its shopping portal.

Though Etihad does not offer a co-branded credit card, they do partner with American Express and Citi —  both of which offer a number of credit cards that we recommend, including:

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

Recommended Citi Cards

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 

Cathay Pacific experienced a recent devaluation, but there is still value to be found here.

Asia Miles uses a distance-based award chart when flying Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon or its Oneworld partners.

The best ways to use Cathay Pacific miles are for American Airlines first class flights to Brazil (GRU) and AA first class flights to Argentina (EZE).

Cathay Pacific is a member of the Oneworld alliance, so you can use your miles for flights on Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon or its partner airlines’ flights.

Book Awards With Cathay Pacific 

cathay pacific
Cathay Pacific Mileage Calculator – Image courtesy of Cathay Pacific

For nonstop flights to South America, you will use the Asia Miles Calculator. If you decide to fly 2 Oneworld airline partners to South America (i.e., American Airlines and LATAM), you will use the Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart.

After you find award availability, you will need to fill out the Flight Award Request Form (scroll to the bottom after your award search).

Hot Tip: The Cathay Pacific Asia Miles website does not show all Oneworld availability. For American Airlines and LATAM, you will need to find award availability first and then submit the Flight Award Request Form to Cathay Pacific. 

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both American Airlines and LATAM round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

Argentina (EZE)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000-80,000$75-$132
Business100,000-150,000$75-$132
First150,000$75-$132

 

Brazil (GRU)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000-80,000$75-$13250,000 $75-$132
Business100,000-150,000$75-$132100,000$75-$132
First150,000-240,000$75-$132N/AN/A

Chile (SCL)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000$75-$13280,000$75-$132
Business100,000$75-$132150,000$75-$132

 

Colombia (BOG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy30,000$75-$13230,000$75-$132
Business60,000$75-$13260,000$75-$132

Peru (LIM)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy30,000$75-$13230,000-50,000$75-$132
Business60,000$75-$13260,000-100,000$75-$132

The American Airlines and LATAM non-stop flights from the U.S. to South America are shown in the JAL section. If you are looking to fly first class, Dallas (DFW), Miami (MIA), and New York (JFK) offer it on select routes.

Earning Cathay Pacific Miles

Cathay Pacific makes it easy to earn enough airline miles for your next award flight to South America.

The airline partners with 2 transferable point programs (American Express and Citi), and also offers a co-branded credit card with a relatively valuable sign-up bonus.

American Express and Citi also offer a number of personal and business credit cards that earn points you can transfer directly to Cathay Pacific.

Also, if you stay at Marriott or Starwood hotels, you can earn hotel points that can be transferred directly to Cathay Pacific.

Asiana Airlines Asiana Club 

United Business Class
Fly United business class to South America! Image courtesy of HeathrowspotterUK.

Asiana Airlines is not a well-known program, but it does have an upside if you know how to use it.

Asiana Club uses a zone-based award chart (click “Flight Awards Mileage Redemption Table”) when flying Asiana Airlines or one of its partners.

The best ways to use Asiana miles are for United Airlines business class flights to Brazil (GRU, GIG), Chile (SCL), Peru (LIM), and Argentina (EZE).

Asiana Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, which means you can use your miles for flights on Asiana Airlines or its partner airlines, such as United Airlines and Avianca.

Book Awards With Asiana Airlines 

asiana airlines award chart
Use Asiana miles to fly United business class to South America! – Image courtesy of Asiana Airlines

Asiana uses a zone-based award chart to determine the amount of miles required, which is driven by 2 factors:

  1. The zone you are flying from and to
  2. The cabin class

When searching for United Airlines and Avianca award availability, I recommend using the United Airlines website. After you find availability, you can call Asiana at 800-227-4262 to confirm and book the ticket.

Hot Tip: The Asiana Airlines website does not allow you to search for Star Alliance availability. Instead, use the United search engine to use to find availability on a Star Alliance flight. 

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both United Airlines and Avianca round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

South America 1
Cabin ClassUnited AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy35,000$109-$116
Business55,000$109-$116

 

South America 1
Cabin ClassAviancaTaxes & Fees
Economy35,000$109-$116
Business55,000$109-$116

 

South America 2
Cabin ClassUnited AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000$92-$132
Business70,000$92-$132

For Star Alliance flights, Asiana divides South America into South America 1 and South America 2:

  • South America 1: Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, and Peru
  • South America 2: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Paraguay

United Airlines and Avianca fly nonstop from the U.S. to South America on a number of routes.

Here are nonstop flights to locations in South America that you can book with Asiana Airlines miles:

United Airlines flights to Argentina (EZE):

  • Houston (IAH)

United Airlines flights to Brazil (GRU):

  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Washington (IAD)

United Airlines flights to Brazil (GIG):

  • Houston (IAH)

United Airlines flights to Chile (SCL):

  • Houston (IAH)

Avianca flights to Colombia (BOG):

  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIAI
  • New York (JFK)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Washington (IAD)

United Airlines flights to Colombia (BOG):

  • Newark (EWR)
  • Houston (IAH)

Avianca flights to Peru (LIM):

  • Miami (MIA)

United flights to Peru (LIM):

  • Houston (IAH)
  • Peru (LIM)

Earning Asiana Airlines Miles

Asiana offers a few ways to earn enough airline miles for your next award flight to South America.

The airline partners with Marriott for a transferable points program, and it also offers a co-branded credit card that comes with a relatively good sign-up bonus.

As noted in the JAL section, Marriott have a number of personal and business credit cards that earn points you can transfer directly to Asiana.

Bank of America offers 2 co-branded Asiana Airlines credit cards that earn Asiana miles; the personal card offers a higher sign-up bonus compared to the business credit card, but both are solid cards.

ANA Mileage Club 

United Business Class
United Airlines operates a Boeing 787 with a 2-2-2 business class cabin layout. First class is not offered by United on this route. – Image courtesy of United Airlines

ANA, like Asiana, is another Asian program that may not be familiar to U.S. travelers but can provide value.

The Mileage Club program uses a zone-based award chart (scroll down to ” Step 2: Confirm required mileage”) when flying ANA or with its partner airlines.

The best ways to use ANA miles are for United Airlines business class flights to Brazil (GRU, GIG), Chile (SCL) and Argentina (EZE). 

ANA is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your miles for flights on ANA or with its partners, such as United Airlines and Avianca.

Book Awards With ANA 

ANA partner award chart
ANA partner award chart – Image courtesy of ANA

For partner awards, ANA uses a zone-based chart to determine the amount of miles required, which is driven by 2 factors:

  1. The zones you are flying from and to
  2. The cabin class

When you are flying ANA, the airline uses a different award chart, which is driven by 3 factors:

  1. The zones you are flying to and from
  2. The cabin class
  3. The dates of your travel

You can find United Airlines and Avianca award availability 2 ways:

  1. Confirm the same availability on the ANA website and book the ticket, or
  2. Call ANA at 800-235-9262 to confirm availability and book the award ticket

Hot Tip: ANA requires you to book round-trip partner award flights. When you are searching for an award on ANA, the website requires you to search for round-trip flights. The United Airlines website allows you to search for one-way flights, which can make your award search easier. 

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for United Airlines round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

South America
Cabin ClassUnited AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy55,000$92-$132
Business88,000$92-$132

(The United Airlines and Avianca nonstop flights from the U.S. to South America are shown in the Asiana section if you are looking for a specific route.)

For Star Alliance flights, ANA groups Central and South America together. What this means is that you can find more value by flying long-haul flights in a premium cabin to southern South America.

The redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both United Airlines and Avianca round-trip nonstop flights to South America should be the same as shown in the Asiana section.

Earning ANA Miles

ANA offers several ways to earn enough airline miles for your next award flight to South America. The airline partners with 2 transferable point programs in American Express and Citi, and also offers a co-branded credit card with a small sign-up bonus.

Amex and Citi both offer credit cards that can help you earn points to transfer directly to ANA.

British Airways Executive Club

British Airways is a program many U.S. travelers have likely used because of the ability to book domestic American Airlines flights with British Airways miles.

The Executive Club program does not have an award chart, but the legacy chart is available online if you search for it. 

The best way to use British Airways miles is for American Airlines economy flights to Colombia (BOG). 

British Airways is a member of the Oneworld Alliance, so you can use your miles for flights on British Airways or its partner airlines.

Book Awards With British Airways

British Airways and Single Partner Award Chart
(note: Iberia flights are slightly different)
Zone
(Distance)
EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
Off PeakPeakOff PeakPeakOff PeakPeakOff PeakPeak
Zone 1
(1-650 miles)
4,0004,500**5,7506,7507,7509,00015,50018,000
Zone 2
(651-1,151 miles)
6,5007,5009,50011,25012,75015,00025,50030,000
Zone 3
(1,152-2,000 miles)
8,50010,00012,75015,00017,00020,00034,00040,000
Zone 4
(2,001-3,000 miles)
10,00012,50020,00025,00031,25037,50042,50050,000
Zone 5
(3,001-4,000 miles)
13,00020,00026,00040,00050,00060,00068,00080,000
Zone 6
(4,001-5,500 miles)
16,25025,00032,50050,00062,50075,00085,000100,000
Zone 7
(5,501-6,500 miles)
19,50030,00039,00060,00075,00090,000102,000120,000
Zone 8
(6,501-7,000 miles)
22,75035,00045,50070,00087,500105,000119,000140,000
Zone 9
(7,001-100,000 miles)
32,50050,00065,000100,000125,000150,000170,000200,000

British Airways has peak and off-peak dates published every year.

2018 peak dates are:

  • January 1-3
  • February 9-18
  • March 29-April 15
  • May 25-June 3
  • July 7-September 6
  • October 12-28
  • December 14-31

2019 peak dates are:

  • January 1-6
  • February 15-18
  • February 21-24
  • April 5-23
  • May 24-June 2
  • July 7-September 6
  • October 12-14
  • October 18-21
  • October 25-28
  • November 1-4
  • December 14-31

British Airways uses a distance-based award chart to determine the amount of miles required. This award chart is driven by 3 factors:

  1. The distance of each flight segment
  2. The cabin class
  3. The dates of your travel

When searching for American Airlines business class award availability, I recommend using the American Airlines and British Airways website. After you find award availability on the British Airways website, you can book the ticket directly on British Airways.

To find American Airlines and LATAM economy award availability, use the Qantas website, and then confirm that same availability on the British Airways website.

To find LATAM business award availability, use the British Airways website and book the ticket directly there.

Hot Tip: The British Airways website does not always show the correct award availability for American Airlines. Before you transfer points to British Airways, I recommend calling British Airways on 1 (800) 247-9297 to confirm award availability. 

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both American Airlines and LATAM round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

Argentina (EZE)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000$132
Business120,000-150,000$132

 

Brazil (GRU)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000-60,000$9350,000-70,000$93
Business120,000-150,000$93120,000-150,000$93
First180,000-200,000$93N/AN/A

 

Brazil (GIG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000-70,000$92
Business120,000-150,000$92

 

Colombia (BOG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy20,000-25,000$7520,000-35,000$116
Business40,000-75,000$7540,000-70,000$116

 

Chile (SCL)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000$9350,000$93
Business120,000-150,000$93150,000$93

 

Peru (LIM)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy25,000-40,000$10925,000-50,000$109
Business75,000-120,000$10975,000-150,000$109

For Oneworld alliance flights, British Airways prices awards by the amount of miles that you fly per segment, the cabin class you are flying in, and the dates on which you travel.

The redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both American Airlines and LATAM round-trip nonstop flights to South America should be the same as shown in the JAL section.

Earning British Airways Miles

British Airways makes it easy to earn enough miles for your next redemption to South America.

The airline partners with 2 transferable point programs: American Express and Chase. They also offer a co-branded credit card with a large sign-up bonus, partner with hotels and car rental companies, and have a shopping portal you can use to earn points.

Chase offers an array of both personal and business credit cards that earn points you can transfer directly to British Airways.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines is a familiar program to U.S. travelers as one of the “big 3” U.S. airlines, along with United Airlines and Delta Air Lines

The AAdvantage program has one award chart when flying on American Airlines, and a separate award chart when flying with an American partner. 

Note that American Airlines does not rank near the top in terms of value, so the key here is to use your miles when the cost of a revenue flight is high.

American Airlines is a member of the Oneworld alliance, so you can use your miles for flights with their partner airlines as well.

Book Awards With American Airlines 

american airlines award chart
American Airlines award chart

American uses a zone-based award chart to determine the amount of miles required, which is based on 3 factors:

  1. The zones you are flying from and to
  2. The cabin class
  3. The dates of your travel

When flying American Airlines’ own product, its award program divides South America into South America Region 1 and South America Region 2:

  • South America Region 1: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Manaus (Brazil)
  • South America Region 2: Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela

For American Airlines partner flights, the regions look slightly different:

  • South America Region 1: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Manaus (Brazil), Peru
  • South America Region 2: Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile (excluding Easter Island), Falkland Islands, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela

American Airlines also offers off-peak pricing when flying its own product to South America Region 1. The off-peak dates are January 16-June 14 and September 7-November 14.

Once you find award availability on the American Airlines website, you can book the ticket directly with American Airlines.

When you find LATAM award availability, call American Airlines at 800-433-7300 to confirm the award space and book the award ticket.

Hot Tip: The American Airlines website does not show availability for all members of the Oneworld alliance. You will want to familiarize yourself with both the British Airways and Qantas websites to search for award availability. 

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both American Airlines and LATAM round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

Argentina (EZE)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy60,000$132
Business115,000$132

 

Brazil (GRU)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy60,000$9360,000$93
Business115,000$93115,000$93
First170,000$93170,000$93

 

Brazil (GIG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy60,000$92
Business115,000$92

 

Chile (SCL)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy60,000$9360,000$93
Business115,000$93115,000$93

 

Colombia (BOG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy35,000$7540,000$116
Business60,000$7560,000$116

 

Peru (LIM)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy60,000$10960,000$109
Business115,000$109115,000$109

For both American Airlines and Oneworld alliance flights, American prices award flights based on the zone you are flying from/to, the cabin class, and the dates of your travel.

The redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both American Airlines and LATAM round-trip nonstop flights to South America should be close to the prices shown in the JAL section.

Earning American Airlines Miles

American Airlines is another airline that offers a number of ways to earn enough miles for your next trip to South America.

They partner with Marriott as a transferable points program, as well as offering co-branded credit cards with large sign-up bonuses, partnering with hotels and car rental companies, and hosting a shopping portal.

American Airlines uses both Citi and Barclays for its co-branded credit cards, which earn AAdvantage miles directly.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Delta Business Class
Use Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Delta business class to South America! Image courtesy of quirrow.com.

Virgin Atlantic, a program that many in the U.K. are familiar with, is also a program that can be used in the right situation for some solid value.

The Flying Club program has individual award charts for each of its airline partners, including an award chart for Delta.

Like American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic does not rank near the top in terms of value across the board — so the key is to use your miles when the cash price of a flight is high.

Virgin Atlantic is not a member of an airline alliance, and instead partners with individual airlines.

Book Awards With Virgin Atlantic 

Virgin Atlantic Delta Award Chart
Virgin Atlantic Award Chart – Image courtesy of The Points Guy

Virgin Atlantic no longer publishes its full Delta zone-based award chart, but here is one version to reference. This award chart is driven fully by the zone of your departure/arrival and your cabin class.

When searching for Delta Air Lines award availability, I recommend using the Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic websites.

After you find award availability on the Virgin Atlantic website, you can book the ticket directly on American Airlines. If you can’t find availability on Virgin Atlantic, you can call the airline at 800-862-8621 to search for and book the award ticket.

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both Delta Air Lines round-trip nonstop flights to South America:

South America
Cabin ClassDeltaTaxes & Fees
Economy45,000$93-$116
Business90,000$93-$116

Earning Virgin Atlantic Miles

Virgin Atlantic makes it extremely easy to earn more than enough miles for your next trip to South America.

The airline partners with all 4 transferable point programs: American Express, Citi, Chase, and Marriott. They also offer a co-branded credit card (that usually comes with a sign-up bonus), partner with hotels and car rental companies, and have a shopping portal.

Virgin Atlantic uses Bank of America for its co-branded credit card, and the miles you earn can be used directly toward an award flight.

Bottom Line: Virgin Atlantic is another under-the-radar program that can provide you with significant value. Make sure to spend time with the award search engine, since it takes some time getting used to. 

Final Thoughts

South America is a continent with a diverse set of experiences to offer. From the beaches and mountains to the plains and rainforests, you will have more than enough ideas for a unique itinerary.

What I find most interesting about traveling to South America is that you can use any number of programs, points, and miles variations to get there. Airlines across all of the major alliances offer nonstop flights, making it much easier to find an award redemption that works for you!

FAQ

Which airlines include carrier-imposed surcharges on award flights to South America?

When flying American Airlines, United Airlines, LATAM, or Avianca, fuel surcharges should be near 0.

What is the fewest number of miles you can use to book an economy class award flight to South America?

Japan Airlines requires the fewest number of miles to fly economy, at 21,000-miles round-trip from Miami to Bogotá on either American Airlines or LATAM.

What is the fewest number of miles required to fly business class to South America?

Japan Airlines requires the fewest number of miles to fly business, at 42,000-miles round-trip from Miami to Bogotá on either American Airlines or LATAM.

What is the fewest number miles required to fly first class to South America?

Etihad offers the fewest number of miles to fly first class, at 80,000 miles round-trip on American Airlines from the U.S. to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela

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