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 continent with a diverse set of countries with half of its population located in Brazil. From Machu Picchu in Peru, to the beaches in Rio de Janeiro, to the food scene in Lima, to the bustling capital cities of Buenos Aires and Santiago, to the salt flats in Bolivia, the continent is filled with a diverse set of travel experiences.

After reading about these things to do, you may be asking yourself, is there a good way to get there with points and miles? Of course! This article covers 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 flights from the U.S. by airlines across all major airline alliances: Oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam.

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).

This article covers the best programs to use, including Japan Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Etihad Airways, among others.

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank 

American Airlines Business Class 777
Use Japan Airlines to book American Airlines business class! Image Credit: 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 helpful given Oneworld member airlines American Airlines and LATAM offer a number of nonstop flights from the U.S. to South America.

Book Awards With Japan Airlines

JAL uses a distance-based award chart to determine the amount of miles required, which is based on the total distance and cabin class of your itinerary. Calculate the distance of your flight using Great Circle Mapper and then refer back to the Oneworld award chart.

Search for LATAM and American Airlines business class award availability on the British Airways website, and then confirm the same availability on the Japan Airlines website or call Japan Airlines at 800-525-3663 to book the award flight.

Search for American Airlines and LATAM economy award availability on the British Airways/Qantas websites and then confirm the same availability on the Japan Airlines website or call directly to book. For a step-by-step, check out this guide on how to search Oneworld award availability.

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

Bogotá, Colombia (BOG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy25,000-40,000$7525,000$116
Business48,000-80,000$7548,000$116

 

Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000-70,000$132
Business85,000-115,000$132
First110,000-165,000$132

 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (GIG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000$92
Business85,000$92

 

São Paulo, Brazil (GRU)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000-70,000$9350,000$93
Business85,000-115,000$9385,000$93
First110,000-165,000$93N/AN/A

 

Lima, Peru (LIM)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy40,000$10940,000-50,000$109
Business80,000$10980,000-85,000$109

 

Santiago, Chile (SCL)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy50,000$9350,000-60,000$93
Business85,000$9385,000-110,000$93

 

Hot Tip: Need help booking an award flight? Here’s a 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 on American, 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 Bogotá, Colombia (BOG):

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Miami (MIA)

Nonstop LATAM flights to Bogotá, Colombia (BOG):

  • Miami (MIA)

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE):

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

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (GIG):

  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)

Nonstop American Airlines flights to São Paulo, Brazil (GRU):

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

Nonstop LATAM flights to São Paulo, Brazil (GRU):

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

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Lima, Peru (LIM):

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Miami (MIA)

Nonstop LATAM flights to Lima, Peru (LIM):

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

Nonstop American Airlines flights to Santiago, Chile (SCL):

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Miami (MIA)

Nonstop LATAM flights to Santiago, Chile (SCL):

  • New York (JFK)

Earning JAL Miles

Japan Airlines partners with 1 transferable point program: Marriott Bonvoy. Separately, Japan Airlines doesn’t offer a co-branded credit card with a meaningful sign-up bonus, making it hard to earn Japan Airlines miles with plastic.

For those looking to transfer Marriott points to Japan Airlines, keep the transfer ratio and transfer time in mind. Marriott point transfers take 7 days at a 3:1 ratio. While that’s not ideal, the upside is that Marriott points are easy to earn with credit cards like these:

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card - earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points (terms apply). A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Alaska Airlines MileagePlan

LATAM Business class
Use Alaska miles to fly LATAM business class! Image Credit: luxurytraveldiary.com.

Unlike Japan Airlines, Alaska Airlines provides value to only a few South American destinations. Alaska Airlines is not a member of an airline alliance, but instead has individual partnerships with airlines, including American Airlines and LATAM for flights from the U.S. to South America.

Book Awards With Alaska Airlines 

Alaska Airlines uses zone-based award charts and the number of Alaska miles that you’ll need will depend on the zones of your travel and 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.

Search and book American Airlines awards directly on the Alaska website. LATAM economy flights can be searched on the Qantas website, then you’ll call Alaska Airlines at 800-252-7522 to book the flight. Search for LATAM business class award availability on the British Airways website and then call Alaska Airlines to book the flight.

With that said, below are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for American Airlines and LATAM round-trip 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

 

South America
Cabin ClassLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy Off-Peak*50,000$93-$116
Economy Peak60,000$93-$116
Business90,000$93-$116

*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.

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

For those looking to book a flight, reference the Japan Airlines section for a full list of American and LATAM flights from the U.S. to South America.

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

Alaska Airlines offers a number of ways to earn its miles including its own credit cards and by transferring points from Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott has a number of airline partners that are unique to Marriott, with Alaska Airlines being one of those partners.

If you’re looking to transfer points from Marriott to Alaska Airlines, it’s helpful to know the transfer time and transfer ratio. Marriott point transfers take 2 days at a 3:1 ratio.

Etihad Guest 

American Airlines 777-300 Business Class Cabin
Use Etihad miles to fly American business class! Image Credit: AA.com

Etihad Airways is similar to Alaska Airlines in that the program can be used in niche circumstances for flights to South America. The airline is not a member of an airline alliance, but instead has individual partnerships, including American Airlines, for flights from the U.S. to South America.

Book Awards With Etihad 

Etihad uses a zone-based award chart for American Airlines flights and the number of Etihad miles needed depends on the zones of travel and cabin class.

Search British Airways/Qantas for award availability, then calling Etihad Guest at 877-690-0767 to confirm award availability and book the ticket.

When you decide where you want to travel, here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for American Airlines round-trip flights to South America:

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

*Zone 1 includes Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

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

Earning Etihad Miles

Etihad partners with 4 transferable points programs in American Express, Capital One, Citi, and Marriott Bonvoy. The airline unfortunately doesn’t have a co-branded credit card, so earning points that can be transferred to Etihad will be the easy way to earn miles.

If you’re looking to transfer points to Etihad, keep the transfer ratios and transfer times in mind. Amex points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One points take 36 hours at a 2:1.5 ratio, Citi points take 6 days at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott points take 5 days at 3:1 ratio. With that said, focus on transferring Amex and Capital One points first.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $1,500+ in value from the card every year.

Plus, get up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage fees). For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x).

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $2,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Even though this card carries a hefty annual fee, we get ~$1,250+ in value per year by leveraging as many of the benefits/perks card.

Get access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide, $200 in airline fee credits for incidentals (e.g. baggage fees) and a lot more. Also, earn a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points (terms apply). For rates and fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. This means you'll max out at a (whopping) 600,000 points per year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates and fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express - This is a real simple card that earns you 2x points on business purchases up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). There's no annual fee. For rates and fees of The Blue Business Plus, click here.

Recommended Miles-Earning Capital One Cards (Personal)

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card - This is an excellent card for those looking to earn 10x miles per $1 across thousands of hotels. With a 20,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $200) after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months and no annual fee, it's a strong choice.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - A card for the more serious traveler. Earn a 50,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $500) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening — and 10X miles per $1 spent across thousands of hotels. The annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95 after that.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

american airlines business class
Use Cathay Pacific miles to fly American business class! Image Credit: EQRoy via shutterstock.com

Cathay Pacific is an Asian program that provides value with Oneworld partner airline flights. In the case of South America, American Airlines is the partner that you’ll want to focus on.

Book Awards With Cathay Pacific 

The Asia Miles program uses a distance-based award chart when flying Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon or its Oneworld partners. When booking award flights, the number of Asia miles needed will depend on the number of airline partners that you fly, the distance, and the cabin class of your flight.

Search for Oneworld availability on the British Airways/Qantas websites. When you find a flight that works, call Cathay Pacific at 866-892-2598 to confirm the flight is available, then book the flight. If you’re looking for a step-by-step, check out this guide on searching for Oneworld award availability.

For American Airlines round-trip flights to South America, below is the number of miles and an estimate of the taxes and fees:

Bogotá, Colombia (BOG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy30,000$75-$13230,000$75-$132
Business60,000-100,000$75-$13260,000$75-$132

 

Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy54,000-70,000$75-$132
Business100,000-140,000$75-$132
First150,000$75-$132

 

São Paulo, Brazil (GRU)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy54,000-70,000$75-$13254,000$75-$132
Business100,000-140,000$75-$132100,000$75-$132
First150,000-210,000$75-$132N/AN/A

 

Lima, Peru (LIM)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy30,000-54,000$75-$13230,000-54,000$75-$132
Business60,000$75-$13260,000-100,000$75-$132

 

Santiago, Chile (SCL)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy54,000$75-$13254,000-70,000$75-$132
Business100,000$75-$132100,000-140,000$75-$132

Earning Cathay Pacific Miles

Cathay Pacific partners with 4 transferable point programs in American Express, Capital One, Citi, and Marriott Bonvoy. In addition, Cathay Pacific offers a co-branded credit card with a relatively valuable sign-up bonus.

If you’re looking to use Cathay Pacific miles, it’s helpful to know the transfer times and ratios. Amex point transfers take 7 days at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One point transfers take 36 hours at a 2:1.5 ratio, Citi point transfers take 24 hours at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 10 days at a 3:1 ratio.

Recommended Citi Cards

Asiana Airlines Asiana Club 

United Polaris Middle Seats
Use Asiana miles to fly United business class! Image Credit: united.com

Asiana Airlines is not a well-known program, but it does have an upside if you know how to use it. The airline is a member of Star Alliance, which means you can use your miles to fly United Airlines or Avianca to South America.

Book Awards With Asiana Airlines 

The Asiana Club program uses a zone-based award chart by cabin class for Star Alliance partner flights.

Search for Avianca and United Airlines award availability on the United website, then call Asiana Airlines at 800-227-4262 to confirm the award availability and book the flight. For a step-by-step guide, see our guide on searching for Star Alliance award availability.

For Star Alliance flights to South America, below are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees:

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

* South America 1 includes Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, and Peru

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

*South America 2 includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Paraguay

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 award availability on a Star Alliance flight. 

Avianca and United Airlines fly nonstop from the U.S. to South America on a number of routes. There are currently no routes with first class offered.

With that said, here are nonstop flights to South America that you can book with Asiana Airlines miles:

Avianca flights to Bogotá, Colombia (BOG):

  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Washington (IAD)

United Airlines flights to Bogotá, Colombia (BOG):

  • Newark (EWR)
  • Houston (IAH)

United Airlines flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE):

  • Houston (IAH)
  • Newark (EWR)

United Airlines flights to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (GIG):

  • Houston (IAH)

United Airlines flights to São Paulo, Brazil (GRU):

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

Avianca flights to Lima, Peru (LIM):

  • Miami (MIA)

United flights to Lima, Peru (LIM):

  • Houston (IAH)
  • Newark (EWR)

United Airlines flights to Santiago, Chile (SCL):

  • Houston (IAH)

Earning Asiana Airlines Miles

Asiana Airlines partners with 1 transferable point program: Marriott Bonvoy. In addition, Asiana Airlines has 2 co-branded credit cards that come with a relatively good sign-up bonus.

If you’re looking to transfer Marriott points to Asiana, keep in mind the transfer times and transfer ratios. Marriott transfers take 10 days at a 3:1 ratio. Obviously this is a long transfer time so factor this in before booking an award flight.

ANA Mileage Club 

United Business Class
Use ANA miles to fly United Airlines business class! Image Credit: United Airlines

All Nippon Airways (ANA), like Asiana, is another under-the-radar Star Alliance carrier that can provide value. You can use your ANA miles to fly ANA or its Star Alliance partners Avianca or United Airlines to South America.

Book Awards With ANA 

The ANA Mileage Club program uses a zone-based award chart by cabin class for its Star Alliance partner flights. There are currently no routes with first class offered.

Search for Avianca and United Airlines award flights on the United website first. You’ll then search for the same flight on the ANA website and then book the flight. Another option is to call ANA at 800-235-9262 to confirm award availability and then book the flight. For more info, see our guide on searching for Star Alliance award availability.

After you’ve decided on a trip that you want to take, here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for Avianca and United Airlines round-trip flights to South America:

South America
Cabin ClassAvianca/United AirlinesTaxes & Fees
Economy55,000$92-$132
Business88,000$92-$132

 

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. 

Earning ANA Miles

ANA partners with 2 transferable point programs in American Express and Marriott Bonvoy. Unfortunately, the airline doesn’t currently offer a credit card to the U.S. market with a meaningful welcome offer.

For those looking to transfer American Express and/or Marriott points to ANA, it’s good to know the transfer times and transfer ratios for each program. Amex point transfers take 3 days at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott point transfers take 7 days at a 3:1 ratio. With that said, transfer your Amex points first for a redemption with ANA.

British Airways Executive Club

santiago chile
Use British Airways Avios to fly American Airlines to South America! Image Credit: Marianna Ianovska via shutterstock.com

British Airways is a carrier many U.S. travelers have likely used because of the ability to book domestic American Airlines flights with British Airways Avios. The airline is a member of the Oneworld alliance, so you can use your miles for flights on British Airways or its partner airlines to South America.

Book Awards With British Airways

British Airways uses a distance-based award chart by cabin class to determine the amount of Avios required.

Search for American Airlines and LATAM business class award availability on the British Airways website. After you find award availability, book the flight online. We recommend using the British Airways/Qantas websites to search for American Airlines and LATAM economy award availability, then book the flight on the British Airways website.

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

Bogotá, 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

 

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

 

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

 

São Paulo, 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

 

Lima, 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

 

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

 

Hot Tip: The British Airways website does not show all of the award availability for American Airlines. Before you transfer points to British Airways, call British Airways at 800-247-9297 to confirm award availability. See more in this step-by-step on searching for Oneworld award availability

Earning British Airways Avios

British Airways partners with 3 transferable point programs in American Express, Chase, and Marriott Bonvoy. In addition, British Airways has a co-branded credit with Chase with a high welcome offer.

If you’re looking to transfer points from one of these programs to British Airways, keep the transfer ratios and transfer times in mind. Amex points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Chase points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 1 day at a 3:1 ratio.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel card that earns valuable points and it comes with a big 60,000 sign up bonus (highest ever & valued at $750), after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The annual fee is $95.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. A good card to get after the Sapphire Preferred because then you can transfer your cash-back into points (which is how you maximize value).
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - This is a premium travel rewards card with a higher annual fee, but it'll get you into a lot of airport lounges (Priority Pass). The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $450 annual fee.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and comes with a whopping 80,000 sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000. You can earn lots of points by leveraging the cards bonus categories.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. In addition, get up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses. A simple, $0 annual fee card.

American Airlines AAdvantage

buenos aires argentina
Use American miles to fly American Airlines to South America! Image Credit: Celso Diniz via shutterstock.com

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 airline is a member of the Oneworld alliance, so you can use your miles for American Airlines flights and its Oneworld partner flights to South America.

Book Awards With American Airlines 

American Airlines uses zone-based award charts by cabin class and dates of travel for its own flights and partner airline flights.

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: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Manaus (Brazil), Peru
  • 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

They offer off-peak pricing when flying their own product to South America Region 1. The off-peak dates are January 16-June 14 and September 7-November 14.

Use the American Airlines website to search and book your award flight. Another option is to search for award flights on the British Airways website, confirm award availability on the American website, and then book the flight.

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

Bogotá, Colombia (BOG)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy35,000-40,000$7540,000$116
Business60,000$7560,000$116

 

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

 

São Paulo, Brazil (GRU)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy60,000$9360,000$93
Business115,000$93115,000$93
First170,000$93N/AN/A

 

Lima, Peru (LIM)
Cabin ClassAmerican AirlinesTaxes & FeesLATAMTaxes & Fees
Economy35,000-40,000$10940,000$109
Business60,000$10960,000$109

 

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

 

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. 

If the award flight is in a lie-flat seat in the U.S., the business mileage will be 7,500 miles higher than the mileage shown.

Earning American Airlines Miles

American Airlines partners with 1 transferable point program in Marriott Bonvoy. In addition, American offers co-branded Barclays and Citi credit cards with large sign-up bonuses, partners with hotels and car rental companies, and has a shopping portal. All of these ways allow you to earn American Airlines miles.

If you’re looking to book a trip with Marriott points, it’s helpful to know that point transfers take 2 days at 3:1 ratio.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic, a carrier that many in the U.K. are familiar with, has a loyalty program that can be used in the right situation for solid value. The airline is not a member of an airline alliance, but instead, the Flying Club program has individual award charts for each of its airline partners.

Book Awards With Virgin Atlantic 

The number of Virgin Atlantic miles you’ll need is based on the zones of your travel and the cabin class of your flight. A key item to point out is that the pricing in the award charts below applies to nonstop flights only. If your itinerary requires a connection, you will need to pay additional Virgin Atlantic miles.

Search for Delta Air Lines award availability on the Virgin Atlantic website and then book the flight online. Another option is to find award availability on the Air France/Delta/Air France websites and then call Virgin Atlantic at 800-862-8621 to confirm availability and book the flight.

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

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

Hot Tip: Need help securing an award flight? Here’s a step-by-step guide to booking Delta business class.

Delta flies nonstop from the U.S. to South America on a select number of routes. The nonstop Delta flights to South America that you can book with Virgin Atlantic miles are:

Nonstop flights to Bogotá, Colombia (BOG):

  • Atlanta (ATL)

Nonstop flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE):

  • Atlanta (ATL)

Nonstop flights to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (GIG):

  • Atlanta (ATL)

Nonstop flights to São Paulo, Brazil (GRU):

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • New York (JFK)

Nonstop flights to Lima, Peru (LIM):

  • Atlanta (ATL)

Nonstop flights to Santiago, Chile (SCL):

  • Atlanta (ATL)

Earning Virgin Atlantic Miles

Virgin Atlantic partners with 4 transferable point programs in Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. The airline also offers Bank of America co-branded credit cards that earn miles with your credit card spend. By focusing your spend on credit cards that earn these miles and points, you will find it easy to earn enough Virgin Atlantic miles for Delta award flights to South America.

If you have a trip in mind and want to transfer points to Virgin Atlantic, keep the transfer times and transfer ratios in mind. American Express point transfers take 1-2 days at a 1:1 ratio, Citi point transfers take 2 days at a 1:1 ratio, Chase points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 1-2 days at a 3:1 ratio. With that said, we recommend transferring Chase points first for your next award flight.

Final Thoughts

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

What is perhaps most interesting about traveling to South America is that you can use any number of programs, points, and miles to get there. Airlines across all of the major alliances offer 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

Michael McHugh

About Michael McHugh

Michael grew up in Mobile, AL and took his first international trip to the Caribbean in 2013. From then on, he was hooked. After that trip, Michael has continued traveling both domestically and internationally —primarily with constant travel companion wife, Ashlee, who runs her own travel/style and contracts blog.

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2 comments

  1. Hi Michael and thanks for the timely article.

    We are relatively new to the world of points and awards and we are hoping to travel to south america, off-peak, some time between November 2019 and February 2020. Our selection of dates is flexible.

    Our goal is to travel JFK to SCL, 1-way, on either coach if there are 2 stops or business class if it is 1-stop. We plan to take a tour that originates in Santiago and ends in Buenos Aires. So, we are hoping to return from EZE to JFK. The same guideline applies regarding stops as we can get by on 6-8 hours in coach if there are 2 stops. However, if it is a non-stop flight we would want to use points for business class seats using points.

    So, here are 3 questions: 1. Are we going to pay a premium in award points if we fly one-way versus a round-trip booking? 2. One option I’ve looked as to book a one-way flight from JFK to BOG and then BOG to SCL on Avianca. However, I don’t know how to transfer miles (American/Alaska) to Avianca. Is this easy?
    3. Your charts are helpful to indicate how to get to SCL or EZE. Can I assume that the return flights, for example 1-way from EZE to JFK, will require the same number of award points as from JFK to those destinations?

    Many thanks,
    james

    • Stephen Au · March 19, 2019 · Reply

      Hey James,

      Thanks for reading. First of all, the nonstop options for both of the routes JFK-SCL and EZE-JFK are offered by American Airlines.

      1. It depends on the type of miles you’re using. Most programs are priced such that one-ways are half of round-trip flights. For example, American Airlines charges 57,500 miles one-way for each of the routes in question. Round-trip would simply be double, or 115,000 miles. However, Japan Airlines (an American Airlines partner) charges based on total trip distance. One-way in business class from JFK to either SCL or EZE would cost 60,000 Japan Airlines miles, whereas round-trip is 100,000 miles.

      2. You can’t book travel on Avianca with American/Alaska miles. Avianca is a Star Alliance partner. You’ll need miles from an airline like United.

      3. The price is dictated by different airlines. Countries are typically separated into regions, for example South America. Sometimes, an award chart is separated by distance brackets. It depends on the frequent flyer program you’re using.

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