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

Costa Rica

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Central America is a particularly interesting part of the world, home to several vibrant countries and 7% of the planet’s total biodiversity, despite occupying just 0.1% of Earth’s land.

Travelers flock to the region to see sights like the Great Blue Hole in Belize, Mayan pyramids in Guatemala and Honduras, and the picturesque beaches of Costa Rica. You can even find bustling metropolises in Panama if you’re a city slicker.

Regardless of what ends up drawing you to Central America, let’s review all of the best ways to fly to this fascinating region using points and miles.

Nonstop Flights Between the U.S. and Central America

Thanks to the region’s proximity to the U.S., plenty of airlines fly nonstop between the U.S. and Central America.

In our guide, we’ve defined the following countries to be part of Central America:

  • Belize — Belize City (BZE)
  • Costa Rica — Liberia (LIR), San José (SJO)
  • El Salvador — San Salvador (SAL)
  • Guatemala — Guatemala City (GUA)
  • Honduras — Coxen Hole (RTB), San Pedro Sula (SAP), Tegucigalpa (TGU)
  • Nicaragua — Managua (MGA)
  • Panama — Panama City (PTY)

Like we mentioned, numerous airlines, including low-cost carriers Frontier, Spirit, and Volaris, fly nonstop to the region. However, we’ve excluded these from this guide, which will focus on the best ways to get outsized value from your points.

The main foreign carriers offering nonstop flights to Central America are Avianca and Copa Airlines.

In addition, nonstop flights are offered by major U.S. carriers, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. JetBlue even offers some flights with its lauded Mint business class.

Check out the domestic airlines offering nonstop flights:

Alaska Airlines

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San José (SJO)
  • Seattle (SEA) – Belize City (BZE)

American Airlines

  • Austin (AUS) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Chicago (ORD) – Guatemala City (GUA)
  • Dallas (DFW) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Dallas (DFW) – Guatemala City (GUA)
  • Dallas (DFW) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Dallas (DFW) – San José (SJO)
  • Dallas (DFW) – San Pedro Sula (SAP)
  • Dallas (DFW) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Miami (MIA) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Miami (MIA) – Guatemala City (GUA)
  • Miami (MIA) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Miami (MIA) – Managua (MGA)
  • Miami (MIA) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Miami (MIA) – San José (SJO)
  • Miami (MIA) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • New York (JFK) – Liberia (LIR)
  • New York (JFK) – San José (SJO)
  • Phoenix (PHX) – San José (SJO)

Delta Air Lines

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Atlanta (ATL) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Atlanta (ATL) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Atlanta (ATL) – San José (SJO)
  • Atlanta (ATL) – San Pedro Sula (SAP)
  • Atlanta (ATL) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San José (SJO)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Minneapolis (MSP) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Minneapolis (MSP) – Liberia (LIR)
  • New York (JFK) – Panama City (PTY)

JetBlue

  • Boston (BOS) – Liberia (LIR) *
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – San José (SJO)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Liberia (LIR) *
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San José (SJO)
  • Miami (MIA) – San José (SJO)
  • New York (JFK) – Guatemala City (GUA)
  • New York (JFK) – Liberia (LIR) *
  • New York (JFK) – San José (SJO)
  • Orlando (MCO) – San José (SJO)

* Mint service available

United Airlines

  • Chicago (ORD) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Chicago (ORD) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Chicago (ORD) – San José (SJO)
  • Denver (DEN) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Denver (DEN) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Denver (DEN) – San José (SJO)
  • Houston (IAH) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Houston (IAH) – Coxen Hole (RTB)
  • Houston (IAH) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Houston (IAH) – Managua (MGA)
  • Houston (IAH) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Houston (IAH) – San José (SJO)
  • Houston (IAH) – San Pedro Sula (SAP)
  • Houston (IAH) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Houston (IAH) – Tegucigalpa (TGU)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San José (SJO)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San Pedro Sula (SAP)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Newark (EWR) – Belize City (BZE)
  • Newark (EWR) – Liberia (LIR)
  • Newark (EWR) – San José (SJO)
  • Newark (EWR) – San Pedro Sula (SAP)
  • Newark (EWR) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Liberia (LIR)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – San José (SJO)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – San Salvador (SAL)

And here’s a look at foreign carriers’ nonstop routes between the U.S. and Central America:

Avianca

  • Houston (IAH) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Guatemala City (GUA)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San José (SJO)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Miami (MIA) – San José (SJO)
  • Miami (MIA) – San Pedro Sula (SAP)
  • Miami (MIA) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • New York (JFK) – San José (SJO)
  • New York (JFK) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Ontario (ONT) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Orlando (MCO) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – San Salvador (SAL)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Guatemala City (GUA)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – San Salvador (SAL)

Copa Airlines

  • Boston (BOS) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Chicago (ORD) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Denver (DEN) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Miami (MIA) – Panama City (PTY)
  • New York (JFK) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Orlando (MCO) – Panama City (PTY)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Tampa (TPA) – Panama City (PTY)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Panama City (PTY)

Bottom Line: All major U.S. airlines, as well as Avianca and Copa Airlines, offer nonstop service to Central America. The best lie-flat options are found on JetBlue and Copa Airlines, but convenient nonstop flights may end up being the deciding factor.

Best Programs for Booking Flights to Central America

Emirates Skywards

JetBlue Mint A321
JetBlue Mint. Image Credit: Stephen Au

You may be wondering, “What in the world is Emirates doing in a guide to flying to Central America with points?”

Well, we’re here to inform you that redeeming Emirates miles is the best way to book JetBlue Mint using points.

Thanks to a close partnership between the 2 airlines, there’s finally an alternative to booking JetBlue Mint using points apart from redeeming JetBlue TrueBlue points at a poor, fixed value or using the Chase travel portal to redeem Ultimate Rewards points at a fixed value.

Here’s the award chart for booking JetBlue flights with Emirates Skywards:

One-Way Distance (Miles)JetBlue Economy CostJetBlue Mint Cost
0 to 2508,00016,000
251 to 50010,00020,000
501 to 1,00014,00028,000
1,001 to 2,00020,00040,000
2,001 to 3,00026,00052,000
3,001 to 4,00032,00064,000
4,001 to 5,00038,00076,000
5,001 to 6,00044,00088,000
6,001 to 7,00050,000100,000
7,001 to 15,00060,000120,000

Additionally, any JetBlue Mint ticket in the “I” fare class can be booked using the award chart above.

Here are some great example JetBlue redemptions you can make:

  • Boston (BOS) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in JetBlue Mint for 52,000 Emirates miles + ~$10 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in JetBlue Mint for 52,000 Emirates miles + ~$10 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in JetBlue Mint for 52,000 Emirates miles + ~$10 in taxes and fees

These flights can exceed $1,500 in price, opening up the possibility to get around 3 cents per point in value!

Here’s how to book JetBlue Mint tickets with Emirates miles:

  1. Visit Emirates’ website.
  2. Log in to your Emirates account.
  3. In the search box on the homepage, click the button that says Advanced search: multi-city, promo codes, partner airlines.
  4. Select Book Classic Rewards Flight near the top of the screen.
  5. Just under that, click Search partner flights only.
  6. Choose your trip type (Round-trip or One-way)
  7. Enter the flight, date, and cabin class.
  8. Select the number of travelers.
  9. Click Search.
  10. Book any of the flights you see in the results using Emirates miles and a credit card for taxes and fees.

Earning Emirates Skywards Miles

Emirates Skywards is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, Brex Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex, Chase, Citi, Capital One and Brex transfer to Emirates almost instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers to Emirates at a 3:1 ratio, taking around 3 business days. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Emirates, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,000 Emirates Skywards miles.

Recommended Chase Cards

Bottom Line: The most comfortable way to fly to Central America is in JetBlue Mint, one of the best business class products from a U.S. carrier. You can redeem Emirates miles, which are easy to earn, for this experience, though the only available routes currently are to Costa Rica’s beach hotspot, Liberia (LIR).

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

American Airlines recliner first class
American Airlines recliner business/first class. Image Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines is another major operator of nonstop flights to Central America.

With nearly 20 nonstop flights, you’re bound to find a flight suitable for you, whether you live in one of the cities from which AA flies nonstop or one of the many other cities American connects with its hubs across the country.

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program offers great redemption prices on American’s longer flights, while British Airways Executive Club (discussed in the next section) has the best prices for shorter flights.

Cabin ClassAsia Miles Cost
Economy15,000
Premium Economy22,000
Business/First30,000

Here are some great American Airlines redemptions you can make using Asia Miles:

  • New York (JFK) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in American Airlines business class for 30,000 Asia Miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – San José (SJO) one-way in American Airlines business class for 30,000 Asia Miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Phoenix (PHX) – San José (SJO) one-way in American Airlines business class for 30,000 Asia Miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees

Unfortunately, Asia Miles requires you to submit an award request form or call the customer service phone number in order to book.

Given this extra step, here’s what we recommend you to do:

  1. Do not use American Airlines’ website to find availability. Instead, use a partner website like British Airways or Qantas to search.
  2. After finding American Airlines availability, give Asia Miles a call at 866-892-2598.
  3. Provide the Asia Miles customer service specialist with the details and finish making the reservation.

Earning Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles are easy to earn.

It maintains partnerships with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, Brex Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex transfers at a 1:1 ratio in a few hours, Citi and Brex both transfer at a 1:1 ratio within 1 business day, and Capital One transfers at a 1:1 ratio within 2 business days.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Transfers to Asia Miles process in 5 business days.

Recommended American Express Cards

British Airways Executive Club

American Eagle First Class Meal Time
American Airlines recliner business/first class. Image Credit: American Airlines

With the British Airways Executive Club, it’s best to compare the merits of this program to those of Asia Miles.

In this case, partner American Airlines is going to be the major airline we examine.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles offers attractive mileage prices compared to British Airways Executive Club on flights longer than 2,000 miles. But, on the other hand, British Airways Executive Club offers phenomenal award prices on flights up to 2,000 miles in flight distance.

Here’s the award chart for partner-operated flights (including American Airlines) booked with Asia Miles and British Airways Avios:

Distance BracketCabin Class British Airways Avios PriceAsia Miles Price
Zone 3 (1,152 to 2,000 miles)Economy11,00015,000
Premium Economy16,50022,000
Business22,00030,000
Zone 4 (2,001 to 3,000 miles)Economy13,00015,000
Premium Economy25,25022,000
Business38,75030,000

As you can see in the chart above, British Airways costs 8,000 Avios less than Asia Miles for American Airlines business class flights up to 2,000 miles in flight distance, while Asia Miles costs 8,750 miles less than British Airways for American Airlines business class flights longer than 2,000 miles in flight distance.

Additionally, flights can be booked 100% online and it’s easy to earn British Airways Avios.

Here are some great example routes you can book using British Airways Avios:

  • Austin (AUS) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in American Airlines business class for 22,000 British Airways Avios + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Chicago (ORD) – Guatemala City (GUA) one-way in American Airlines business class for 22,000 British Airways Avios + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Dallas (DFW) – Belize City (BZE) one-way in American Airlines business class for 22,000 British Airways Avios + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Dallas (DFW) – Guatemala City (GUA) one-way in American Airlines business class for 22,000 British Airways Avios + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Dallas (DFW) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in American Airlines business class for 22,000 British Airways Avios + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Dallas (DFW) – San José (SJO) one-way in American Airlines business class for 22,000 British Airways Avios + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Dallas (DFW) – San Pedro Sula (SAP) one-way in American Airlines business class for 22,000 British Airways Avios + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Dallas (DFW) – San Salvador (SAL) one-way in American Airlines business class for 22,000 British Airways Avios + ~$6 in taxes and fees

Follow these steps to book your American Airlines ticket using British Airways Avios online:

  1. Visit British Airways’ website.
  2. Log into your British Airways Executive Account by clicking Log in in the top-right corner and entering your account details.
  3. After logging in, hover over the Book button in the top banner, and click Book a flight with Avios under the Flights sub-menu.
  4. Enter your travel information and click Get flights.
  5. Book the flight you wish using Avios and a credit card for taxes and fees.

Earning British Airways Avios

British Airways Executive Club has transfer partnerships with Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Chase and Amex transfer to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly, while Capital One transfers to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers to British Airways at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Additionally, you can also earn Avios with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card!

Recommended Capital One Cards

Delta SkyMiles

Delta first class
Delta first class. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Delta SkyMiles is a polarizing loyalty program. Associated with an airline with extremely high customer satisfaction, it’s somewhat unintuitive to think that its mileage prices aren’t all that attractive, especially for long-haul, premium cabin travel.

Still, for regional flights in first or business class, it’s possible to get solid value overall. More importantly, you’re almost always guaranteed a “floor” value with your miles, meaning they will be worth at least 1 cent apiece in redemption value.

Booking Delta flights to Central America is best done with Delta SkyMiles. It’s not unheard of to book economy flights for 10,000 miles in each direction, though you’ll generally redeem around 30,000 to 50,000 miles in each direction for a first class flight.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell how much you’ll pay for a flight until you actually search due to Delta SkyMiles’ dynamic award pricing system.

Nonetheless, if you maintain a high degree of flexibility, you should be able to get some good deals on nonstop first or business class flights to Central America.

Additionally, since Delta SkyMiles members have the best access to award availability, you have the option to redeem more miles for a flight that works better with your schedule, while partner programs like Air France/KLM Flying Blue wouldn’t have that option.

Here are some great example redemptions you can make:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Panama City (PTY) one-way in Delta first class from 32,000 SkyMiles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Atlanta (ATL) – San José (SJO) one-way in Delta first class from 43,000 SkyMiles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Atlanta (ATL) – San Pedro Sula (SAP) one-way in Delta first class from 17,000 SkyMiles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Atlanta (ATL) – San Salvador (SAL) one-way in Delta first class from 31,000 SkyMiles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in Delta first class from 29,000 SkyMiles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San José (SJO) one-way in Delta first class from 34,000 SkyMiles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – San Salvador (SAL) one-way in Delta first class from 27,000 SkyMiles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Panama City (PTY) one-way in Delta first class from 20,000 SkyMiles + ~$6 in taxes and fees

If you’re ready to book your Delta flight, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Delta’s website.
  2. In the top ribbon, fill in the search box. Search for your flights.
  3. Find suitable flight options and book your ticket using SkyMiles and a credit card for taxes and fees.

Hot Tip: Delta SkyMiles is very much a “what you see is what you get” program. Enhance what you see by searching using the award calendar.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles are best earned through transfers from American Express or Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex Membership Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly, while Marriott Bonvoy points transfer within 1 business day at a 3:1 ratio with a bonus of 5,000 SkyMiles when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Also, Amex issues several Delta SkyMiles co-branded credit cards that also come with perks like priority boarding, free checked bags, and more.

Recommended Delta SkyMiles Cards

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Delta A321 first class
Delta first class. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

In certain situations, it makes more sense to book Delta flights using Flying Blue miles instead of Delta’s own SkyMiles.

When we’re discussing flights to Central America, Delta’s Saver-level award tickets are also bookable with Flying Blue miles.

Flying Blue miles are generally easier to earn than Delta SkyMiles, but Flying Blue members can only access a small chunk of award availability, making it a bit more challenging to book award flights on Delta metal.

Delta SkyMiles charges lots of miles on select nonstop routes, even in the Saver award category. Get around this by redeeming Flying Blue miles on some of these great example routes:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Belize City (BZE) one-way in Delta first class for 38,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees (Delta SkyMiles charges at least 54,000 miles for this ticket)
  • Atlanta (ATL) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in Delta first class for 43,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees (Delta SkyMiles charges at least 56,000 miles for this ticket)
  • Minneapolis (MSP) – Belize City (BZE) one-way in Delta first class for 43,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees (Delta SkyMiles charges at least 62,000 miles for this ticket)
  • Minneapolis (MSP) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in Delta first class for 43,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees (Delta SkyMiles charges at least 54,000 miles for this ticket)

Here’s how to book Delta tickets using Flying Blue miles:

  1. Find Saver-level availability on Delta’s website.
  2. Reproduce that search on Air France/KLM Flying Blue’s website.
  3. After finding a Delta flight, redeem your Flying Blue miles and pay for the taxes and fees with a credit card.

Earning Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles

Air France/KLM Flying Blue has transfer partnerships with all the major transferable currencies, including American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, Brex Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex, Chase, Citi, Capital One, and Brex have the best transfer ratios of 1:1 — they also transfer instantly.

Marriott has a 3:1 ratio transfer ratio, and transfers take 3 business days. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Flying Blue, you’ll get an extra bonus of 5,000 miles.

Flying Blue also has a co-branded credit card issued by Bank of America that earns miles directly.

Recommended Citi Cards

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premier Card
Learn More
(at our partner's secure site)
  • Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels.
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $95
$1,280
Citi Rewards+® Card

Citi Rewards+® Card
Learn More
(at our partner's secure site)
  • For a limited time, earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer and on purchases from date of account opening. After that, 13.49% - 23.49% variable APR. Balance transfer fee will apply.
  • Earn 2x ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% - 23.49% variable. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Air Canada Aeroplan

United first class
United first class. Image Credit: United Airlines

Air Canada Aeroplan is our go-to frequent flyer program for Star Alliance flights between the U.S. and Central America because it has plenty of transfer partners, some of the best redemption rates for economy and business class, and even permits one-way stopovers for an extra 5,000 points!

Not only can you book United flights with Aeroplan points, but you can also book Avianca and Copa Airlines flights.

Here’s the award chart for partner-operated flights:

Distance (Miles)Air Canada Aeroplan Points Cost (Economy)Air Canada Aeroplan Points Cost (Business)
0 to 5006,00015,000
501 to 1,50010,00020,000
1,501 to 2,75012,50025,000
2,751+22,50035,000

Here are some great example redemptions you can make:

  • Chicago (ORD) – San José (SJO) – Guatemala City (GUA) one-way in United and Avianca economy class with a stopover in San Jose for 17,500 Aeroplan points + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • Denver (DEN) – Panama City (PTY) one-way in Copa Airlines business class for 25,000 Aeroplan points + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • Houston (IAH) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in United business class for 20,000 Aeroplan points + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Guatemala City (GUA) – San José (SJO) one-way in Avianca business class with a stopover in Guatemala City for 30,000 Aeroplan points + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Panama City (PTY) one-way in Copa Airlines business class for 35,000 Aeroplan points + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – San Salvador (SAL) – Panama City (PTY) one-way in Avianca business class and Copa Airlines business class with a stopover in San Salvador for 30,000 Aeroplan points + ~$38 in taxes and fees

Follow these steps to book your award ticket:

  1. Find award availability on each segment on United.com (look for Saver availability).
  2. Go to the Aeroplan homepage.
  3. Click Sign In in the top-right corner and log into your Aeroplan account.
  4. Re-enter the flight details from step 1 to reconfirm that you’re seeing the same flights.
  5. Use your Aeroplan points and a credit card for taxes and fees.
    • If adding a stopover, you will need to call Aeroplan at 800-361-5373 to book your ticket.

Earning Air Canada Aeroplan Points

Earning lots of Aeroplan points is easier than ever.

Thanks to lucrative transfer partnerships with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy, you’ll have many ways to rack up points.

Amex, Capital One, and Chase maintain 1:1 transfer ratios. Marriott Bonvoy is 3:1 with a 5,000 points bonus after transferring 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Aeroplan.

Amex, Chase, and Capital One transfer instantly while Marriott Bonvoy takes 5 business days to transfer to Aeroplan.

United MileagePlus

United First Class Seat with Laptop
United first class. Image Credit: United Airlines

The last frequent flyer program we’ll be looking at is United MileagePlus. United’s website is fantastic because it’s capable of showing virtually all of the available options you can book within the Star Alliance.

However, we generally recommend only using United to perform award searches; rarely do we recommend you to book your ticket using United miles.

But if you have a bunch of United miles or need to access award availability beyond partner-level Saver awards, the only way to book United flights with points is through United MileagePlus.

Sure, you’ll end up paying more miles for your flight, but you’ll get to adhere to the schedule/availability that fits your needs best.

In any case, you’ll avoid fuel surcharges, which is great news. Here’s how much award flights cost (remember, you’ll very rarely find premium cabin awards at that starting price):

Cabin ClassUnited Miles Cost
EconomyFrom 17,500 miles
BusinessFrom 30,000 miles

Here are some great example flights you can book using United miles:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in United business class from 32,200 United miles + ~$22 in taxes and fees
  • Houston (IAH) – Coxen Hole (RTB) one-way in United business class from 32,600 United miles + ~$22 in taxes and fees
  • Houston (IAH) – Panama City (PTY) one-way in United business class from 32,600 United miles + ~$7 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Belize City (BZE) one-way in United business class from 50,500 United miles + ~$22 in taxes and fees
  • Newark (EWR) – Belize City (BZE) one-way in United business class from 40,400 United miles + ~$22 in taxes and fees
  • Newark (EWR) – Panama City (PTY) one-way in United business class from 30,000 United miles + ~$7 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Liberia (LIR) one-way in United business class from 30,000 United miles + ~$22 in taxes and fees

Follow these steps to book your United flight online with United MileagePlus:

  1. Go to United.com.
  2. On the homepage, fill out the search box and remember to check off the box that says Book with miles.
  3. Perform the search, find a suitable award flight, and complete the reservation by redeeming United miles and paying for taxes and fees.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles

Earning United miles is easy. Currently, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy are United MileagePlus transfer partners.

Chase transfers at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly, while Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1.1 ratio in 3 business days. Also, if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to United, you’ll get a bonus of 5,500 miles.

You can also earn United miles through Chase’s co-branded credit cards.

Recommended United Cards

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to fly between the U.S. and Central America using points and miles.

We’ve focused on major U.S. airlines in this guide, though Avianca and Copa Airlines also operate nonstop flights.

And with a dizzying network of routes, it can feel overwhelming to try to get the best deal with your points.

If you’re looking for a lie-flat business class opportunity, redeem Emirates miles on JetBlue Mint or Aeroplan points on Copa Airlines’ lie-flat business class (on Boeing 737 MAX planes only).

But know that regardless of how you plan on getting there, you have plenty of options for getting to Central America with minimal cash outlay.


The information regarding the Capital One Venture Rewards Card and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.


Frequently asked questions

What is the best airline to fly to Central America?

The best airline to fly in business class to Central America is JetBlue, offering its Mint product on select routes. Alternatively, all of the major U.S. airlines have recliner seats available in business or first class.

Are there any direct flights to Central America?

Yes, there are plenty of flights to Central America. Most nonstop flights are bound for Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize. However, there are nonstop flights to many major airports, including San Salvador in El Salvador, Managua in Nicaragua, San Pedro Sula in Honduras, and Guatemala City in Guatemala.

How long is a flight to Central America?

Nonstop flights to Central America can be anywhere from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the route you’re taking. If you fly from Florida, Texas, or New York, your travel time will be shorter than if you flew from California or elsewhere on the West Coast.

What are the best ways to fly to Central America with points and miles?

The best way to fly lie-flat business class to Central America using points and miles is booking JetBlue Mint using Emirates Skywards miles.

Otherwise, longer flights on American Airlines in business class can be booked with Asia Miles, while shorter flights on American Airlines in business class can be booked with British Airways Avios.

To book Delta flights, we recommend using Delta SkyMiles or Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles.

Finally, United miles or Aeroplan miles can be used to book United business class.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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