New Delta SkyMiles Partner Aerolineas Argentinas = Cheap Awards to South America

by on May 30, 2012 · 33 comments

in Aerolineas Argentinas, Delta

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Last year I wrote about upcoming additions to SkyTeam, which included Aerolineas Argentinas. Well, the time has finally come and Delta has announced the ability to earn and redeem SkyMiles on Aerolineas even before the Argentine airline officially joins SkyTeam this fall. Before you read on, just know that I am completely biased (no, not because I’m one of the few bloggers that ever dares to defend Delta), but because Buenos Aires is one of my favorite cities in the world. So even though this announcement isn’t really earth-shattering, I still think it’s newsworthy even if it helps just one TPG reader make it down there. Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city and offers great history, museums, food, wine, beautiful people and there is no shortage of apartments to rent and nice hotels, including the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. If you need any more inspiration, check out our preview Destination of the Week piece.

The only route Aerolineas Argentinas flies to the US at this time is Miami-Buenos Aires (EZE), this partnership opens up Aerolineas’s network of intra-Argentina and intra-South American flights to Delta passengers looking to earn and burn miles on a trip south of the equator. Delta also partners with Brazilian carrier GOL and since they allow a stop-over and open jaw on awards, this now opens up a lot more options.

Here’s a look at how the miles will be doled out if you purchase an Aerolineas Argentinas ticket and bank the miles to SkyMiles.

The award accrual chart for flights on Aerolineas Argentinas.

Note: You cannot earn Medallion Qualifying Miles, but once they are a full SkyTeam member, you should be able to. However, in the meantime, you can still use your SkyMiles for award travel on Aerolineas. Roundtrip business class awards are 100,000 miles, while coach awards are 60,000 SkyMiles.

Not surprisingly, these awards cannot be booked on, however I didn’t have any issues pricing them out when I called Delta. I simply let them know that Aerolineas Argentinas is now a SkyMiles partner and you can redeem miles for awards. She put me on hold to confirm that information and came back and said that indeed they were and that Business Class awards book into U class and economy awards into T. Expertflyer does support Aerolineas Argentinas award availability for economy, but not for business class at this time, so your best bet is to call.

Buenos Aires is in the Southern Hemisphere, so our winter is their summer. I’ve been in early January and early March and had amazing weather every time, though it can get hot. I decided to check availability in December and January. Note the wheels in my head are turning – New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday to celebrate and I’m trying to hit all 7 continents before my next landmark birthday and this Aerolineas partnership puts me in striking distance, since Aerolineas flies (domestic route map) from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, the southernmost commercial airport in Argentina.

I was able to book a dummy 100,000-miles business class award on Aerolinas Argentinas using my SkyMiles.

My phone call was painless, but I’m sure it will be a while before all reps are familiar booking these awards (the savvy rep that I had even accidentally called them Aer Lingus at one point). If they try to tell you awards are not bookable, you could ask for a supervisor or always hang up and call back. Once an itinerary is booked, you have to call Aerolineas Argentinas to select your seats. For a roundtrip from Miami to Buenos Aires in either business class or economy the total roundtrip taxes and fees came to $65.60. Expect that to nominally increase if you add on more legs within the US or South America, but I think that’s a pretty solid deal. 

Who wants to pay over $4,000 for business class when you could use 100,000 SkyMiles instead?

Another good feature is that “mixed metal” is also allowed so you can book Delta domestically connecting to Aerolineas Argentinas, however there must be low-level availability for both portions in order to keep the low level price. Something to point out is the off season (our summer) there is only a once daily flight leaves Miami at 9:45am so if you are trying to connect, you might have to fly in the night before or take a redeye. Delta does offer a LAX-MIA redeye, so this would connect well to the Aerolineas flight, though that would make for one very long itinerary. During the winter months, there are two daily flights from MIA-EZE: the 9:45am and an 11:15pm, which gets in at 6:25am.

I haven’t flown Aerolineas Argentinas on any long-haul flights, but they get mixed reviews. I’m not picky when it comes to airlines (as long as I’m in business class or higher :-)) so I look forward to checking them out in the near future and reporting back on my experience. They fly Airbus A340 aircraft, which have old-school cradle style seats (which I actually prefer over cramped angled lie flats). But once again, I’m more excited about the new routes this opens up, especially for SkyTeam Round-The-World itineraries since Aerolineas flies Sydney-Auckland-Buenos Aires.

Anyone have any experiences to share?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Maxim

    I just flew from Mendoza to Buenos Aires on AR and couldn’t have been happier. I was stuck in Mendoza because LAN decided to cancel a flight and wouldn’t give any information, but AR honored the ticket and saved the day.

  • LizChile

    I can also second that my experiences with Aerolineas within South America, as of late they have been great. I live in Santiago (Chile) and fly them frequently for business to Mendoza, BA, Montevideo, etc. They are using new Embraer jets on the routes, have good service, and the flights tend to run on time. It’s a good addition to Skyteam as the intra-South American flights can be get expensive. They also added flights between cities in Argentina like Salta and Mendoza, Mendoza and Cordoba, etc. without having to return to BA, great for traveling (between wine regions, for example).

    As a note on June-August months here, our “winter” is like Southern California and is a good time since it’s off season with crowds, hotels, availability in general. Today it’s 69F and sunny.

  • Marc

    Like you said, reversed seasons in the southern hemisphere.. so this is a boon for skiers and snowboarders wanting to get some turns in august or september. Argentina and Chile have some seriouus mountains.

  • Grant

    Take me with you to Buenos Aires :)

  • brazilflyer333

    Buenos Aires and Argentina is actually most popular for South American travelers in our winter (USA summer), because the best of the city’s food (beef, wine) is considered really enjoyable during cold weather. Plus Argentina skiing destinations are great during the local winter.

  • Hank

    That route map shows a NYC-EZE flight, but as far as I know only American does that direct. A brief kayak search only showed the American flight – is there a specific day of the week that they fly that?

  • Amrx03

    Looks like a solid value, thanks for the write-up. Even though it doesn’t have the world’s nicest J class, having more Y options to more destinations is more important to me, and many others I bet. After topping up the Skymiles accounts from SunTrust, this could be a great option this winter (our winter).

  • Raj K Singh

    Great post. Thanks…always informative…

  • Federico

    Aerolineas Argentinas (AR) is getting better since the Government took control. They are adding more (new) airplanes to their fleet.
    A lot of people don’t like this airline due to bad experiences over the past, they had a lot of strikes, but not very common since 2011.

    I’m still don’t like daylight flights, I prefer redeye in order to get another full day ;-). I will check the cost for intra-flights, you have more destinations with AR than LA, and 2 class service. Stopover and open jaw is another plus, you can do MIA-EZE/AEP-FTE, then USH-AEP(stopover)EZE-MIA

  • AB

    I’d like to caution readers — from my experience, this is a terrible airline. I traveled with family to Argentina last year, and Aerolineas Argentinas cancelled nearly EVERY domestic flight we had within the country. The cancellations would occur at the last minute and were not weather-related. Their phone reps were completely unhelpful, so in order to re-schedule our flights, we literally had to go to the airport and speak with their agents at the desk, who were far more helpful.

    All in all, a very frustrating experience with a disorganized airline. I will never fly with them again in my life.

  • aaron

    Looks like a solid value, thanks for the write-up. Even though it doesn’t have the world’s nicest J class, having more Y options to more destinations is more important to me, and many others I bet. After topping up the Skymiles accounts from SunTrust, this could be a great option this winter (our winter).

  • egwg

    I can’t wait for your review of the flight.

  • Marianag

    This is great news. However, as usual, Delta’s low level award availability is very hard to find. Can you search availability through Aerolineas Argentinas and then call Delta?

  • fauxblogger

    Informative post, Brian!

    Did you book dummy award on or book dummy award thru call center?

  • Ryan

    So far Aerolineas awards must be booked by calling Delta!

  • TPG Intern Ryan

    Partner Award Availability, such as Aerolinneas Argentinas, tends to have more low level award availability.

  • Lee

    Similar experience. I will stick with LAN thank you.

  • Johnc33

    Hi Everyone:

    thanks for sharing Brian but as a tip…… I would be VERY CAREFUL with Aerolineas. They are very flaky and reschedule flights last minute (or cancel them) last minute. I own an travel agency and we do not sell them unless we HAVE to on certain flights to Ushuaia or others that LAN does not fly. We had a group of 20 passengers for New Year’s (non refundable land package) to Brazil (via Buenos Aires) and they cancelled the flight last minute from JFK to EZE and only offered MIA to EZE or “refund”.

    At that point we had no options but to purchase an itinerary to Miami for the whole group and took a huge loss. This is not an isolated incident and I strongly recommend avoiding them. Another “horror story” also last year was with an airport closing in Bariloche with the volcano situation. They would fly people 6 hours away to an alternate airport without telling them. !!! I would book only when you HAVE TO !!!


    I flew AR all over Argentina last November. They were so bad it was comical. Every flight was delayed with no explanation. Usually it was utter chaos boarding with everyone pushing and shoving and gate agents screaming out row numbers. A couple of the planes were pretty dilapitated. I used an AR pass which was substantially cheaper than LAN. I would fly them again but you have to have a very laid back attitude about disruptions and bring plenty to read! I did take one LAN flight from FTE-AEP and it was early!

  • TPG Intern Ryan

    I don’t think that route map on the Aerolineas site has been updated in a while! They used to fly JFK-EZE (along with Delta) but both no longer fly this route.

  • TPG Intern Ryan

    That’s good to hear AR honored LAN’s ticket!

  • Federico

    FYI, Aerolinas Argentinas will add another flight starting on 10/1/2012


    Aerolíneas Argentinas AR1304 08:45 EZE MIA 15:55 Airbus A340-300 starting on 10/1/2012
    Aerolíneas Argentinas AR1302 23:15 EZE MIA 06:25+1 Airbus A340-300


    Aerolíneas Argentinas AR1303 08:45 MIA EZE 19:45 Airbus A340-300
    Aerolíneas Argentinas AR1305 18:00 MIA EZE 05:00+1 Airbus A340-300 starting on 10/1/2012

  • Dave

    I guess this is interesting if you have Skypesos lying around that you want to burn, but is there anything attractive about the DL award chart that would make you want to fly Aerolineas? AA offers a nice off–peak deal to Argentina and Chile that will actually get you there during good weather, and with their LAN partner, they have a very comprehensive network. And I don’t know anyone who would fly Aerolineas if they could fly LAN.

  • Nic

    Cheap awards?? What is so cheap about 100k skypesos to fly a crappy airline?

  • Micedp

    i flew mia-eze several years ago and they were great. i wanted to change my flight to stay a week longer and they allowed me to without charging AMAZING!

  • Chino Chao

    Aerolineas Argentinas is one of the worst airlines in the world. It’s a state run monopoly and it shows. Last year I was in Ushuaia and four days in a row of Aerolineas flights got canceled. Their solution for all these thousands of passengers? Everyone get in line to talk to the check-in counter. When you’d finally get to the front after 8+ hours of waiting, they’d say “we don’t have an answer for you at this time, so go to the back of the line and ask again later”. They did this, with thousands of stranded passengers, for at least four straight days (could have been much longer but I fortunately got out). The only airlines I can think of with a worse attitude and practices toward passengers are ones that have planes that crash due to not maintaining them. Safety records aside, Aerolineas is surely the worst airline in the world. Sucks, because I like Delta!

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  • Flyer

    This is a terrible airline, I flew them once and learned my lesson. I’ve been a LAN devotee for years, they fly the same domestic routes as Aerolineas, have better aircraft, flight crews, etc. I’ve never had a LAN flight cancelled with no explanation.

    It would take sometime like a 500% bonus on every Aerolineas flight to even consider flying again on this nationalized, gov’t-run airline with a crap safety record. Even then, I’d probably decide not to do it.

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  • srny1986

    By joining SkyTeam, I think they will have greater pressure to get their act together. If they disappoint SkyTeam flyers, then that will tarnish the reputation of the whole system. Delta will never allow Aerolineas to do that.

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