Is It Possible To Book A Roundtrip Award Ticket To Rio De Janeiro With Just 100,000 American Miles?

by on March 23, 2014 · 8 comments

in American, Lan, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Mark emailed me about booking an award ticket to South America using American Airlines miles:

“I wanted to book a trip to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires with AA miles in December, but business class awards are only available at 100,000 each way! Will I ever be able to get my whole itinerary for 100,000 round-trip? And what’s the best way to track when award availability opens up? Thanks for any advice.”

American is typically difficult when it comes to redeeming long-haul international awards on their own flights. I’d recommend setting an ExpertFlyer alert, which will notify you when low-level availability opens up. This is a great tool that frees you from having to check daily for flights, but sometimes they don’t release a lot of award availability until right before the time of departure. For peace of mind, you might want to book the peak award, and then if you get an alert that the lower award has opened up, you can switch the booking.
Usie Expert Flyer to set award availability alerts.

Use Expert Flyer to set award availability alerts.

You can also get a little creative by expanding your search. Check award availability to Sao Paulo, which is just a cheap, short flight away from Rio. Try different cities, different partners, and check on LAN Airlines. LAN won’t show up on, so try calling and see if maybe you can route through Santiago, Chile, or Lima, Peru. Remember that whenever you book at the partner level, it’ll be for that low 100,000-mile round-trip level.

Try finding a flight via LAN.

Try finding a flight via LAN.

American will also allow you to have a stopover in a North American international gateway city, so if you fly via Miami you can always build in a stopover and then continue on to South America at your leisure, depending on award availability. Search the legs from the international gateway, then work backwards from there.

The beautiful Rio de Janeiro.

The beautiful Rio de Janeiro.

These are just a few tips. For related posts, see below. And good luck, Mark – if you try these tips, I’m sure you’ll be able to get your trip at the Saver level!

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on Facebook, tweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

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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  • Shana

    US Airways has lots of availability at the low level, so I found their dates of availability and booked through American

  • CanesLawMarty

    Brian, part of your post is actually incorrect. You can’t travel to South America Zone II (GIG, GRU, SCL, EZE etc…) via LIM, which is in South America Zone I, from North America. Such a routing would require 2 awards. It’s one of the dumbest and most counter-intuitive restrictions AA has, especially considering LAN has a hub in LIM. And, to add a datapoint, the theory that AA will open up unsold J seats close to departure I’m finding unfortunately no longer holds true. I recently flew back from CWB to MIA and showed nothing, even though the flight went out less than half full (11/30) in J. Only way I was able to do it was EXP expanded inventory.

  • thepointsguy

    Interesting- I was unaware- makes no sense since they sell tickets via Lima and other SA hubs. Will look into this more- thanks for the heads up

  • Nick Knight

    I flew the family to Rio for 30,000 US Air miles round trip economy.

  • Nei

    really> when did u get that? I would love finding it. that’s a great deal

  • Nick Knight

    Someone replied, but I do not see their comment 17,500 each way (roundtrip mandatory) 35,000 minus 5,000 for having the Barclay card (lowest season)

  • Shana

    I have to take this statement back…it looks like US Airways doesn’t offer these as award flights anymore, and if you already booked your award ticket then they “cancelled” it without notifying you and you have to find out accidentally when trying to select your seat several months later…at least that is what happened to me. Fortunately I booked through American who rebooked me on another flight. Good luck!

  • Nick Knight

    Someone replied, but I do not see their comment 17,500 each way (roundtrip mandatory) 35,000 minus 5,000 for having the Barclay card (lowest season)

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