Flight Deal Alert: New York to Asuncion JFK-GRU-ASU on TAM For $548 Roundtrip
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Last week, there were some great fares from various US cities to Lima on both United and Delta, and it looks like some Flyertalkers have been finding a few good mileage runs today roundtrip from New York JFK to Asuncion (in Paraguay) via Sao Paulo on TAM in October and November for just $548.
The first thing I do when these come up is check Google’s ITA Matrix and use the calendar search function including a range of nights for length of stay to find out what dates these low fares are available, and I found dozens of days from mid-October to mid-November as you can see from the calendar above. The one thing to keep in mind is that many of these itineraries start Thursday-Monday for returns around Thursday or Friday, so rather than just a quick mileage run, you might be spending some time in Paraguay with this one.
The roundtrip mileage is about 10,900, and the airfare on TAM is about $548, so your cost per mile (CPM) is about 5 cents. The actual miles/points hauled is much higher, especially if you book with a card that gives a bonus on airfare, like 3X on the Premier Rewards Gold, 2X with the Sapphire Preferred or Barclaycard Arrival, or book through a portal as outlined here.
One thing to keep in mind is that TAM is merging with LAN and though it will join Oneworld sometime in the second quarter of 2014, for the time being it is still in Star Alliance, which means this could be a good way to rack up United or US Airways miles in the short term since these are booking into the airline's V fare class and will earn 100% of the elite-qualifying mileage on both airlines.
Also remember that you need a visa to enter Brazil (typically $160 for a multiple-entry tourist visa good for 10 years), so if you plan on leaving the airport, you will have to get one, and then Paraguay also requires visitors from the US to obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport in Asuncion of $160. If you need help obtaining a visa, I have used Allied Passport & Visa on numerous occasions and have always had a great experience and quick turnaround.
You can't actually book your tickets on ITA, so in order to snag one of these fares, you have to go to TAM's website, but the fares are pulling up properly, as you can see from this sample itinerary I pulled up in October.
Just beware that the return flight options have an overnight layover in Sao Paulo. I'd choose the above one so you have a full afternoon/evening in the city rather than one of the other options which only get you in around 8 or 9pm so you'd just be sleeping over in a hotel and heading out first thing the next morning.
I don't know much about Paraguay, but I'm always up for a little adventure, and this is a pretty reasonable fare for so many elite-qualifying miles. TPG Managing Editor Eric flew TAM down to Argentina earlier this year and had a decent experience with the airline, so if you were looking for an interesting way to qualify or requalify for Star Alliance status before the end of the year, this could be an option for you.