7 best ways to get to Peru on points and miles
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While Peru is currently closed to Americans, Peru's Ministry of Culture recently made a special exception to open Machu Picchu to a lone Japanese tourist. While the rest of us can only dream of the day when we're able to ascend the trail to the Lost City, now is a great time to begin saving up for it. Here’s how to get to Peru using your airline miles.
Airlines That Fly to Peru
If you’re flying to Peru from the U.S., you’ll almost certainly have to fly to Lima (LIM), unless you’re taking an unnecessarily circuitous route. Here are the major airlines currently flying North America to Lima, either nonstop or with just one stop to the capital.
- Aerolineas Argentinas flies from New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA) to Buenos Aires (EZE), from which you can continue on to Lima.
- Aeromexico flies from various U.S. airports to its hub in Mexico City (MEX) and Lima.
- Air Canada flies to Lima from its hub in Toronto (YYZ) four times weekly and from Montreal (YUL) on Sundays and Wednesdays.
- Avianca operates flights to Lima from its hubs in Bogotá (BOG), San José (SJO) and San Salvador (SAL).
- American Airlines flies to Lima from Dallas (DFW) and Miami (MIA).
- Copa flies from the U.S. to Lima via its hub in Panama City (PTY).
- Delta operates a nonstop flight to Lima from its hub in Atlanta (ATL).
- JetBlue operates nonstop from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to Lima.
- LATAM flies to Lima from Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA) and New York (JFK).
- Spirit also flies from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL).
- United flies from both Houston (IAH) and Newark (EWR) to Lima.
First, let’s look at the various miles and points you can use and the airlines to which they apply that you might be interested in flying to Lima.
|Miles/Points||Transfer and Airline Partners||Miles Needed Round-trip|
|Alaska Mileage Plan||American Airlines, LATAM, Marriott Bonvoy||·Economy: 40,000-60,000|
|American AAdvantage||American Airlines, Marriott Bonvoy||·Economy: 40,000|
|Avianca Lifemiles||Avianca, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Copa, Marriott Bonvoy, United||·Economy: 30,000-40,000|
|British Airways||American Express Membership Rewards, American Airlines, Capital One, LATAM, Marriott Bonvoy||·Economy: 26,00-41,500|
|Delta SkyMiles||Amex Membership Rewards, Aeromexico, Delta, Flying Blue, LATAM, Marriott Bonvoy||·Economy: Variable|
|Flying Blue||Aeromexico, American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Delta, Marriott Bonvoy||·Economy: Variable|
|JetBlue True Blue||American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy||·Depends based on airfare|
|United Mileage Plus||Avianca, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Copa, Marriott Bonvoy, United||·Economy: 40,000+|
|American Express Membership Rewards||Aeromexico, Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways, Delta, Flying Blue, JetBlue|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||British Airways, Flying Blue, United|
|Citi ThankYou Rewards||Avianca, Flying Blue, JetBlue|
|Marriott Bonvoy||Aeromexico, Alaska, American, Avianca, British Airways, Delta, LATAM, United,|
Once you get to Lima, you can take cheap flights around the country on Avianca, LATAM and Peruvian Airlines.
Airline and Mileage Options
Now let’s focus on the airlines with the most convenient options from the U.S. (sorry, Aerolineas Argentinas!) and discuss how to use your miles to fly them to/from Lima.
Here they are in alphabetical order.
There are a few reasons to consider this SkyTeam carrier for your trip to Lima. First, it flies to several major U.S. gateways, including Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), Orlando (MCO), San Antonio (SAT), San Francisco (SFO) and Washington Dulles (IAD).
While most of these flights are operated on old 737s with recliner-style business-class seats, one daily flight from JFK is operated by a 787 (and sometimes the LA route gets one, too) with nicer business-class seats (though not the newest ones aboard the 787-9s).
From Mexico City (MEX), it flies three daily nonstops to Lima aboard 737s. Because of the number of U.S. gateways, your chance of finding an award is usually better than on some other airlines, and availability on the MEX-LIM leg tends to be pretty open.
Where to search: I’d suggest using Delta.com to search for SkyTeam availability since the search engine is much better about pulling in partner awards than in years past. However, I was hard-pressed to find many Aeromexico awards using the site as the engine seems to favor finding higher-level awards on Delta itself rather than on partners.
If you find individual flight segments with award availability on Aeromexico, like the one below from New York-JFK to Mexico City and an onward connection to Lima, you can call into Delta and ask an agent to book it and waive the phone booking fee.
Miles to use: Delta is your best bet here and it’s a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards as well as Marriott Bonvoy (and for every 20,000 points you transfer, you get a 5,000-mile bonus). The rates using Flying Blue miles could be better...theoretically. Unfortunately, Flying Blue's phone agents seem to have little to no access to Aeromexico award space based on several phone calls I made to their mileage desk armed with individual segment awards I'd found on Delta.com.
Though Delta removed its award charts from its site back in 2015, you can expect to pay the following amounts at the lowest level:
- Economy: 88,000+ miles
- Business: 132,000+ miles
Your other option is Air France/KLM Flying Blue, a transfer partner of all four major transferable points programs. Before you get your hopes up, the program just switched over to a revenue-based model and the redemption rates are illogical, to say the least.
Whereas before you could search for awards a month at a time, you now have to do so day by day. I would instead suggest searching on Delta.com, and then trying to find matching award space once you're logged in to your Flying Blue account on the Air France or KLM sites.
The lowest business-class award I could find on Aeromexico for the next year was 50,500 miles each way.
As for economy awards, they should price out at 20,000 miles each way, but I could not find any that were solely on Aeromexico. My guess is something might be going on with award space on the airline for the moment.
2. American Airlines
American flies two daily nonstops to Lima from its hub in Miami (MIA). One is aboard a 757 and one is aboard a 767, both with fully lie-flat seats. It also operates a daily nonstop from Dallas (DFW) using another 757.
Miles to use: You have a couple of choices here, including American’s own AAdvantage program, Alaska’s Mileage Plan and even British Airways Avios.
American’s off-peak dates for this region on are January 16 – June 14 and September 7 – November 14, and it will charge you the following amount of miles round-trip:
- Economy: 35,000 miles off-peak, 40,000 miles peak
- Business: 60,000 miles
- Economy: 40,000 miles
- Business: 60,000 miles
Now for the interesting option. American partners with British Airways. BA’s award chart is distance-based, so longer flights or those with multiple segments will cost you more miles. However, American’s flights from Miami to Lima will cost the following amount of Avios round-trip, which can be a real bargain.
- Economy: 25,000 Avios
- Business: 75,000 Avios
From Dallas to Lima, the amounts are:
- Economy: 40,000 Avios
- Business: 120,000 Avios
That economy award is still decent, but the business-class one less so. The only thing is that award availability on BA's site does not match up to what you will find using AA.com, so you might have to search for awards first, then call the BA mileage desk. When I did so, they were able to see the same awards I'd found on American and Alaska's sites but had to book them for me by phone.
3. Avianca and Copa
I’m grouping these two airlines together because they’re both members of Star Alliance and both fly to several airports in the U.S. and on to Lima via hubs in Bogota (BOG), Panama City (PTY), San José (SJO) and San Salvador (SAL).
I wouldn’t call these options great since they’re all on either smaller aircraft with recliner-style seats or, in the case of Avianca, on some A330s with older, angled seats. Avianca does fly its newest aircraft, the 787, with lie-flat seats on one daily flight to Los Angeles (LAX) and it does sometimes get swapped in for the A330 on one of the airline's two daily non-stops from New York (JFK).
Miles to use: Unfortunately, Aeroplan considers Peru to be part of southern South America, so the mileage redemption rates are pretty high (110,000 round-trip for business class). Instead, you should use United miles, which you can transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards if you have a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
United will charge you 44000 miles round-trip tickets from the U.S. to Peru in economy class or 77,000 miles in business. These may vary due to United's switch to dynamic pricing, which skyrocketed partner awards' price
Here's a sample award on Copa with availability in both economy and business. You can expect similar pricing with Avianca.
Another option that stands out here is using Avianca’s own Lifemiles. You might not think of the program every day, but it's an American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy transfer partner, and often offers buy-miles bonuses that could make it worth it.
Award rates vary by route and distance, but you can look up the numbers on the Lifemiles calculator page for Avianca's own flights, or here for its award rates on its Star Alliance partners. In general, though, they range within the following numbers for flights from various U.S. hubs.
- Economy: 30,000-50,000
- Business: 60,000-80,000
For instance, this award search came up with saver-level availability on Copa from Miami (MIA) to Lima (LIM) via Panama City (PTY) for 20,000 miles one-way in economy and 35,000 in business.
Meanwhile, you could think about using ANA miles since you can transfer both American Express Membership Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy points to the program. You’ll be paying 55,000 miles round-trip in economy or 80,000 in business, so you’re better off with United or Avianca.
Delta operates a single daily flight to Lima from its hub in Atlanta (ATL) using a 767-400ER with just an average economy class seats and its usual Delta One lie-flats in a staggered 1 – 2 – 1 front-facing configuration. So you don’t have many choices, but award availability is there, so you might want to consider it.
Where to search: Using Delta.com is probably the easiest way to find awards like this one in basic economy.
And this one in business class.
Miles to use: Delta's transfer partners include both Amex and Marriott, and you’ll need the following amount of miles:
- Economy: 40,000-50,000 miles
- Business: 80,000-150,000 miles
The reason I've included ranges is that Delta's dynamic pricing makes redemption rates somewhat unpredictable. That's why you might also want to think about using Flying Blue miles at the following rates (which is what they're pricing out now, but this might change as Flying Blue's new revenue-based award redemptions work out the kinks. Here are the lowest prices we've found.
- Economy: 20,000 miles
- Business: 50,500 miles
What's more, the Flying Blue search engine seems to be pulling in more saver-level award availability on Delta flights on some days than Delta's own search engine, so you're better off booking there for the time being. Especially considering Flying Blue is a transfer partner of all four major transferable points programs: Amex, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Marriott.
Here's a sample economy award on Delta from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Lima.
And one from New York JFK to Lima via Atlanta in business.
You might be surprised to see JetBlue on this list, but the carrier has been flying its route from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to Lima since 2013. Unfortunately, you won’t find JetBlue’s Mint business class on this route, but the flight is only six hours, so you might not mind.
Where to search: JetBlue.com
Miles to use: Although TPG only values JetBlue points at 1.3 cents apiece, the great thing about using JetBlue True Blue points is that you can redeem them for any available seat on the plane, just like paying for airfare. Only you’re using points instead. That means that the higher the airfare, the more points you’ll need, but that last-seat availability can definitely be worth it.
Not only that, but TrueBlue became a Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partner in 2016. If you have the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier® Card, your transfer ratio is 1,000 Citi to 800 True Blue. If you have the Citi ThankYou® Preferred or Citi Rewards+® Card, that ratio is 1,000:500 instead. There are even occasional transfer bonuses.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Airfares on the route run about $440 round-trip:
Using True Blue points, you’ll be paying 24,800 points.
You’re getting an average value of about 1.5 cents per point with this particular itinerary.
Now for the big one. LATAM currently flies nonstops from Lima (LIM) to Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK) and Orlando (MCO). Most flights are operated by 767s, though one of the LA daily flights is aboard a 787 and the Orlando flight uses an A320. The 767s and 787s have lie-flat beds in business class, though the 787s have newer interiors (obviously).
Where to search: You won’t find LATAM award space on Alaska's or British Airways' flight, but you can search on the Qantas Frequent Flyer website. Then, you can call your partner of choice to book.
Miles to use: Your best mileage choices for LATAM awards will be Alaska Mileage Plan or British Airways, depending on where you’re coming from.
British Airways award requirements will depend on the number of segments and the distance you’re flying, thanks to the airline’s unique award charts. As mentioned above, BA’s award chart is distance-based, so longer flights or those with multiple segments will cost you more miles. However, here are the round-trip amounts for awards between Lima and Miami:
- Economy: 26,000 Avios
- Business: 77,500 Avios
Versus those from Los Angeles to Lima:
- Economy: 51,500 Avios
- Business: 154,500 Avios
As you can see, where you're flying to/from makes a huge difference. Remember, these are just the nonstop redemption levels. If you have more segments, you’ll need more Avios since they’ll price out as separate awards.
If you want to use Alaska miles, it'll cost the following for a round-trip ticket.
- Economy: 50,000 miles
- Business: 90,000 miles
United operates a daily nonstop flight from its hub in Newark (EWR) to Lima (LIM) until mid-August, then drops down to four days a week aboard a 757, and a daily nonstop from its other hub in Houston (IAH) aboard a 767. Both have lie-flat business-class seats.
Where to search: You can use United.com to look for availability on its own flights.
Miles to use: As noted in the Avianca/Copa section, your best bet for Star Alliance awards to South America is likely United miles if using Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Award availability on United’s own flights is tight during normal travel times. If you find award space, they will cost the following amount of miles round-trip.
- Economy: 40,000 miles
- Business: 70,000 miles
Here's a sample economy award from Houston to Lima:
You can use Avianca LifeMiles as well for the same prices discussed in the Avianca and Copa section. Again, you can transfer points from most major transferrable points program to LifeMiles, excluding Chase.
Flight options from the U.S. to Peru are a little more limited than to some other regions in the world. However, there are still plenty of great ways to get down there, both in terms of the airlines that fly to Lima, award availability and the various miles you can use.
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh
Feature photo by Jesse Kraft / EyeEm / Getty Images