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American Airlines bolsters South America presence with GOL partnership, reciprocal benefits

Sept. 15, 2021
4 min read
GOL AA
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American Airlines has long been the largest U.S. carrier in South America and is committing to maintaining that position despite increasing competition.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier on Wednesday announced plans to invest $200 million in the Brazilian carrier GOL, for a 5.2% stake in the company. Along with that, the two carriers will expand their codeshare partnership into an exclusive agreement between the U.S. and Brazil and roll out enhanced loyalty benefits.

This news comes less than two years after American lost its long-standing partnership with the Latin American giant LATAM Airlines to Delta Air Lines. Meanwhile, Delta had to ditch its stake in GOL in favor of the new tie-up.

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American Airlines - GOL codeshare agreement

American Airlines and GOL have already been codeshare partners since early 2020. As a part of the tie-up, the airlines are able to offer passengers greater connectivity to far-flung destinations and more efficient pricing. However, the airlines are now taking their relationship a step further.

“This codeshare agreement between two of the leading airlines in the Americas combines our highly complementary route networks to offer customers a seamless travel experience with the largest number of flights and destinations in North and South America,” said GOL CEO Paulo Kakinoff. “We believe that this will bolster GOL’s presence in international markets, accelerate our long-term growth, and maximize value for our shareholders. It adds to our confidence in GOL’s growth as the economy reopens and travel demand increases.”

(Photo by Thiago B Trevisan/Shutterstock)

The airlines also expect to increase commercial cooperation to accelerate growth and create a more seamless travel experience. American operates flights to 17 cities in South America, including flights to Sao Paulo (GRU) and Rio de Janeiro (GIG) from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Miami (MIA) and New York-JFK. Meanwhile, GOL currently serves 63 destinations in Brazil and is the country’s largest airline.

This enhanced partnership comes alongside American’s codeshare agreement with the Chile and Argentina-based ultra low-cost carrier JetSmart. These partnerships will appeal especially to potential customers who are visiting the U.S. as American recently revealed that two-thirds of passengers on its flights to and from South America are based there.

Related: 6 ways my loyalty to American Airlines is now paying off

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Enhanced loyalty program benefits

What's perhaps more exciting for customers is that American and GOL are expanding their joint loyalty offerings.

A couple of months after the partnership first launched, the airlines rolled out reciprocal mileage earning and redemption benefits. Exactly as it sounds, this means that you could seamlessly earn and redeem miles across both airlines, though there have been some limitations. For example, you could only earn credit toward AA elite status on GOL flights ticketed by American Airlines and you currently need to call to redeem American miles for GOL awards.

However, these drawbacks could become a thing of the past soon. The airlines revealed that they "expect to offer an enhanced joint loyalty offering to give customers more ways to earn and redeem miles.

American Airlines Flagship Lounge at MIA. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Further, the airlines will roll out reciprocal loyalty perks for elite members.

Come 2022, GOL’s SMILES and American’s AAdvantage elite members will gain access to perks like priority check-in, priority security, priority boarding, a larger checked baggage allowance, lounge access and preferred seats across both airlines.

As of April 27, 2021, AA elites can now also earn their usual elite bonus miles on GOL Airlines marketed flights.

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

Bottom line

South America remains a key market for American Airlines. With today's news, American has affirmed that it's committed to offering more seamless bookings and loyalty benefits for passengers traveling between the U.S. and Brazil. This is increasingly important as Delta and LATAM double down on their Miami "gateway hub" and increase connections between the regions.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of American Airlines)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

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  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
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