As Amol has been walking us through his awesome trip report to Easter Island and Machu Picchu, this reminds me of another reader who booked a similar trip and paid cash instead of redeeming miles. Not a problem — most of my flights are like that. My goal is to see how much I can save while still buying revenue tickets.
The LANPASS Visa card from US Bank offers a 20% discount on one LAN purchase each year (up to $1,000 savings on a purchase up to $5,000). That’s a great deal if you’re buying longhaul tickets to visit South America from the United States. Assuming you spend $800 per person to fly in economy class, you could easily save $320.
You also receive three (3) upgrade coupons. These are in addition to any you might earn as a LANPASS elite member, and since it took some digging to find the chart online, I’ve copied it below.
It takes three coupons for a one-way upgrade from the U.S. to Chile or Argentina. That means really only one person gets the upgrade, and only in one direction. Alternatively, flights to Ecuador require only one coupon in each direction. To really maximize the benefits of this card, you might be better off using it for a flight there.
Or, you could book your companion’s flight using Avios points from your British Airways Visa and then purchase your own ticket with cash and apply an upgrade. You’d still get the 20% discount on your own ticket (and credit the award miles to a U.S. carrier’s program), you’d save 50% by using Avios for the other person, and you wouldn’t need to find award space for two people on the same itinerary.
Finally, the bonus miles. You get 20,000 LANPASS kilometers after first-use. That isn’t a lot, and you’re unlikely to be crediting many flights to LAN when you could choose other oneworld carriers or even Alaska Airlines for your domestic U.S. flights. Instead, check out the table I posted yesterday with different transfer options to top up your account. One of the best options is to transfer SPG Starpoints to get 50,000 kilometers in exchange for every 20,000 points (Starpoints transfer at a 1:2 ratio, and you get a bonus 5,000 Starpoints included in the transfer for every 20,000 from your own account).
LANPASS has a distance-based award chart much like Avios. For 10,000 LANPASS kilometers you can fly up to ~800 miles one-way, which isn’t a bad deal. That’s like Seattle to San Francisco. Add some more LANPASS kilometers to your account from SPG and you can book a transcontinental ticket. Los Angeles to New York is just under 2,500 miles one-way, or about 4,000 flown kilometers. That award would require 27,000 LANPASS kilometers to book.
But like everything, the devil is in the details. The last reader who got this card did so at the time he booked his tickets. Unfortunately, most card benefits kick in only for future purchases made with the card since it takes time to process the application. If you think you’ll be heading to South America soon, it might make sense to get the card now — with no annual fee for the first year. That way it’ll be ready at the time of purchase.