Although there are many travel blogs in English with a U.S. focus, that still leaves a wide world of opportunity and deals to explore. Vinny was born in Venezuela and writes ViajeroMillero.com — a travel blog in Spanish for his Latin American audience. (You can reach him on social media at @ViajeroMillero.) Recently he wrote about a deal for travelers looking to redeem their American AAdvantage miles for travel between North and South America and offered to translate it into English.
American Airlines devalued their AAdvantage program happened last month, and — as expected — many people tried to book as many awards as possible to take advantage of the old rates.
Clearly, first class awards were hit the hardest, with some going up as much as 63% (North America to South Asia 2). Traveling from North America to Europe or to South America 2 increased by 36%, from 62,500 miles to 85,000 miles one-way.
Increases for business class awards were less awful than for first class — which climbed by as much as 63% in certain markets — but prices still went up. In business class, travel from North America to South America 2 went up by “just” 15% to 57,000 from from 50,000 miles.
Destination Old Business Class New Business Class Increase
Contiguous 48 States 25,000 25,000 0%
Canada and Alaska 25,000 30,000 20%
Hawaii 37,500 40,000 6.7%
Caribbean 30,000 27,500 -8.3%
Mexico 30,000 27,500 -8.3%
Central America 30,000 27,500 -8.3%
South America Region 1 30,000 30,000 0%
South America Region 2 50,000 57,500 15%
Europe 50,000 57,500 15%
Middle East / India 67,500 70,000 3.7%
Africa 75,000 75,000 0%
Asia Region 1 50,000 60,000 20%
Asia Region 2 55,000 70,000 27.3%
South Pacific 62,500 80,000 28%
Positive Side of Business Class
One award that went unchanged was North America to South America 1, remaining at 30,000 miles in business class when booking award travel from the U.S. to Colombia, Perú, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Manaos (in northern Brazil).
American Airlines mostly flies Boeing 767s and 757s with reclining seats to those destinations, but recently they’ve introduced the renovated Boeing 767-300 (with flat beds) on one of two daily MIA-LIM flights.
LAN is a oneworld Alliance partner that covers a big chunk of the region and does so with one of the best business class products available in South America, flying with flat bed seats from BOG to MIA and from LIM to LAX, MIA, and JFK. Starting May 2nd, they will add Lima – Washington Dulles (IAD).
Redeem Fewer Miles for Travel within South America
One of the few business class redemptions that actually decreased in price was for travel within South America, which is divided into two regions. Business class awards from South America 1 to South America 2 fell from 32,500 to 25,000 miles one-way.
This lower price means that if you book two separate awards between North America and South America 2, then you could gain a free stopover in South America 1 while also saving 2,500 miles.
Here’s an example:
U.S. to Peru: 30,000 AAdvantage miles in business class
Peru to Chile: 25,000 AAdvantage miles in business class
Total: 55,000 miles one-way
The Best of Both Worlds
This strategy is similar to an Avios redemption (splitting up your trip with a stopover) while at the same time you get the benefit of the AAdvantage program (regional instead of distance-based pricing) for a total of 55,000 miles each way.
In theory (and MPM+25% permitting), you could fly from anywhere in the contiguous 48 United States to anywhere in the South America 1 region. And then do the same with the second award flying from anywhere in South America 1 to anywhere in South America 2 where a oneworld partner flies (LAN/TAM in this case).
If you are interested in taking advantage of the stopover opportunity, LAN’s upcoming Lima-Dulles route has wide open availability in both directions flying round-trip on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays.
Here’s just one example using the British Airways website to search for availability. Many dates have availability for five passengers or more in business class.