Star Alliance - SFO-EZE; use Varig miles & buy 1 ticket on UA or ??
Hello everyone !
I have 60K miles on Varig (thanks to 55,555 promo!) and an upcoming trip to EZE (from SFO) around Easter. I want to buy 1 ticket in economy and use the Smiles miles on a free ticket.
I can see UA is around $750-$800 right now; Varig is about the same if not higher.
Any advice on which is the better product in economy class, routing between SFO/EZE and any hints on getting a cheaper ticket ?? I need to go around Easter and would prefer to buy one/Smiles one since I need the EQMs on UA and the Smiles will expire at the end of the year. (Not sure what to do with the remaining 10K, since it only takes 50K to get there, but that's another story. :) )
Thanks a bunch, in advance, for your great advice !
Jan 19, 05, 6:42 pm
Do you have any UA status? Then you get Y+, which gives you much better seating. I'd also have to recommend that you are much better off flying simply SFO/ORD or IAD/EZE than SFO/LAX/GRU/EZE. As much as LAX is a pit, GRU, if you do not have any lounge access, is a much worse pit, and even if you do have lounge access, the lounge RG uses @ LAX is amongst the worst pits anywhere. RG service within South America is marginal, but if GRU/SCL was crappy in the front cabin, I can't imagine GRU/EZE in the back being any better.
Also, the ground support for RG outside of Brasil seems to be very marginal. The only upside is that RG probably still gives you a free drink in Y - although I don't know this for sure.
Eastbay1K, thanks for your insights. As 1Ks, that's kinda what we suspected, and I guess I should try to avoid as many pits as possible. Also, fooling a little more with the dates, it seems it'll be expensive and award seats hard to find .... may need to re-think this plan. And, I really love how UA's "Discover Argentina" fares are higher than their regular fares !
Jan 20, 05, 3:37 pm
Let me also recommend if flying on UA you route entirely via ORD if possible or at least on your return to the US; Customs and Passport control at IAD in the AM has been a disaster for me.
Jan 20, 05, 4:19 pm
Your being a 1K makes UA the natural choice due to access to E+. On RG your benefit would be complimentary alcoholic beverages, but believe me, E+ is better.
Once you burn those 50k RG miles you can use the 10K left for a one-way ticket in Brazil. You can redeem one-way or round trips in Brazil for 10k/20k. The return can be made with GOL (http://www.voegol.com.br) which is an LCC, among others in the market, unless you get a good price with Varig.
GRU may be a pit but UA's RCC is one of the very best in the entire system... if not THE best... ;) Who cares about the airport when there's such a nice heaven...
GRU also has lounges for Diners and AMEX Platinum cardholders, outside security... so it's up to you... :)
Thanks to all above for the good advice ... and to think I was seriously considering routing through IAD for the extra 400 miles RT over ORD ;) I'll have to search harder for a free ticket to get to EZE around Easter .... and I'm a little frustrated by UA's "Discover Argentina" fare. For a FEB RT, it shows about $800. For March/Easter, it shows ~$900. Where's the <$500 that they're advertising ?? :( I suppose I should call UA rez and see what they can find .....
Any additional money saving hints would also be appreciated.
Jan 21, 05, 9:19 am
UA has been having heavily packed flights to South America, both Brazil and Argentina. It has to be one of their most profitable operations as promos haven't been seen for a while and, unfortunately for us, it has become quite common them willing to sell Y fares or eventually B buckets.
I hope you have a good time in Buenos Aires, currently at cheapo prices.
Thanks, pb9997. Looks like we'll just have to pay for not so cheap tickets, but not wait too long before we get into Y or B inventory :eek: ....
Jan 23, 05, 10:00 pm
I did this through IAD about two years ago and on the return flight we arrived early and had to wait on the plane for 30 minutes so the INS/Customs people could arrive for the morning. It's not like they didn't know we were coming in, and we weren't much before the scheduled arrival time.
That's not to say that ORD would be better; that's my one experience with UA at IAD.