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Experience Booking GOL (new partner) over the phone

Experience Booking GOL (new partner) over the phone

Old Oct 6, 20, 7:50 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Mexico City, MX
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Posts: 216
Experience Booking GOL (new partner) over the phone

Hey guys,

Currently in Brazil. Just booked GOL over the phone with AA wanted to share my experience:

Background: GOL (G3) is a Brazilian airline. Even though GOL is not in One World they still got caught up in the fight as they were sort of "skyteam oriented" even though not officially in it. So when LATAM realigned itself with Delta, Delta broke ties with GOL and GOL realigned themselves with American, allowing GOL to be booked over the phone.

Brazilian domestic flights are long (sometimes extremely long) and can be outrageously expensive, especially on GOL as Brazilian's prefer GOL over the other crap airlines, as they have wifi, screens in every seat, decent legroom and decent customer service vis-a-vis LATAM and Azul.

I was looking to fly from Fortaleza to Rio de Janeiro, a 3.5 hour flight, and the time I wanted it was a whopping $200USD per person. There were cheaper flights but since I plan on coming from Jericoacora (a 4 hour drive from Fortaleza) this was the only one I could realistically catch without having to overnight in Fortaleza. (Jeri also has its own airport but its been 100% closed since April due to covid.)

Furthermore between a recent credit card signup and this "bask bank" promo I have a lot of AA miles coming in and want to burn them before AA decided to follow in UA's footstep and set their reward programs aflame for a tiny short term profit.

Process:

I checked expert flyer and the day/time I wanted showed 4 economy spots available. I went ahead and called AA, wait time was about 5 minutes even though the automated system claimed it would take 25 minutes (I didn't use call me back feature as I use VOIP that can't be called back).

I talked to an agent over the phone who was quick and helpful. You won't be charged a phone fee since GOL isn't bookable online. I asked her about a few different times and dates just to see how it matches up to expert flyer, it seems it matches up 100% at least per the first city pairs and dates I tried. She asked me for city dates, pairs, names of 2 passengers (I'm hooking a friend up who is traveling with me as well). There was some kind of error when she tried to book it but after one or two minutes she managed to fix it.

Surprisingly this 3.5 hour 1350 mile (~2000km) flight was only 7500 AA advantage miles each. A better deal then Etihad that would have charged 9000 points for this distance. (not to mention having to dip into precious precious transferable currency points vs miles)

She took down my info. Taxes were basically nothing ($5.60 each) About 3-4 hours later the flight cleared from "in process" to ticketed. Unfortunately the agent gave me the wrong locator for GOL so I couldn't log into GOLs site. I went on GOL live chat (only available on English site), and got my GOL conf number and also confirmed the AA award ticket includes 1 bag up to 23kg (~51lbs) but does not include seat selection until 48 hour before the flight if you contact them by chat or 24 hours or less if you select your seats at check-in. (though you're welcome to pay for it over chat or phone)

Value: The price of the tickets fluctuated a lot but was a bit over $150, so x 2 = $300 / 15k, you get about 2c each, a solid redemption for an economy flight. If you book a long distance flight to the US or other latin countries where GOL flies you may even be able to get more value (note GOL doesn't have a true J product, even on its long routes). If you caught a daytime 7-8 hour flight from Miami to GRU or GIG with GOL in Economy+ with extra legroom wifi + IFE its not a half bad option.

The big blogs like TPG and OMAAT got it wrong: They report all flights are 10k except manaus to anywhere else in Brazil is 12.5k. The agent said this is incorrect and any intra-brasil flight is 7.5k "Wholly within Brazil" fare she said , which is a really good deal, especially on longer routes where Etihad may charge a lot more. Its actually also a good deal for short direct routes between medium sized cities in the North where there may only be 1-2 flights per day. Perhaps someone can correct me, or even better see if we can put together a sort of quasi "award chart"

Overall thoughts: If you are a budget backpacker you can always take that 6am or redeye with a layover in Brazil for pennies on the dollar but it always seems that cushy afternoon flight that leaves and gets in at a normal times is always 4-5x the cost of the other flights and this is def where award flights deliver.

Now that United has totally gutted their award system (example they wanted 15k for similar flight AND with a layover + $30 in tax).​​​​​​ so that booking Azul flights is outrageously expensive this is a great alternative. I still wish you could book GOL on skymiles as since I live in Mexico City and was raised in Atlanta I find myself more on skyteam routes and with Delta points then AA, but still this is a really nice addition.



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Last edited by PointsPanda; Oct 6, 20 at 8:03 pm
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Old Oct 6, 20, 8:40 pm
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by PointsPanda View Post
The big blogs like TPG and OMAAT got it wrong: They report all flights are 10k except manaus to anywhere else in Brazil is 12.5k. The agent said this is incorrect and any intra-brasil flight is 7.5k "Wholly within Brazil" fare she said , which is a really good deal, especially on longer routes where Etihad may charge a lot more. Its actually also a good deal for short direct routes between medium sized cities in the North where there may only be 1-2 flights per day. Perhaps someone can correct me, or even better see if we can put together a sort of quasi "award chart"
There is no need to rely on blogs, AAgents, or quasi award charts. It's right there on the official partner award chart, under "South America Region 2", "Wholly within: Brazil".
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Old Oct 6, 20, 8:53 pm
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I found similar value a few years ago when I used UA miles for Sao Paulo to Manaus and back. I certainly appreciate these discounted domestic award flights in certain countries.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 9:15 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by FlyingEgghead View Post
There is no need to rely on blogs, AAgents, or quasi award charts. It's right there on the official partner award chart, under "South America Region 2", "Wholly within: Brazil".
Good eye! FlyingEgghead I looked at the chart before and couldn't find it but looked again I see now buried down there. I presume this is per segment and not per route right?

Even if its per segment, interesting so this means you could do MAO to GIG for 7500 points.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 9:24 pm
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Originally Posted by PointsPanda View Post
Good eye! FlyingEgghead I looked at the chart before and couldn't find it but looked again I see now buried down there. I presume this is per segment and not per route right?

Even if its per segment, interesting so this means you could do MAO to GIG for 7500 points.
I believe it is per-direction (all AA awards I have seen are unless noted, like the 7500 rate for direct flights within the US and Canada under 500 miles), so a MAO-GIG-GRU itinerary would price at 7500.
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Old Oct 7, 20, 12:01 am
  #6  
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Good work senor. This is quite useful and better than the EY redemption option for the longer domestic flights or the more expensive ones like FLN during summer vacation time. Ai se eu te pego amigos.

Like you I keep an eye on intra-Brazil redemptions because I have used frequently before and will use again.

I agree with other posters that UA MP has become useless for intra-Brazil redemptions. I used it before but the devaluations of the last year have destroyed a large proportion of UA MP marginal value over other programs. 14.5K and 40 USD of tax on a short-notice hop from SDU to CGH is not reasonable when 20K and the same can obtain CM from EZE to GDL or BZE for example.

AV represents with the blue spots on the infamous LM award calendar there are 6K awards intra-Brasil on G3 like FOR to GRU or SSA to POA. Pero no hay nada.... these routes are 12K.

In the good old days en verdad not so old lol O6 could be redeemed using AV LM for e.g. 3K for SSA to CWB or POA to IGU via GRU, and it was possible to HCT such connex via the numerous focus cities of O6. Con mi acompenera we forgot where we were flying finally, so we insisted on checkin for GRU but in reality our destino was CNF and the agent was confused.... LOOOL! Sadly now O6 have joined Varig. Buut the same LM method also worked inside Colombia and one time I flew with only 2K LM from CLO-BOG-MDE and no we do not wish to recover Senor Kwok and his cabbage so we are careful.
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Old Oct 7, 20, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by VFR View Post
I believe it is per-direction (all AA awards I have seen are unless noted, like the 7500 rate for direct flights within the US and Canada under 500 miles), so a MAO-GIG-GRU itinerary would price at 7500.
Thats crazy! So if its 7500 "wholly within Brazil" this would theoretically mean if there is award space on all legs you could do Colombian or Peruvian border @ Leticia/Tabatinga TBT - Manaus (MAO) - GRU -- POA (porto Alegre)? (Moot point cause only azul flies TBT MAO), but still this might come back to bite AA in the butt if they are coutning sao paolo rio flight the same as colombian border all the way to the argentine border, thats a lot of distance flown for 7500 a pop.

Really presents some interesting options this whole "whooly within Brazil" thing, crossing at Iguazu, Leticia/Tabatinga etc, to get from country to country.

I wonder what they're charging for the EZE (Buenos Aires) to Rio or Floripa flight, those are always super expensive in cash and GOL flies both.

Fascinating stuff.
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Old Oct 7, 20, 3:08 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by ReinaDeLaSelva View Post
Good work senor. This is quite useful and better than the EY redemption option for the longer domestic flights or the more expensive ones like FLN during summer vacation time. Ai se eu te pego amigos.

Like you I keep an eye on intra-Brazil redemptions because I have used frequently before and will use again.

I agree with other posters that UA MP has become useless for intra-Brazil redemptions. I used it before but the devaluations of the last year have destroyed a large proportion of UA MP marginal value over other programs. 14.5K and 40 USD of tax on a short-notice hop from SDU to CGH is not reasonable when 20K and the same can obtain CM from EZE to GDL or BZE for example.

AV represents with the blue spots on the infamous LM award calendar there are 6K awards intra-Brasil on G3 like FOR to GRU or SSA to POA. Pero no hay nada.... these routes are 12K.

In the good old days en verdad not so old lol O6 could be redeemed using AV LM for e.g. 3K for SSA to CWB or POA to IGU via GRU, and it was possible to HCT such connex via the numerous focus cities of O6. Con mi acompenera we forgot where we were flying finally, so we insisted on checkin for GRU but in reality our destino was CNF and the agent was confused.... LOOOL! Sadly now O6 have joined Varig. Buut the same LM method also worked inside Colombia and one time I flew with only 2K LM from CLO-BOG-MDE and no we do not wish to recover Senor Kwok and his cabbage so we are careful.
Yeah I didn't even realize United's big devaluation until I was already in Brazil, didn't bother to book my flights thinking hey i'll just use my stash of UA miles. Check SLZ to BEL (a distance of 290 miles), 16.5k + $40US lmao! So much for that!

Yeah agree FLN can be very pricy, esp if you don't wanna bother laying over in GRU and get the direct from EZE or GIG. Same with Rio, I think EZE --> GIG is a really underserved route, though def an interesting route as you can fly Emirates first on it (5th freedom).

Yeah Av Brazil wasn't great, but at least it was an option..... And yeah i've gotten pretty outsized value on LM as well, for example Galapagos flights pushing 4c per point value (6k points for a $200 flight)
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Old Oct 23, 20, 3:51 pm
  #9  
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Figured i'd give you guys some updates:

One of the flights I booked with GOL automatically changed my flight from leaving 5pm, to leaving at 3am the "same day" in my opinion essentially the previous night, when that flight was cancelled, it had a 4 hour layover, turning a 2.5 hour flight into a 9 hour red eye, lol no way. The booking was STM to BSB if curious.

They didn't give me any notice at all. I called AA, they said they couldn't make the change for me because they had recorded that I had logged in and had seen the change on the site (total BS but whatever). The agent said there is "nothing they could do" sounded like she could have changed me to the next day flight if she wanted to but is trained to save the airline as much money as possible. She said "best she could do was give me a refund of the 7500 points" after some back and forth polite arguing (I really never did see the change). If I had gotten all Mr. Better Business Bearau bill on her I think if I got very aggressive ask to speak to supervisor etc etc, she could have put me on next day flight , but its just not my style, so I let it go.

In the end the other airline leaving that tiny airport that day LATAM was bookable through United MP for 15k points as it was codeshared with Azul. Not the best deal but not outrageous, 15k points is more then 7.5k points but the cash price for a next day ticket was $300 so grateful I dodged a bullet there.

Watch out for schedule changes! Flights are getting cancelled and moved around a lot and AA won't inform or even email you!

I still think this is a great value though.

Also I talked to some other FTers it seems like the space on expert flyer is indicative of space AA sees but its not 100% matching, not sure why, so it pays to call to confirm, don't assume because Expertflyer shows space that there is space, or if EF shows no space that there isn't space etc etc.

Good luck ya'll!
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