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UA to Brazil - Medical Insurance & Intra-country travel

UA to Brazil - Medical Insurance & Intra-country travel

Old Oct 7, 20, 10:52 am
  #1  
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UA to Brazil - Medical Insurance & Intra-country travel

I have a particularly long-term project with a global client who has offices in Brazil (Rio and Sao Paulo) due to complete in November requiring a physical presence early in the month. With COVID there was some question about it getting pushed, etc., but that has now resolved itself.

Two questions since I've not had any international travel this year and even in a normal year my international business travel tends to be limited to maybe a couple Canadian/Western Europe trips a year (in other words, I'm a domestic 1K)

Question 1: Looking at the declaration from the Brazilian government (both via Google Translate from the source and the US OSAC interpretation the only significant entry requirement for air travel is that
for a short stay of up to 90 days, must present proof of purchase of health insurance, in English, Portuguese, or Spanish, that is valid in Brazilfor the entire period of the trip with minimum coverage of 30,000 Brazilian reaisto an airline agent prior to boarding.


Given that the proof must be presented to "an airline agent prior to boarding" does anyone have experience with what UA will be expecting/looking for here and where it will be verified (assuming IAH)? Also if anyone has a particular provider that they know meets this requirement I'm all ears. I'm not so confident in usual "travel insurance" providers based on answers I've gotten from customer support. (In particular, Amex travel insurance looks like a great value/benefit but no one can tell me if they can provide proof of purchase that would be acceptable.

Question 2: I will need to be in both Rio and Sao Paulo (unclear as yet if I start in Rio and finish in Sao Paulo or vice versa). Any wisdom as to if I'm better off (for any reason other than pure costs) booking a single ticket with UA including the domestic segment, (e.g. US->Rio->Sao Paulo->US), an open jaw ticket with UA and the domestic segment with the operating carrier (e.g. UA ticket would be US->Rio//Sao Paulo->US), or open jaw and just drive the 6-ish hours from Sao to Rio (when we were originally discussing this project's logistics in December of last year I was going to try to do this trip without a rental car and walk/public transit/uber as needed, but given the current state of affairs I'm reevaluating that.
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Old Oct 7, 20, 12:02 pm
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Travel insurance is no longer mandatory and TIMATIC/TravelDoc have been updated : problem solved !

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/32725003-post17.html

I highly encourage you to have a proper coverage when travelling to Brazil though, because medical expenses can be huge there.

Regarding Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, I would not bother driving or sitting on a bus for 6 hours when you can take a 45 minutes domestic flight departing from both city centers (yes, CGH and SDU airport are very well located). It's very cheap if booked in advance (less than 30 USD). Check the brazilian website of the domestic airline you want to use (Gol, Latam, Azul) or book through expedia.com.br because in my experience it was cheaper.

As a foreigner, I would never bother or take the risk to drive in Brazil without speaking Portuguese and without a good knowledge of the places you are going (you might end up in dangerous places even with a GPS).

Use Uber, the metro, and domestic flights, it's the best advice I can give you. They are reliable and good ways to get around safely in Brazil. Also, Uber is super cheap. 15 minutes ride for something like 3USD due to the fall of the BRL, so really, don't bother renting a car...
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Old Oct 7, 20, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by IstKong View Post
Travel insurance is no longer mandatory and TIMATIC/TravelDoc have been updated : problem solved !

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/32725003-post17.html

I highly encourage you to have a proper coverage when travelling to Brazil though, because medical expenses can be huge there.

Regarding Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, I would not bother driving or sitting on a bus for 6 hours when you can take a 45 minutes domestic flight departing from both city centers (yes, CGH and SDU airport are very well located). It's very cheap if booked in advance (less than 30 USD). Check the brazilian website of the domestic airline you want to use (Gol, Latam, Azul) or book through expedia.com.br because in my experience it was cheaper.

As a foreigner, I would never bother or take the risk to drive in Brazil without speaking Portuguese and without a good knowledge of the places you are going (you might end up in dangerous places even with a GPS).

Use Uber, the metro, and domestic flights, it's the best advice I can give you. They are reliable good ways to get around safely in Brazil. Also, Uber is super cheap. 15 minutes ride for something like 3USD due to the fall of the BRL, so really, don't bother renting a car...
Thank you very much and appreciate the ground travel perspective -- I absolutely cannot do a bus for 6 hours (for some reason if I'm not driving I get car/motion sick very easily after about 30 minutes). I do not speak Portuguese and am a bit concerned about the safety factor so it seems two more points in the "don't rent a car" column.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 7:02 am
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There’s a Rio-Sao Paulo shuttle that departs every half hour (at least that’s how it was pre-pandemic), it’s called “Ponte Aérea”.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 3:56 pm
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Question 1: I just got into Brazil last week and not only was I asked for insurance by both the gate agents and immigration they both gave it a hard look. My understanding is as of Oct 2nd its no longer needed but I would proceed as if it is. Just a document stating that you're covered should do the trick.



Question 2:

Unlike Mexico where the countryside is very dangeorus, driving through Brazil's countryside is not particularly dangerous, the crime is mainly in the cities, but its just not practical. Parking is a PITA, and ppl drive very crazy. That being side the highway between Sao Paolo and Rio is the best in the country, safe and easy to do, but like @IstKong said why bother when you can take a $30 flight. SDU is so close to zona sul you can bike there in 25 minutes, maybe 10 minute drive. Its also very easy to catch a bus and you can try to get the executivo seats that recline 150 degrees very comfy, but again flying is cheaper then dirt for that route even last minute. Regarding the open jaw or roundtrip option, either way probably gonna come out to be the same amount of points, but I might keep it open jaw. Why? Because say your plans change and you don't want to change or miss the domestic flight, its possible the rest of your itinerary will be cancelled.

Either way whether its a bus or a plane, you can always get from rio to sao paolo in a few hours, buying the ticket a week out might be $30, same day might be $50-$100, depending on the airport and time.

Uber is cheap as dirt, esp with the real in the toilet right now. 99 is a good alternative app to uber as well you should download. Public transport I wouldn't bother, you won't even be able to figure it out as a foreigner without porutugese (no offense). Plus public transport can be surprisingly pricy, its almost same to just uber. Also don't forget about all the bike stations peppered around zona sul in rio, you can unlock them using some app and great way to get around as well.

Don't rent a car, you will regret that so bad.
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Old Oct 13, 20, 7:56 pm
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Originally Posted by PointsPanda View Post
Question 1: I just got into Brazil last week and not only was I asked for insurance by both the gate agents and immigration they both gave it a hard look. My understanding is as of Oct 2nd its no longer needed but I would proceed as if it is. Just a document stating that you're covered should do the trick.



Question 2:

Unlike Mexico where the countryside is very dangeorus, driving through Brazil's countryside is not particularly dangerous, the crime is mainly in the cities, but its just not practical. Parking is a PITA, and ppl drive very crazy. That being side the highway between Sao Paolo and Rio is the best in the country, safe and easy to do, but like @IstKong said why bother when you can take a $30 flight. SDU is so close to zona sul you can bike there in 25 minutes, maybe 10 minute drive. Its also very easy to catch a bus and you can try to get the executivo seats that recline 150 degrees very comfy, but again flying is cheaper then dirt for that route even last minute. Regarding the open jaw or roundtrip option, either way probably gonna come out to be the same amount of points, but I might keep it open jaw. Why? Because say your plans change and you don't want to change or miss the domestic flight, its possible the rest of your itinerary will be cancelled.

Either way whether its a bus or a plane, you can always get from rio to sao paolo in a few hours, buying the ticket a week out might be $30, same day might be $50-$100, depending on the airport and time.

Uber is cheap as dirt, esp with the real in the toilet right now. 99 is a good alternative app to uber as well you should download. Public transport I wouldn't bother, you won't even be able to figure it out as a foreigner without porutugese (no offense). Plus public transport can be surprisingly pricy, its almost same to just uber. Also don't forget about all the bike stations peppered around zona sul in rio, you can unlock them using some app and great way to get around as well.

Don't rent a car, you will regret that so bad.
Thank you again; that has confirmed my decisions -- and I picked up an insurance policy just to be safe even though it isn't required for the moment
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Old Oct 20, 20, 8:12 am
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Anyone with recent experience to confirm that insurance is no longer required for entry?
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Old Oct 24, 20, 7:17 pm
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I posted in the other thread... I departed on 16OCT and was NOT asked for insurance (neither by American Airlines nor the Brazilian immigration authorities).

FWIW, I have enjoyed LATAM over GOL for domestic flying here. All of my flights have been in premium economy. GOL doesn't seem to hold to keeping the premium economy middle seats open like LATAM. On both airlines, I strongly prefer the bulkhead row for extra legroom and avoiding being reclined into.
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Old Oct 30, 20, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by TransWorldOne View Post
I posted in the other thread... I departed on 16OCT and was NOT asked for insurance (neither by American Airlines nor the Brazilian immigration authorities).

FWIW, I have enjoyed LATAM over GOL for domestic flying here. All of my flights have been in premium economy. GOL doesn't seem to hold to keeping the premium economy middle seats open like LATAM. On both airlines, I strongly prefer the bulkhead row for extra legroom and avoiding being reclined into.
On LATAM - is there enough space to stretch your legs all the way in the bulkhead row in PE?
Seat map shows LATAM PE to only have 2 seats per side (so no middle seat) - correct?
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Old Nov 1, 20, 9:16 am
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
Thank you again; that has confirmed my decisions -- and I picked up an insurance policy just to be safe even though it isn't required for the moment
I'm traveling to GRU over the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm a US citizen. Can you recommend where to buy travel health insurance for my trip?
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Old Nov 1, 20, 5:08 pm
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Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
I'm traveling to GRU over the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm a US citizen. Can you recommend where to buy travel health insurance for my trip?
I am not the right person to ask -- since this trip (hasn't started yet) is the first/only time I've bought any kind of travel insurance -- but our company's insurance broker recommended (but wouldn't/couldn't write policies for) GeoBlue and UHC's SafeTrip. As near as I could tell they offered identical benefits for my purposes and while I probably would have felt more "prestige" with the SafeTrip option their pathetic web presence turned me off -- it's 2020 but I have to call you to quote a policy?!? Are you going to try faxing the quote for me to review or do I need to wait for the carrier pigeon? -- I went the GeoBlue option.

There are a lot of plans out there that appear to offer similar levels of coverage. Had it not been for the broker's recommendation I had a short list (that I've since discarded of a few different ones)
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Old Nov 7, 20, 8:06 pm
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Originally Posted by tr3k View Post
On LATAM - is there enough space to stretch your legs all the way in the bulkhead row in PE?
Seat map shows LATAM PE to only have 2 seats per side (so no middle seat) - correct?
It's actually three seats per side. The middle seat is not sold in premium economy so doesn't show on the seat map.

Yes, there is enough space in the bulkhead. Trust me. If you are on the A319 especially, you want to sit in row one!
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Old Nov 12, 20, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
I am not the right person to ask -- since this trip (hasn't started yet) is the first/only time I've bought any kind of travel insurance -- but our company's insurance broker recommended (but wouldn't/couldn't write policies for) GeoBlue and UHC's SafeTrip. As near as I could tell they offered identical benefits for my purposes and while I probably would have felt more "prestige" with the SafeTrip option their pathetic web presence turned me off -- it's 2020 but I have to call you to quote a policy?!? Are you going to try faxing the quote for me to review or do I need to wait for the carrier pigeon? -- I went the GeoBlue option.

There are a lot of plans out there that appear to offer similar levels of coverage. Had it not been for the broker's recommendation I had a short list (that I've since discarded of a few different ones)
FYI I bought a GeoBlue policy for my stay for $32. (three day stay).
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Old Nov 12, 20, 10:04 am
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For what its worth, arrived in Sao Paulo this morning and customs/immigration was just like a typical (any country except Canada or China) pre-pandemic customs/immigration visit. Walked straight up to the "Foreigners" booth with a very bored looking official who took my passport asked tourist or business, number of days, stamped my passport and wished me good day.

So insurance definitely isn't something they care about at the moment (but I still consider my Geoblue policy at ~$70 for a 10 day stay a wise investment)

Lincoln
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Old Nov 13, 20, 11:40 am
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Originally Posted by tr3k View Post
On LATAM - is there enough space to stretch your legs all the way in the bulkhead row in PE?
Seat map shows LATAM PE to only have 2 seats per side (so no middle seat) - correct?
This is incorrect, the middle seat is simply blocked. On some planes it actually has a sort of tray table or something thats screwed into the seat, on most planes its just an empty middle seat.

Would not recommend first row as 1. you can't lift the dividers 2. no storage in front and 3. the bulkhead is very close, enough for a tall person to be ok, but def not enough to stretch your legs

That being said PE (or economy+ on GOL/Azul) on is a solid upgrade because no Brazilian's pay for it, the front rows are usually totally empty even on full flights. I recently got upgraded for only $5US using their bidding tool. I'd say if you have a bag to check PE is practically a must to use the priority checkin unless you want to wait 45-60 minutes in line to check your bag.
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