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Using Miles for Multi-City South American Trip

Using Miles for Multi-City South American Trip

Old Apr 10, 2014, 4:11 pm
  #1  
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Using Miles for Multi-City South American Trip

My brother and I want to go on a 2-week vacation between January and March, 2015 to the following cities:

Medelin, Colombia
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Buenos Aires, Argentina

I want to pay for this trip using my frequent flyer miles. Here is what I currently have:

United-- 114,008 miles
American-- 108,752 miles
UsAir-- 85,051 miles
Delta-- 82,668 miles
Asia Miles-- 18,214 miles

We are flying out of New York.

Ideally, we'd like to do: New York> Buenos Aires> Rio> Medelin> New York
Alternatively, we can do: New York> Medelin> Rio> Buenos Aires> New York

Based on the information I provided, is it possible to get 2 round-trip Business Class tickets, even if we have to travel separately on some segments?
If not, do I have enough miles to do premium economy, or even economy class?

I've read that United allows multi-city redemptions, but I'm not sure about other airlines. I also have no clue how many miles such a trip would cost*

Any creative suggestions are heartily welcome.

Thanks.



*is there a miles + cash option that would be useful for us?
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Old Apr 10, 2014, 5:50 pm
  #2  
 
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Can't speak for UA or other plans, but you can't do it with your US or AA miles. They don't allow stops >24 hours in any city on an award ticket without it breaking in to multiple award tickets. You could theoretically get New York-> Buenos Aires as a 50k Business award/person and Medellin->New York as a 50 k business award/person. But then you'd be on your own for how to get from Buenos Aires to Medellin either paid or using more award miles.

Should be pretty easy to go to United & Delta's web sites to see how many miles they require for South American travel and then search (and possibly post) in their appropriate forum for specifics on award redemption with stopovers and or open jaws.
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Old Apr 10, 2014, 6:27 pm
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This is a tough one. United and US would allow a stopover, so you could get 3 of your 4 segments all on one award. However you don't have enough US miles for the round trip in J, and you would have to fly different airlines even if you did.

With your current miles, I think you're best off using your AA and United miles for the long segments and the leftover United/AA for Rio-Medillin. For example, 2 J one ways NYC-EZE would cost 110K United. Then you would pay for EZE-GIG. Then use AA miles (30K) for 2 Y one ways GIG-Medillin. Then 60K AA miles for one way J Medillin-NYC. You could do this in reverse as well. Or you could use AA for NYC-EZE (100K) and United miles for GIG-Medillin (40K) and Medillin-NYC (70K).

Unfortunately, Delta and US don't allow one ways so they can't help much since you don't have enough for round trip.
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Old Apr 11, 2014, 2:41 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by dukerau
This is a tough one. United and US would allow a stopover, so you could get 3 of your 4 segments all on one award. However you don't have enough US miles for the round trip in J, and you would have to fly different airlines even if you did.

With your current miles, I think you're best off using your AA and United miles for the long segments and the leftover United/AA for Rio-Medillin. For example, 2 J one ways NYC-EZE would cost 110K United. Then you would pay for EZE-GIG. Then use AA miles (30K) for 2 Y one ways GIG-Medillin. Then 60K AA miles for one way J Medillin-NYC. You could do this in reverse as well. Or you could use AA for NYC-EZE (100K) and United miles for GIG-Medillin (40K) and Medillin-NYC (70K).

Unfortunately, Delta and US don't allow one ways so they can't help much since you don't have enough for round trip.
Thanks.
I'm thinking I may even cut out one of the destinations, maybe Rio. So, I could do 2 J awards (UA or AA) NYC> EZE, then pay for one-way Y EZE> Medelin, then get another 2 J awards (UA or AA) Medelin> NYC
All this, of course, is assuming they allow one-way awards originating outside of U.S.
I think travel sites like Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, etc. don't let you book a o/w flight originating outside the U.S., so I"m thinking it may be the same with redeeming miles. Correct me if I'm wrong.
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Old Apr 11, 2014, 2:50 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by mikelat
Can't speak for UA or other plans, but you can't do it with your US or AA miles. They don't allow stops >24 hours in any city on an award ticket without it breaking in to multiple award tickets. You could theoretically get New York-> Buenos Aires as a 50k Business award/person and Medellin->New York as a 50 k business award/person. But then you'd be on your own for how to get from Buenos Aires to Medellin either paid or using more award miles.

Should be pretty easy to go to United & Delta's web sites to see how many miles they require for South American travel and then search (and possibly post) in their appropriate forum for specifics on award redemption with stopovers and or open jaws.
Thanks, will check out the forum.
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Old Apr 11, 2014, 4:34 am
  #6  
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DL allows one stopover and one open jaw on award tickets. OP would then need to purchase a separate ticket between one pair of cities. However, it can be hard to find low DL BE award availability. Another difficulty is DL/SkyTeam partners in Latin America. AR (Aerolinas Argentinas) has a reputation for cancelled/delayed flights and generally bad service.
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Old Apr 11, 2014, 8:29 am
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Originally Posted by joer1212
Thanks.
I'm thinking I may even cut out one of the destinations, maybe Rio. So, I could do 2 J awards (UA or AA) NYC> EZE, then pay for one-way Y EZE> Medelin, then get another 2 J awards (UA or AA) Medelin> NYC
All this, of course, is assuming they allow one-way awards originating outside of U.S.
I think travel sites like Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, etc. don't let you book a o/w flight originating outside the U.S., so I"m thinking it may be the same with redeeming miles. Correct me if I'm wrong.
I think you're wrong on both counts (and I know you can definitely book a one-way with miles that originates outside the U.S.). If you cut out Rio, you definitely have enough miles for the whole trip. After looking at actual availability, I think this is best (assuming you are cutting out Rio, though if you still want Rio, just do the EZE-GIG with cash and GIG-MDE with miles):

2 J NYC-EZE 100K AA
2 Y EZE-MDE 40K UA
2 J MDE-NYC 70K UA
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Old Apr 11, 2014, 12:54 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist
DL allows one stopover and one open jaw on award tickets. OP would then need to purchase a separate ticket between one pair of cities. However, it can be hard to find low DL BE award availability. Another difficulty is DL/SkyTeam partners in Latin America. AR (Aerolinas Argentinas) has a reputation for cancelled/delayed flights and generally bad service.
Sounds a lot like Aer Lingus.
You may find it odd, but I actually want to fly to South America with either AA, United or Delta, not a foreign carrier. Especially if I score a J award. AA has recently upgraded their cabins.
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Old Apr 11, 2014, 1:01 pm
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Originally Posted by dukerau
I think you're wrong on both counts (and I know you can definitely book a one-way with miles that originates outside the U.S.). If you cut out Rio, you definitely have enough miles for the whole trip. After looking at actual availability, I think this is best (assuming you are cutting out Rio, though if you still want Rio, just do the EZE-GIG with cash and GIG-MDE with miles):

2 J NYC-EZE 100K AA
2 Y EZE-MDE 40K UA
2 J MDE-NYC 70K UA
Thank you much for this. I think you nailed it perfectly, and saved me a lot of time and effort. It's also nice to know that I have more flexibility than I thought.
One more thing, is the EZE-MDE segment directly with UA or a partner airline?

Last edited by joer1212; Apr 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm
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Old Apr 11, 2014, 1:57 pm
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I think that the best option would be to have a stopover in BOG (then pay cash to MDE, unless MDE is allowed as a stopover) before continuing onto either GIG or EZE. The hole between EZE and GIG can be plugged with Avios (which are easy to obtain), a higher-priced award, or cash money.

My thoughts:

1. US Airways has a nice little share miles promo going this week only, and awards on Avianca can still be booked before May 31st. 100k miles will get you a J ticket JFK-BOG(stop+paid ticket to MDE)-GIG/EZE in Biz. Avianca availability is pretty good. The A330 from JFK-BOG is good enough, although angled-flat. BOG-EZE is the A330, BOG-GIG is the A320, which has domestic F seats. 100K miles+$150 or so for the miles.

--- Another option would be to use the new OneWorld partners for the second half of the flight (are they allowing *A+OW combinations?)

2. Book the same flight as #1 with UA miles. Stopovers should be the same, and I'd be surprised if you couldn't find 2 seats on dates that you want. 110k miles JFK-BOG(stop)-EZE-JFK.

Note: UA allows stopovers and open-jaws, so it could be possible for this to be routed JFK-BOG(stop)-EZE/GIG-JFK. The only issue would be that it might be difficult to link up with the ticket from #1, although not impossible with careful planning.

3. Fill in the gap:

-AA charges 10k each way (Y, 22.5J), so that's going to cost you 30/40k depending on what is done with #2 and the open-jaw. Flights on TAM seem to have good availability, which can be verified on britishairways.com easily.
-UA charges the same amount, although there don't seem to be any direct options.
- DL charges 25,000 for Y, and requires a round-trip flight (until next year) Aerolineas Argentinas has direct flights from BOTH airports in Buenos Aires. Availability is really good (check airfrance.us for it) and there are multiple options each day. Make sure to use BUE as the airport code to search to get both airports. There will probably be about 100$ in taxes on this redemption.
-Cash money. Looks to be about $600, so probably not the best idea.

I'd go with Delta - those miles can be tough to use at times, especially if you have no status. Look into the open-jaw option with United and that will save you 10,000 miles if you are confident in traveling alone.

Total cost:
Ticket 1: 100k US Airways miles+$300 to cover the miles purchase+taxes/fees
Ticket 2: 110k United miles+$100 taxes+fees
Ticket 3: 25k Delta miles+$100 taxes+fees
Paid BOG-MDE - $150.
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Old Apr 11, 2014, 2:35 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by benzemalyonnais
I think that the best option would be to have a stopover in BOG (then pay cash to MDE, unless MDE is allowed as a stopover) before continuing onto either GIG or EZE. The hole between EZE and GIG can be plugged with Avios (which are easy to obtain), a higher-priced award, or cash money.

My thoughts:

1. US Airways has a nice little share miles promo going this week only, and awards on Avianca can still be booked before May 31st. 100k miles will get you a J ticket JFK-BOG(stop+paid ticket to MDE)-GIG/EZE in Biz. Avianca availability is pretty good. The A330 from JFK-BOG is good enough, although angled-flat. BOG-EZE is the A330, BOG-GIG is the A320, which has domestic F seats. 100K miles+$150 or so for the miles.

--- Another option would be to use the new OneWorld partners for the second half of the flight (are they allowing *A+OW combinations?)

2. Book the same flight as #1 with UA miles. Stopovers should be the same, and I'd be surprised if you couldn't find 2 seats on dates that you want. 110k miles JFK-BOG(stop)-EZE-JFK.

Note: UA allows stopovers and open-jaws, so it could be possible for this to be routed JFK-BOG(stop)-EZE/GIG-JFK. The only issue would be that it might be difficult to link up with the ticket from #1, although not impossible with careful planning.

3. Fill in the gap:

-AA charges 10k each way (Y, 22.5J), so that's going to cost you 30/40k depending on what is done with #2 and the open-jaw. Flights on TAM seem to have good availability, which can be verified on britishairways.com easily.
-UA charges the same amount, although there don't seem to be any direct options.
- DL charges 25,000 for Y, and requires a round-trip flight (until next year) Aerolineas Argentinas has direct flights from BOTH airports in Buenos Aires. Availability is really good (check airfrance.us for it) and there are multiple options each day. Make sure to use BUE as the airport code to search to get both airports. There will probably be about 100$ in taxes on this redemption.
-Cash money. Looks to be about $600, so probably not the best idea.

I'd go with Delta - those miles can be tough to use at times, especially if you have no status. Look into the open-jaw option with United and that will save you 10,000 miles if you are confident in traveling alone.

Total cost:
Ticket 1: 100k US Airways miles+$300 to cover the miles purchase+taxes/fees
Ticket 2: 110k United miles+$100 taxes+fees
Ticket 3: 25k Delta miles+$100 taxes+fees
Paid BOG-MDE - $150.
Wow, seems like I have many options.
I will definitely check out the Avianca offer, thought at this point I'm leaning towards cutting out Rio and just doing Medelin and Buenos Aires. We only have 2 weeks, and doing 3 countries may be a bit much.
*A and OneWorld combinations? This would be lovely. I long suspected alliances may start to cross borders, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Last edited by joer1212; Apr 12, 2014 at 2:21 am
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 1:01 am
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Originally Posted by dukerau
I think you're wrong on both counts (and I know you can definitely book a one-way with miles that originates outside the U.S.). If you cut out Rio, you definitely have enough miles for the whole trip. After looking at actual availability, I think this is best (assuming you are cutting out Rio, though if you still want Rio, just do the EZE-GIG with cash and GIG-MDE with miles):

2 J NYC-EZE 100K AA
2 Y EZE-MDE 40K UA
2 J MDE-NYC 70K UA
Guys, am I missing something here? I just checked for availability on AA's site for 2 o/w NYC-EZE in J, and they cost a whopping 220,000 miles, not 100,000! There are absolutely NO saver awards in Business class to EZE whatsoever. I would have to pay full fare for Business/First AAnytime. Same thing with United. This really sucks. There goes my vacation.

Last edited by joer1212; Apr 24, 2014 at 2:11 am
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 3:12 am
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Did you check departure airports other than in New York? Or arrival cities other than EZE?
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 6:49 am
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Even though this advice is specifically for Delta, a similar approach may prove useful: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/delta...ss-awards.html

I would try looking for Saver awards from AA's other hubs (MIA or DFW), and then look for saver inventory between NYC and that other hub. It may help you to originate from another, smaller airport up there - maybe ABE, or if you're willing to head to Philly, see if you can get a fare out of ZFV (Philadelphia 30th Street station).
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 8:24 am
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Originally Posted by joer1212
Originally Posted by dukerau
I think you're wrong on both counts (and I know you can definitely book a one-way with miles that originates outside the U.S.). If you cut out Rio, you definitely have enough miles for the whole trip. After looking at actual availability, I think this is best (assuming you are cutting out Rio, though if you still want Rio, just do the EZE-GIG with cash and GIG-MDE with miles):

2 J NYC-EZE 100K AA
2 Y EZE-MDE 40K UA
2 J MDE-NYC 70K UA
Guys, am I missing something here? I just checked for availability on AA's site for 2 o/w NYC-EZE in J, and they cost a whopping 220,000 miles, not 100,000! There are absolutely NO saver awards in Business class to EZE whatsoever. I would have to pay full fare for Business/First AAnytime. Same thing with United. This really sucks. There goes my vacation.
AA's website will not show award availability on partner carriers LAN and TAM. For those carriers, you must call AA, or check availability on a third-party website like ba.com.
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