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How to book LATAM award flights without using LATAM miles

How to book LATAM award flights without using LATAM miles

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You don’t need to be a LATAM Pass member to book a rewards-funded flight on the South American carrier LATAM Airlines. If you’ve collected miles from other airline partners, such as Alaska Airlines or American, you may be able to use those miles to escape to a variety of South American destinations, such as Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina or Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A number of domestic and international airlines partner with the Santiago-based LATAM Airlines, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

Your rewards options will change dramatically, though, after 2020. So if you’re a frequent flyer with a member of the oneworld alliance, you may want to book your tickets now before it’s too late.

In this article:

Big changes coming to LATAM in 2020

LATAM announced that it’s planning to leave the oneworld alliance within the next year. The withdrawal won’t be immediate. But once it goes into effect, you’ll no longer be able to use oneworld partner miles, such as American Airlines AAdvantage® miles or British Airways Avios, to book LATAM flights — unless those airlines partner with LATAM independently.

LATAM hasn’t publicly announced when it will be leaving. However, according to the Australian airline, Qantas, frequent flyers will no longer be able to use their Qantas points to book LATAM flights after Oct. 1, 2020. Meanwhile, LATAM has told prospective passengers that they are actively reviewing an earlier departure date.

Delta frequent flyers may have better luck, though, since Delta and LATAM are in the process of forming an alliance. As a result, Delta SkyMiles® members may be able to use their SkyMiles to book LATAM flights sometime in the future.

Alaska Airlines also continues to partner with LATAM. So if you’ve been racking up Mileage Plan miles, you’ll still be able to use them to travel to South America and other LATAM destinations.

Here’s a closer look at how to book LATAM flights with frequent flyer miles.

Routes from the U.S.

LATAM — which is the result of a merger between LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines — is the largest air carrier in South America and flies to a wide variety of South American destinations. It’s ideal for passengers who are seeking itineraries off the beaten path, as it not only serves major cities, such as Bogota or Buenos Aires but also smaller cities, such as Tarapoto, Peru, or El Calafate, Argentina.

If you live in a medium- to large-sized city, you may be able to use your frequent flyer miles to book a direct flight. For example, LATAM routes include:

  • Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile
  • New York City to Guayaquil, Ecuador
  • Washington, D.C. to La Paz, Bolivia
  • Orlando to Cusco, Peru
  • Miami to Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • San Diego to Recife, Brazil
  • Raleigh, N.C., to Lima, Peru
  • Philadelphia to Asuncion, Paraguay
  • Salt Lake City to Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Denver to Bogota, Colombia

To see where you can fly from your nearest airport hub, check out LATAM’s list of upcoming departures. Or search for LATAM flights on oneworld’s interactive map.

You may have a tough time finding a rewards-funded flight from the U.S. In our experience, it can be fairly difficult to find a LATAM flight with rewards availability. So you’ll need to be flexible with your travel plans.

For example, you may find a flight with business seats available, but no economy seats. Or you may struggle to find a flight in your desired month of travel at all.

You may have better luck booking rewards flights within South America instead. For example, rather than drive from Rio de Janeiro to Manaus, Brazil, to explore the Amazon rainforest, you can hop a LATAM flight for as little as 7,500 AAdvantage miles. Or you can fly from Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island for 15,000 Asia miles.

Where to find award space

As we stated above, finding a flight with award space can be difficult — especially if you’re trying to get a direct economy flight from the United States.

However, there are some tricks you can use to help narrow down your search.

First, use the interactive oneworld alliance map to quickly see where you can fly from your nearest airport hub. Click on destinations, then type in your city and click on your preferred airline (in this case, LAN Airlines or LATAM). Click on “Include connections” or “non-stop flights only.” Then click search.

You’ll be presented with a list of cities you can potentially travel to on a LATAM-owned flight.

Next, try using the Flights tool to find flights during your desired date of travel. Click on “Flights” and plug in your route. Then click on the map icon to see what days have direct flights or connecting flights. You can also choose a LATAM-owned carrier as your preferred airline.

Once you’ve settled on some possible travel dates, head to British Airways’ Executive Club site in order to find out whether there’s any rewards availability for that particular flight. Even if you don’t plan to book through British Airways, its search engine is relatively easy to use and convenient for figuring out which flights still have rewards seats available. You’ll need to be a British Airways Executive Club member, though, in order to use the airline’s search tool. So sign up if you haven’t already. It’s free.

Next, click on “Book a flight with Avios.” Then use the search engine to look for rewards availability on your intended dates. You may have to conduct several searches before you find a seat. The British Airways search engine won’t let you check multiple dates at a time when you’re searching for partner flights. So it may take awhile to find a seat.

If your desired date is unavailable, try clicking on nearby dates to see if you can find availability.

Once you see that flights are available, scroll down to “Flights with partner airlines.”

Note the date, time and flight number. You’ll use this information to book a flight directly with the airline that you’re planning to purchase a rewards flight from. For example, if you plan to use Mileage Plan miles, you’ll call an Alaska Airlines travel agent and tell them you want to use your miles to book this particular flight.

Qantas also makes it relatively easy to search online for award availability. However, it has a reputation for showing “phantom” award seats that aren’t actually available.

Depending on the airline, you may also be able to search for award seats directly with the frequent flyer program you plan to use. Or you can try using chrome’s free Award Finder extension.

Best award values

The value you get from your rewards miles will depend on where you fly, type of seat you prefer (economy, business or first class) and which frequent flyer program you plan to use. For example, you’ll often get a better value using AAdvantage miles than Mileage Plan miles if you plan to fly to a country farther north, such as Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana or Peru.

But if you plan to fly somewhere farther south, such as Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, the Falkland Islands or Brazil (except for Manaus), you’re better off using Mileage Plan miles.

Unlike most LATAM partners, American divides South America into two regions and charges significantly more miles for flights to southern regions of the continent.

Similarly, you may be able to find better intra-continental deals by booking a rewards flight with a smaller carrier. For example, Cathay Pacific offers the best value for flights from Santiago to the Easter Islands.

You don’t necessarily have to be a frequent flyer to take advantage of these travel deals either. Instead, you may be able to use a card that lets you transfer your rewards points to one of LATAM’s airline partners.

For example:

  • Chase lets you transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to LATAM partner, British Airways.
  • American Express lets you transfer Membership Rewards points to Cathay Pacific and Qantas.
  • Citi allows you to transfer ThankYou points to LATAM partners Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways.
  • Capital One lets you transfer points to Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qantas and Qatar Airways.
  • Meanwhile, Marriott lets you transfer points directly to LATAM.

Miles that can book LATAM flights

If you have frequent flyer miles from one of the following airlines, you should be able to use them to book a LATAM flight:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • Sri Lankan Airlines
  • Fiji Airways
  • Qantas

Many of LATAM’s partners publish distance-based awards charts, making it a bit fussy to compare rewards prices between carriers. However, some carriers, such as Alaska, make it relatively easy to quickly figure out how many miles you’ll need to book a trip.

Here’s a closer look at some of your best options for booking a LATAM awards flight:

Alaska Mileage Plan

Overall, Alaska offers a pretty good value for trips to South America — particularly if you’re heading to the southern tip of the continent.

To book a rewards-funded LATAM flight with Alaska Airlines, call the reservations desk at 1-800-252-7522.

Here’s how many Mileage Plan miles you’ll need to spend to book a LATAM flight:

Continental U.S. to South America Miles needed*
Coach (Off-Peak) 25,000
Coach (Peak) 30,000
Premium Business 45,000
Easter Island to South America
Coach 22,500
Premium Business 35,000
South America to South America
Coach 12,500
Premium Business 25,000

*One-way bookings

American Airlines

American Airlines will often be your best bet for LATAM flights — particularly if you plan to fly from one South American destination to another. It’s also a good choice for trips to Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana, Ecuador or Manaus, Brazil.

Read American AAdvantage Cheat Sheet for Using Miles

You can redeem flights for oneworld partners on American Airlines’ website or by calling the reservation desk at 1-800-433-7300.

Here’s how many AAdvantage miles you’ll need to book a LATAM flight:

USA – South America 1 Miles needed*
Main Cabin 20,000
Premium Economy Not available
Business/First 30,000
First 55,000
USA – South America 2 
Main Cabin 30,000
Premium Economy 40,000
Business/First 57,500
First 85,000
South America Region 1 to South America Region 1
Main Cabin 10,000
Business/First 20,000
South America Region 1 to South America Region 2
Main Cabin 12,500
Business/First 25,000
South America Region 2 to South America Region 2
Main Cabin 10,000
Business/First 20,000
South America Region 2 to South America Region 1
Main Cabin 12,500
Business/First 25,000
Within Argentina and Chile (excluding Easter Island)
Main Cabin 6,000
Within Brazil
Main Cabin 7,500
Business/First 17,500
Between Santiago, Chile and Easter Island, Chile
Main Cabin 17,500
Business/First 30,000

British Airways Avios

British Airways doesn’t make it easy to figure out how many miles you’ll need to fly to a particular destination. Rather than publish an award chart with fixed mileage, British Airways only offers dynamic pricing. As a result, you’ll need to decide where and when you want to fly before you use British Airways’ search engine to compare prices.

But if you don’t mind the extra hassle, you may be able to snag a pretty good deal with British Airways Avios. For example, to fly from New York City to Buenos Aires, you’ll only need 25,750 Avios. With American, you’d need to spend at least 30,000 miles.

You may be able to book a LATAM flight online. But in our experience, LATAM flights often require a phone call to British Airways’ reservation desk. You may also have to call the reservation desk to find out how many miles you’ll need to book a flight at 1-800-247-9297.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific doesn’t publish a chart for oneworld partner miles, either. However, it does offer an easy-to-use tool to search routes for award prices.

Depending on where you plan to fly, you may also be able to score a better deal using Asia Miles than you would if you tried to book through another LATAM partner ⁠— especially if you’re looking for intra-continental flights. For example, an economy flight from Lima, Peru, to Cusco, Peru, costs just 10,000 miles, while a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island costs just 15,000 miles.

To redeem your rewards, you may need to submit a flight award request form. You can also call 1-866-892-2598.

To give you an idea of how many Asia Miles you would need to fly on LATAM, here are some sample routes:

Sample route Miles needed: Economy (Single carrier)* Miles needed: Premium Economy (Single Carrier)* Miles needed: Business (Single Carrier)*
New York City to Buenos Aires, Argentina 40,000 50,000 75,000
Los Angeles to Lima, Peru 27,000 43,000 61,000
San Francisco to Bogota, Colombia 27,000 43,000 61,000
Boston to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 27,000 43,000 61,000
Lima, Peru to Cusco, Peru 10,000 14,000 20,000
Santiago, Chile to Easter Island, Chile 15,000 22,000 30,000

Finnair

In general, Finnair awards flights for South America are pricey. However, if you’re a frequent Finnair flyer — or if you have a Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and are trying to compare prices between Finnair and Capital One’s other airline partner, Cathay Pacific — it may be worth glancing at Finnair’s awards chart.

To book a LATAM flight with Finnair, you’ll need to call Finnair’s customer service line at +358-9-818-888.

Here’s how many Finnair points you’ll need to book a LATAM flight:

Flights within Peru Points needed*
Economy 14,000
Flights within Chile
Economy 23,000
Flights within South America
Economy 48,000
Business 72,000
First 96,000
South America to Easter Island
Economy 45,000
South America to Central America
Economy 48,000
Business 72,000
First 96,000
South America to Tahiti
Economy 63,000
Business 96,000
First 126,000
South America to North America
Economy 72,000
Business 102,000
First 144,000

*One-way bookings

Bottom line

If you’ve been dreaming of a South American vacation, or plan to travel south for business, you have a wide variety of rewards-funded options — even if you’ve never set foot on a LATAM-operated aircraft.

Finding a good value on LATAM-operated flights could get harder though, once LATAM exits in the oneworld alliance. If you’ve been putting off a South American vacation and have miles to spare, now may be a good time to finally book your trip.


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