Duel with BA and booking success

The Rapid Traveler spent much of the day locked in a heated duel with the British Airways website and their call center. The 100,000 mile bonus for getting their credit card last spring was awesome but the impending devaluation created a planning headache for many like The Rapid Traveler (see details here).

One of the best values for US-based travelers is the ‘one partner airline only‘ award to South America on either Lan or American. One-way North America to South America for 20,000 miles in coach / 40,000 miles in business (or less with Part Cash Part Miles). Fly multiple airlines and prices skyrocket. Add in very limited availability on many of Lan’s intra-South America routes and the challenge is on.

Tips will follow tomorrow. For now, The Rapid Traveler is basking in the feeling of achievement at booking a trip for October and another for Memorial Day weekend 2012.

October, excluding intermediate connections: Miami – Santiago, Chile – Easter Island – La Paz, Bolivia – (overland) – Lima, Peru – Miami, and from there on a business trip. The final toll with business class out to Easter Island and coach with Part Cash Part Miles back was 50,000 miles plus $269 (or could have been 60,000 miles plus $139). The Rapid Traveler generally eschews business class in favor of saving miles for more trips, but good luck to anyone attempting to get to Easter Island in coach with miles. Add-in re-positioning flights from NY for $200 to get to/from Miami. All-told, $469 and half of the miles from a credit card sign-up bonus. That is why The Rapid Traveler veraciously reads the miles and points bloggers in this site’s blogroll (see bottom right).

Easter Island Ahu Tongariki

Photo by Ndecam

Memorial Day 2012 will be a real treat, finally finding a way to reach Iguazu Falls in a 4-day/5-night dash,  mixing in Uruguay and Paraguay for fun:

  • New York JFK – Santiago, Chile (Lan, 10,000 miles plus $148)
  • A same-day open-jaw on Pluna, Santiago, Chile – Montevideo, Uruguay –  Asuncion, Paraguay ($155). Overland to the falls.
  • Foz de Iguacu, Brazil (IGU) – Lima, Peru – New York JFK (Lan, 10,000 miles plus $196). There is also an airport on the Argentinian side (IGR) but availability is atrocious. IGU is slightly better. US citizens should keep in mind the big visa and reciprocity fees for Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

The Rapid Traveler long shied away from southern South America due to the huge airfare costs. With few budget airlines, many routes are eye-poppingly expensive. And without the luxury of time to take it slow overland, he was flummoxed until the magic BA credit card appeared. 40,000 miles left to spend: Argentina and Brazil await.

Rapid Travel Chai newsletter ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook ¦ Instagram

  • Nicole

    I’d love to take this trip. I’ve searched for Avios availability for 11 months and…nothing? any advice?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Nicole – Avios availability on Lan has become problematic from what I hear. I don’t have a magic wand to make space available, however one approach I have heard others take, albeit complicated to learn another program is to try to see if Lan has awards for its own members, then see about getting points with Lan, one option of which is to transfer from Starwood. In a case like this you might also consider employing an award booking service that for a modest fee can do a lot of the work for you and maybe find something with Avios that you have not, set alerts, know when to check for new releases of seats etc.