Booking Award Tickets to Brazil’s Maldives: Fernando de Noronha

So I haven’t been to Fernando de Noronha or Maldives yet, but if you want BoardingArea readers to click, ‘Maldives’ is a good keyword.

Fernando de Noronha

Photo by Henrique Pinto, flickr

Seriously, I have been intrigued by this island archipelago paradise since I first noticed it on the Travelers Century Club list.

Having remote islands potentially the match of the Indian Ocean and Pacific while in roughly the same time zone as the US is appealing. When a trip is primarily intended to be for rest and lazy days, at 12-timezone, 20+ hour trip back home negates a chunk of the psychic benefits.

Much of the area is a natural park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Permits are pricey. Lodging is mostly local and way overpriced at all levels. Yet it looks incredible.

Airline service comes and goes. Currently Gol flies to FEN from Recife, and Azul from Recife and Natal. These are economy only services. Tam pulled out a couple years ago.

Delta is a Gol partner and has poured a ton of money into Gol. In the early years of the partnership I never could successfully book a Delta award. Gol had terrible availability (accessed erratically by flightstats, but don’t rely on it) and eventually I turned up that FEN was the only airport excluded from Delta’s initial partnership with Gol. I let it sit a couple years and was shocked when recently a trip to Brazil came up and called Detla to find flights available and easy for the agent to book. 25k roundtrip within Brazil. Yay!

Gol also has a paid airpass that is an alternative, if you can find out how to actually book the darn thing through travel agencies.

Azul can now be booked with United miles, also for 25k roundtrip within Brazil. United’s website supports many Azul flights, however does not have airport FEN in its system so returns errors. You can instead find award availability on You can set up connections on the United website then call in to add the FEN segments.

In my United test it took several agents saying some form of ‘no,’ ‘not available,’ or ‘not bookable,’ before finding an agent who explained, “tell agents they need to price it as airline code AD and as a revenue ticket in class T or Z, and then they can book the award.” I don’t know enough to know about United to say how that works, but it does.

I stuck with Gol because of better flight times for me and I always spend Delta miles ahead of United.

I am all set for next week! I have only one night and will make it count.

Readers, any Fernando de Noronha recommendations?

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18 Comments on "Booking Award Tickets to Brazil’s Maldives: Fernando de Noronha"

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Best opening sentence for a blog post ever. It looks spectacular, you couldn’t work in another day?


1 night.. pretty risky.
do take some photos.
and.. с днем рождненья


That’s awesome that you’re able to squeeze it into such a tight schedule. We ALL will be looking for some COOL photos!

Andrew C

I know it’s probably a half dozen trips ago for you now, but any chance to get a follow up post (or email) about your visit to Fernando de Noronha? I recall seeing photos on twitter from this trip, so I know you made it there!

Andrew C

The list is actually a great idea – gives a central place for people to bug you on them! And deal, Sunday would be great! Considering a trip to Fernando with my wife, and the (apparently trustworthy) information elsewhere online is surprisingly thin.

Andrew C
Good points, definitely what I’m mulling as we consider it. The uniqueness and outdoors aspect are the draws for me – no real interest in high end resorts and hot body beaches! The biggest issue I’m mulling over for this trip is what the weather will do – we’d be looking at a May trip, which is during the rainy season, so that could put a damper on things. And I keep seeing it referred to elsewhere as high-cost, but I assume this is mostly relative to other non-big-city destinations in Brazil / South America – my brief look at… Read more »
Andrew C
Fees like that are easier to justify in my mind because I only take 1-2 big trips per year! (Which is recognize is absurd in the grander scheme, but small beans compared to many around these parts) But definitely understand/agree that fees like this and high meal costs inflate expenses in ways that are not easily mitigated. Painful, but fortunately within our means, and probably worth it to me not to go stay in another Hyatt/Hilton/etc for the cookie cutter experience. We ran into the same in doing a self-drive safari earlier this year in South Africa (spent far more… Read more »
Andrew C

makes sense. thanks for the advice!!

Andrew C

No problem at all – thanks!!


[…] are typically $700-$1,000 round trip. I got my ticket booked and clucked in triumph in how-to post Booking Award Tickets to Brazil’s Maldives: Fernando de Noronha. A week later I was […]