Part IV – Getting To South America Using Your SPG Starpoints

SPG Starpoints are probably my favorite of all the transferable currencies. That is because they are among the versatile points out there, which makes them great points to stockpile. Of all the transferable currency options, SPG Starpoints are probably the most difficult to accrue, but they can offer the absolute best value around for getting you to South America!

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Introduction – Getting To South America Using Your MRs, URs, TYPs or Starpoints
Part I – Getting To South America Using Your MRs

Part II – Getting To South America Using Your URs
Part III – Getting To South America Using Your TYPs
Part IV – Getting To South America Using Your SPG Starpoints

SPG Starpoints are probably the most versatile and coveted among the transferable currencies. That is because they offer some of the best value around. This is especially true for transfers to airline partners as SPG offers a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer. SPG offers (through American Express) only 2 cards that earn SPG Starpoints – the SPG Personal card and the SPG Business card. Neither card offers category bonuses outside of spend at SPG properties, though these cards get the majority of my non-category bonus spend as you can never have enough Starpoints in my opinion.

In addition to earning Starpoints via American Express credit cards, you can of course also earn Starpoints from your stays at Starwood properties around the world.

Now that you know how to earn Starpoints, the more complicated process is how to use those hard earned Starpoints to get you to South America! Starpoints offer the most flexibility as they transfer to 35 (!) airline partners. Your SPG Starpoints will transfer to the following airlines:

AirlineAllianceTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aegean AirlinesStar Alliance1:12-14 Days
AeroMexicoSkyTeam1:12-14 Days
Air Canada (Aeroplan)Star Alliance1:12-14 Days
Air BerlinOneWorld1:12-14 Days
Air ChinaStar Alliance1:12-14 Days
Air New ZealandStar Alliance65:12-14 Days
Alaska AirlinesN/A1:12-14 Days
AlitaliaSkyTeam1:12-14 Days
All Nippon Airways (ANA)Star Alliance1:12-14 Days
American AirlinesOneWorld1:12-14 Days
Cathay PacificOneWorld1:12-14 Days
AsianaStar Alliance1:12-14 Days
British AirwaysOneWorld1:12-14 Days
China EasternSkyTeam1:12-14 Days
China SouthernSkyTeam1:12-14 Days
DeltaSkyTeam1:12-14 Days
EmiratesN/A1:12-14 Days
EtihadN/A1:12-14 Days
Air France/KLM (FlyingBlue)SkyTeam1:12-14 Days
GolN/A2:12-14 Days
HainanN/A1:12-14 Days
Hawaiian AirlinesN/A1:12-14 Days
Japan Airlines (JAL)OneWorld1:12-14 Days
Jet AirwaysN/A1:12-14 Days
Korean AirSkyTeam1:12-14 Days
LATAM (kms)OneWorld1:1.52-14 Days
LufthansaStar Alliance1:12-14 Days
Qatar AirlinesOneWorld1:12-14 Days
Saudi Arabian AirlinesSkyTeam1:12-14 Days
Singapore AirlinesStar Alliance1:12-14 Days
Thai AirwaysStar Alliance1:12-14 Days
United AirlinesStar Alliance2:12-14 Days
Virgin AustraliaN/A1:12-14 Days
Virgin AtlanticN/A1:12-14 Days
Virgin AmericaN/A1:12-14 Days

From the data points I was able to find, it appears that transferred Starpoints used to take much longer to post to your account(s) than they do now. It appears that on average, Starpoints currently take between 2 and 5 days to post to your frequent flyer account(s). However, as always, please note that all of the transfer times are an approximation based on various data points.

Another caveat is that although I will be including general advice for getting to South America on your Starpoints, your home airport will play an important role in finding availability or determining cost. For example, since Cathay Pacific operates under a distance based award chart, the cost for someone traveling from the South may be lower than the cost for someone traveling from the North. I will also assume for purposes of this post that you would be flying into Lima, Peru (LIM).

Lastly, keep in mind that you will earn an additional 5,000 Starpoints for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to an airline transfer partner. The 5,000 bonus Starpoints will be applied to the transfer only and will not be deposited into your account. That means that transferring 20,000 Starpoints to say Alaska Airlines will result in receiving 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles. This is important as it can bring down your out of pocket award cost substantially – especially when dealing with premium cabin redemptions.

Aegean Airlines

Aegean Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Miles+Bonus miles for Air Canada, United, Avianca or Copa flights to South America. In other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

Aegean Airlines offers a separate award chart for flights operated by Aegean and flights operated by their partners. As Aegean does not fly to South America, you would be charged according to the partner award chart. Aegean operates under a zone based system where all of South America is located in the same zone. As such, your award cost will be the same regardless of where your ultimate destination is in South America.

For flights between the U.S. and South America, you can expect a roundtrip rate of 60k miles for economy, 90k miles for business class and 120k miles for first class.

One-way awards are available at half of the above quoted rate.

While there are some better options out there for economy redemptions, if you are looking for a premium cabin award ticket, I would give some serious consideration to the Miles+Bonus program as 120k miles roundtrip for first class is among the absolute best of all of the transferable currencies. These rates do not top Japan Airlines, but they are a great alternative if you are unable to find award space on a OneWorld carrier.

Aeromexico

Aeromexico is another SkyTeam alliance member, which means you can again redeem Club Premier miles for travel on Delta, Aeromexico and Aerolineas Argentinas flights. Aeromexico is a unique program in several regards. First and foremost, your Starpoints will transfer to Club Premier at a 1:1 ratio for miles. This is important because Club Premier uses kilometers instead of miles. Your Club Premier miles will be transferred to kilometers at a 1:1.6 ratio, which means for every 1,000 Starpoints you transfer, you would actually receive 1,600 Club Premier kilometers. I will do the conversion math for you so you can easily reference how many Starpoints it will cost you if you transferred to Aeromexico.

Second, for flights operated by Aeromexico, Aeromexico uses a two-tiered award chart which has a high season price and a low season price. For flights between the Continental United States and both South America zones, the high season and low season price are the same.

Aeromexico breaks South America into 2 separate zones:

  • South America 1 – Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname & Venezuela
  • South America 2 – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay & Uruguay

For roundtrip flights between the CONUS and South America 1, Aeromexico charges 70k kilometers for economy and 140k kilometers for business class.

For roundtrip flights between the CONUS and South America 2, Aeromexico charges 90k kilometers for economy and 180k kilometers for business class.

One-way award tickets are allowed and cost half the amount of the roundtrip price.

As you can see, there are better deals to be had out there for award tickets to South America than Aeromexico – especially in business class. The only way I would consider this redemption would be if you have a large stash of Club Premier kilometers you need to burn off. Otherwise, look elsewhere for transfer options.

Air Canada (Aeroplan)

Air Canada is a Star Alliance member, so you can use your Aeroplan miles for redemptions on Air Canada, United, Avianca or Copa flights to South America. In other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

Aeroplan maintains a single award chart for both Air Canada and partner redemptions which breaks South America into two award zones:

  • Northern South America – Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana & Venezuela
  • Southern South America – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru & Uruguay

For roundtrip flights between the Continental United States and Northern South America, you can expect a redemption cost of 50k miles for economy, 65k miles for premium economy, 75k miles for business class and 105k miles for first class.

For roundtrip flights between the Continental United States and Southern South America, you can expect a redemption cost of 60k miles for economy, 80k miles for premium economy, 110k miles for business class and 140k miles for first class.

Aeroplan does allow one-way award tickets at half of the roundtrip award ticket cost. While I do love Aeroplan miles in general, the redemption rates to South America are pretty competitive with the rest of the Starpoint transfer partners. Depending on where you are looking to fly and which class of service, Aeroplan can offer some of the best value around, or some mediocre value, so make sure you are doing your comparisons before transferring your hard earned Starpoints to Aeroplan.

Air Berlin

Air Berlin is a member of the OneWorld alliance, which means you can redeem your Topbonus miles for flights on LATAM and American Airlines to South America. The Topbonus program utilizes separate award charts for Air Berlin operated flights and partner operated flights. Since Air Berlin does not fly between the United States and South America, you would redeem according to the partner award chart – which is zone based. All of South America is included in the same zone, so you award cost will be the same regardless of where your ultimate destination is in South America.

For flights between the U.S. and South America, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 70k miles in economy and 140k miles in business class. First class redemptions are not available via the Topbonus program.

One-way award tickets are available at half of the aforementioned costs. It is worth noting that you will be hit with fuel surcharges when you redeem your Topbonus miles, so depending on the operating airline, these added charges could be significant. American Airlines and LATAM tend to have low surcharges though so I really would not let this deter you too much. To redeem Topbonus miles for partner flights, you need to call Air Berlin at 0049 (0)30-3434.

Given the non-competitive redemption rates, you are better off transferring your Starpoints elsewhere for you South American redemption as there are much much better offerings available.

Air China

Air China is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your PhoenixMiles for Air Canada, United, Copa and Avianca flights to South America. Again, in other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

The PhoenixMiles program utilizes separate award charts for flights operated by Air China and flights operated by partners. As Air China does not operate flights between the United States and South America though, you will redeem according to the partner award chart, which is zone based. The partner specific award chart places all of South America in the same zone (minus Venezuela which is listed as Central America), so your award cost will be the same regardless of where in South America you are traveling.

For flights operated by partner airlines, you can expect a roundtrip award cost of 110k kilometers in economy, 165k kilometers in business class and 225k kilometers in first class. One-way award tickets are allowed, and you can expect an award cost of 66k kilometers in economy, 99k kilometers in business class and 132k kilometers in first class.

As you can see, you are much better off redeeming with other Starpoint transfer partners for flights to South America.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand is a Star Alliance member, so you can use your Airpoints Dollars for redemptions on Air Canada, United, Copa and Avianca flights to South America. In other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

It is worth noting right off the bat that your Starpoints will transfer at a ratio of 65:1. It is also worth re-mentioning that the 5,000 point bonus is given in Starpoints, not Airpoints Dollars, so for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to Air New Zealand, you will receive just shy of 385 Airpoints Dollars.

Air New Zealand utilizes a separate and unique pricing scheme for flights operated by Air New Zealand, while they utilize a zone based award chart for flights operated by partners. Since Air New Zealand does not fly between the United States and South America, we will focus solely on the partner award chart, which includes all of South America in the same award zone.

For flights operated by partners between the U.S. and South America, you can expect a roundtrip award cost of 1,260 Airpoints for economy, 3,020 Airpoints for business class and 3,830 Airpoints for first class.

One-way award tickets for partner redemptions are available at half of the above quoted rates.

To give you a better idea of the redemption costs in Starpoints, you would be looking at approximately 66,000 Starpoints to get yourself a roundtrip economy class ticket and over 156,000 Starpoints to get yourself a single roundtrip business class award ticket! That makes Air New Zealand one of the single worst transfer partners available for your Starpoints for this redemption.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is one of my favorite airlines and their Mileage Plan program  is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs since it offers so much value. Although Alaska Airlines is not a part of any of the major alliances, they do have strategic partnerships with airlines like Delta, American Airlines and LATAM. In other words, you have a fair amount of options.

Alaska Airlines does not fly to South America themselves, so you would redeem according to the partner award charts. The Mileage Plan program is somewhat unique in that they have a separate zone based award chart for each operating airline. South America is its own separate zone (though it is sub-divided under different programs) under these award charts, though the rates do differ.

For flights between the U.S. and South America, you can expect the following round trip award costs on the following airlines:

  • LATAM – 50k miles for economy (off-peak), 60k miles for economy (peak) and 90k miles for business class. One-way award tickets are allowed at half of these quoted rates. Off-peak dates are: March 15th – June 30th and the months of August, October and November.
  • Delta (Upper South America – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru & Venezuela) – 45k miles for economy and 90k miles for business class. One-way award tickets are allowed at the exact same quoted rates.
  • Delta (Deep South America – Argentina, Brazil & Chile) – 60k miles for economy and 125k miles for business. One-way award tickets are allowed at the exact same quoted rates.
  • American Airlines (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru & Venezuela) – 30k miles for economy (off-peak), 35k miles for economy (peak), 60k miles for business class and 80k miles for first class. One-way award tickets are allowed at half of these quoted rates. Off-peak dates are: January 16th – June 14th and September 7th – November 14th.
  • American Airlines (Deep South America – Argentina, Brazil & Chile) – 40k miles for economy (off-peak), 60k miles for economy (peak), 100k miles for business class and 125k miles for first class. One-way award tickets are allowed at half of these quoted rates. Off-peak dates are: March 1st – May 31st and August 16th – November 30th.

Although these rates may seem about average, keep in mind that Alaska allows you stopover on your journey. Depending on your travel plans, this could make for some exceptional value. If you value the stopover and are flying economy, Alaska is a great option. If you do not care about the stopover, then you are probably better of looking elsewhere as there are less expensive options.

Alitalia

Alitalia is a SkyTeam alliance member that is based out of Rome (FCO). That means that their route network is not especially well suited for redemptions to South America (especially if you are flying from the U.S.). Thankfully, you can redeem your MilleMiglia miles for travel on Delta, Aeromexico and Aerolineas Argentinas flights. Alitalia will levy fuel surcharges on partner award tickets, though they are not going to be as bad as the likes of British Airways. The trick to booking Alitalia awards is to have some miles in your account so they consider it active. From there you can call and place your award ticket on hold for about two (2) weeks. You can then transfer the needed miles and then call back to get the ticket booked.

Alitalia has a separate award chart for SkyTeam partner redemptions and breaks South America down into two separate zones:

  • South America 1 – Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago & Venezuela
  • South America 2 – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile & Uruguay

For award flights between the Continental United States and South America 1, you can expect a roundtrip award ticket cost of 35k miles for economy and 60k miles for business class.

For award flights between the CONUS and South America 2, you can expect a roundtrip award ticket cost of 50k miles for economy and 75k miles for business class.

From what I can tell, availability is quite good for both economy and business class space. While all of Alitalia’s rates to South America are extremely reasonable, the fuel surcharges are likely going to make FlyingBlue the better choice.

Alitalia does not allow one-way award tickets on partner airlines, so you have to book roundtrip tickets when utilizing partners. Lastly, while you must book the most direct itinerary, you are allowed one voluntary stopover. That means that if you are looking to utilize the stopover enroute, it is better to transfer your Starpoints to Alitalia rather than Delta or FlyingBlue – even factoring in the fuel surcharges.

The US phone number for Alitalia is 800.223.5730.

ANA

ANA is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Mileage Club miles for Air Canada, United, Avianca or Copa flights to South America. Again, in other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

ANA is one of several airlines that utilizes a separate award chart for partner awards. As ANA does not fly between the Continental United States and South America, you would redeem according to the ANA partner award chart. Under the partner award chart, all of South America is contained within one zone.

For roundtrip partner flights between the CONUS and South America, it will cost you 55k miles for economy, 88k miles for business class and 165k miles for first class.

ANA does not allow for one-way award tickets (there is a way around this which I have previously outlined here, though I do not think it is necessarily worthwhile unless you have Mileage Club points to burn). ANA can present a very good option for coach or business class redemptions to South America, though the product on partner airlines may be somewhat subpar (think domestic first class recliner style seats on a lot of routes). If you are looking for a first class redemption, I would definitely take a look at Etihad or Singapore Airlines instead as they both offer less expensive first class options. Either way though, I would give ANA some serious consideration for your next trip to South America!

American Airlines

American Airline’s AAdvantage program uses a zone based award chart. American is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your AAdvantage miles to book American Airlines or LATAM flights to South America. American Airlines offers a separate award chart for flights operated by American and those operated by partners, though the saver level redemption rates are the same. American Airlines breaks South America down into two separate zones:

  • South America 1 – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia & Manaus (Brazil)
  • South America 2 – Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay & Venezeula

For flights between the U.S. and South America 1, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 35k miles in economy (off-peak), 40k miles in economy (peak), 60k miles in business class and 110k miles in first class. One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the quoted rates. Off-peak dates are: January 16th – June 14th and September 7th – November 14th.

For flights between the U.S. and South America 2, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 60k miles in economy, 115k miles in business class and 170k miles in first class. One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the quoted rates.

As far as economy options go, American is among the best of the Starpoint transfer partners. The downside is award space can be hit or miss, especially in premium cabins. If you’re looking for stopovers, you’re better off transferring your Starpoints to Cathay Pacific instead. If you’re just looking for straight flights and can find the saver level space, American present a decent enough option in economy and business class.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Cathay Pacific is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Asia Miles to book American Airlines and LATAM flights to South America.

Cathay Pacific utilizes a somewhat unique award chart in that if you are flying solely on one partner airline, you redeem according to the Asia Miles Award Chart, but if you are flying on more than one OneWorld partner that does not include Cathay Pacific or Dragon Air, you redeem according to the OneWorld Multi-Carrier Award Chart.

For flights operated by a single OneWorld partner from the West Coast (LAX) or the East Coast (JFK) of the U.S. to Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of 45k miles for economy, 54k miles for premium economy, 80k miles for business class and 120k miles in first class. One-way award tickets are allowed at one half of the above quoted rates plus 5k miles (i.e., economy class is 25k miles for a one-way award ticket).

For flights operated by more than one OneWorld partner from the West Coast of the U.S. (LAX) to Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of 60k miles for economy, 85k miles for business class and 115k miles for first class.

For flights operated by more than one OneWorld partner from the East Coast of the U.S. (JFK) to Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of 60k miles for economy, 80k miles for business class and 105k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are not allowed on partner redemptions that utilize more than one OneWorld partner. It is important to keep in mind that since the Cathay Pacific award chart is distance based, your home airport, destination and routing are going to play a huge part in your redemption cost. What is wild though is the Asia Miles program allows you to make up to 5 stopovers, 2 transfers and 2 open-jaws at either the origin, en-route or at the turnaround point (destination)! That means you could put together an itinerary where you hop all over South America all on one award ticket. Depending on how you routed yourself, that could offer some truly exceptional value.

If you can get the stopovers and open-jaws to work for your itinerary, Asia Miles should be a top contender for you to transfer your Starpoints to for your next trip to South America. If you will not be utilizing the stopovers, then I would say there are better options out there for your Starpoints.

Asiana

Asiana is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Asiana Club miles for Air Canada, United, Copa and Avianca flights to South America. Again, in other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

Asiana utilizes separate award charts for Asiana operated flights and partner operated flights. Since Asiana does not fly between the United States and South America, you will redeem under the partner award chart. The partner award chart has South America broken down into two separate zones:

  • Latin America 1 – Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru & Venezuela
  • Latin America 2 – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay & Uruguay

For flights operated by partner airlines between the U.S. and Latin America 1, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 35k miles for economy, 55k miles for business class and 75k miles for first class.

For flights operated by partner airlines between the U.S. and Latin America 2, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 50k miles for economy, 70k miles for business class and 90k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are available at half of the above quoted costs. It is also worth keeping in mind that Asiana taxes a mileage premium on premium cabin redemptions on certain routes (both operated by Asiana and partners) on top of the quoted award costs.

The Asiana award system has a few complexities to it (relative to other Starpoint transfer partners anyways), but they offer fantastic award costs for premium cabin redemptions between the U.S. and South America. If you’re looking to fly first class down to South America, there is no better program to transfer your Starpoints to.

British Airways/Iberia

British Airways and Iberia somewhat share an award program where both have a distance based award chart, so your home airport is really going to make the biggest difference here in how much an award ticket to South America will cost you. As both British Airways and Iberia are members of the OneWorld alliance, you can use your Avios to book American Airlines and LATAM flights to South America.

The upshot of using Avios is that you can build in an itinerary that flies from the U.S. to several places throughout South America if you wanted. The downside of this is that due to the distance based award chart, your particular routing may cost you substantially more Avios.

There are several direct flights between the Continental United States and South America operated by a OneWorld carrier, so if you happen to live at one of these hub cities, your redemption cost is going to be substantially lower than someone that needs to connect. Here are the one-way award ticket costs you can expect for the various most direct routings:

  • American Airlines – MIA-LIM – 12.5k Avios + $20 in economy and 37.5k Avios + $20 in business class.
  • LATAM – JFK-LIM – 20k Avios + $20 in economy and 60k Avios + $20 in business class.
  • American Airlines – DFW-LIM – 20k Avios + $20 in economy and 60k Avios + $20 in business class.
  • LATAM – MCO-LIM – 12.5k Avios + $20 in economy and 37.5k Avios + $20 in business class.
  • LATAM – MIA-LIM – 12.5k Avios + $20 in economy and 37.5k Avios + $20 in business class.
  • LATAM- LAX-LIM – 25k Avios + $20 in economy and 75k Avios + $20 in business class.

Again, keep in mind that these are price ranges for flights between OneWorld hub airports and Lima (LIM) with the most direct routing, so your award ticket cost may vary from these numbers depending on your home airport, number of connections needed and destination in South America. Also keep in mind that British Airways does not levy their usual hefty fuel surcharges on partner redemptions.

Award space tends to be best on these routes either very close in, or very far out. LATAM award space seems to either be an all or nothing approach – either there is a ton of availability on a given flight, or there is none/a single seat.

In light of the cost, unless you have a glut of Avios you want to burn, you are better off transferring your Starpoints elsewhere for a redemption to South America – especially if you are looking to travel in a premium cabin.

China Eastern

China Eastern is a SkyTeam alliance member, which means you can redeem your Eastern Miles for travel on Delta, Aeromexico and Aerolineas Argentinas flights to South America.

The Eastern Miles program maintains separate award charts for China Eastern operated flights and partner operated flights. Since China Eastern does not fly between the United States and South America, you will redeem according to the partner award chart. The partner award chart is zone based, with South America being divided into two separate award zones:

  • Northern South America – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guiana, French Guiana & Suriname
  • Southern South America – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay & Paraguay

For flights operated by partner airlines between the U.S. and Northern South America, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 80k miles in economy, 140k miles in business class and 190k miles in first class.

For flights operated by partner airlines between the U.S. and Southern South America, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 110k miles in economy, 200k miles in business class and 270k miles in first class.

One-way award tickets on partners are allowed at half of the quoted rates.

As you can see, the redemption rates are not competitive with some of the other Starpoint transfer partners, so I would recommend you look elsewhere for your Starpoint transfer for a trip to South America.

China Southern

China Southern is a SkyTeam alliance member, which means you can redeem your Skypearl kilometers for travel on Delta, Aeromexico and Aerolineas Argentinas flights to South America.

China Southern utilizes a separate award chart for flights operated by China Southern from those operated by partners. Since China Southern does not fly between the United States and South America, you would redeem according to the partner award chart which is zone based. The partner specific award chart breaks South America down into two separate zones, but there was no listing of what countries comprise these zones.

For roundtrip flights operated by partners between the U.S. and Latin America 1, you can expect a cost of 80k kilometers for economy, 150k kilometers for business class and 180k kilometers for first class.

For roundtrip flights operated by partners between the U.S. and Latin America 2, you can expect a cost of 100k kilometers for economy, 200k kilometers for business class and 280k kilometers for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates. There are some blackout dates for redemptions, so I would strongly recommend you check those here before transferring your points.

Overall, these rates are below average for redemptions between the U.S. and South America, so you are better of looking to transfer elsewhere for flights to South America.

Delta

Unfortunately, approximately two years ago, Delta decided to take down its award chart. Without a published award chart, that means that it is difficult to give a number of miles that it will take to get to South America.

As a general ballpark, from a Delta hub airport like Atlanta (ATL) to Lima (LIM), you can expect to see roundtrip award tickets cost approximately 60k in economy and 150k in DeltaOne (business class). Oddly, I could not get Delta Comfort+ award seating to price out on this route, even though I know for a fact that it is offered. One-way flights are available for half the quoted cost.

While Delta’s economy class rate is somewhat competitive, their business class redemption rates offer horrible value unless you already have a large stash of SkyMiles you are looking to burn. If you are looking solely at transferring miles to Delta for a premium cabin redemption to South America, I would look elsewhere.

Emirates

Emirates uses a zone based award chart, so your redemption cost will largely depend on your departure airport and your arrival airport. If you are looking to redeem for flights operated by Emirates (I am not sure why you would as that would require a connection/stopover in the Middle East, but some may want to travel this way), I would recommend you use their Miles Calculator to determine the cost.

Emirates also partners with JetBlue, so you can redeem your miles for flights on JetBlue. However, JetBlue only flies to Lima (LIM), Quito (UIO), Medellin (MDE), Bogota (BOG) and Cartagena (CTG). Interestingly, Emirates only publishes an award chart for the following JetBlue routes to South America:

  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Bogota (BOG) – 17.5k miles one-way; 35k miles roundtrip
  • New York (JFK) to Cartagena (CTG) – 20k miles one-way; 40k miles roundtrip
  • Orlando (MCO) to Bogota (BOG) – 17.5k miles one-way; 35k miles roundtrip

I was unable to find any information as to whether you can redeem your Emirates miles for connecting flights or flights to JetBlue’s other South American destinations, though it appears that you are not likely going to be able to do so. The rates for award tickets on these particular routes are actually not half bad, though given the limited footprint, unless you live in one of these departure cities and desire to go to either Bogota or Cartagena, I do think there is better value to be had from other Starpoint transfer partners.

Etihad

Although Etihad is not a part of any major airline alliance, they do have several strategic partnerships with airlines such as Gol and American Airlines. Gol has recently terminated all of their routes to the United States though, so American is your only viable partner option when redeeming Etihad miles for a trip to South America. Interestingly, Etihad uses the pre-devaluation AAdvantage award chart still, which divides South America into 2 zones:

  • South America 1 – Colombia, Peru & Venezuela
  • South America 2 – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay

For flights between the Continental United States and South America 1, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 35k miles for economy, 60k miles for business class and 80k miles for first class. As you will not find a 3-cabin aircraft on American routes between the CONUS and South America 1, only business class redemptions will be available.

For flights between the CONUS and South America 2, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 40k miles (off-peak)/60k miles (peak) for economy, 100k miles for business class and 125k miles for first class. Off-peak dates are March 1st through May 31st and August 16th through November 30th.

One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates. If you are looking for award tickets to South America, Etihad offers some pretty good value provided you can find American Airlines sAAver space available.

To redeem for any partner awards you have to contact the Etihad service center at 888-8ETIHAD at least 14 days prior to the intended date of travel.

Air France/KLM (FlyingBlue)

Air France and KLM share a frequent flyer program called FlyingBlue. Since FlyingBlue is a SkyTeam alliance member, you can redeem FlyingBlue miles for travel on Delta, Aeromexico and Aerolineas Argentinas flights. FlyingBlue can be finicky to work with, but they offer some decent value for flights to South America. FlyingBlue divides South America into two separate award zones:

  • South America 1 – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru & Venezuela
  • South America 2 – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile & Uruguay

For roundtrip award tickets between the Continental United States and South America 1, you can expect a cost of 35k miles for economy and 87.5k miles for business class.

For roundtrip award tickets between the CONUS and South America 2, you can expect a cost of 50k miles for economy and 125k miles for business class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates. While the economy class rate is right in line with some of the other Starpoint transfer partners, the business class rates are not very competitive. Accordingly, I would be looking to Alitalia (if you want a stopover) or Delta for business class tickets. I personally find FlyingBlue slightly easier to use for award tickets than Alitalia, but considering the cost difference and the free stopover Alitalia offers, I would strongly recommend going with Alitalia over Flying Blue. With that said, searching for space via FlyingBlue will give you a good idea of what inventory should be bookable by Alitalia.

Gol

Gol’s Smiles program is fascinating to me as there are some great sweet spots with their miles and they have in the past offered up to a 200% bonus on purchased miles. While there are some sweet spots in the program, I haven’t been able to figure out where the Gol award chart is for flights between the United States and South America. Given that the transfer ratio for Starpoints to Smiles miles is 2:1, that effectively doubles the cost of every award ticket as it is. As such, I would venture to say that this would be a bad redemption regardless.

Hainan

Hainan is not a part of any major alliance and although they do have some strategic partnerships with airlines like Etihad, they do not currently have any partners that fly between the United States and South America. As such, you will need to look elsewhere for Starpoint transfer partners to redeem for award flights between the U.S. and South America.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines does not fly to South America, however their partner JetBlue does. However, JetBlue only flies to Lima (LIM), Quito (UIO), Medellin (MDE), Bogota (BOG) and Cartagena (CTG). In addition, Hawaiian Airlines only offers an estimated mileage redemption amount for JetBlue flights as they, like JetBlue, tie their award ticket cost to the cash price for the flights. That means that your redemption cost will vary greatly depending on your origin, destination, when you are looking to travel and when you are booking

For JetBlue operated flights, you can expect the following range of mileage redemption costs:

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If you can find a good price on a ticket and have the Hawaiian Airlines miles to burn, redemptions on JetBlue can make sense. JetBlue does not, however, offer any premium cabins on routes to South America, so if you are looking for a premium cabin redemption, you will need to look elsewhere. In addition, the redemption rates are rather poor when redeeming your Hawaiian Airlines miles for JetBlue flights. You are getting at best ~0.9 cents per point and at worst ~0.8 cents per point of value, so I would look elsewhere in general for your award flights down to South America.

Japan Airlines (JAL)

Japan Airlines (JAL) is arguably my favorite airline in the world. In addition to having a spectacular hard and soft product, their frequent flyer program is among the most generous available. JAL is a member of the OneWorld alliance, which means you can use your Mileage Bank miles to book American Airlines and LATAM flights to South America.

JAL utilizes a separate award chart for JAL operated flights and OneWorld partner operated flights. Since JAL does not fly between the United States and South America, you would redeem according to the OneWorld partner award chart, which is distance based.

For flights operated by OneWorld partners, your home airport is really going to make the difference here due to the distance based award chart. There is actually some pretty good value to be had in this award chart.

For OneWorld partner flights between the East Coast (JFK) or the Southwest (DFW) of the U.S. and Lima (LIM), you can expect a cost of 39k miles in economy, 51k miles in premium economy, 63k miles in business class and 100k miles in first class.

For OneWorld partner flights between the South of the U.S. (MIA) and Lima (LIM), you can expect a cost of 37k miles in economy, 48.5k miles in premium economy, 60k miles in business class and 90k miles in first class.

For OneWorld partner flights between the West Coast of the U.S. (LAX) and Lima (LIM), you can expect a cost of 40k miles in economy, 52.5k miles in premium economy, 65k miles in business class and 100k miles in first class.

One-way awards are allowed, though it would be based on the distance of your segments, so you would be better off using the Mileage Bank calculator here and then finding the corresponding award cost here. With that said, if you are looking for a redemption to South America, there is no better option than JAL! Even JAL’s economy and premium economy rates are among the best of the Starpoint transfer partners. I would give JAL some serious consideration for your next award trip to South America.

Jet Airways

Jet Airways is not a member of any of the major alliances, though they do have strategic partnerships with airlines like American Airlines and United. Since Jet Airways does not fly between the United States and South America, you would redeem according to their partner award chart, which is zone based.

Although the partner award chart lists all of South America (which only explicitly mentions Brazil, Chile & Argentina) in the same zone, it breaks the U.S. up into 4 separate zones. Those zones (in Jet Airways’ own words) are:

  • America 1 (Northeast) – Newark, Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc.
  • America 2 (Southeast) – Atlanta, Daytona, Carolina, Florida, etc.
  • America 3 (Southwest) – Texas, Mexico, Los Angeles, etc.
  • America 4 (Northwest) – Seattle, Denver, Portland, San Francisco, etc.

For partner award flights between America 1 or America 2 and South America, you can expect a roundtrip award cost of 90k miles in economy, 180k miles in business class and 270k miles in first class.

For partner award flights between America 3 and South America, you can expect a roundtrip award cost of 100k miles in economy, 200k miles in business class and 300k miles in first class.

For partner award flights between America 4 and South America, you can expect a roundtrip award cost of 110k miles in economy, 220k miles in business class and 330k miles in first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates. You will also be charges the taxes, fees and surcharges from the partner airline, which regardless of which partner airline you opt to redeem your miles for award travel with, should not be that much. Overall, these rates are not competitive at all among the Starpoint transfer partners anyways, so I would definitely write Jet Airways off the list and look elsewhere for a solid redemption to South America.

Korean Air

Korean Air is a SkyTeam alliance member, which means you can redeem your SkyPass miles for travel on Delta, Aeromexico and Aerolineas Argentinas flights to South America.

Korean Air uses a two-tier system where award tickets solely on Korean Air flights are one rate, and award tickets on partners are another rate. Korean Air operates a fifth freedom route between Los Angeles (LAX) and Sao Paulo (GRU), though it will be discontinued the day after this post goes live on my blog. As such, for flights between the Continental United States and South America, you would need to redeem according to Korean Air’s partner specific award chart. The partner specific award chart lumps all of South America into the same award zone – South America (or sometimes referred to as Latin America by Korean Air).

For a roundtrip award ticket operated by partner airlines between the U.S. and South America, you can expect a cost of 50k miles in economy, 110k miles in business class. Keep in mind that Korean Air does not allow for one-way awards on partner redemptions.

You are also allowed one stopover on a one-way award ticket and two stopovers on a roundtrip award ticket.

While Korean Air Skypass miles generally offer pretty good value, they offer exceptional value for southern South America destinations – especially in business class. If you are looking to fly to a destination in northern South America, you are better off looking to FlyingBlue.

To complicate matters further, it can be difficult to work with Korean Air. If you are planning to use your miles to book an award ticket for another person, that other person has to be a family member (mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, wife, husband or child). You will also need to call in to Korean Air to book your partner award and the process is somewhat arduous. I would strongly recommend that you call in to make sure space is available and then place a hold on your award ticket(s) before transferring your Starpoints to your Skypass account. If you are looking for a premium cabin seat, you are probably better off searching via Singapore Airlines instead.

LATAM

LATAM is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can redeem your LATAM Pass kilometers for award flights on LATAM or American Airlines flights to South America. It is worth keeping in mind from the start that the Pass program utilizes kilometers instead of miles. As a result, your Starpoints will transfer at a rate of 1:1.5. That means that for every 20k Starpoints you transfer to LATAM, you will receive 37.5k kms (30k kms + 7.5k kms bonus for transferring 20k Starpoints).

LATAM utilizes separate award charts for those flights operated by LATAM and those operated by their partners like American Airlines (the only partner option to South America).

For LATAM operated flights, LATAM utilizes a zone based award chart which breaks down South America as follows:

  • South America 1 – Chile, Argentina & Uruguay
  • South America 2 – Peru, Bolivia & Brazil
  • South America 3 – Colombia, Venezuela & Ecuador

For LATAM flights between the United States and Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of 48k kms for economy and 100k kms for business class.

There is no mention of whether one-way award tickets are allowed for LATAM operated flights, so you are likely limited to solely roundtrips when utilizing LATAM flights.

For flights operated by American Airlines, you would redeem according to the partner award chart, which happens to be distance (in kms) based.

For partner flights between the South (MIA) or Southwest (DFW) and Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of 54k kms for economy, 80k kms for premium economy, 108k kms for business class and 134k kms for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates. It is unclear on whether any surcharges are passed on, though the taxes, fees and surcharges on American Airlines operated flights tend to be relatively low. Surprisingly, LATAM is actually pretty competitive for award ticket prices considering the transfer ratio of miles to kilometers. I would definitely keep LATAM on your radar for redemptions between the U.S. and South America.

Lufthansa

Lufthansa is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Miles & More miles for Air Canada, United, Avianca or Copa flights to South America. Again, in other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

The Miles & More program utilizes a zone based award chart that is the same regardless of whether you are flying Lufthansa flights or partner flights. All of South America is placed in the same award zone in the program, so your redemption rates remain the same regardless of where in South America your ultimate destination is.

For a roundtrip award ticket, it will cost you 100k miles in economy, 185k miles in business class and 290k miles in first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed on partner flights, but Lufthansa does not explicitly state what those redemption costs will be in their terms and conditions, which makes me think it will cost you more than half of the above quoted mileage. In addition to the redemption rates being horrible compared to other Starpoint transfer partners, you will also get hit with surcharges. In premium cabins, this can be as much as $1,000 per ticket. Overall, I would look elsewhere for your redemption unless you have a huge amount of Miles & More miles already stashed. But given these redemption rates, even in that case I do not think it makes good sense to transfer your Starpoints to Lufthansa and pay the surcharges.

Qatar

Qatar’s Qmiles program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Qatar is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Qmiles to book American Airlines and LATAM flights to South America. Qatar uses a separate calculator for flights operated by Qatar, so if you wanted to route yourself via Doha (DOH), your are better off using Qatar’s award ticket calculator. For flights operated by partner airlines, your award ticket costs will be as follows:

  • From the Northeastern part of the U.S. (JFK) to Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~75k miles for economy, ~112.5k miles for premium economy, ~150k miles for business class and ~225k miles for first class.
  • From the West Coast of the U.S. (LAX) to Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~85k miles for economy, ~127.5k miles for premium economy, ~170k miles for business class and ~255k miles for first class.
  • From the Southeast of the U.S. (MIA) to Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~60k miles for economy, ~90k miles for premium economy, ~120k miles for business class and ~180k miles for first class.
  • From the Southwest of the U.S. (DFW) to Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~75k miles for economy, ~112.5k miles for premium economy, ~150k miles for business class and ~225k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates. It is also worth noting that as of right now, there are no routes that offer a premium economy cabin. That will change as American takes delivery of more of their 787-9 aircraft and deploy them on their South America routes, so I have included those redemption costs here for future reference.

Again, and as with Qantas, unless you have a glut of Qmiles you want to burn, you are better off transferring your Starpoints elsewhere for a redemption to South America.

Saudi Arabian Airlines

Saudi Arabian Airlines is a SkyTeam alliance member, which means you can redeem your Alfursan miles for travel on Delta, Aeromexico and Aerolineas Argentinas flights to South America.

Saudi Arabian Airlines utilizes a separate award chart for partner awards, though both award charts are zone based. Since Saudi Arabian Airlines does not fly between the United States and South America, you would redeem according to the partner award chart. Saudi Arabian Airlines’ partner award chart places all of South America into the same award zone.

For partner flights between the U.S. and South America, you can expect a roundtrip cost of 45k miles in economy, 90k miles in business class and 135k miles in first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at 60% of the above quoted rates.

Overall, these award ticket redemption costs are not horrible, though depending on your destination you may be better off transferring your Starpoints to some of the other SkyTeam partners that are Starpoint transfer partners. As such, your destination and desired class of service is really going to play the biggest factors here as to whether Saudi Arabian Airlines offers good value for your trip.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your KrisFlyer miles for Air Canada, United, Avianca or Copa flights to South America. Again, in other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

Singapore Airlines is one of several airlines that utilizes a separate award chart for partner awards. As Singapore Airlines does not fly between the Continental United States and South America, you would redeem according to the Star Alliance partner award chart. Under the partner award chart, all of South America is contained within one zone.

For roundtrip partner redemptions between the CONUS and South America, it will cost you 60k miles for economy, 100k miles for business class and 140k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates.

Overall, Singapore Airlines is surprisingly decently competitive for redemptions to South America. There are definitely better redemptions to be had elsewhere with your Starpoints, but the Star Alliance footprint is greater in South America, so the KrisFlyer program does present a strong option to consider if award space is hard to find elsewhere.

Thai Airways

Thai Airways is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Royal Orchid Plus miles for Air Canada, United, Avianca or Copa flights to South America. Again, in other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

Thai Airways is another airline that uses a separate award chart for redemptions on their own flights and partner redemptions. As there are no Thai Airways flights between the U.S. and South America, you will redeem according to the partner award chart, which places all of South America in the same award zone.

A roundtrip redemption will cost you 60k miles for economy, 105k miles for business class and 140k miles for first class.

It is worth keeping in mind that Thai Airways levies fuel surcharges on award tickets and from all the reports I have seen, they are crazy high. Considering that Singapore Airlines and United should have access to most of the same Star Alliance award space that Thai Airways has access to, you are better offer transferring your Starpoints to either of those programs for this redemption. That is, unless you have a stash of Royal Orchid Plus miles that you are looking to burn, and/or you do not mind paying exorbitant surcharges.

United

United is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your MileagePlus miles for Air Canada, United, Avianca or Copa flights to South America. As with Singapore Airlines, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

United’s award chart breaks South America into two zones:

  • Northern South America – Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname & Venezuela
  • Southern South America – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay & Uruguay

United usually uses a two-tier award system for their awards where partner flights in premium cabins cost more. However, that does not apply to redemptions between the CONUS and South America. I think that is mainly because United’s product on those routes is actually comparable or better than what their partners offer.

A roundtrip saver economy award ticket will cost you 40k miles for Northern South America destinations and 60k miles for Southern South America destinations.

A roundtrip saver business class award ticket between the CONUS and Northern South America will cost you 70k miles, while a saver first class award ticket will cost you 90k miles.

A roundtrip saver business class award ticket between the CONUS and Southern South America will cost you 110k miles, while a saver first class award ticket will cost you 140k miles.

When booking a roundtrip award ticket, United allows you one stopover. United also allows one-way award tickets (though you would lose out on the free stopover) at half the rates cited above.

As you can see, United’s value proposition varies greatly depending on your destination and class of service. For economy flights to Northern South America for example, you would be better off going with FlyingBlue. On the other hand, United offers the best business class and first class redemption rates to Northern South America. United is the perfect example of why it really pays to do your homework on these redemptions as it can offer both some of the best value among the Starpoint transfer partners, as well as some of the worst.

Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia operates out of an extremely small market in the U.S., though they do partner with Delta, so you do have an option for award ticket to South America. The major downside to this program is that the taxes and carrier imposed fees/surcharges are pretty high – especially on premium cabin redemptions.

Virgin Australia uses a separate award chart for flights operated by partners other than Virgin Australia, Virgin America and Delta, though both award charts are distance based so you home airport is really going to be the determining factor in your award cost here.

As Delta is your only option, your South American destinations are going to be fairly limited.

For Delta flights between the East Coast of the U.S. (JFK) or the West Coast of the U.S. (LAX) and Lima (LIM), you can expect a roundtrip cost of 55.6k miles for economy, 89.4k miles for premium economy and 119k miles for business class (DeltaOne).

Virgin Australia allows for one-way award tickets at half the quoted rates.

Not even factoring in the high taxes, fees and surcharges assessed, these redemption rates are mediocre among the Starpoint transfer partners. When you factor in the high taxes, fees and surcharges, I would look absolutely anywhere else to transfer your Starpoints for a redemption to South America.

Virgin Atlantic

From what I can tell, Virgin Atlantic does not offer any partner redemptions between the U.S. and South America. While you could potentially piece together multiple partner award tickets, it simply is not worth the hassle and frustration given the high taxes and carrier imposed fees that Virgin Atlantic passes on. You are better off looking elsewhere for Starpoint transfer partners that can get you to South America.

Virgin America

From what I can tell, Virgin America does not offer any partner redemptions between the U.S. and South America. While you could potentially piece together multiple partner award tickets, it simply is not worth the hassle and frustration given the high taxes and carrier imposed fees that Virgin America passes on. You are better off looking elsewhere for Starpoint transfer partners that can get you to South America.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the SPG Starpoint transfer partners offer the absolute best options for finding award availability to South America. Hopefully this guide has helped to shine a little light on how to utilize and maximize your Starpoints for a trip to South America!

What is your favorite way to redeem Starpoints to get to South America?

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