Award Travel to Southern South America Advice?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by yaychemistry, Oct 3, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    Hello All,
    I'm in the midst of planning a vacation for two to Chile and Argentina in March and I'm just short of 200k miles - so it looks like I'm flying C/F one direction and Y the other (perfectly fine with me). We plan on flying into EZE and returning from SCL. We'll be flying out of the NYC airports and there are so many options that I can't wrap my head around them.

    Now, availability will probably be the determining factor, but it looks like there's both UA (IAD-EZE), CM (JFK=EZE/SCL), and AC (YYZ-EZE/SCL) award inventory available for one or more of the flights in a mix of classes and I haven't even checked TA, JJ, or even CO out of IAH yet .

    What would help me a ton is to know how the level of service and hard product differs between the many options. I would guess that AC in Y is better than UA/CO in Y, but I have no clue about what international C/F are like on either and know even less about CM/TA/JJ.

    Is there an experience worth going out of my way for? e.g. is AC in F worth the positioning flight to YYZ? Is the Continental Club in PTY worth flying CM for?

    Any and all opinions are welcome :)
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    Since you're flying coach one direction, you might want to think about UA from/to IAD since you'll have economy plus... something very valuable on a 10 hr flight.
     
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  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The lounge in PTY isn't worth going out of your way for but an overnight in PTY is IMO. That said, CM flies 737s configured more or less identical to the CO domestic 737s. It isn't going to be a hugely comfortable experience but it doesn't suck. Still, PTY-SCL/EZE is a long flight in domestic F.

    I enjoyed the AC YYZ-SCL flight and if you can do that on the return it is a single stop flight. The main down-side of that flight is that the C cabin layout isn't great for folks traveling together. But the service and seat are pretty solid. And even in Y I think the AC product is as good or better than UA E+.

    With no guarantee of the new C on UA I'd be looking at other options for that segment.
     
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  4. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    Thanks for the advice everyone! I didn't even think about E+, especially now that 2P's will only be able to select E+ at check-in now... I have no idea what the availability will be like then.

    I vaguely recall hearing something about poor service on TACA or TAM... but I can't remember which...

    I'm leaning towards the Copa flights because of availability and the convenience of flying out of JFK without requiring any repositioning.

    and this:
    Upgrading Copa flights

    All multi-cabin flights operated by Copa Airlines and Copa Airlines Colombia are eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades, Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades without fare restrictions.
    http://mileageplusmergerupdates.com/en/mp/MileagePlusin2012/2012UpgradesOverview#chart

    and taking into account the UDU/CDU (whatever they call it) on award flight benefit of the MP Explorer card it might be worth flying the JFK-PTY-SCL/EZE routes on Copa... using miles in F in one direction and in Y the other (and hoping for a UDU), or even flying both directions in Y and trying to get lucky... I am risking a Y seat on a fairly long flight esp as a lowly 2P (or silver, whatever it will be called).

    Anyone know if the CDU/UDU on award ticket benefit from the Explorer Card is eligible on Copa flights as well?
     
  5. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    As a 2P and assuming that the new 2012 MP program is in place by the time of your trip, I think the E+ will be far less valuable for you since you cannot select those seats until check in.... especially if you have to get to IAD from NYC.

    In regards to Copa, I'm all for someone blazing the trail and reporting back to let everyone else know if you are eligible for a complimentary upgrade on an award ticket if you have the MP Explorer card... but you don't need to do this both ways to find out. You could book the higher class one way and just ask on the way back (assuming you don't get upgraded) where you are on the upgrade list and if you aren't on it.... you'll know that they won't take that into consideration. ;)
     
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  6. Ygor
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    Ygor Gold Member

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    I took CM to EZE from JFK, and got upgrade on all but one leg (EZE-PTY). But I am a plat, and I purchased a higher priced ticket than a deep discounted Y. I would not take CM with the upgrade odds of a silver. If you are using miles, CM in business is throwing money away. CM had great service, great food, but seats are identical to CO domestic F, and there is no individual IFE (only overhead TV's). Had I not been upgraded, CM would have been a looong flight.

    I have taken JJ many times - in fact I am doing JFK-GIG weds - and they are nice in Y. Pitch is 32", so not great, but the IFE on demand is nice, and the Y seats have a foot rest (not great, but similar to the ones on a greyhound bus.). JJ in C is very similar to the old CO BF (angled lie flats). JJ would require a connection at GRU or GIG. I don't know what it is like connecting internationally in Brazil without a visa, but I know you can do it.

    JJ is supposed to be bad in Irrops, but I have never experienced Irrops with them, so I cannot comment.

    Never been on AC, so I cannot comment either.

    UA flies the 767-300 out of IAD to EZE, so they have the new Business First lie flat seats. I have done the IAD-EZE flight and it was fine in E+. Well, I was drunk from the RCC, and passed out almost the whole way.

    Anyways, if you are the type that can sleep in flights, the flights to south america are easy to sleep on. Overnights without a time change make the trip a lot more bearable.
     
  7. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    It is not difficult at all. Upon deplaning there is a separate entrance back into the terminal rather than going into immigration. Almost no walk from where we deplaned when I flew IAD-GRU and there was no line to get into that area. I imagine you just show a BP or itinerary and get in. Didn't seem like a big deal at all.

    Agreed, especially for a flight of that distance.
     
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  8. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    The route that it looks like I'm taking will be:
    CM in Y on JFK-PTY-EZE. Who knows, might get the UDU/CDU+MPExplorer thing to work. W will most likely try to take a stop over in PTY, at the very least to break up the travel. PTY-EZE can't be that much worse than EWR-SEA on CO so I think I can handle that in Y.
    Then return will either be SCL-YYZ-IAD (C on AC) IAD-JFK (UX, but with a 10 hour layover at IAD I'll just take the train)
    -or-
    if I can find 5k miles before the availability disappears SCL-EZE (C on AC) EZE-IAD (F on UA!!) IAD-JFK (UX? don't remember).
    I'm somewhat flexible on my return date, but I doubt the 2 seats in F are going to stick around by my next flight in late nov (when I'll get the miles).

    I'll do some research on the JJ. It doesn't look like they offer a C award on expertflyer, though, and I'm not seeing any availability otherwise on the ANA tool.

    Thanks everyone for their input :)
     
  9. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    CM will be longer than the CO flight you reference by a couple hours but will also have free food and booze. Win some, lose some.

    Also, if you don't get the IAD-JFK timing you want you can wait-list for the better timed flight and hope that opens up rather than trekking into town to catch the train.
     
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  10. Ygor
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    Ygor Gold Member

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    If you are short 5k miles, you can purchase them. On CO, when you chose an award that you don't have enough miles for, it offers you an option to purchase them at check out. It is not the best value, but a couple hundred bucks may be worth it to you to guarantee F.
     

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