Help Needed for DFW to Buenos Aires

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by dfwSA, May 18, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. dfwSA

    dfwSA Member

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    Hi there fellow travelers,

    I could use some advice. I am trying to use my various miles and points economically to bring a friend from Dallas to visit me in Buenos Aires in July. He has vacation from July 21-July 31. I am fairly experienced at the earning points game, but I could use some advice here on trying to make this award work.

    I currently have these point balances:
    American: 96,029
    British Air: 66,916
    Chase UR: 110,000
    Capital 1 rewards: 38,973
    Delta: 35,588
    Lan: 41,734 Kms
    Southwest: 42,849 points

    I would prefer not to use too many URs as I want to save them for a trip to South Africa from EZE in the fall and I would obviously like to use them so that I earn miles. With that said, I am ok using some of them for a segment if that helps, but I would most likely use the cap1 rewards for a cheap segment.

    Ideally we would like to have a direct flight from Dallas to EZE as he will bring a lot of stuff that he won't take back, but the return is open to anything and he doesn't mind overnighting is some country he has never visited before as long as he does not have to pay for a visa. He does not have a Brazilian visa.

    I have been checking daily for weeks on aa.com for awards roundtrip to DFW-EZE and also checking SCL and Lima on American. Unfortunately I am only seeing the 55K anytime seats or bad dates. There were some 30K seats open for earlier in the month, but none so far for the last week of July. I check twice daily. I only need a 30K seat to make this work as I have enough for a 85K trip. Ideally I would prefer to only use 60K and save some AAs for a biz class EZE-DFW return for myself in November. I haven't found anything worthwhile trying to use my LAN, BA, or Delta miles. I don't want to have to buy AA miles and shouldn't need to.

    Well, that's the situation. Thoughts and advice are most appreciated!!!

    Frustrated and in a bit over my head,

    Jay
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
  2. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    First of all its a bit late to be trying to get award seats for July and the lack of a Brazilian visa is a problem.
    You have plenty miles to get there but securing an award seat is going to take a bit of work.

    A quick check shows your best bet will be flying DFW/GIG ( or GRU... but availability there is not anywhere as good)
    AA has outbound in coach.... I assume that is the class you require (if Business class then forget about it :)) on all but 3 days between July 20-31st and decent return on those days
    also at your 30K desired rate.
    I was unable to see awards on aa.com on line flying TAM ( LAN) GIG/EZE but ba.com shows Avios awards at 12K each way on the 21st/22/23rd ( the only days I checked) and returning on the 28th or the 31st.
    One other thing which may not be quite relevant here is that if you connect in GRU the Avois cost will actually only be 7.5K only since the GIG connection on TAM requires you to back-track and fly GIG/GRU/EZE and therefore become two Avios legs. Also of some interest is that Qatar flies GRU/GIG route so you could actually claim an award (TAM) GRU/GIG ( QR) GRU/GIG

    Now as far as the Brazilian visa I am not sure you can connect there without a visa.... hey go for the 5 year Brazilian visa you may need it again in a few
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
    Mikus33 likes this.
  3. dfwSA

    dfwSA Member

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    Well that just might be the ticket, newbluesea. Thanks! I just called American and they said that as long as he has a ticket to show that he is continuing on to another destination he will not need a visa as he will be in transit. He will need to check his bags again with BA and I presume go through Brazilian customs which is a drag. I hope he won't complain too much since he is getting a free ticket. ;) I am going to put those flights on hold now and call again tomorrow to the award desk to confirm all this.

    As a note...a visa for Chile is no longer needed as of last year. Too bad for me as I had to get one in 2013, but great for everyone else traveling there from the US going forward. I guess I have an expensive souvenir in my passport.

    As for booking the award in advance, I have been coming down to Buenos Aires for three years now and I usually find that awards, especially one way awards, that I often use, are easier to get a few weeks or days ahead. It seems they open seats last minute especially during off-season months. I have noticed this especially with the 50K and 62.5K awards. Of course, this is only useful to those who can make flexible arrangements as I have been able to do. Now, will this change when AA puts the new dreamliner on the DFW-EZE and MIA-EZE routes, as is rumored to be happening next month (June 2015), we shall see...
     
  4. Mikus33

    Mikus33 Silver Member

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    Obviously, a small side note to your main point, but by "saving your URs to use them on a trip to South Africa so that you earn miles", do you mean you want to use the URs to buy a ticket at a rate of 1.25 cents per point by booking through the UR portal? Typically, using URs in that fashion does not yield the best value, even when you consider the points you'll earn, but I could be wrong. What were you planning for that trip?
     
    traveltoomuch likes this.
  5. dfwSA

    dfwSA Member

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    How would you recommend using URs? I will probably fly From EZE or GRU to South Africa. I notice there are more options flying from GRU and I have a friend there. I would like to visit Cape Town, Johannesburg and see the sights and go on a safari. I am probably looking at a 3 week trip. Was planning on using airbnb for accomodations. I really don't want to pay for the plane ticket and I don't think I will have enough miles on any airline for an award given the fact that I am using quite a few AA miles for my friends trip to Buenos Aires. That's why I was thinking of using the URs for the plane ticket so I at least earn miles. I'm pretty sure when you purchase a ticket using URs you still earn miles on the airline you fly. Am I wrong about that?
     
  6. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Your options from EZE/GRU are somewhat limited (or than you seem to think away .. unless you are prepared to connect through Europe and use a ton of miles.
    CX used to fly EZE/CPT but that was discontinued some years ago. So for a relatively short journey (relative being the optimal word here) you are have SAA which flies GRU/JNB (they codeshare this flight with TAM also connecting from EZE) Ethiopian, whose fares I have seen are quite reasonable you would connect In Addis Abba but its intriguing since the TA flight is a 787 and QR connecting in DOH.

    QF being a OW partner you may able to claim an award using your AA and/or BA miles.
    SAA I believe is still a partner of DL but I am not sure if they allow these awards anymore but a few years ago I redeemed 2 business awards on SAA for I believe 60K miles each GRU/JNB/CPT return. I found the SAA service etc quite decent at least in C class.
     
  7. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    This will NOT work if the transit covers both GRU and GIG. Be careful about that.
    If he has to claim bags and clear customs then he's going to need a visa. Brazil does not do TWOV which involves clearing immigration/customs AFAIK. It does work if everything is ticketed as a single trip and the bags are checked through.

    Likely best value will be if you can find award seats on the SA flight and transfer from UR to UA and book from there.

    You are correct that you can still earn miles, but the point value going that route is not very good.
     
  8. dfwSA

    dfwSA Member

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    Hmmm, When I asked AA they said that as long as he continues to another country it will be ok. And they said it was ok even I booked separate awards with BA and AA, but I can't find an award flight with times that work. He would have to arrive at 1:30AM in GRU and wait to fly that night to DFW via MIA-HOU-DFW. I'm not going to put him through all that, especially sleeping overnight at GRU. However I get what you are saying, if he has to go to another airport in Brazil, he will need a visa. I am also worried about a canceled flight while he is in Brazil. I think I need to abandon that option and focus on EZE-SCL-DFW or EZE-LIM-DFW.

    With that being said, I can't find good awards for EZE-SCL nor EZE-LIM. And I haven't seen any good awards for SCL-DFW, but I keep checking. There is a decent award from LIM to DFW for 35K on AA and a cheap flight on Avianca from EZE to LIM on the dates that work. I can use my Cap1 points to cover the $250 avianca flight. I think that is the way I am going to go. Still checking a few a times a day for 30K seats for direct flights DFW-EZE and viceversa. Many 30K seats keep opening and closing for the DFW-EZE flight the 2nd week of July but none so far for the last week. Fortunately AA is letting me hold the DFW to LIM award until May 24. I was surprised that they let me hold it that long.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  9. dfwSA

    dfwSA Member

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    I will check as that is a great idea I hadn't thought of. I'm kinda wishing I had signed up for that 50K UA credit card now.
     
  10. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Yes, but not if he has to clear immigration to claim bags and start a second ticket nor if there is a domestic Brazilian flight as part of the trip. GRU and GIG do have international transit zones but you do not enter and leave again; you simply never enter Brazil.
     
  11. dfwSA

    dfwSA Member

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    So, what happens IF I get a BA award (EZE - GRU) and an AA award (GRU - DFW)? Since they are both OW partners, will they combine both awards into one reservation so he doesn't have to re-check his bags? Does it matter if he has to recheck his bags in GRU, if he never leaves the airport?
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  12. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    No AA and BA will not combine awards into one reservation. It would be better to get one way awards say using BA miles (on AA and then TAM) one-way DFW/GRU/GIG and the reverse using an AA award.
     
  13. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    No.
    Yes. In this context "leaving the airport" means leaving the secure terminal area where transit passengers remain. If the bags are delivered to baggage claim at GRU he would be leaving the airport even though he would still be physically on the property as he'd need to go out of the secure terminal area and in to baggage claim.

    It is possible that the TAM agents will tag the bags through but they do not have to. If BA shows space on the EZE-GRU segment then you can likely book that same segment by calling AA and having it included as part of the DFW-GRU award and there should be no additional cost in points so that's actually the better option than booking as separate awards.
    If there is a GRU-GIG segment in the award then the passenger will enter Brazil. For a US citizen as in the OP's scenario that means getting a visa.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015
  14. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    I agree the OP should have his friend bite the bullet and get a Brazil visa what does it cost these days? My last visa cost about $160 and was fairly painless (besides the transit problems it also would make life easier if he get delayed at his connection points)
    One of the problems he is facing is that I checked BA.com and there is less inventory DFW/GRU for his dates hence he might need to fly to GIG and then on to EZE via GRU.

    For GRU outbound there are awards showing on ba.com for 10/21, 22, 24, 25 and returning on 10/28, 29 and then nothing until 11/2.
    The cost would be 25K Avios and then for the GRU/GIG leg 7.5 Avios. There is no reason the above dates if suitable that he would be able to book the above instead using 30k AA miles but he needs to call AA since the GRU/EZE inventory is not visible on line.
     

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