First Time In South America For Cheap!

In terms of continents redeemable on miles, I’ve traveled to Africa, Asia and Europe, but never South America or Australia. Thanks, however, to my recent booking of an American Airlines award ticket to Santiago, Chile, I will soon be able to scratch the former off my list!

Santiago - image courtesy Wikipedia.

Santiago – image courtesy Wikipedia.

santiago ticket

Taxes and fees were only $58 and, normally, an award ticket to Chile from the U.S. would cost 60,000 AAdvantage miles. But, for a large part of the year, American Airlines offers cheaper, off-peak awards for certain regions and, since Chile is in South America Zone 2, my ticket falls right in the sweet spot of saving. So, in terms of miles, how much did I end up paying?

AA's Off-Peak Chart

AA’s Off-Peak Timeframes

As you can see below, I was able to take advantage of the 20,000 mile off-peak price, making my overall cost 40,000 AAdvantage miles.

AA's Mileage Cost Chart

AA’s Mileage Cost Chart

But, thanks to some timely bonuses, the price is actually much less. Here’s why:

  1. Barclaycard and American Airlines are currently running a bonus for Aviator Red cardholders where cardholders can earn an additional 15,000 miles after spending $500 in months of September, October and November. aviator
  2. Aviator Red cardholders also receive an automatic 10% rebate on miles used for an award ticket. This means I saved 2,000 miles per leg or 4,000, total, and those miles have already posted back to my account. 10%redemp
  3. Each year I continue to hold the Aviator Red credit card, I am granted 10,000 miles. Now, there’s an annual fee of $89, but I consider this trade more than fair, since I’m getting better than a mile per dollar without having any additional spend or hassle. It just so happens that my yearly bonus comes in September, so I’m going to count those miles for this trip! anniv bonus

Adding up the discounts (10,000 + 15,000 + 4,000) gives a sum of 29,000 additional miles. So:

40,000 miles29,000 miles = 11,000 miles

 Adding the annual fee of the Aviator credit card to the taxes and fees of the ticket makes my true monetary cost $148.

Therefore, the total cost of the trip to Chile is only 11,000 miles and $150.

Considering a “saver” domestic round-trip award ticket on American is 25,000 miles, the fact my ticket for a 10 hour flight is 14,000 miles less is simply stunning. For that price, I’d fly economy anywhere. Plus, I can eat both dinner on the way down and breakfast on the way up at the Miami American Express Centurion Lounge thanks to my American Express Platinum credit card, saving me an additional $30-40 (I can even shower!).

It’s also necessary to compare the cost of the award ticket to the cost of a regular ticket. According to Kayak, the normal price is nearly $850.

zone 21

This means that each mile is worth about 6.3 cents ($700/11,000), which is utterly fantastic for an economy-class redemption. Framed another way, every time that I spent a dollar to earn one American AAdvantage mile, I was getting 6.3 cents back. If I could get 6% back on life, I’d stop working.

I’m really looking forward to this trip – I don’t have much planned besides Santiago, the beach at Valparaiso, colonial architecture, Mendoza, vineyards, volcanoes, biking and hiking.


Monte Aconcagua – the highest peak of the Andes and a national park. Image courtesy Daniel Peppes Gauer

A beach on Valpariso - image courtesy Itchy Feet On the Cheap.

A beach at Valpariso – image courtesy Itchy Feet On the Cheap.

A vineyard in Mendoza - image courtesy Azure Azure.

A vineyard in Mendoza – image courtesy Azure Azure.

Mostly, I’m just looking forward to seeing my friend Danny and enjoying that miles continue make the world that much smaller!

One thought on “First Time In South America For Cheap!

  1. Pingback: Easy Help For Argentinian Visas! | The Window Suite

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