We originally booked a South American trip in October for travel in May. However due to some reasons that if I want to stay happily married I wont write about, we had to cancel part of that trip. I was still able to salvage one segment though and was finally able to book the rest. I am super excited now for the new 4 countries we will be visiting.
Just a quick overview
OKC-Oklahoma DFW-Dallas LIM- Lima, Peru CUZ- Cusco, Peru GYE- Guayaquil, Ecuador GPS- Baltra Galapagos Islands, Ecuador PTY-Panama City, Panama LIR-Liberia, Costa Rica HOU-Houston
American Eagle, American, Latam Peru, Latam Euador, Aerogal, Copa, Southwest
Our first leg is from OKC-DFW in domestic First on American, then from DFW-LIM in Intl Bus Class lie flat seat on American, then from LIM-CUZ in economy on Latam Peru. While there was no saver award availability, I used 65k miles per person and got the itinerary I wanted. There are lots of ways to get AA miles right now through Barclays and Citi cards, or the SPG Amex card. I was able to find awards on the AA website for OKC-DFW-LIM, Then searched British Airways (as they typically show the best Oneworld award openings) for the LIM-CUZ flight. They had a decent flight and I knew I would have to call AA to get it all booked on one award ticket since AA didn’t show any availability. First time I called I was told that AA didn’t fly to Cusco. I said I knew that but their partners did and the CSR told me that I can’t use AA miles for Latam. So I hung up and tried again. On call number 2 the CSR tried to find the seats for me but told me that she couldn’t add the Latam flight because my AA flights were in first/business and all they had openings for were in economy. CSR said Latam would not allow the mix n match. This sounded like a legit explanation, but I decided to try one more time. The 3rd CSR told me she wasn’t seeing the same flight I had picked out from the British Airways website. My hearts sunk for a second until she told me that she found another flight about 30 minutes later. WooHoo score! Very happy I was able to get this all one one itinerary not only to save points, but also on one record locator in case something gets delayed. This costs 65k miles per person plus about $30 in taxes.
Now the rest of these flights were not booked until February. The next flight is from CUZ-LIM-GYE. Using my British Airways Avios, it was 12k Avios per person and $45 in taxes. This is all on Latam Peru metal.
I signed up for the British Airways Chase card specifically to use them in South America. Delta/Skyteam doesn’t have a presence here. United/Star Alliance isn’t bad, but OneWorld/British Airways seems to have the best flights. I ended up with about 87k miles after 10k spent in the first 6 months oh having the card.
Then from GYE-GPS I also used Avios and it was 7500 miles and about $38 in taxes per person. This is on Latam Ecuador Metal.
Now I was searching for the Latam flights on the British Airways website everyday for about a week. I actually even took screenprints of everything and then a few minutes before I went to book, my flights were gone. I felt like someone was just messing with me. I waited 24 hours before checking again, and they were still gone. 48 hours until checking- still gone. NOOOOOO. I waited 72 hours, and they were back and all was good. I also called BA to get my Latam record locator numbers and the CSR said “huh, I didn’t know you could use Avios to fly on Latam Ecuador.”
I was able to book from GPS-GYE-PTY-LIR all one one ticket using United Miles. We have about 16 hour overnight layover in Panama which I am looking forward to getting a hotel next to the Canal. I originally found some availability with the first leg in economy and the final legs all in business for 20k miles per person. I transferred some Chase miles to United and tried to book and got an error. My heart sunk again…. I called United and the CSR was very helpful and said that they actually didn’t have 4 economy seats open so I couldnt book what was showing up online. However they actually had a better flight that only had a 2 hour layover in GYE and in business that I could have instead. So I went from a 4 hour layover in economy to a 2 hour layover flying business. WooHoo again! So this is all for 20k miles per person and about $140 in taxes.
Now the last flight was nothing too special. LIR-HOU-OKC on Southwest Airlines. $278 per person, however I have the companion pass so my son will fly for free plus the $50 in taxes. Then I had a $100 voucher from a delayed flight last November. Southwest is also my AMEX plat designated airline. We have 2 Platinum cards and i bought gift cards with my $200 per card credit. So there is another $400. We paid about $383 for $1112 in southwest flights.
Now hotels will be a little easier. We have some booked using points but are still looking at some other options as well. I usually book a hotel and then research more as the trip gets closer in accordance with their cancellation policy. So stay tuned for a future post on how we picked our lodging. Or if you have any tips or great places in these cities, let me know!
Here is a quick summary charts for the 4 of us.