After completing our trip to Machu Picchu and Lima, our plan is to head out to Rio de Janeiro on a one way basis. We intend to find the most direct and economical flight, either by using cash or points.
The non-stop flight between Lima and Rio is about 5.5 hours, and you only have a choice of LATAM Peru or Avianca. Both fly once a day using a single aisle narrow body aircraft (A319 and A320 respectively). Flight on Avianca is an overnight red-eye flight while LATAM operates a day flight.
We priced it out on Google Flight.
Clearly, duopoly is not in the best interest of the consumers. The one way cash price of EUR 470 was clearly too expensive. The next logical step was to check on the points redemption. As Avianca is part of the Star Alliance, you can use one of the Star Alliance member’s frequent flyers to check on the redemption. In our case, we have Air Canada’s frequent flyer, Aeroplan.
As with the cash flights, this proved to be disappointing. All the flights on offer were with two stops. A 5.5 hour direct flight would take a minimum of 19 hours to complete.
The fees and surcharges (CAD 50 / EUR 33) were reasonable, but a two stop flight would consume too much of our time. On this basis, we ruled out Avianca (Star Alliance).
We then checked on LATAM (part of One World Alliance) flights using our British Airways Executive Club’s account. It yielded a pleasant result – a non-stop flight with LATAM for 12,500 Avios points and CAD 40.14 (EUR 26.50) fee. Compared to the cash price of EUR 713, this was a bargain.
We concluded that using Avios points is the better way to secure regional flights in South America. One of the main reasons is that some of the South American governments control strictly on what the airlines can charge for fees and surcharges, keeping the overall fee very low. Another sweet spot for British Airways’ Avios!