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Easter Island is Far Away, But Worth Going the Distance

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Easter Island is Far Away, But Worth Going the Distance

Easter Island is part of Chile, but its located way off the coast in the southeastern Pacific Ocean at the southernmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. There is nothing close to it for hundreds of miles. When I saw Australia in the corner of the plane monitor, I realized just how far I had flown.

I visited the island in 2012, so you won’t be able to duplicate this itinerary as things have changed. But this should give you a good idea of how I got there, and there are several new options that you can use to book with miles. My itinerary:

  • New York–Lima, Peru in Copa Airlines business class via Panama City booked with United miles
  • Lima–Easter Island roundtrip on LAN Airlines in economy booked with British Airways Avios
  • Lima–New York in Air Canada business class booked with United miles

This route is no longer available because LAN dropped the Lima–Easter Island route last year. But you will have to take LAN since it is the only airline that flies to Easter Island. The best current route from the U.S. is to go through Santiago, Chile, which means you’ll have to pay a $160 visa reciprocity fee. You could also get to Easter Island via Papeete, French Polynesia, but that is not practical for a North American tourist.

AAdvantage Miles or British Airways Avios and oneworld

Easter Island Moai - Giant Heads
Easter Island Moai – Giant Heads

There are plenty of options to get to Chile for the transfer to LAN. American Airlines AAdvantage miles provide the best value for the flights to Santiago: just 20,000 miles one way in economy or 50,000 in business. You may opt to book your flight all the way there on LAN—the trip to Easter Island will cost you 30,000 miles each way. But American does not display some of its partner airlines in its online award booking engine, so you will have to call to book at a charge of $25. Alternatively, you could use the British Airways website, which does display LAN award flight availability. But you would have to register first to do the search. And after you find the flight, you will still have to call American to complete the booking. You could book this flight with Avios, but because it is a distance-based program it will likely cost you 30,000-50,000 Avios depending on where you are flying from in the U.S., and that is not a good deal. One disadvantage to booking your flight with American Airlines miles is that unlike United or Delta, they don’t allow stopovers outside of the North American gateway city. If you want to explore Santiago on the way to or from Easter Island, it will cost you more miles.

United Miles and Star Alliance

If you have United currency, then a one-way flight to Santiago will cost you 30,000 miles in economy or 55,000 in business. You may fly on several actual airlines, such as United, US Airways, Air Canada, Avianca and/or Copa. If you opt for business class, I recommend Air Canada for its comfortable flat beds even though it’s a longer flight since it routes through Toronto. You will still need to get a LAN flight to Easter Island. Skip to the end if you have figured out how to get to that gateway.

Delta and Sky Miles

Delta prices one-way travel the same as a roundtrip, so there is no benefit in booking one-way flights through Delta. A roundtrip to Santiago from the U.S. costs you 60,000 miles in economy or 100,000 miles in business. Finding low-cost redemption options with Delta can sometimes be a challenge as most frequent flyers know.

Easter Island's Wild Horses
Easter Island’s Wild Horses

LAN LANPASS Kilometers

LAN Kilometers (the airlines mileage currency) are not easy to come by without actually flying. And it takes a lot of kilometers—100,000 in economy and 180,000 in business—for a roundtrip from the U.S. to Easter Island. Plus the airlines website is difficult to use so unless you’ve got lots of these miles you’re looking to burn, the major domestic airlines and their partners are your best bets.

Getting from Santiago to Easter Island

Bird Island on Easter Island
Bird Island on Easter Island

If you can’t book the whole itinerary with American Airlines miles, I recommend using British Airways Avios to fly between Santiago and Easter Island. It will only take 25,000 miles for roundtrip in economy or 50,000 in business. It’s a five-and-a-half-hour flight, so you decide if it’s worth the splurge. Easter Island is far away, but there is no shortage of options to get there on an award ticket. It’s worth the time and effort.

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