First the Olympics said they were headed there. Then FIFA announced it would be the host of the 2014 World Cup. In its annual guide to the top destinations, the New York Times gave Rio the number one spot because “the whole world will be there in 2014.”
A slew of construction fueled by oil revenue, a booming art renaissance, and the upcoming world-class sporting events are transforming Rio almost overnight.
But how can you get to a place where everyone wants to be without blowing every airline mile you have?
How to Use Miles to Get There
American Airlines award inventory during FIFA has been decimated because they offer the lowest rate—just 20,000 miles each way to Brazil.
United Airlines has a partnership with TAM, Brazil’s main airline, and you can book TAM flights directly on United’s website. United lumps Brazil into its Southern South America category, so the lowest you can fly to Rio for is 60,000 for a saver economy award or 100,000 for a saver business/first class award.
At the time of writing, most of the economy award inventory on United from Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York to Rio has been wiped out, but there are a handful of first class saver awards available for the final week and a half of games. From Miami, there are only a handful of award flights to Rio remaining in any class.
Delta offers three levels of redemptions for each region. To reach Brazil, you’ll need 60,000, 95,000 or 130,000 miles in economy. Unfortunately for those looking for a more luxurious award, their redemption rates in higher classes are going up for travel after June 1, 2014, so those awards clock in at 125,000, 200,000 or a whopping 325,000.
Out of Chicago, Delta has a good selection of medium price redemptions available for the beginning of the games and the very last week. From New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, there is availability in the medium price redemption category throughout the games. The 60,000- and 125,000-mile awards have already been scooped up.
More Ways to Use Your Miles to Rock Out in Rio
If you want to see Rio but aren’t wedded to seeing the World Cup live, you can plan ahead and get the lowest redemption level for other big events.
The summer Olympics will be in Rio August 5-12 2016. Since the city hosted the Pan American Games in 2007, much of the Olympic infrastructure was previously in place and many of the renovated stadiums are already open. Whether you make it for the games or beforehand, they city will welcome you stylishly, especially with the new Museum of Tomorrow designed by splashy Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
But if live sports just aren’t your style, there’s always Carnival and the city’s world-renowned New Years Eve celebrations, in which the city flocks to the beach for fireworks since December is the hottest time of year down south.
While award inventory for the World Cup is pretty depleted, you can still find some deals for the upcoming winter festivities if you’re flexible. Seats for the Olympics haven’t opened up, so start saving now. Just keep an eye out for changes in redemption rates, like the upcoming Delta devaluation.