You might be surprised to find that you can use Alaska Airlines miles to fly to South America. And Alaska’s flexible stopover policy makes its loyalty program, Mileage Plan, a great option for booking that itinerary.
Alaska Airlines allows you to make one stopover per one-way award ticket, even on its partners. A stopover is when you stop for more than four hours on a domestic flight, or 24 hours on an international flight, on your way to your final destination.
To get to South America using Alaska miles, you’ll be flying on one of the airline’s partners. American Airlines, Delta and LAN all fly there. Aeromexico is also an Alaska Airlines partner that flies there, but it isn’t currently taking new award bookings.
Delta awards purchased with Alaska miles can only be booked as round-trip tickets. This limits your options because Alaska only allows one partner per round-trip booking. Booking two one-way awards offers more flexibility when booking flexibility, so you probably won’t want to fly on Delta.
If you’re planning to go to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela or Central America, booking a flight on American Airlines is your best option. Alaska’s award chart for American Airlines includes American’s off-peak rates, but with the added benefit of two free stopovers per roundtrip.
If you’re heading to Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile or Uruguay, LAN is the way to go. Alaska’s award chart for LAN offers the same redemption rates for all of South America. It doesn’t break the continent into regions, like American does. So the longer your flight, and the more a cash ticket costs, the better value you’ll get for your miles. Certain destinations, like Buenos Aires, are a better choice with this chart than closer ones, like Quito or Medellin.
To visit the Galapagos Islands on an award ticket, you’ll have to fly on LAN. To take advantage of the stopovers, you could make a stopover in Quito on the way there, and then stop in Guayaquil on the way back. A flight to Galapagos with the two stopovers is 50,000 to 60,000 miles.
LAN’s economy seats are comfortable seats, and include personal entertainment systems and good food. It’s a more comfortable flight than American offers on these routes.
If you decide to spring for a premium cabin, LAN’s business class is great. It has lie-flat seats, gourmet food and great service. But finding business class award seats can be hard, so you’ll have to plan far in advance.
One final word on LAN: Award flights can’t be booked online, so you’ll have to call Alaska Airlines to make your reservation.
Using Alaska miles for flights to South America offers an unbeatable value, and the routing options with two free stopovers are nearly endless. You could fly from Los Angeles to São Paulo, with a stopover in Santiago, Chile. Or maybe fly to Buenos Aires with a stopover in Lima. From Lima you could use British Airways Avios to fly to Machu Picchu or the Amazon. Or from Buenos Aires, you could grab a short flight on LAN with Alaska miles to visit Iguazú Falls.