Balking at the cost of flights to Machu Picchu? Aegean miles could offer a cheaper alternative!
Balking at the cost of flights to Machu Picchu? Aegean miles could offer a cheaper alternative!

Flights within South America are typically very expensive. But by redeeming miles or points, you can save a small fortune!

If you have Qantas points, for example, you can redeem these for flights within South America on LATAM Airlines. But if you don’t have enough Qantas points – or there’s no award availability with LATAM Airlines – there is another option.

Aegean Airlines, a member of Star Alliance, sells its frequent flyer miles. In fact, this month Aegean is offering 50% bonus miles. This is worth knowing because award flights within South America are a sweet spot in the Aegean Miles+Bonus award chart! By buying Aegean Miles+Bonus miles at a discount, you can then redeem them for award flights within South America on Avianca and potentially save hundreds (or even thousands) on the normal ticket price.

South America is a sweet spot with Aegean Miles+Bonus

Under the Aegan Miles+Bonus award chart, any award flight within South America is the same price. It costs 12,500 Aegean miles for any one-way Economy flight within South America. And Business Class redemptions within South America cost just 21,000 miles. This makes longer flights within the continent particularly good value when redeeming Aegean miles.

Here are the countries included within the Aegean Miles+Bonus “South America” zone:

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela

When Aegean is offering 50% bonus miles on purchases (as it currently is until the end of October), you can purchase the 12,500 miles needed for an Economy award for €225 ($365). And it will cost you only €350 ($569) to buy enough miles for any one-way Business Class redemption.

Buy 14,000 miles on the Aegean website €350 and receive 7,000 bonus miles
Buy 14,000 miles on the Aegean website for €350 and receive 7,000 bonus miles

 

Redeeming Aegean miles for Avianca flights

Once you’ve purchased the miles, you can redeem them for Avianca flights within South America. The Star Alliance carrier has bases in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, and operates many routes across the South American continent. What’s more, award availability in both Economy and Business Class is generally excellent. And there are no fuel surcharges on Avianca award flights!

Here’s one example where it would make sense to buy and redeem Aegean miles, instead of paying for full-price airfares. It would cost $625 one-way to fly from Santiago, Chile to Cartagena, Colombia in Economy:

Avianca economy fare SCL-CTG

In Business, the airfare would set you back $2,558:

Avianca business class fare SCL-CTG

Alternatively, you could redeem 12,500 Aegean miles for an Economy ticket or 21,000 Aegean miles for Business class on exactly the same flights. The miles would cost $365 for Economy or $569 for Business. On top of that, you would just pay €39.77 ($64) in taxes for the redemption.

If you booked Economy from Santiago to Cartagena, you would save $196 using this method. In Business, the savings add up to $1,925!

Avianca Boeing 787 Business Class
Avianca Boeing 787 Business Class

This trick is especially useful if you want to travel to somewhere like Machu Picchu. Flights in and out of Cusco, the Peruvian gateway to Machu Picchu, are typically overpriced. In one example we found, an Economy flight from Cusco to Buenos Aires would cost you a whopping $1,190:

Avianca economy fare CUZ-EZE

But there is Business Class award availability on the exact same flights. You could book Business by buying $569 worth of Aegean miles and paying just €30.27 ($49) in taxes for the redemption. So you’ll not only save $572, but you’ll also fly Business instead of Economy!

Aegean award availability on the Cusco-Buenos Aires route
Aegean award availability on the Cusco-Buenos Aires route

There are a few catches when redeeming Aegean Miles+Bonus miles. For example, you’re only allowed up to two flight sectors per award booking. And mixed-class redemptions are now permitted.

Read more: How to Buy & Redeem Aegean Miles+Bonus Miles

You can book award flights on the Aegean website. However, you’ll only be able to search for award availability if you already have enough miles in your account to make the booking. If you wish to get an idea of what flights are available before buying Aegean miles, use the United or Aeroplan websites to search for Star Alliance award availability. Alternatively, you can call the Aegean Airlines call centre in Greece.

 

Want to learn more about maximising frequent flyer points?

Aegean Miles+Bonus is one of the frequent flyer programs that will be featured in next week’s Frequent Flyer Solutions webinar! Join this webinar to learn about the ins & outs of the Miles+Bonus program – plus four other little-known frequent flyer programs.

Click here to learn more about this webinar.

Finally, don’t forget that Frequent Flyer Solutions offers a personalised Award Flight Assist service that’s designed to take the hard work out of redeeming your frequent flyer points!

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]