Booking internal South American flights with Qantas points

In South America, depending on where and when you want to fly, internal flights are often expensive. And this problem is exacerbated by the fact that on some airlines, tourists are not even allowed to buy the cheapest tickets, which are reserved for sale to local residents only.

So it’s little surprise that one of our members, who is planning a trip to Peru, Brazil and Argentina, asks our members for advice about using Qantas frequent flyer points to book these flights.

I figure I should be able to use QFF points to book flights within South America on LAN but this doesn’t seem possible online

Is it possible by calling QANTAS ? Will I still be charged the extra points penalty for not booking online even when that isn’t possible?

For internal South American flights, it’s not as simple as just booking online. In our members’ experience, LAN flights do not appear online when searching on the Qantas website. But there usually is award availability; you just need to phone and ask. Occasionally long selling may be necessary. If there are reward flights available, they can be booked using points over the phone. For such bookings, Qantas charge a $35 “phone booking assistance fee”, though some members believe it is possible to have the airline waive the fee by asking politely.

One of our members was recently successful in making two bookings over the phone:

Just as a point of reference, recently I made a couple of LAN bookings using QFF points:
LIM – CUS / JUL – LIM – 20000 pts + $19.60 ~~~ plus $35 phone booking fee, per passenger.
SCL – CAL – SCL – 28000 pts+ $27.60 ~~~ per pax, plus $60 phone booking fee, per passenger.

This member is highly complementary of the customer service staff and assures our members that the process was simple and hassle-free, so it’s worth giving this a go.

Another little-known strategy to get cheaper flights within South America is the “Oneworld Visit South America Airpass”. These passes offer internal flights on oneworld at fixed prices based on the total distance flown. They can be booked by anyone flying into and out of the continent on a oneworld airline and prices range from USD$153 for the shortest distance “zone”, up to USD$480 for the highest zone.

These fares are little used because nobody really knows about them and they are not listed online anywhere that I could find. Naturally, research your own particular dates, but they can be good value for money.

(More information about the Airpass can be found HERE.)

Using points is a great way to save a bit of money on otherwise expensive flights so if you are heading to South America and have a stash of Qantas points, it may be worthwhile giving the airline a call.

Discuss your experience using Qantas points to fly in South America HERE.


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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]