From time to time, we get inquiries from members struggling to find a cheap flight using points or cash. While the normal online tools, such as Skyscanner etc often work, sometimes they just are not good enough. In this case, it was a flight to South America, which seemed to be coming up very expensive.

I want to fly either Rio (Brazil) to Santiago (Chile) or Buones Airies (Argentina) to Santiago one way. All flights I have found are very expensive. No luck in using the Qantas website either in trying to use points – it says they do not do either of these routes.

Any tips on budget airlines, how to use Qantas points or a cheap way to do it by plane? Thanks

When it comes to using points, the Qantas website does offer limited options. If Qantas or Jetstar operate the route, any award seats will be visible. However for partner flights, that is not always the case. With award flights often like cash fares where ticket availability varies by region of sale, often a phone call is in order.

IF QF not showing availability (points) sometimes you can call the call centre and they can see availability on other airlines that is not seen online – not sure if this applies to LAN or not but it’s common with CX (Cathay).

If cash is being paid, then there are also a number of options. Many airlines offer air passes for regional travel. For a couple of flights in the region, this often can be an effective way to save money. Qantas offers overseas visitors the walkabout pass. Sadly, at the moment, the air pass from LAN/TAM for South America has been withdrawn from sale, so that is not an option in this case.

Another way of checking for cheap fares is to use the ITA fare searcher – matrix, found at http://matrix.itasoftware.com. Searching the various databases and GDS’s, it will give you a variety of options when it comes to the lowest fares for a particular route on a particular day.

ITA Matrix shows a number of options in June for EZE-SCL return from 2686 ARS which is about $360 AUD.

Unfortunately, what it does not do is then give you an option to book those flights. One of the issues that can pop up is the appearance of a cheap fare, but you then may struggle to find a way to book it. Often the flight may only be on sale at that fare if the the ticket is issued in a particular country. Tracking down a travel agent that can issue that ticket can be hard.

Finding the best fare is not always easy. Do you have a good tip when it comes to getting a cheap fare, why not pitch in HERE.

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