UPDATE: The partnership between Etihad Airways and GOL ended in 2021. This article was written in May 2019.
Travelling to Brazil? Internal flights can be expensive. But if you happen to have some spare Etihad Guest miles, you can use these to book a flight on GOL Airlines. Award seats on GOL are surprisingly cheap and there are no fuel surcharges, so this can be very good value.
GOL is the largest domestic carrier in Brazil and one of Etihad’s 24 partner airlines. It also operates numerous international routes to/from Brazil. As a low-cost airline, GOL Airlines does not operate a Business class cabin on its flights. But you can use Etihad Guest miles to book a seat in Economy, Economy Comfort or Premium Economy.
When redeeming Etihad Guest miles, GOL flights are priced based on the distance flown. Prices start at just 3,000 Etihad Guest miles for flights under 500 miles in length, which is a steal of a deal. Routes under 500 miles include Rio de Janeiro-Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte-Brasilia or Recife-Fernando de Noronha. It’s also possible to book a Comfort Economy ticket for roughly twice as many miles… but as we’ll explain shortly, you probably shouldn’t.
Here are the prices for GOL Airlines flights booked using Etihad Guest miles:
|Distance (miles)||Economy||Comfort/Premium Economy|
|0-500||3,000 miles||6,000 miles|
|500-1,000||6,000 miles||12,000 miles|
|1,001-1,500||9,000 miles||17,000 miles|
|1,500-2,000||12,000 miles||23,000 miles|
|2,001-3,000||17,000 miles||34,000 miles|
|3,001-4,000||23,000 miles||45,000 miles|
|4,001-5,000||28,000 miles||56,000 miles|
Taxes are also payable in addition to the miles, but there are no fuel surcharges and the taxes on Brazilian domestic flights are low. As an example, an Economy award booking from Sao Paulo to Belo Horizonte would cost 3,000 miles and AUD$11 in taxes.
Economy vs Comfort Economy
Economy tickets should include 1 bag. You’ll have the option to pre-purchase baggage for BRL60 (around $21) per bag online, or double that amount at the airport. Seat selection is free of charge and all GOL Economy fares include a snack.
On domestic flights, GOL offers Comfort Economy (“GOL+Conforto” in Portuguese). This ticket includes two complimentary checked bags and a “Comfort” seat at the front of the plane with extra legroom and recline. If you have a Comfort seat, you’ll also receive priority check-in, boarding and baggage. However, it’s worth noting that you can upgrade any domestic Economy ticket to a Comfort seat after booking from as little as BRL38 (around $14) and receive all of the benefits other than the higher baggage allowance. So, it rarely would make sense to purchase an Economy Comfort award on a GOL domestic flight.
On international flights, GOL offers a Premium Economy product that could actually be worth redeeming extra miles for. This is very close to the intra-Europe Business class product. The physical seats are the same but the middle seat is blocked and you’ll receive a meal on board. At selected airports, lounge access is available. Blankets and amenity kits are also handed out in Premium Economy on longer international flights.
How to book GOL flights with Etihad Guest miles
You’ll need to call Etihad Guest to redeem your Etihad miles for flights with any partner airline, including GOL Airlines. From Australia, you can call Etihad on 1300 532 215.
Before calling, you can check for GOL award availability on Expert Flyer. Use the Award & Upgrade search tool to look for flights on “Gol Transportes Aereos – G3”. Comfort/Premium Economy seats are shown on Expert Flyer as “Business” (I class).
Unfortunately, from our experience the Etihad call centre agents cannot see exactly the same availability as Expert Flyer (so some flights may show as available on Expert Flyer but be unavailable for booking with Etihad Guest miles). But Expert Flyer does give a reasonable indication.
Although GOL is not part of any alliance, it has around a dozen partner airlines. You can also book GOL award flights using miles from Emirates, Qatar Airways, Delta and Air Canada, among others.
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