There’s a lot to love about Brazil. From Carnival to Copacabana, there’s plenty of big events for South America’s biggest country.
Its position in South America makes for some interesting points and miles opportunities. Some of its cities lie farther north, closer to Colombia. Others are a bit more south, including the hot spots of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Its broad stretching geography means that some award charts have some big advantages over others. There are some unique routes to fly to get to Brazil with points and miles that you may not have considered, but the ease of earning the points may make it worth your while.
There will be some familiar airlines showing up, but there are some unique ones that may be worth getting to know.
In This Article
Etihad Guest is an awards program that has a few niche uses. Etihad isn’t part of any alliance, but has partners around the globe that can provide some great value.
First up, booking American Airlines flights with Etihad Guest.
You can use Etihad Guest miles to fly American Airlines to either Sao Paulo (GRU) or Rio de Janeiro (GIG). American Airlines is the only airline to operate true three-cabin first class to Brazil, and it doesn’t require many more miles than business class. The real trick will be finding the availability.
To fly true first class, you’ll want to fly on one of American’s 777-300ER planes, which they coin the 77W. Don’t confuse this with the 777-200 which only has business class and is labeled 772.
The 77W can be found on flights to Sao Paolo (GRU) out of New York (JFK), Miami (MIA – flight 995 specifically), and Dallas (DFW). However, you’ll still find American’s solid business class product on flights from Los Angeles (LAX) and Sao Paolo (GRU) and on flights to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) from Miami (MIA) and New York (JFK).
More simply, here’s the routes between the US and Sao Paolo (GRU):
- Dallas (DFW) – Flagship First Available
- Miami (MIA) – Flagship First Available on flight 995, 929 it is not available
- New York (JFK) – Flagship First Available
- Los Angeles (LAX) – No First Class Available
Between the US and Rio (GIG), you can start your search from the following destinations:
- Miami (MIA) – No First Class Available
- New York (JFK) – Seasonal route from December 18 – March 28th with no first class available
The miles required will depend on the class of service and the time of year that you travel. There are four award levels for using Etihad Guest Miles to fly to Brazil with American Airlines: economy off-peak, economy peak, business class, and first class.
|Booking Class||Dates||Miles Required (one-way)|
|Economy Off-Peak||March 1st – May 31st, Aug 16 – Nov 30th||20,000|
|Economy Peak||Jan 1st – Feb 28th, June 1st – Aug 15th, Dec 1st – Dec 31st||30,000|
An additional benefit of booking an American Airlines flight to Brazil using Etihad Guest miles is that you can book a stopover in the US. This means you could have a few days in Miami before continuing on to Brazil if you desire. Not a bad vacation in my book!
The best way to find American Airlines availability to Brazil is using American Airline’s website. American recently changed its appearance, but it makes it easy to find award space. After searching, you can click “calendar” and it will show you a month at a time. Then, you can sort by class of service to find availability.
You’ll need to be sure its the lowest-level availability for Etihad to be able to book it. For economy flights, those will be dates requiring 30,000 miles. For flights in business class, it will require 57,500 miles. And for first class, it will require 85,000 miles.
First class availability can be difficult to come by on American Airlines, but keep an eye out and it will become available from time to time. If you can’t find it, don’t be too discouraged, American Airlines has a solid business class product and one of the best that you can fly to Brazil in.
If you’re looking for other destinations in Brazil, American Airlines isn’t the only partner you can book with Etihad Guest. You can take a look to a lesser known partner: Gol Airlines.
Gol Airlines is a budget airline based in Brazil that has a few options to the US. As a partner with Etihad, Gol Airlines is an often overlooked option for flights to Brazil.
Gol flies to two US cities: Miami (MIA) and Orlando (MCO). Both fly to the capital of Brazil, Brasilia (BSB) or to Fortaleza (FOR). This is a pretty unique destination from the US that you can fly to for a fairly low amount of Etihad Guest miles.
Etihad Guest prices Gol Airline award tickets on the distance flown. Both flights from Miami and Orlando to Brasilia are in the 3,001-4,000 mile range. These flights will cost 23,000 miles in economy or 45,000 miles in comfort economy. If you want to continue on to Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paolo, you’ll bump up to the 4,001-5,000 mile range and need 28,000 miles in economy or 56,000 in comfort economy.
If you’re wondering what the difference is and if it is worth it, you should be aware that comfort economy is similar to European business class – a row of seats with the middle seat blocked, but with a little bit more legroom than standard economy. Standard economy should be fairly roomy as well with 31-32 inches of pitch available.
To find award availability, you’ll want to search on Delta’s website. Delta is a partner with Gol, and readily shows their availability online.
To book either American Airlines or Gol Airlines to Brazil, you’ll need to call the Etihad Guest Service Center at 1-877-690-0767. Be sure you have found the award availability first and feed the information to the service agent.
The best way to earn Etihad Guest Miles is with American Express Membership Rewards or with Citi ThankYou Rewards. Keep your eye open for transfer bonuses from either program. Earlier this year, American Express had a 30% transfer bonus which means you would have only needed to transfer 39,000 Membership Rewards miles for a one-way business class ticket to Brazil on American Airlines.
If you’ve been in the points and miles world awhile, you likely know that Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a great option for flights to Japan, but they also make for a great way for flying to Brazil.
Virgin Atlantic is a partner with Delta, so you can use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to book Delta flights to Brazil.
Delta has four flights between the US and Brazil, operated with two different planes:
- Atlanta (ATL) to Sao Paolo (GRU) – Airbus A330
- Atlanta (ATL) to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) – Boeing 767
- New York (JFK) to Sao Paolo (GRU) – Airbus A330
Virgin Atlantic charges you per segment, so you’ll need a positioning flight if you aren’t based in one of these cities. You can use Virgin Atlantic to book your flights in economy or business class. You’ll need the following amount of miles for a one-way flight:
- Economy – 22,500 miles
- Business – 45,000 miles
Although you won’t find Delta’s new Delta One Suites on any of these routes, you’ll find some great business class and economy options.
Booking Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is very easy. Unlike others where you have to search for award availability in one place and then book elsewhere, you can search and book Delta flights to Brazil all online at Virgin Atlantic’s website.
You can search from Virgin Atlantic’s home page. It recently got a revamp which no longer allows you to choose to see 5 weeks of availability. To search, you’ll need to select “Advanced Search” to choose to book with miles. You’ll be shown a week of dates but you can expand the calendar to 5 weeks from there.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles are some of the easiest to earn. They transfer from every major bank program: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and American Express Membership Rewards.
American Express has run a transfer bonus one to two times a year the past few years, so keep a lookout for a transfer bonus if you’re planning on redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles to fly to Brazil.
If you’re new to points and miles, you can start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred which is one of our favorite cards for beginners. If you’re over 5/24, look to American Express cards such as the The Platinum Card from American Express or the American Express Gold Card cards.
Singapore’s KrisFlyer award program is a great way to book Star Alliance flights to Brazil. As a Star Alliance member, you’ll have more options for flights to Brazil than with any other alliance. You can book flights on United, Air Canada, Copa, or Avianca using KrisFlyer miles.
KrisFlyer has a region-based award chart and Brazil is part of South America region 2.
Economy class awards are only 35,000 miles one-way, but you can book business class for just a few more. Business-class flights require just 57,500 miles each way. Considering some flights can be 10 hours long, such as Air Canada’s flight between Toronto (YYZ) and Sao Paulo (GRU), this presents a good value in either cabin.
Singapore does pass on fuel surcharges for partner flights, so you’ll want to pick your flights carefully. Air Canada has high fuel surcharges, around $300 one-way, while flights on United, Copa, and Avianca don’t have surcharges. Keep this in mind when making your booking.
You can book star alliance awards online at www.singaporeair.com. The search isn’t as flexible as others, so you may want to start your search over on United to find specific dates. Once you’ve found them, head over to Singapore to book it.
What makes Singapore KrisFlyer such a great program is the ease of earning miles. All major bank programs transfer to Singapore: Chase, Citi, Capital One, and American Express all have Singapore as a transfer partner.
Keep in mind, Singapore transfers aren’t instantaneous. Chase takes about 4 hours to transfer, but only if you’ve transferred before. Expect longer the first time. American Express takes about one day. Citi takes 1-2 days, and Marriott can take a week or longer.
Another option for Star Alliance flights is Avianca’s LifeMiles program. Unlike Singapore KrisFlyer, Avianca doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges so you’ll find your taxes and fees will be lower. You will have to pay a few more points for the flights, however.
Using LifeMiles you’ll have access to the same Star Alliance award availability that Singapore does, so searching on United is still going to be a good way to find availability. To help guide your search, try the following route options:
- Washington DC (IAD) to Sao Paolo (GRU) – United
- Houston (IAH) to Sao Paolo (GRU) – United
- Houston (IAH) to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) – United
- Chicago (ORD) to Sao Paolo (GRU) – United
- Miami (MIA) to Sao Paolo (GRU) with a layover in Bogata (BOG) – Avianca
- Houston (IAH) to Sao Paolo (GRU) with a layover in Bogata (BOG) – Avianca
- Miami (MIA) to Sao Paolo (GRU) with a layover in Panama City (PTY) – Copa
- Miami (MIA) to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) with a layover in Panama City (PTY) – Copa
- Houston (IAH) to Sao Paolo (GRU) with a layover in Panama City (PTY) – Copa
- Houston (IAH) to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) with a layover in Panama City (PTY) – Copa
You’ll find yourself needing a few more miles to book with LifeMiles than other programs cost: 30,000 each way in economy or 50,000 in business. However, the ease of acquiring LifeMiles certainly helps ease the higher costs.
Once you’ve found availability on United, you can check on the LifeMiles website to confirm availability.
The site can be a bit more difficult to navigate than others, so here’s how to do it.
First, if LifeMiles treats you like it does me, change the language to English in the upper right-hand corner if needed and proceed to log in.
Once logged in, click “Fly.” If you found award availability on Avianca, leave it at Avianca. If you found it for Star Alliance partners, select “Star Alliance.” I haven’t figured out Smart Search, but it never seems to show me availability that I’ve already found elsewhere. Changing to Star Alliance seems to make it appear.
Then, enter your origin and destination, hit search, and you’ll be shown availability.
You can easily earn Avianca LifeMiles by transferring American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards.
Avianca LifeMiles are the one rewards currency worth considering purchasing.. They routinely run large sales where you can stock up on the points for cheaper than the cash cost of a flight. Always run the numbers first, but this buying LifeMiles can be an exception to the “don’t buy miles” rule.
Since you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards, keep an eye out for 100,000 membership rewards offer on an American Express Platinum Card. You can also look at the Citi Premier or Prestige cards as a great offering for ThankYou Rewards.
Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program is a great way to book American Airlines flights to Brazil. When booking with Asia Miles, the price will be based on the total distance traveled.
Flights from New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA) to Sao Paolo (GRU) or Rio de Janeiro (GIG) fall into the 2,751-5,000 miles range and require 27,000 miles for economy, 61,000 for business, or 87,000 for first class.
Asia Miles can book into Premium Economy as well, but not yet for American Airlines. When it does become available, these routes should require only 30,000 miles for premium economy to Brazil.
The routes from Dallas (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX) to Sao Paolo (GRU) are in the 5,000-7,500 mile range and require a few more miles: 40,000 for economy, 75,000 for business, and 120,000 for first class.
Unfortunately, you can’t book an award ticket on American Airlines directly online. You can search with British Airways to find award availability. Once you’ve found the award space, you’ll have to call Asia Miles or to submit a flight award request form.
Response times vary and can sometimes take a few weeks – especially during busy times. For this reason, you’re much better off calling to book so award space doesn’t disappear while you wait.
You can earn Cathay Pacific Asia Miles by transferring American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards. Keep an eye out for transfer bonuses, especially from American Express, to help increase the value of each point transferred.
For Asia Miles, I really like American Express Membership Rewards given the opportunity for transfer bonuses. One of my favorite cards for earning Membership Rewards is the American Express Gold Card. It comes with a generous bonus, and it earns 4 points per dollar at US supermarkets making it a great card for everyday spend.
There’s a lot of great non-stop or connecting flight options to get to Brazil from the US. You’ll find most of the nonstop flights arriving in Sao Paolo, with some in Rio de Janeiro, and a few to the capital Brasilia.
With so many great options, you’ll find it easy to get the points needed for a great trip to Brazil.
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