Mile Value points out a nice sweet spot on the Etihad Guest award chart: flights on GOL within (and to) South America. Etihad Guest is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou points, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest — making it easy to transfer points for an award.
GOL is a Brazilian carrier based in São Paulo and Etihad’s award chart for travel on GOL is distance-based, so the number of miles required will depend on the distance you plan to travel. Awards must be booked over the phone, and legend has it that Etihad phone agents aren’t always well-versed in partner award bookings. Both Mile Value and Gary at View from the Wing suggest trying the Manchester, UK call center at 44 0345 6081225 (I believe Google Voice charges a penny a minute to the UK — not the end of the world if you need to hang up and call back).
Here is the award chart:
Note that the chart above says that tickets must be purchased 24 hours in advance, but Mile Value reports that 14-day advance purchase is required. Mile Value’s information comes from a reader with experience booking awards this way, so keep in mind that you may not be able to book close-in travel despite what the chart says.
Mile Value has some excellent graphics depicting where you can go within each distance radius, but a few interesting examples include:
- 3,000 Etihad miles + $10.20 to fly GOL São Paulo > Rio de Janeiro
- 9,000 Etihad miles + $38 to fly GOL Rio de Janeiro > Buenos Aires
- 23,000 Etihad miles +?? to fly GOL Punta Cana > São Paulo
And those are just a few. See their post for more examples.
Flights within South America can be surprisingly expensive on many routes. These rates represent good value compared to the next best option (12.5K Delta SkyMiles on the short routes and 30K from Punta Cana).
Availability is searchable on Delta.com — make sure to choose Delta & partners. I searched direct flights only to be sure I wasn’t finding connections on Delta. Dates with the lowest prices (30K from Punta Cana to São Paulo, 12.5K for all routes wholly within South America) should be GOL flights:
Availability looks good on a number of routes, though I have not called to try to book. Delta does not yet show availability for Carnival 2018, but if you’re willing to go early I’m seeing availability both from Punta Cana to São Paulo and on to Rio. That would require two separate awards, but should cost 26,000 miles total plus taxes:
GOL doesn’t fly many long-haul routes, but they appear to fly to Paraguay, Uraguay, Chile, Argentina, Suriname, and Bolivia in addition to flying all over Brazil. Whether 3,000 miles between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro or 23,000 from Punta Cana to São Paulo, there are some great values to be had in comparison to cash prices when using Eihad Guest miles to book GOL flights. If you find other interesting routes, let us know in the comments!
HT: Mile Value