American Airlines has announced a new route from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo starting December 16, 2013. The flight will be operated with a three-cabin 777-200.

This is the second west coast to Brazil route, with Korean Air also operating Los Angeles to Sao Paulo on a route I’ve mentioned before as The Coolest Thing You Can Do with 100k Delta SkyMiles.

The route adds to American’s flights to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro from:

  • New York-JFK
  • Miami
  • Dallas/Fort Worth

I took a look at award space on the route in all cabins to see what options west coasters have to Brazil.

What’s the award space picture? What award booking hacks can improve the value of this award? Can this route get you to the World Cup next summer?

Starting December 16:

  • AA 215 departs Los Angeles at 10:45 PM and lands in Sao Paulo the next day at 3:30 PM (11hr45min)
  • AA 216 departs Sao Paulo at 11:15 PM and lands in Los Angeles the next day at 6:40 AM (12hr25min)

The award space picture on the route is grim. Below I’ll reproduce all award space at the MileSAAver level in all cabins in both directions.

I can do that because there is no award space in business or first class loaded onto the schedule that is now open through August. I have to think that at some point, award space will be open in those cabins, but for the moment only economy space is available.

All the calendars below show award space only on the direct flights. I used Bill’s trick to make the aa.com calendar load only results for direct flights.

Los Angeles to Sao Paulo, light green signifies days with economy saver award space on the direct flight

What I note is that space is pretty good from mid-February to mid-May. There is no space for flights during the World Cup.

Sao Paulo to Los Angeles, light green signifies days with economy saver award space on the direct flight

The return picture is pretty similar. There is decent space during the 20k off-peak window, but no space during the World Cup.

Maximizing the Award

Citi American Airlines cardholders get a 10% rebate on the miles used to book an award up to 10k miles rebated per year. That means a one way award could be as low as 18k miles plus tax if flown March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30, the off peak dates to South America Zone 2 on American’s award chart.

As I’ve discussed before, American’s computer doesn’t calculate off peak dates as you’d expect. Instead of using the date of the international flight for the determining date, American’s computers use the date of the first segment as the determining date.

That means you can fly to Brazil all year round for 18k miles one way as long as you add a free oneway to Los Angeles beforehand during an off peak time period.

For more on making your peak-season American Airlines awards price as off-peak awards, see 20k Miles to All of Europe All Summer.

Beyond ensuring an off peak price, Los Angeles-based flyers can add a free oneway to Los Angeles before a roundtrip award to Sao Paulo and a free oneway from Los Angeles to somewhere including Hawaii after the roundtrip award. That’s two total free oneways and a trip to Brazil for as little as 36k miles plus taxes!

Total Cost

Brazillian aviation taxes are low, so the award prices out with only $55 in taxes for a roundtrip.

Recap

American Airlines will begin flying from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo on December 16. This is great news for west coast flyers, since it provides a second direct flight on the route, and it opens up free oneway possibilities to Hawaii on awards to South America.

Before you pack for the World Cup, though, the award-space picture is sobering. There are no business or first class award seats loaded on the schedule through August. There is decent economy award availability–which is as little as 20k miles each way–but none during the World Cup.




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