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I’m intrigued by flights and awards that don’t involve America. If there’s a cool award to get from Australia to SE Asia, that can be integral to a longer, better, and cheaper trip.

My two favorite continents to explore are South America and Europe. Although I’ve never flown directly between the two continents, there are some intriguing options (all of which are fuel surcharge-free):

  • Singapore First Class for only 59,000 miles one way
  • Avianca Dreamliner direct from second-tier cities
  • Swiss Business Class
  • British Airways First Class, super-duper cheap on the US Airways award chart
  • Economy class for only 20,000 miles one way

Obviously you won’t be very interested in flights like these for a weeklong vacation, but if you have a month free or a year when you’re traveling around the world, there are great reasons to fly from South America to Europe or vice versa.

The Brazil Effect

It is illegal to add fuel surcharges to flights in Brazil. In practice, this means that international airlines don’t add fuel surcharges to their flights out of Brazil but do add fuel surcharges on their flights to Brazil.

(Weirdly the only exception I know is that British Airways collects fuel surcharges on Avios awards out of Brazil. American Airlines does NOT collect fuel surcharges on the same British Airways flights out of Brazil as I’ll show below.)

That means that, while it is the same number of miles in either direction between Europe and South America, it will often be hundreds of dollars cheaper to fly from South America to Europe instead of vice versa.

Several of the deals in this post have fuel surcharges unless you fly from South America to Europe via Brazil.

Avianca Dreamliner from Second Tier Cities

I wrote about Avianca’s brand new Dreamliner the other day. I didn’t mention the European routes:

  • Bogota to London starting July 2, 2015
  • Bogota to Madrid starting July 31
  • Cali to Madrid starting October 20
  • Medellin to Madrid starting December 19

I’m most intrigued by the Cali and Medellin flights. How often to you get to fly 10 hours from a country’s second-tier cities without having to connect through the big hub airport? (This is a reason to love the 787 Dreamliner; theoretically it should make more of these routes possible.)

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Avianca Dreamliner Bed

Award space is sparse on the Medellin and Cali flights to Madrid for one person in Business Class once they appear on the schedule partly because neither is a daily flight. But the space does exist, and I will assume if you are flying from South America to Europe that you have a pretty flexible schedule.


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CaliScreen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.41.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.40.58 PM


Bogota-to-Madrid space, by contrast is wide open. Note that not all flights are operated by the fully flat beds of the 787. Some are on the pretty comfortable, but not fully flat, beds of the A330.Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.40.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.40.04 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.39.51 PM

United charges 80,000 miles one way from Northern South America to Europe in Business Class on the Avianca Dreamliner, which is steep. Lufthansa charges only 67,000 miles one way in Business Class from South America to Europe. Singapore charges 78,000 miles one way.

Swiss Business Class

I wrote about Swiss Business Class today because it looks fantastic and United is discounting it through Saturday from the United States to Europe.

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Swiss flies from Sao Paulo to Zurich with Business Class award space that will initially look familiar to anyone who read today’s post on Swiss’ award space from the United States. There is good award space for the next month.

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What might surprise, though, is that there is also good award space in July and August. From the United States, Swiss is very stingy with award space more than a few weeks out.

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United charges 87,500 miles one way from Southern South America to Europe in Business Class, which is steep. Lufthansa charges only 67,000 miles one way in Business Class from South America to Europe. Singapore charges 78,000 miles one way.

Singapore First Class

Singapore Airlines flies a route from Sao Paulo to Barcelona to Singapore and vice versa. Just like its New York to Frankfurt to Singapore leg, you can book any single part as an award.

And Sao Paulo to Barcelona is way underpriced at 58,225 Singapore miles + $37 one way for 10.5 hours in Singapore First Class–one of the nicest in the world.

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The only way this could be better is if the route were operated by an A380 instead of a 777-300ER, but the service and food will still be the same. I flew the Singapore 777-300ER in First Class, and the bed is very comfortable.

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New Singapore First Class


British Airways First Class

British Airways flies from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to London. You normally can’t get onto British Airways award flights without fuel surcharges, but because of the Brazil departure, American Airlines just collects miles and taxes.

American charges a rather pricey 70k miles each way in Business and 90k miles each way in First Class.

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On the bright side, taxes are only $37.

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You can get on these flights much more cheaply as part of a roundtrip US Airways award.

  • 70k US Airways miles roundtrip in economy from South America to Europe
  • 100k miles roundtrip in Business Class
  • 130k miles roundtrip in First Class

It is harder to think of reasons an American would want to book a roundtrip award from South America to Europe, but you can always return from Europe to South America via North America and simply not fly the North America to South America leg(s.)

I actually once booked myself a roundtrip Business Class award from South America to Europe with US Airways miles and did exactly that–I skipped my Chicago to Buenos Aires flights.

You could book:

  • Rio de Janeiro to London (British Airways First Class)
  • open jaw
  • Berlin to London to Los Angeles (American Airlines First Class on its best plane)
  • Los Angeles to Dallas to Rio de Janeiro (within 24 hours of landing in Los Angeles, in any cabin, collect bags in LA and go home without flying)

This would cost only 130,000 US Airways miles.

Flying Blue Promo Awards

You know those posts I write every month about Flying Blue Promo awards? Promo awards allow you to fly from the United States to Europe or Israel for as little as 12,500 miles one way. The fuel surcharges in economy are bearable, and the fuel surcharges out of Brazil are even better: zero as usual.

Here’s a full post on Promo awards out of Brazil.

Promo awards can cost as little as 20,000 miles one way in economy and 40,000 in Premium economy between Brazil and anywhere in Europe.

Here are the current Promo awards.

Bottom Line

There are some cheap, interesting, and luxurious award possibilities between South America and Europe. Flying from South America to Europe will often be cheaper because award flights out of Brazil do not have fuel surcharges in almost all programs.

Check out Singapore First Class, an underpriced US Airways award, or an economy flight for only 20,000 miles. as part of your big trip around the world.

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