Machu Picchu is one the few places in the world that can’t be over-hyped. Seriously, no matter how high your expectations are when you get there, I don’t think you can be disappointed.

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Even on my third visit, watching the sunrise over the mountains was spectacular.

So how do you get to Machu Picchu with miles?

It’s actually very easy. The best miles to get to Machu Picchu are American Airlines miles. You can fly to Cuzco, the nearest airport, roundtrip for 35,000 American Airlines miles. Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, so no excuses about not having the miles.

You cannot completely search for your award to Machu Picchu on aa.com, though, so make sure you are searching the right place.

  • Where can you search for award space to Cuzco?
  • How can you book the American Airlines award?

The Problem and Solution

There are no flights to Cuzco from the United States. You will need to connect in Lima. The Lima-to-Cuzco leg will be flown by American Airlines’ partner LAN Peru. LAN Peru is NOT searchable on aa.com, but it is searchable on ba.com.

To get to Lima, you can fly American Airlines from Dallas/Fort Worth or Miami or LAN from Los Angeles, New York, or Miami.

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If you don’t live in Los Angles, Dallas, Miami, or New York, you can connect to those cities on American Airlines, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines flights for zero additional miles. Those three airlines’ award space is searchable on aa.com.

Award Space

Award space is wide open on American’s Dallas to Lima flight in April and August in economy. Unfortunately I found very little Business Class award space on any airline to Peru on my searches.

Ignore the 15,000 mile prices on the April award search. That is the American Airlines off peak price (Master Thread: Off Peak Awards) to Peru, but for an award to price at 15,000 miles, you need to fly only American Airlines flights. Adding a LAN flight to Cuzco jumps the price back to 17,500 miles year round.

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The return shows similar award space in April and August. That means families can go over the Summer or anyone can go next Spring.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.54.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.55.04 PM But remember, we’ve only gotten to Lima with these award searches, and we need to get to Cuzco. Luckily award space on LAN’s Lima-to-Cuzco flights is wide open every day. Here’s the first few weeks of August.

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Calendar from searching ba.com via Award Nexus

Every single one of those days has award space on multiple flights, often as many as six.

Booking the Award

You will have to book this award by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880 since all the award space is not online. Note the date, cabin, and flight number of each segment and feed it to the agent.

The American Airlines flight from Dallas lands at 12:05 AM, and the first flight to Cuzco is at 5:00 AM.

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I would note the details of these flights and feed them to the agent, then do the same for the return.

By the way, to pass the time in Lima, Priority Pass (free with any American Express Platinum along with these benefits) has two 24-hour lounges. The SUMAQ VIP lounge was voted best in the network in 2010.

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The award will cost about $55 in taxes, a $35 phone booking fee, and 35,000 American Airlines miles.

See More of Peru

Peru is my favorite country in the world to visit. It has rainforests, altiplano, mountains, beaches, and desserts; history, adventure, and nightlife; food, culture, and overall awesomeness. (Here’s my Peru Top Ten.)

So I really don’t recommend just flying a roundtrip to Cuzco and coming home.

Unfortunately American Airlines awards don’t allow a stopover to explore, but you can book an open jaw and hop around with Avios. From Cuzco you can fly to:Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.58.51 PM

Spend as much time as you can in Peru. You could easily fill several rewarding months or you could have a blast in ten days.

Bottom Line

Peru is an easy award to score next Spring or Summer. For 35,000 American Airlines miles roundtrip, you can fly to Cuzco, the gateway to Machu Picchu. With Avios, you can hop around and see more of the spectacular country.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

In addition, the card comes with two Admirals Club passes, a 10% rebate on awards (so this award would only be 31,500 miles after the rebate), and free checked bags on domestic American Airlines flights.


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