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Last year, United reduced its service to Buenos Aires. Across its entire system, United has only one daily flight to Buenos Aires, which leaves from Houston. The flight is operated by a 767-300 with two cabins: economy and flat-bed business.

I’m bummed because I love Buenos Aires, having spent six months in 2013 there, so I always hope for more options to get there.

With the reduced capacity, award space has almost completely disappeared.

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If you have United miles and want to fly to Buenos Aires, your options are bleak.

How bad is the award space on the United flight? What is your other option with United miles?

I count eight days in the next 11 months–mostly in August–with one economy award seat from Houston to Buenos Aires in economy. There are no Saver seats in business on the route.

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Other Options

Since United’s only flight to Buenos Aires has such poor space, you’ll need to connect if you want to get to Buenos Aires.

The two main options are connecting in Lima or Panama City.

Copa Business Class

Copa, a Star Alliance carrier based in Panama City, has up to three daily flights between Panama City and Buenos Aires.

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Space is fantastic in business class on the route, but there is rarely economy space on the route.

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Getting to Panama isn’t too hard since Copa flies to 10 cities in the US and Canada with excellent award space.

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Flying Copa costs the same 60k miles roundtrip in economy and 110k miles roundtrip in business that the direct United flight would cost if it ever had business class Saver space.

Be aware that Copa Business Class seats are simple recliners like you’d find in domestic First Class on any US-based airline.

The bottom line on Copa is that it’s not a great product, but it has great availability and convenient one-stop itineraries from 10 North American cities to Buenos Aires.

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United and TACA Business Classes

The other option that yields Saver award space is to fly United business class from Houston to Lima on a flat bed, spend the night, and connect in the morning to Buenos Aires in TACA business class in a recliner sear.

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This routing accounts for much of the space on the award calendar if you search Houston to Buenos Aires on united.com.

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Most people would probably find a ten hour overnight layover in Lima inconvenient. You can lengthen it to as several days or weeks by making Lima your free stopover on a roundtrip United award. (Lima’s an underrated city that shows up a few times on my Peru Top Ten.)

Recap

Now that United only flies one flight a day to Buenos Aires, it is offering very little award space to one of my favorite cities.

If you have United miles and dream of steak and tango, you can fly to Argentina in a Copa business class recliner or by spending some time in Lima en route.

Buenos Aires is definitely a destination where you’re better served with American Airlines miles.

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