In January, I’ll be in the United States, and I’ll need to get back down to Southern South America. It would be fun to break the trip up with a few stops because there is a lot to discover in the Americas.

If I book a United Three One Way Award (read this if you don’t know what that is) I can stop two places along the way for as long as I’d like in addition to my final destination.

Some places on the top of my list right now are Guatemala to see parts of the country I missed my first time, especially Semuc Champey; northern Colombia to see Cartagena, Parque Tayrona, and hike to the Ciudad Perdida; and Santiago, Chile because it is one of the few South American capitals I haven’t seen. Santiago could also be a jumping off point to Easter Island, which I would like to see one day.

I played around on united.com and came up with two possible itineraries for myself. Both start in Los Angeles where my award that flies an Etihad A380 in First Class ends. Both awards end in Buenos Aires. I plan to spend a few months early in 2016 in Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro.

Option 1: Stop in Guatemala City and Santiago

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Award space is very good on the LACSA (part of Avianca/TACA) direct flight from Los Angeles to Guatemala City in economy and Business Class.

Award space is very good from Guatemala to Santiago (and really throughout the Americas) on Copa flights connecting in Panama City.

Award space is spotty, but available on some days, on the Air Canada tag flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires. If booked in Business Class, you get a flat bed for the approximately 90 minutes you are in the air.

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With just the last leg in flat bed Business Class, the award is 50,000 United miles.
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With the whole thing in economy, the award is 42,500 miles.
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This means that United considers Santiago to be the destination of the award. Los Angeles to Santiago is 30,000 miles in economy and Santiago to Buenos Aires is another 12,500.

Option 2: Stop in Colombia and Santiago

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 4.34.42 PMI would actually want to stop in Baranquilla or Cartagena and not Bogota, but I was getting errors trying to book that online. I believe they would be bookable by phone, but I still haven’t tried.

United’s computer thinks the destination here is Bogota, so the award is 40,000 miles total in economy, 20,000 from Los Angeles to Bogota and 20,000 more from Bogota to Buenos Aires.

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Interestingly, the award has two connections in Panama City without issue.
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Option 3: Stops in Guatemala and Colombia, making Santiago the destination

I could even make all three stops. In this scenario, my destination would be Guatemala. The stopover would be in Colombia and the destination of the “return” would be Santiago, so the award would cost 37,500 United miles. There’s a similar award here.

Then I could book Santiago to Buenos Aires on LAN with Avios for 7,500 Avios + $30 or 2,500 Avios + $83. I’d choose the 2,500 Avios option.

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Bottom Line

Why go from Point A directly to Point B when miles excel at offering bigger trips?

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