At the beginning of the week I wrote about how I recently redeemed 45,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, transferred from Ultimate Rewards, to fly Delta One between Atlanta, Georgia and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Virgin Atlantic is not in an airline alliance, but one of its partners is Delta.
That is a competitive price to fly to Southern South America in Business Class, with a type of mile that is also very easy to accrue as four out of the five major transferrable points–Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Marriott Rewards—transfer to Virgin Atlantic. Cheap mileage price + easily earned miles + lots of award space (thanks to Delta’s own members being locked out by preposterous SkyMile prices to fly the same flight) = Jackpot. Often we get one or two factors in that equation, but to be a true sweetspot award you need all three stars to align.
The One Stipulation of This Award
The only downer of this redemption is that you must fly direct to get that 45k price. Adding a Delta domestic segment to your home airport will cost another 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles, as Flying Club awards flying Delta price per segment. That brings the total mileage price to the market standard of around 57.5k one way.
In this post, I will outline which cities in Southern South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) Delta flies to, and from where. Below are the routes you should be able to book Delta One one for 45,000 miles + minimal, unavoidable taxes.
Technically, the 45k price one way price applies to anywhere in South America.
But I’m leaving the places Delta flies to in Northern South America out because 45,000 miles to fly Business to the top of the continent isn’t competitive.
- Atlanta (ATL) <> Buenos Aires (EZE)
Rio de Janeiro
- Atlanta (ATL) <> Rio de Janeiro
- New York City (JFK) <> Rio de Janeiro (seasonally)
- Atlanta (ATL) <> Sao Paulo (GRU)
- New York City (JFK) <> Sao Paulo (GRU)
Atlanta (ATL) <> Santiago (SCL)
Unfortunately there are no direct Delta Between Bolivia, Paraguay, nor Uruguay.
Bonuses to Boost Your Point Balances the Quickest
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards for spending $4,000 in three months
- Chase Ink Business Preferred: 80,000 Ultimate Rewards for spending $5,000 in three months
- Citi ThankYou Premier: 60,000 ThankYou Points for spending $4,000 in three months
- Platinum Card from American Express: 60,000 Membership Rewards for spending $5,000 within three months (or check out the Cardmatch Tool to see if you were targeted for the 100k bonus that’s been floating around)
All of these points transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Other Cheap Options for a Flat Bed Down South
The best price by far is Asiana’s, who only charges 35,000 miles to fly a Star Alliance carrier’s Business Class to the bottom of the continent. But Asiana miles are extremely hard to come by. No points transfer to Asiana’s mileage program, so the only viable way (at least through credit card spend) is through the one credit card that gives you access, Bank of America’s Asiana Visa Signature Card.
ANA’s price is very good as well. It costs 88,000 ANA miles roundtrip to book a Star Alliance carrier, the biggest stipulation being that you need to book roundtrip. You can transfer Membership Rewards to ANA 1:1, so if a United Business award better suits your schedule and you have Amex points, that is just as good an option.
If you find American Business Class award space, your best bet is probably redeeming 50k Etihad miles one way.
If you live near or can find cheap positioning flights to Atlanta or New York City JFK, 45,000 one way or 90,000 roundtrip of an airline mile that is one of the easiest to accrue is a very fair price to pay for Delta One to get to Buenos Aires, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, or São Paulo. And good news, it’s actually bookable! From what I’ve seen at least, you have options.