Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 10 – Finding LAN & South American Award Availability

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Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro:

American Airlines has terrific availability on its own flights as well as oneworld partner airline LAN to South America.

The best way to check American Airlines’ award availability to South America is online at AA.com.

However, AA.com does NOT show LAN award availability, so we have to use the British Airways website or Qantas website to find LAN award availability, and then call American Airlines to book those flights.

For example, both LAN and American Airlines fly to Buenos Aires.  However, you will only see results for American Airlines flights on AA.com.

So search for LAN flights to Buenos Aires from Los Angeles, Miami, and New York using the British Airways website or the Qantas website.

The Qantas website has a calendar which makes it easy to search for a broad range of dates, but doesn’t list a lot of cities in the search field.  The British Airways website will tell you the total number of award seats available on the flight, but is a bit trickier to use.

Then find a flight from your airport to the LAN departure airport of Los Angeles, Miami, or New York on AA.com.  Lastly, call American Airlines to book the sequence of flights.

American Airlines also has a partnership with the Brazilian Airline GOL, which is ending on August 12, 2012.  However, you can only book award flights on GOL up to August 12, 2012 for travel no later than August 12, 2013.  I don’t know of a free way to search for GOL awards (please comment if you do!), so you have to call American Airlines and specifically request them to search for GOL flights.

Use GOL flights to travel within South America, and in particular Brazil.  Here’s a link to destinations served by GOL.

American Airlines Departure Cities

American Airlines flies to South America from the following North American cities:

  • Dallas to Buenos Aires, Caracas, Quito,  Santiago, Sao Paulo, & Rio de Janeiro
  • Miami to Bello Horizonte, Bogota, Brasilla, Buenos Aires, Cali, Caracas,  Guayaquil, La Paz, Lima, Manaus, Maracaibo, Medellin, Montevideo, Quito, Recife,  Rio de Janeiro, Salvador,  Santiago, Santa Cruz, & Sao Paulo
  • New York to Buenos Aires, Caracas, Guayaquil, Rio de Janeiro,  & Sao Paulo 
  • San Juan to Caracas

LAN Departure Cities

LAN flies to South America from the following North American cities:

  • Los Angeles to Buenos Aires (LAN Peru), Lima (LAN Peru & LAN) & Santiago (LAN)
  • Miami to Caracas (LAN), Bogota (LAN), Buenos Aires (LAN Argentina), Guayaquil (LAN), Lima (LAN Peru), Quito (LAN), & Santiago (LAN)
  • New York JFK to Guayaquil (LAN Ecuador), Lima (LAN), & Santiago (LAN)
  • San Francisco to Lima  & Sao Paulo on LAN Peru

The best free way to check LAN award availability is by using the British Airways website.  Alternatively, you could also use the Qantas website to check LAN  award availability.

Using LAN to fly from the US to South America makes it much easier to get to South America using American Airline miles.  That’s because not only can you fly on American Airlines flights to South America, but you can also fly on LAN to South America and then connect on other LAN flights to get to more destinations in South America.

Here’s a link to the LAN destination guide.

You’ll still pay only the same flat price for your award ticket.

If you’re wondering how to piece together an itinerary using only LAN airlines, use the LAN Flight Schedule to see which flights you need to get from the LAN departure city in the US to your final destination in South America.

Then find availability for those flights using the British Airways website.

British Airways Award Website quirks

In my experience, you don’t have to resort to tricking the British Airways website much (or even at all), since it usually doesn’t find award flights via London when searching for South American awards.  But here’s how to trick it in case you get a routing via London.

The British Airways website will display award availability for ONLY British Airways if there are award seats on British Airways flights available.

For example, if you are flying from the US to Santiago and British Airways AND a partner airline both have award seats, the British Airways website will initially display ONLY the British Airways award seats (and not show the partner award seats).

This is pretty useless if you’re trying to fly to South America from the US because British Airways awards will always route you via London (the opposite direction!) and won’t show you partner airline availability (on LAN and American Airlines) if there are British Airways flights available.

So we’ve got to trick the system by searching for flights on days when there is no British Airways award availability.

Why?

Because if you search for flights on days when British Airways has no award availability on their own flights, they will give you the option to search for award flights on partner airlines (such as LAN).

The British Airways site is also moody and will sometimes refuse to work.  I recommend practicing finding award seats even if you don’t have a specific booking to familiarize yourself with the website.

How to find LAN Award availability

Let’s say I want to find 1 seat from Nashville to Temuco, Chile on October 17, 2012 in Business Class.

I can search on AA.com, but it won’t show LAN award availability, and will prompt me to call the reservation department.

So I break up my flight into segments.  I’ll first look for award availability from:

  • The US to Santiago on LAN using the British Airways or Qantas website
  • Then Santiago to Temuco on LAN using the British Airways or Qantas website
  • Finally the award from Nashville to the US departure city of my LAN international flight on AA.com

All these segments will cost me 50,000 miles for a 1-way Business Class award using American Airlines miles.  I’ll still pay 50,000 miles even if I book a flight with up to 4 segments or a direct flight with only 1 segment since American Airlines has a zone-based award chart.

Segment 1  – Miami to Santiago

Step 1

Log into your British Airways account account by entering your membership number and PIN in the top right side of the screen and click “Log in.

LAN Award

Step 1 – Log into your account

If you don’t have a British Airways Executive Club account, sign-up for a free account here.

Step 2

Click on “Spending Avios” on the left hand side menu under “Executive Club.

In case you’re wondering, Avios is the new name for British Airways miles.

LAN Award

Step 2 – Click on “Spending Avios”

Step 3

Click on “Book Flights with Avios

LAN Award

Step 3 – Click on “Book Flights with Avios”

Step 4

Let’s say I want to check availability from Miami to Santiago on October 17, 2012.

I enter “Miami” in the “From” box and “Santiago” in the “To” box and select my class of service.

LAN Awards

Step 4 – Enter your travel information

I then enter my departure date and click the “One way only” box because I like searching segment by segment to see the most choices.  If you are booking a return trip, just search for the return segments after you find awards for your outbound segments.

And finally, I click on “Get Flights

Step 5

If you’re lucky and British Airways doesn’t have award seats on their flights, you will get the option to search for partner airlines (the screen shot below).

Click either “Search” or “Include Partners” to search for partner airline availability.

LAN Awards

Step 5 – Include Partner Airlines in your search (click either “Search” or “Include Partners”

If you do get a routing via London, follow steps 6 & 7  in my earlier post, Part 8 – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability using the British Airways Website, on using the British Airways tool to find award availability for Cathay Pacific.

Step 6

You now know that there is 1 Business Class award seat from Miami to Santiago on LAN Chile flight 503.  So instead of relying on the American Airlines agent to find this flight for you, you can feed this specific flight to the agent to book.

LAN Awards

Step 6 – Write down your flight information

At this point, write down the flight details.  For example, I’d write down:

LA 0503  from Miami (MIA) to Santiago (SCL) departing at 22:30 on October 17 and arriving in Santiago on October 18 at 07:55 am in Business Class

Segment 2 – Santiago to Temuco

Repeat steps 2 through 6 above to see availability for flights from Santiago to Temuco.  I prefer searching segment by segment to see the best award availability.

LAN Awards

Include partner airlines in your search

Finding award flights within South America is much easier since the British Airways website doesn’t usually try to route you via London on a British Airways flight.

LAN Awards

Search segment by segment and write down the flight details

I’d write down my flights and then ask the American Airlines agent to book the sequence of flights for me.

Taxes and Fees

Booking a LAN award using American Airlines miles is very cheap.

For example, it costs only $2.50 in taxes and fees for a Business Class award ticket from Miami to Santiago in Business Class on LAN.

And $47.50 for the return flight from Santiago to Miami in LAN Business Class.

You’ll have to pay a $25 telephone booking fee, but it is totally worth that fee to get access to partner airlines.

Calling American Airlines to make the booking

I’d then call American Airlines (1-800-433-7300) and ask them to put on hold (for up to 5 days) these specific flights which I found. I’d then double check the flight on hold and call back to ticket the flight.

Reader AK, points out in the comments, that you should specify the operating carrier when asking the American Airlines agent to search for the flights.  Ask for “LP or Lan Peru” if your flight is on LAN Peru instead of saying just “LAN

Bottom Line:  The British Airways award website is quirky, but with a little practice, you’ll soon be able to  search for partner airline awards seats.  Or you can use the Qantas website to search for LAN flights and have Big Travel with Small Money to South America!

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55 responses to “Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 10 – Finding LAN & South American Award Availability

  1. I have been going mad trying to book a flight to South America via the BA website. Nine times out of ten, when I find a LAN flight I want, I call BA, wait on hold for 20 minutes, only to have them tell me they see no availability despite it being available on their website. This has been going on for months and all they ever say is “We’ve been having problems with LAN availability” or “This often happens.” Wish they would fix it.

  2. Just want to point out to your readers that if you call in and the agent can’t find it, repeat the actual name of the operating carrier. I had problems with this when booking on LAN Peru, where both BA and AA couldn’t find the flight until I told them to look under “LP – LAN Peru” and not “LA – LAN.”

    Also, be aware that a lot of LAN flights marketed as direct are not nonstop. For example, there are 2 JFK to Santiago flights — LAN 531 and 533, but only 533 is nonstop, 531 goes through Lima.

  3. Daraius, as always this is incredibly useful. Is it possible to combine Hawaiian Air with LAN on a single routing? I was hoping to exploit the AA award chart sweet spot by booking a one way from Hawaii to SFO, have a stopover in SFO, and then take the flight from SFO to Peru. If not, would this work on AA and LAN or Alaska and LAN?

  4. I’m mostly familiar with AA and LAN Peru and the Caracas situation.

    AA flights non-stop to Caracas from SJU, JFK, DFW and MIA. Not BOS or ORD. MIA is now as regular as 5-6x day, but I’d advise you to stay away from it.

    As for LP, as you pointed out they flight to Caracas from Miami. This is actually only a stop on the way to/from Lima.

    Nice job with everything else.

    PS. People, you can flight SJU to CCS on AA for 4500 Avios and (pennies) or 2250 Avios and ($70, I believe). Once in CCS you can redeem a “Wholly Within””South America Zone 1 All-Partnet Reward to LIM (a major LAN hub) for as little as 10,000 AAdvantage miles.

  5. LAN avail via BA is problematic. There a lot of phantom avail. You cannot depend on this method. I would challenge Darius to actually test this out and prove me wrong.

    • @Landis – I haven’t had this experience, because I haven’t tried booking a LAN flight, but if you see it online, does it not let you complete the booking online?

      @AK
      – That’s a great observation. I’ll make a note of it in the post!

      @zzd
      – You should be able to combine either Hawaiian Air or American Airlines to add on a leg to Hawaii using the North American Gateway city stopover policy.

      @Vinny V – Thanks for the update. I saw the BOS and ORD routes on the oneworld map, but you’re right – they aren’t correct. I’ll update the post.

      @Lee – I’ve made a few dummy bookings and they matched up to what the AAgent could see, but there’s always the possibility of phantom availability.

  6. to find a GOL award on their website, you need first to log in with your Gol Smiles number, then, you can search for awards flights as shown on this link:

    http://www.voegol.com.br/en-us/atendimento/aprenda-usar-servicos-smiles/Paginas/emissao-bilhete-smiles.aspx

    P.S. You will need to know the name of the city where you are flying to and from, because as far as I know, we can not enter airports code on Gol’s website (not very commom in Brazil to use airports code ) plus, Gol flyes to a very limited detinations, so. .good luck

  7. Hey, you can check Gol availability on http://www.voegol.com.br/Smiles/en-us/Paginas/default.aspx create an account, and then check itineraries. Also, able to check Delta, AA, KLM-AirFrance. Probably GOL will join Skyteam since Delta bought a stake.

  8. I spend most of my time living in Argentina and using BA/Lan is always a mess. If you look on Lan’s website they will show lot’s of availability at the lowest redemption rate and BA or AA won’t have the ability to book it. I highly recommend calling BA, because often times they will have availability that doesn’t show on their website. Also, as mentioned, it’s important to note that there is Lan (Chile), Lan Argentina, and Lan Peru.

    I recently used Avios points for a short haul flight within Argentina on Lan. I had to call BA to book it because the airport code for Bariloche wasn’t recognized on BA’s website. I explained to the agent that it was thus impossible to book on-line, and they waived the $50 telephone booking fee.

    One other note…if you are traveling within So. America, transferring Starwood points to Lan is a great deal. 20k SPG gets you 50k Lan kms…and you have much better award availability than using partner airlines.

  9. Daraius: Does it work if one looks for the award availability directly on LAN.com ?

  10. Just printed the entire series to PDF- 87 pages. What a colossal amount of work to put this together! Thank you sir.

  11. Nacho – No. Lan has a lot of award availability that will show at their lowest redemption levels, but not be available to book through AA or BA.

  12. Darius,

    I thought BA reward redemption was better than using AA saver if you live in the US travelling to South America. I haven’t done much comparison, but I thought I read using Avios would be less than using AA miles on AA saver rewards.

    • @Josinei @Celio Martins – Very nice to know. Thanks for sharing the links!

      @Cory – Thanks for sharing. BA/LAN is a mess, but we don’t really have an alternative except calling for better availability.

      @Brian (J) – You’re welcome! I just hope it isn’t too long.

      @Nacho – What Cory said!

      @Adam – It depends where you live. For some, Avios would be terrific. For others AA would be better. And AA would be better for the longer flights.

  13. I just signed up with British Airways to try this and was 0 for 8 in trying lots of combinations between Tampa, Miami, La Paz, Calama (Chile) and even Santiago. Goose eggs, even though I know American has capacity on some of those, esp. Santiago to Miami. And surely LAN does too. Annoying that it’s this hard, especially compared to how great the United/Continental one is for Star Alliance partners.

    • @Timothy – Are you searching segment by segment using the LAN departure cities in the post? Also, you can search for American Airlines award seats on AA.com, but BA or Qantas will show you the LAN flights. But it is annoying that there isn’t a 1-stop website for award flights.

  14. Great job! I love how you always give simple directions that are easy to follow.

    I have lots of AA miles thanks to you and the 2 browser trick. I am interested in redeeming my miles for a month car rental and a hotel stay. Have you ever redeemed AA miles for these things?

  15. Yes, I’m searching by segment, but even to/from Miami to Santiago comes up with a “no availability” message, for every date even if I choose look ahead one week or back one week. I tried Colombia too today to see if that would fare any better, but no. Guess I have to just break down and call and see what happens for using AA miles on LAN. Frustrating since it’s like a U.S. visa application for foreigners—you pay whether it works out or not! Seems like if Star Alliance partners can display this info, One World can too. Somewhere…

    • @DealsSeeker – Glad you find it useful! I wouldn’t redeem AA miles for car rentals because it doesn’t include taxes and fees. I’ve not redeemed for hotels, but it looked like you’d get a value of less than 1 cent per mile, but if you have lots of miles you won’t use for fling, it could be helpful.

      @Timothy – I agree it is frustrating. At least you don’t have to stand in the long lines like for the US Visa!

  16. Do you know whether the $131 (Chile arrival) reciprocity entry fee is applied in Santiago when flying from a US city to Buenos Aires with 2 legs (while staying in the Santiago airport between legs), for example JFK – Santiago, then Santiago – Buenos Aires?

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  18. I also am having significant issues with phantom LAN Award Availability on the BA website. Has anyone been able to address this?Is there a way to make AA able to see it or else have LAN make a seat it’s making available to BA usable by AA too?

  19. Hey Darius,

    I was going to review your post on booking British Airways post like a pro (using my AA miles). But the link is dead, actually most of the links are dead (part 1-10). When I click on the link I get the “Apologies, the page you are looking for is not found). Just an FYI, other users might be getting it too.

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  23. Have you ever noticed that when using Qantas to search for awards, the only Santiago available from the departure pull-down menu is the one in Spain? I had to use an html editor on the fly to change that to SCL to look for flights.

  24. Aloha,

    I was trying to book MIA to EZE using Qantas website for LAN flights. The Qantas website allows a departure from MIA but only shows flights to Australia. What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks

  25. I tried entering the full name, no luck.

  26. Every year I travel from NYC to SCL on LAN using AA or BA Miles. I usually book my tickets in September for Febuary the following year and every year I haven’t had a problem finding 40K round trip Economy Saver Off Peak tickets. Yesterday I attempted to book my flights for Febuary 2013 and I encountered 2 issues. The first issues is that the 20K each way super saver off peak is very very scarce. There was only 2 or 3 day per month where as in the past if I recall correctly there could be 20 days in a month at 20K. The second issue I encountered is when I contacted AA’s call center they told me that there system with LAN for booking award travel was being updated and it is not available. I asked a friend to day who works in corporate sales at LAN what the story was and he was aware of a system upgrade, but didn’t know how long it was going to take and what impact it will have on booking award travel in the future. I have two part question: 1. Does anyone know why there are fewer Economy super saver off peak tickets as compared to last year? Do you think availability of those super saver seats will open up later? and 2. Does anyone know about the upgrade to LAN’s award ticket booking system? How long will it take? Is only AA affected or is BA affected too? And what impact will this have for AA or BA mile holders looking to fly on LAN? Thank you in advance for any feedback.

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  28. how do airlines decide what flights qualify for awards miles ? HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK ????

  29. Hello Darius,

    Whats the best way to use AA points to book a multi-city South America trip.

    I was planning on booking a off-peak AA award from Cincinnati to Rio de Janero for 40k points. Is there a way to use 50k or 60k and add an additional city or two? Possible San Juan, Buenos Aires, or Santiago?

    I’m new to this and have been reading about the LAN awards, and One World etc.

    Any help is most appreciated.

    • @Zach – With AA, you can’t have a stopover outside the North American international departure city, so a stop over in South America won’t be possible. I’d suggest reading milevalue.com for more on the free 1-ways with American Airlines miles. You could use Avios points if you have them for the stop over in South America.

  30. I’m finding the same thing that TravelNYC found…LAN is not releasing award seats to Aadvantage agents. I called the LAN FF line (very difficult to get through) and they confirmed that many seats have not yet been released to AA, nor do they know when it will happen. This despite there being lots of award seats available on the LAN site. Today, the Aagent could not find award seats for a flight less than 6 months away. I’m trying to plan ahead for a December flight, but because I don’t live in a gateway city, I’m concerned that the AA domestic award flights will be gone by the time the LAN flights open up (if ever). NB: LAN award flights don’t show on BA, either.

    PS. Thanks for the great site!

  31. Not finding any LAN flights through BA Avios portal…looks like this has changed. Any other way to find LAN awards flights for AAdvantage?

  32. Okay, I feel like a Neanderthal now, but my head is spinning! I am desperately trying for an end of the year (holiday) vacation to New Zealand for my wife’s 40th birthday. I know you said miles are difficult going that direction (from DFW) but can you give me any other tips on ways to search? I’m trying to take my wife and 2 daughters. We have about 300,000 AA miles. I would even be ecstatic to get one way covered at this point.

    The Qantas website quoted about 2,000,000 miles for the 4 of us. Is that a 1:1 exchange rate for points? Am I fighting a losing battle? Any suggestions?

    Also, are other airlines’ websites easy to navigate using AA points?

  33. I am trying to look up award flights on BA website and wondering if I use BA as one of my segment airlines, would I need to pay any taxes, fees? There are no partners are available for that flight. They have a chart on using avios but how do I know which option is mine if I pay using my AA miles? If these fees are high I may not even consider this segment…..Any ideas?

    Avios price options

    4500 Avios + £ 59.80
    4050 Avios + £ 64.80
    3600 Avios + £ 69.80
    3150 Avios + £ 74.80
    2700 Avios + £ 79.80
    2250 Avios + £ 84.80

  34. Does this routing make sense for an American one-way 20k Milesaver award from Kona, HI, to Santiago, Chile, with a stopover with Mexico City as my North American Gateway city . When I called the agent, she said since Alaska isn’t Oneworld, it would not be possible. I’m wondering if I should call back and try again.

    KOA – LAX – November 3 (redeye)- AA Metal
    LAX – MEX – Nov 4 – Alaska Airlines Metal
    MEX – SCL – November 7 (redeye) – Lan Metal

    Alternatively, on November 4, there is a routing from Kona to Mexico City, all on AA metal, as follows: KOA-LAX-DFW-MEX. Then on November, we would take the Lan flight from MEX to SCL.

    What do you think? Should either be viable? Is it worth calling back to AA reservations?

  35. Hi Daraius – thanks for this info…for I am trying to book a one way ticket from EZE to JFK using American Miles. Will the miles still the same even if airlines is LAN? American Airlines is 50,000 miles from EZE to JFK on business class but LAN is 62,500 miles. Using the American miles, will I pay the 50,000 miles? Thanks in advance!

  36. Hey Daraius, DFW now has non-stop to Lima and Bogota. More options to connect as both cities have a sizable presence of LAN.

  37. Luis Maldonado

    Hi Darius, I would really like to thank you for getting me into the world of miles. I was able to get miles in Panama but i am moving back to Ecuador soon. I would like to go from GYE to SFO round trip but leaving GYE is very expensive using miles i wonder if there is good route to use AA miles and get to SFO.

    Many thanks,
    Luis

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  39. I am about to call AA and try to book a trip to Lima, possibly Cusco, and then onto Santiago using AA miles on LAN flights. Daraius has faith in the AA agents and has said this might only take minutes. Let’s hope.! Anyway, does anyone have any last minute tips? I have a few different LAN itineraries that I’d love to go with, and I’m hoping that AA can get those for me.

  40. Hi Daraius,
    I am trying to get tickets to LAX from Peru in Dec of this year…I see consistent availability in First class on LAN on BA website fro last few days. But when I call AA to book and give them flight number , they say they have no availability. i called up twice but same answer. Any idea what could be the reason? They said that those tickets might have been released to BA by LAN but not to AA. ANy guidance? Thanks, Vikas