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Using Skymiles To Get To Buenos Aires On Aerolineas Argentinas

I still have a few hundred thousand Delta Skymiles from a promotion that they ran in 2011 where you could effectively buy miles for 1.06 cents each. This has meant that low-mileage (60,000 mile) coach tickets from the US to Buenos Aires have been costing me U$S 636 and low-mileage (100,000 mile) business class tickets only U$S 1060. As a business class ticket is typically U$S 3700 or more, this is quite a deal.

New York to Buenos AiresThe problem, of course, is that Delta is notorious for not having much low-mileage availability. Things are so bad that Skymiles are often referred to as Skypesos. Still, by being very flexible and checking the Delta website frequently, I have been able to book three Delta business class flights, one Aeromexico business class flight and a Delta coach flight with these miles.

Sometimes though it can be impossible to find any low-level space, even with being flexible, as I recently found when looking for a trip back to the States in the April/May timeframe. Delta was showing nothing at all. Nada. Zilch.

Luckily, I remembered that Aerolineas Argentinas was also a Skyteam member (as of August 2012) and had recently added a new Buenos Aires (EZE) to New York (JFK) direct flight as of December 2013. Of course, the Delta website does not show any of this award space.

Lots of Buenos Aires to New York award space

Lots of Buenos Aires to New York award space

That meant it was time to head over to the Air France website and search with their award booking tool. (Just sign up as a free Flying Blue member and you’ll get access to the site.) It worked great! Aerolineas Argentinas had a lot of low level award business space available. Plus they’re flying new Airbus A330-200 planes with lie-flat seats in Club Condor.

As they had a lot of availability, my next step was to see what low-level mileage options Delta had from New York to Boston (my ultimate destination). For this I went back to the Delta site and looked at First Class award availability from JFK-BOS in that same time frame. Luckily, a couple of options came back and I then compared those with the Aerolineas Argentinas availability to find flights that worked. I wrote all of the flight numbers down and then called Delta to book this itinerary as it could not be booked online.

Luckily, the Delta rep that I got was pretty good and while he had never booked Aerolineas Argentinas before, when I fed him the flight segments with flight numbers (EZE to JFK, JFK to BOS, BOS to JFK, and JFK to EZE) he found the same availability and the trip priced out to 100,000 miles plus U$S 107.32. There’s a $25 phone booking fee that cannot be avoided.

He was able to book my seats for the Delta flights from New York to Boston, but could not assign seats for Buenos Aires to New York. He gave me a Aerolineas Argentinas record locator and with that I was able to call them directly and get my seats assigned. All set!

Of course, Aerolineas is notorious for their poor performance and customer service, so we’ll have to see how it goes. I’ll be sure and post a review of the flight afterwards.

Some things to know if you want to use Skymiles to get to Buenos Aires on Aerolineas Argentinas:

  • I only touched lightly on how to look for these award tickets. You can also read the Rapid Travel Chai blog on how to book Aerolineas tickets with Skymiles for some extra details.
  • Delta just recently devalued their award chart. After June 1, 2014, low-level award flights from the US to Buenos Aires will cost 125,000 miles. 🙁
  • If you’re not in New York, you can also search Aerolineas availability to Miami as they also have a lot of low level space. The biggest issue is getting to JFK or MIA if you are not in those cities.
  • If you’re coming from the US to Buenos Aires, you may be able to add on a stopover in Buenos Aires and continue on to another city as well for the same number of miles. For example, New York -> Buenos Aires (4 day stopover) -> Mendoza -> Buenos Aires -> New York.

If you need to get Skymiles, there’s a few good ways:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one of the best all-around travel cards. Points earned here can be transferred to numerous hotel and airline partners. They currently have a 40,000 point signup offer.
  • The Delta Amex cards (personal and business) offer 30,000 miles at signup.
  • American Express Membership rewards points can be transferred to Delta.
  • The Starwood Preferred Guest Amex cards offer 25,000 points at signup and can be transferred to airlines. For every 20,000 miles you transfer to Delta, you’ll get 25,000 Delta miles.

Anyone have any experience on Aerolineas Argentinas to the States?

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Bringing My Stuff

I’m planning on being in Buenos Aires for a year or two, and since I heard that shipping anything from the US is a real pain in the ass, I’m planning on bringing everything I need with me. This includes all my clothes and personal items, as well as laptops, small electronics (Vonage router, wireless router, iPods, Wii, Wii Fit, iPod speakers, voltage converters), a PC and LCD screen. I’ve already sold a lot of my stuff on Craigslist and eBay, and the rest of my stuff is being put in storage.

I’m flying Delta and they allow you to bring up to 10 bags per person, but once you go over the fifth bag, that rate increases substantially (Bags 3-5: $150ea, Bags 6-8: $300ea, Bags 9-10: $600ea)  . I’ll probably try and bring no more than 5 bags and try to keep each one under Delta’s size and weight requirements, thus avoiding additional charges too (51-70 lbs: $80ea, 71-100 lbs: $150ea / 62-80 inches: $150 ea).  Still at 3 extra bags, I’ll probably plan to pay at least $450 at the airport.

I’m bringing my electronics and computers because I’ve heard that these items are quite expensive in Argentina, so it makes sense to bring what you can with you. Being that my work is pretty much all based on the Internet too, I need to have all the same things I would have at home.

I have a flight back to the US scheduled for December, so I’m hoping that anything else I need can be picked up then.

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