Tag Archives | Travel

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?


Our Buenos Aires Staycations (AKA Mattress Runs)

When my wife told her friends that we were spending last Saturday night at the Puerto Madero Holiday Inn Express, they were a bit confused. Why would we be going 15 minutes away and staying at a hotel in our own city?

Welcome to the world of a points junkie.

Due to a combination of promotions and offers from IHG, our stay at the Holiday Inn Express last Saturday night and our stay at the Intercontinental Buenos Aires this coming Saturday will net us enough points for up to 12 nights at an IHG property, all for a cost of less than U$S 240. This is what’s known as “mattress running” – staying at a hotel for the sole purpose of earning points or status due to reduced rates or promotional offers.

Dinner at Bice, Puerto Madero

Romantic Dinner at Bice, Puerto Madero

For the first night of our mattress run at the Holiday Inn Express Buenos Aires , we ended up with 35,792 points. These points, conservatively, have a value of U$S 250.54, and with the IHG Points Break promotion can be good for up to 7  nights at an IHG hotel. Our cost? About ARS $1000, which at the blue rate is U$S 104. Not a bad deal for a one night stay. Plus, we got a night out away from home, free breakfast and lots of air conditioning! We also spent some time in Puerto Madero – an area we do not frequently make it to.

With the IHG Big Win promotion, our stay at the Intercontinental this coming weekend will get us at least another 25,000 points (it’s hard to know exactly how many points it will be with all the overlapping promotions), and yet another chance to get out of the house for something different. We’ll get to enjoy the pool, gym, spa, highly-rated restaurant and, since it’s supposed to be over 100 degrees on Saturday, lots of air conditioning too.

See, staycations can be both fun and profitable! (UPDATE: Our two nights got us a total of 65,576 points. This can very conservatively be valued at U$S 459.)

If you’re looking for a hotel deal yourself, check out two Marriott promotions that can be combined to give you 2 free nights plus bonus points after two stays (or 3 free nights after four stays):

While this one is probably not worthy of a mattress run, if you have any planned trips, it may be worth changing hotels and staying at a Marriott brand to take advantage of this. (Please note that a stay is defined as consecutive nights at the same hotel regardless of check in/check out activity.)



Milepoint Premier Membership Available – Great Deal for Infrequent Travelers

Milepoint Premium Membership OfferI’ve written numerous times on this blog about miles and points. I’m a bit obsessed with them, but for good reason – a family of four who wants to travel internationally from Argentina can expect to pay a LOT of money. That is where miles and points come in. They give our family the opportunity to travel without spending thousands of dollars each time we do it.

This latest offer from Milepoint, one of the premier frequent flyer forums on the web, is one that I just took advantage of and I think many of you may find useful. For $49.95, you’ll get their premium membership which includes a lot of frequent traveler goodies, including:

  • Hilton Gold Status: this is the best mid-tier hotel status you can get and gives you free breakfast, internet and occasional upgrades
  • 1,000 United miles: at least $20 in value
  • National Car Rental Executive Status: better car rentals and free upgrade
  • Pointshound Level 2 Membership: earn bonus miles from hotel stays
  • Hyatt gift card discount: 10% off Hyatt gift cards (up to $5000) which can be used for stays, incidentals and spas.
  • Many other discounts on gear, frequent flyer programs, etc. like AwardWallet Plus, InsideFlyer.com, and UsingMiles

The full list of partners and discounts is on their site, but if you’re traveling at all it’s pretty easy to see how easy it will be to get your money back.

We have a February trip to The Conrad Punta del Este (on points), and with Hilton Gold status that means we’ll be getting free breakfast for two, free Internet ($20/day), possible lounge access and potential room upgrade. I’d estimate this at over $300 in value for this trip alone! We’re also looking at some Hyatt stays next year (on points), and 10% off gift cards will be good for incidentals charges.


Hurry up and get your membership now though. Last year when they ran this promotion it sold out within 3 days.

And for those of us in Argentina, check out the 20% off Scottevest. These look like the perfect clothing for iPhone and iPad smuggling. 🙂


Fly To Buenos Aires for Only $706 – US Airways Share Miles Promotion

I’ve written a few times about US Airways’ “buy miles” promotions which are offered several times a year and are a fairly decent way to get cheap business class fares to Buenos Aires. Through those offers you can buy 100,000 US Airways miles for U$S 1881, or about 1.9 cents each. Now that’s a pretty good deal, but this new promotion is even better…

US Airways Share Miles PromotionUS Airways is offering a 100% bonus on “shared miles until October 15, 2013. That means that when you transfer miles to someone else’s account, they’ll end up with double the amount that you transferred. Send 10,000, get 20,000. Send 20,000, get 40,000. And so on.

The maximum amount of miles you can send is 50,000. This would cost you $567.50 and give the person you sent miles to 100,000 in their account. This works out to buying 50,000 miles at 1.13 cents each. That’s an incredible deal!

60,000 miles is  enough to get you a round trip coach airfare from Buenos Aires to the States (or vice-versa).As US Airways does not fly to Argentina, you’ll have to use those miles on a Star Alliance partner like United or Copa. Since you have to pay the phone booking fee of $50 for this award, your total cost would work out to $706.00. That’s a pretty substantial savings from normal coach fares which are $1200+. If you transfer the 50,000 miles from one account to the other and then back again, you’ve just got an extra 100,000 miles – enough for a business class ticket to Buenos Aires for only $1185 ($567.50 1st transfer + $567.50 2nd transfer + $50 phone booking fee). Now, that’s an awesome price for a business class ticket!

To take part in this promotion you’ll need to have an account that been open at least 12 days and you’ll also need the initial US Airways miles in your account (or a friend’s or family member’s) to share. If you do not have US Airways miles, you can transfer 40,000 Starwood points to the US Airways program and get a total of 50,000 US Airways miles.

I have already done this three ways: from me to my wife, from my wife to my daughter, and then from my daughter back to me. That means that as a family we’re now up 150,000 miles for only $1702.50. The points posted instantly.

I’m also hopeful that the US Airways and American Airlines merger goes through. If that happens, it would mean that these miles will convert to American Airlines miles down the road. I find American Airlines miles to be much more valuable and their off-season pricing to South America starts at only 20,000 miles one way!