The 7 Best Ways to Fly Business Class to South America on Points

South America is a popular destination for North American travellers due to its range of diverse countries, and depending on where you’re travelling from and to, its relative proximity.

Despite not having to traverse an ocean to get there, it’s still far enough that you’ll want to be comfortable for the journey. Luckily, there are a number of options to consider, including many that can be booked at a significant discount using points.

Let’s take a look at an alphabetical list of the best airlines for flying in business class between North America and South America using points.

1. Air Canada

Air Canada maintains a modest route network to destinations in South America. Currently, the airline operates flights to São Paulo, Lima, and Bogotá from both Toronto and Montreal, as well as a flight to Santiago from Toronto.

Within South America, you’ll find a fifth freedom flight between São Paulo and Buenos Aires.

Air Canada typically offers its flagship business class product, Signature Class, on these routes. The product is largely similar across the different three-cabin aircraft, so there’s no real advantage to looking for one over the other.

Flights to this part of the world are subject to the pricing of the “Between North America–South America” section on the Aeroplan Flight Reward Chart. In theory, at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum, you can expect to pay between 50,000–60,000 points for a one-way flight in business class, depending on the total distance flown.

Direct flights from Toronto to Bogotá or Lima fall under 4,500 miles, while all other destinations are over 4,501 miles.

In practice, as we all know, dynamic pricing with Air Canada flights is often skewed much higher than that.

You may, however, run into situations in which business class is cheaper than premium economy, and marginally more expensive than economy.

The above flights show some values on the more favourable side of the dynamic-pricing spectrum with Air Canada. In the event that dynamic pricing is high, then as long as you have Aeroplan Elite Status and eUpgrades, you can book a flight in economy and upgrade to business class to reduce the cost.

For example, suppose you’d like to fly from Vancouver to Santiago via Toronto. A quick search pulls up the following results.

Booking into business class would cost 121,900 points, which is twice the cost of the lower end of the dynamic range. However, if you were to book in Economy (Latitude) and apply 13 eUpgrades, you could fly in the same cabin for just 63,000 points, as long as there is eUpgrade availability on the flight.

Of course, not everybody has eUpgrades. If you can’t get a good price with Air Canada, then it would be best to consider searching for a flight with a partner airline or booking with another loyalty program.


Air Canada Flight Reviews

2. American Airlines

American Airlines has the largest presence in South America out of all the major North American airlines. Naturally, the US airline ought to be one of the most popular ways to fly down to the continent in business class.

From a Canadian perspective, redeeming miles for American Airlines flights can be a little tricky. Award space that gets displayed in American Airlines AAdvantage doesn’t always get displayed to other partners, such as British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, or Alaska Mileage Plan.

Fortunately, many of these programs are transfer partners with transferable points currencies, or have co-branded credit cards for earning points directly.

Redeem points on American Airlines business class flights to South America

In Canada, RBC Avion transfers to AAdvantage at a 1:0.7 ratio, as well as Avios and Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio. You can also transfer HSBC Rewards to Avios at a 25:10 ratio and Asia Miles at a 25:8 ratio, or American Express Membership Rewards to Avios at a 1:1 ratio and to Asia Miles at a 1:0.75 ratio.

In the US, aside from co-branded American Airlines and Alaska Airlines credit cards for earning points, you can transfer Amex US MR and Capital One miles to Avios and Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio, Citi ThankYou to Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio, and Chase Ultimate Rewards to Avios at a 1:1 ratio. 

On both sides of the border, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio, without a bonus of 5,000 points upon transferring 60,000 points.

When it comes time to redeem, you’ll want to take stock of the points you have available for the flights that you wish to take. 

For example, flights from Toronto to São Paulo via New York JFK price out at 55,000 miles through AAdvantage at the low end.

While you might not always find the same award inventory with Oneworld partner programs, the same flights booked through Avios would cost 92,250 Avios.

If you use Alaska miles, expect to pay at least 57,500 miles.

It goes to show that you’ll want to shop around for the best price if you plan on redeeming your points for AA flights to South America. Doing so will ensure that you get the best price for your flights with the points you have available.

3. Azul Airlines

A niche option for redeeming Aeroplan points is to fly with Brazil-based Azul Airlines, which became a new Aeroplan partner in 2020. The closest destinations to Canada are in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, so you’d need to make your way to Florida prior to catching a flight to Brazil, which you could easily do by tacking on a connecting flight.

Note that flights to São Paulo arrive at Viracopos Airport, the least convenient of the city’s three airports. This means that if São Paulo is your ultimate destination, you may want to consider flying with another airline that arrives at Guarulhos or Congonhas closer to the city. 

Otherwise, Azul remains a good option for accessing some of Brazil’s more remote destinations, which are served well by the airline.

If you manage to find availability on one of these routes, which appears to be quite difficult, you’ll be treated to lie-flat seats aboard its Airbus A330 aircraft. 

Azul A330 business class

These flights are under 4,500 miles in length, meaning that a one-way flight in business class would cost you 50,000 Aeroplan points on their own, or 60,000 Aeroplan points if you tack on a connection from Canada.

Keep an eye out for married segments here. If you search for a direct flight from Florida to Brazil, you may not find what you’re looking for. However, if you’re open to a single stop, you might just find your ideal routing via one of the three long-haul hubs in Brazil.

4. Copa Airlines

Copa Airlines is a Panama-based airline with great connectivity in North, Central, and South America. As a member of Star Alliance, you can reliably find award space in business class through many loyalty programs.

If you’d like to add a stopover in Panama en route to South America, then consider redeeming your Aeroplan points on Copa Airlines, whose entire business model is basically built around acting as a link between Americas North and South.

The Panamanian flag carrier operates from Panama City to Toronto and Montreal, as well as a host of American hub cities.

Their coverage in terms of South American destinations is very comprehensive, serving the major hubs like São Paulo or Santiago with multiple flights per day, as well as second-tier South American airports like Porto Alegre, Mendoza, and Santa Cruz.

Aeroplan redemptions with Copa will cost you 50,000–60,000 Aeroplan points, depending on your departure airport and your ultimate destination in South America.

In 2021, the airline began operating its “Dreams” business class product on new Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, which is its first lie-flat business class product.

Copa Airlines 737 MAX 9 business class

You can find this flagship product from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orlando, and Miami to Panama City. In South America, you can find it on the more major routes to Bogotá, Santiago, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and Belo Horizonte. 

Award availability is quite bountiful across the board, and you shouldn’t have any problems finding multiple seats to get to your destination.

From Canada, you’ll be on a different aircraft without lie-flat seats, so your best bet is to stick to daytime flights as much as possible to avoid an uncomfortable overnight flight. Luckily, many flights to Panama City depart in the morning anyway, which is great.

If you’re not on the lie-flat product, you’ll either be on a Boeing 737 with a 2-2 business class configuration. There aren’t too many lie-flat options from North America to South America, so Copa Airlines can serve as a great backup in terms of network, availability, and a decent onboard product.

Copa Airlines 737 business class

5. Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines flies to a handful of destinations in South America from hubs in Atlanta and New York JFK. 

On some long-haul routes, you can find its flagship business class product Delta One. Whenever possible, you’ll want to keep an eye out for this, as you’ll enjoy the best possible flying experience with Delta.

Delta One 767 business class

The tricky part is going to be finding business class award availability at a reasonable price. This is especially the case if you plan on redeeming through Delta SkyMiles, which is notorious for having sky-high award prices for business class redemptions.

If you luck out and find availability through SkyMiles, then you’ll have scored a great deal. Sometimes, flights in economy are reasonably priced, which is something to consider if you don’t have a large stockpile of SkyMiles.

Otherwise, you’ll want to look at other SkyTeam-member loyalty programs, such as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club or Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Again, Delta is known for not releasing many award seats to partners, so you’ll be lucky to find a good deal. 


While LATAM operates a large number of routes between North America and South America, their joint venture agreement with Delta leaves much to be desired in terms of the value in making partner bookings using SkyMiles.

Still, it’s worth considering, since the carrier is based in South America and has good coverage across the continent.

A better option is to find LATAM business class award availability using Alaska Mileage Plan. Use the calendar search on the search engine to find award availability in business class between North America and South America.

Compared to before, when award availability was difficult to come by, you should now be able to find award flights at a reasonable cost. For example, you can fly from Santiago to New York with LATAM in business class for 45,000 miles plus minimal taxes and fees.

While no news has been announced on LATAM’s ongoing partnership since Alaska Airlines joined Oneworld, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it eventually get phased out as well, since Alaska and Delta have a bit of a heated rivalry going on.

In the long run, it’s very likely we’ll only be able to redeem Delta SkyMiles on LATAM flights, and the opaqueness of the SkyMiles program doesn’t make this a very attractive option. For now, redeeming Alaska miles on LATAM flights remains a reasonable option.

Lastly, it’s possible to redeem Alaska miles to fly between mainland Chile and Easter Island with LATAM for 22,500 miles in economy or 35,000 miles in business class.

Easter Island is a notoriously difficult location to access, so while this may not be the best use of Alaska miles, it’s still nice to have an option available.

7. United

United operates major hubs in Newark, Washington Dulles, Chicago, and San Francisco, and offers a decent network with direct flights to major airports in South America. It also flies a number of routes from Houston to South America.

United offers a comfortable product on their newer Polaris seats and convenient direct flights from many US gateway airports to Santiago, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Quito, and Bogotá.

If you choose to redeem Aeroplan points, flying with United to South America will cost between 50,000–60,000 points, depending on your origin and destination. You may be able to add a connecting flight from a Canadian airport without increasing this cost.

The tricky part is that United’s business class availability patterns can be tough to predict, as they aren’t as reliable about releasing a certain number of seats at the start of the schedule. You’ll have better luck finding award space closer to the date of departure, and sometimes with multiple seats.

Otherwise, you’ll likely want to look to United MileagePlan for a redemption. The program doesn’t have a published award chart, so the cost of a redemption may vary.

For example, you might be able to find a flight from Chicago to Sao Paulo for as few as 62,400 miles.

But that same route might price out at 157,400 miles on a different date.

To determine if your desired flight with United has its newer (and vastly superior) Polaris business class, have a look on Expert Flyer for a 1-2-1 or a 1-1-1 configuration. You can also just search for flights on the United website, which will show “United Polaris business” clearly in the results.

Prior to departure, you’ll also want to make good use of United’s excellent Polaris lounges, located in Newark, Chicago O’Hare, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC.

United Polaris Lounge Newark

Note that United’s new-generation Polaris business class seat hasn’t yet been fully rolled-out across its fleet, but it’s nearing completion of the retrofit. There’s still a chance that you’ll end up on United’s 2-4-2 business class, in which case… well, at least it’s still a lie-flat seat.

United (older) business class
United’s (older) business class

Honourable Mentions

Surely, this isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to get to South America. Here are a couple of honourable mentions for flying to or within the continent for your consideration.

Fifth Freedom Flights

A number of airlines operate fifth freedom routes within South America. These routes can be an interesting way to try out an airline product far away from its home base, and it can also be a reliable way to find award space between two major cities.

For example, there is a fifth freedom flight in Swiss First Class from São Paulo to Buenos Aires that is available with United MileagePlus. In fact, it’s one of the only ways to experience this top-notch exclusive product.

Furthermore, you’ll also find that Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, and Qatar Airways operate fifth freedom flights on this route.

You can even get a taste of Qatar Airways Qsuites, widely considered to be the world’s best business class product, for just 20,000 Avios on this route.

If you have a trip planned to South America, be sure to consider some of these interesting fifth freedom flights to spruce up your trip.


Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Skyteam-member airline Aeromexico is something to consider for flights between North America and South America.

It operates a number of flights between its hub in Mexico City and airports across both continents.

Aeromexico 737 business class

The downside is that premium cabin flights are either extremely difficult to come by through loyalty programs of partner airlines, or very expensive with its own Club Premier program. 

In the absence of any of the above options, be sure to consider Aeromexico, but don’t hold your breath for a good deal on points.


South America’s aviation scene is rather nascent compared to its peers in Europe and Asia, which means that there’s a limited pool of options for you to redeem points for flights down there in business class. Amongst those options, none are overly appealing in terms of the luxury factor.

Instead, trans-Americas flights are often more about the convenience of an overnight journey on a lie-flat bed than anything else, and in that regard, United, Copa Airlines, Air Canada flights booked with Aeroplan points will probably be your top choice.

American Airlines flights can also be worthwhile if you happen to have access to AAdvantage miles. Be sure to consider all of your options, and try to add in a fun fifth freedom flight while you’re at it.

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