South America on Citi or Amex points: Etihad Guest awards with GOL

Etihad Guest award Gol Airlines

Mile Value points out a nice sweet spot on the Etihad Guest award chart: flights on GOL within (and to) South America.  Etihad Guest is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou points, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest — making it easy to transfer points for an award.

GOL is a Brazilian carrier based in São Paulo and Etihad’s award chart for travel on GOL is distance-based, so the number of miles required will depend on the distance you plan to travel. Awards must be booked over the phone, and legend has it that Etihad phone agents aren’t always well-versed in partner award bookings. Both Mile Value and Gary at View from the Wing suggest trying the Manchester, UK call center at 44 0345 6081225 (I believe Google Voice charges a penny a minute to the UK — not the end of the world if you need to hang up and call back).

Here is the award chart:

Etihad Guest award Gol Airlines

Note that the chart above says that tickets must be purchased 24 hours in advance, but Mile Value reports that 14-day advance purchase is required. Mile Value’s information comes from a reader with experience booking awards this way, so keep in mind that you may not be able to book close-in travel despite what the chart says.

Mile Value has some excellent graphics depicting where you can go within each distance radius, but a few interesting examples include:

  • 3,000 Etihad miles + $10.20 to fly GOL São Paulo > Rio de Janeiro
  • 9,000 Etihad miles + $38 to fly GOL  Rio de Janeiro > Buenos Aires
  • 23,000 Etihad miles +?? to fly GOL Punta Cana > São Paulo

And those are just a few.  See their post for more examples.

Flights within South America can be surprisingly expensive on many routes. These rates represent good value compared to the next best option (12.5K Delta SkyMiles on the short routes and 30K from Punta Cana).

Availability is searchable on Delta.com — make sure to choose Delta & partners.  I searched direct flights only to be sure I wasn’t finding connections on Delta. Dates with the lowest prices (30K from Punta Cana to São Paulo, 12.5K for all routes wholly within South America) should be GOL flights:

Etihad Guest award Gol Airlines

Punta Cana to São Paulo in September

Availability looks good on a number of routes, though I have not called to try to book. Delta does not yet show availability for Carnival 2018, but if you’re willing to go early I’m seeing availability both from Punta Cana to São Paulo and on to Rio.  That would require two separate awards, but should cost 26,000 miles total plus taxes:

Etihad Guest award Gol AirlinesEtihad Guest award Gol Airlines

GOL doesn’t fly many long-haul routes, but they appear to fly to Paraguay, Uraguay, Chile, Argentina, Suriname, and Bolivia in addition to flying all over Brazil.  Whether 3,000 miles between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro or 23,000 from Punta Cana to São Paulo, there are some great values to be had in comparison to cash prices when using Eihad Guest miles to book GOL flights. If you find other interesting routes, let us know in the comments!

HT: Mile Value

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Comments

  1. One tip: just be sure to never redeem for confort economy. It just don’t worth the double mile price.

  2. For the entire month of May, Google flights is showing $36 from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro so definitely not worth it bothering transferring points and dealing with CS for this.

    • You’re right that you should always look at dates and cash prices before using miles. If you’re looking to travel in late fall / early winter (May), prices will definitely be quite a bit lower than summer travel.

      Looking at dates in December from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, Avianca has the cheapest flights right now at $93 every day. GOL flights are pricing at $393 one-way on that route and are available on Delta’s site — which means they should be bookable for 3k Etihad miles and $10.20.

      If you’re looking for travel during Brazilian summertime, 3k miles + $10.20 for travel on GOL is a decent value relative to the $93 you’d spend with Avianca. After Avianca, the only two carriers with direct flights each day are LATAM ($268) and GOL ($393).

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