Can you use Avios to reach Easter Island or the Galapagos with LAN?

Back in June I wrote an introduction to using your Avios on South American airline LAN.  (As LAN is a fellow airline member of oneworld, alongside BA, you can use your points to redeem for flights to their destinations.)

That article looked at how you can use your points on LAN to travel from Europe to Chile or other parts of the region.  At the time, I promised to write a follow-up – apologies for the delay!

What set off my interest in LAN was a lunch I had with a HFP reader, who told me that it has regular flights to the Galapagos Islands.  You can also use LAN to reach Easter Island.

Whilst I haven’t expanded on it here, LAN is also the only oneworld option if you want to fly to the Falkland Islands!  LAN flies to the Falklands (airport code MPN) every Saturday morning, departing from Santiago and flying via the Chilean city of Punta Arenas.

The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are technically part of Ecuador.  The main airport is Galapagos Baltra (GPS) from where LAN flies daily to Guayaquil (GYE) in Ecuador, from where you can connect to Quito.

In theory, you can use Avios points on this route.  In practice, LAN appears to restrict redemption seats to members of its own frequent flyer scheme LANPASS.  This is a very tricky scheme to earn miles in if you are based in the UK with the best route being from Starwood Preferred Guest.  You could also go from American Express Membership Rewards to Starwood Preferred Guest (2:1) and onto LANPASS (1:1, or 1:1.25 if you transfer 20,000 at a time).

You may find it easier to simply pay for a seat.  From the UK LAN site it prices at between £200 to £300+ in economy for the two-hour return flight.  Some online reports say that LAN flights are often cheaper if booked on the Spanish-language Chilean site.

Easter Island

Easter Island

The other LAN redemption that might appeal is to Easter Island (airport code IPC) which Wikipedia describes as ‘the most remote airport in the world’.  As it is 2,300 miles from Santiago, this may well be true.

LAN also flies to Papeete and, in season, Lima in Peru from Easter Island.

From Santiago, it is a 6 hour flight which costs around £650 in economy, return.  Again, looking at discussion online, prices appear to be lower if booked on the local Chilean version of the LAN site or via a local travel agent when you arrive.

Unfortunately, yet again, LAN appears to be playing games with Avios reward availability.  This Flyertalk thread says that LAN was making reward seats available for one day – and one day only, 330 days out – to oneworld partners earlier this year.  Even that now appears to have dried up and I could not find a single seat in testing.

I would not despair totally.  Looking at Flyertalk it seems that LAN can and does change its availability policy almost at random.  If you were thinking of heading to this part of the world, it is worth keeping in touch with the LAN forum on Flyertalk to see what is happening with seating.

The LAN website is here if you want to have a look at pricing and routes.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

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Comments

  1. Ronster says:

    Will hopefully have the pleasure of travelling J on the LAN Frankfurt-Madrid-Satiago route In December 2015 or possibly January 2016. Looking also at getting to Easter Island as well.

    Special thanks again to Rob for providing all the advise on how to maximise avois redemption.

    Ronster

  2. Sandgrounder says:

    MPN availabilty on the LAN site seems to be all a little bit above the minimum price- which is of course the level offered to Oneworld airlines.

  3. Phillip says:

    LAN restricts a large number of redemptions in South America to partners. It’s the name of their game. Being part of an alliance has never dictated airlines having to give partners the same redemption availability as they offer their own members, and this has been utilised more and more by other major airlines across all alliances in recent years.

  4. Hi,
    Anyone know if there is anyway to load a TAM account? Can you go from Starwood into Tam for example?

    thanks

  5. Lindsey says:

    Thanks for this timely article – I’m currently planning a trip to the Galapagos! So far I’ve found that it’s likely far easier to simply get to mainland Ecuador with points then use one of the smaller airlines to reach the islands – TAME are currently selling return flights to the islands for around £140 which isn’t bad.

  6. LAN availability varies alot by route. I’m going to Peru for a holiday, and availability for internal flights were amazingly good on the BA website. They are also some of the best avios value.

    Cash prices were like $200 for a one way ticket. Avios price came up to 4500 + £5ish

    Definitely worth using avios for flights from Lima to Cuzco and Arequipa if you are heading that way!

  7. Calchas says:

    Price any of these with a Point of Sale within Chile and you will save twenty to fifty per cent off the foreign price. Unlike the rest of South America, LA does not apply a residence requirement on their local fares.

  8. I ran into that problem when booking next year’s trip to Ecuador, Galapagos & Colombia. None of the partners – AA, BA, QF could get awards to the Galapagos. I ended up getting the US Bank LAN credit card and supplementing with SPG and booked the flights on LAN.

  9. Paul Williams says:

    Years ago when Avios were Air Miles, I got two return tickets to Easter Island with no problem. This was in the days of booking by speaking to a BA agent.

  10. You can use Avios on LAN SYD-AKL. The timing of the return isn’t great. However, if the cheapest economy buckets are still available, you’d only get 0.38ppA. Haven’t looked at J class.

  11. LondonFoodie says:

    From my experience trying to find a seat on the PPT-IPC or IPC-PPT flights is impossible unless you are willing to book 1-2 weeks in advance. For those trying to plan a RTW itinerary with a stop in PPT, the LAN redemptions unfortunately aren’t a very usable option.

  12. Matthew says:

    You are right about random availability. They often release 7 seats and they come and go with the wind. I’ve been arranging a Galapagos trip for my in laws. You can also fly LAN from UIO (Quito) to Baltra (GPS) directly.

    Also the silver lining of the avios devaluation means that the band 6 off peak redemption of MAD to UIO or GYE now costs just 42500 avios in business one way. This is great value for an 11hr flight! Plus immediate free seat selection (even in economy). Taxes were reasonable too….at about £140pp IIRC.

  13. Haven’t booked these destinations but did book one-way tickets for my folks for Rio to Santiago – availability was very patchy but somehow managed to find some seats that fitted with their dates. Savings for the one way flight were massive, well worth doing on points! Seat selection through the LAN site wouldn’t work but they were happy to manually sort them out when you call them.

  14. Perhaps off topic but I seem unable to comment on the original LAN FRA/MAD item to bump it. The cheap business class fares FRA-MAD-FRA and vv appear to be available again, September looks wide open.

    The original article is http://www.headforpoints.com/2015/06/22/lan-frankfurt-madrid/ which has some great trip reports and my rather naff one is on here http://tprun.blogspot.co.uk

    Ian

    • Yes, Raffles has set articles to close to comments after a few weeks to cut down the amount of spam – it’s amazing the number of bots that seem to like going round adding comments on random articles!!

      That LAN flight sounds nice, good the fares are back!

      • There were 6,976 spam comments on the site in July. That is over 200 per day. Luckily 6,900-ish of those are automatically spotted and deleted.

        Remember that there are only 3-weeks worth of articles (63 articles) open for comments at any time. Imagine what would happen if all 3,200 articles on the site were open for comments!

  15. RIccati says:

    Off topic: Observing how flights to a German destination have CE upgrade available at the BA cheapest rate up until the check-in time. This is during admittedly high season of August.

    It is the best comment on BA experiments with Club Europe.

  16. I gave up and redeemed my United miles with Avianca, which actually worked out much cheaper. Utilising my free stòpover when booking a return, I flew Guatemala to the galapagos to Quito for 10,000 miles. BA would have wanted 29,500 for the same itinerary.

  17. My best value Avios redemption was on the LAN flight from Punta Arenas to Mount Pleasant on the Falklands – 9000 Avios return and £17.60 tax. I’ve never seen a cash fare on the flight for less than £500 .