Avios Redemption University – Lesson 10 – Low tax Avios redemptions on TAM

EDIT:  This article has NOT been updated to reflect the Avios changes which took place on 28th April 2015.  A revised version of the article will be published on Head for Points in late May.

The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from themClick here to see the other articles.

When an Avios collector in the UK looks for a long-haul redemption, British Airways is the obvious choice of airline. However, the taxes and charges can often be very high – up to £500 per Club World seat.

Previous articles in this series have focussed on Aer Lingus, Iberia and airberlin, all of whom charge very low taxes.  If you are heading to South American or Latin America, you have another low-tax option – TAM.

Introducing TAM

Latin American carrier TAM, based in Brazil, joined the oneworld alliance on March 31st 2014.  This is a welcome addition to Iberia’s existing capacity to the region.

This move has been on the cards since TAM merged with fellow Latin American carrier LAN in 2012.  LAN has been a long-term member of oneworld,

As a member of oneworld – alongside British Airways – you are now able to redeem your Avios points for TAM flights.

The combined group, known as LATAM, is based in Chile and listed on the stock exchange there.  It flies to 150 destinations in 22 countries. As well as Chile, there are subsidiaries based in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay.


Rather like International Airlines Group, which owns BA and Iberia, LATAM is actually a holding company. LAN and TAM are continuing to fly under their own brands.

TAM is headquartered in Brazil.  It serves 61 destinations in 16 countries in Latin America, the USA and Europe, with a fleet of 172 aircraft operating 800 departures daily.  It flew 37 million passengers in 2013.

Whilst most are domestic Brazilian routes (it adds 45 new Brazilian airports to the oneworld network), there are also long-haul flights to Sao Paulo from London, Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan and Paris.

Big tax savings to be had!

Long-haul redemptions to Sao Paulo are already loaded in ba.com for redemption.

Because TAM does not appear to have fuel surcharges, and because you can avoid Air Passenger Duty by starting outside the UK, there are some great deals to be had.

Heathrow to Sao Paulo – 120,000 Avios + £234

Frankfurt to Sao Paulo – 120,000 Avios + £88

Madrid to Sao Paulo – 100,000 Avios + £43 !!

Milan to Sao Paulo – 120,000 Avios + £44

Paris to Sao Paulo – 120,000 Avios + £99

These are for return flights.  The figure for Madrid is lower because the flight is the shortest of the lot and just falls into a lower pricing band.

For comparison, a British Airways redemption in Club World to Sao Paulo would cost 120,000 Avios + £593.

It is also worth remembering that Iberia flies to Sao Paulo.  If – and only if – you book an Iberia redemption via iberia.com and not via ba.com – you will be paying 100,000 Avios + £142.  That is for Madrid to Sao Paulo in business class.  You can learn more about redeeming on Iberia in this article from the ‘Avios Redemption University’ series.

TAM First

TAM has a good reputation for its business class, although I do not claim to know much about it and I would recommend researching what you get on any particular aircraft model.  It also has an amazing First Class product on some of its new 777-300 aircraft, as you can see above.  In general, you only see this seat flying to the US although apparently it is also available from Frankfurt at times.

40,000 Membership Rewards points (= 40,000 Avios) with Amex Platinum Business
Discover the best yacht chartering in Europe (sponsored post)
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  1. Phillip says:

    I’ve had a mixed bag of experiences with TAM. Their current business class is “only” angled lie-flat. Service has generally always been good but nothing spectacular. Although the new first class hard product is brilliant, the old one is not that bad actually. I think the business class is definitely in need for an upgrade (although it’s not that old) and the new joint LATAM business class product coming on their 787-9 and A350s looks great.

    • Rohan says:

      Agree with the majority here . Raffles has done and is doing a great job. Try doing 3 posts a day every day , without any incentive . I have saved a few hundreds of pounds and generated a new hobby of miles thanks to raffles . For such an easy to follow and detailed website for any other hobby there would have been a charge . People who do a good job have to be paid for their time . I have no issues with how raffles is doing it and I am sure the vast majority here don’t as well. I really hope that people who complain here don’t put a dampner on raffles spirit as most of us appreciate it immensely and are grateful
      Raffles , please don’t worry about some comments here , as I am sure you know, it is impossible to please everybody all the time !
      Continue the fantastic job and wish you all the best

      • Have a look where the ‘BA.com’ link in this post goes. Goes through an affiliate tracking site before going to BA.com.

        It would be good if this was more upfront.

        • …err why? @Name – If its transparency you are suggesting, is there not something ironic in your choice of user name?

          Raffles is IMO as clear as crystal what he recommends and why and how he and/or the site benefits. Can we please cut the guy some slack? Do we really want corporate style “perfection”? I tell you it will ruin HFP for good.

  2. Seems this is becoming more of a purely commercial site now:
    Less impartial
    Heavier pushing of direct referral links
    Some posts are just a referral ad posted as ‘news’
    Use of tracking links rather than direct links to sites
    Now a straight up advertisement as a news post

    Don’t blame you for going commercial, but it seems a big change from last year.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Just got £100 of shopping from some German company free on the wife’s Plat Amex – thanks to Raffles. (Good for Amex too, as was thinking of cancelling her car anyway, at £450 a year. So the £100 “free” helps.).

      As a former journalist, it is a big commitment to provide three stories a day (yes, I know it is two in the slack Xmas period etc)

      As a business owner, I know it actually costs cash to run a blog.

      Well done Raffles, keep up the good work.

      (and I had been thinking of going sailing anyway!)

    • Polly says:

      I agree with Eshaq. If you don’t like it, please unsubscribe, as the rest of us benefit form all these tips! So what if they are in the guise of ads. It takes a lot of research to bring this info to us. And it’s wonderful to have it all consolidated in a blog. It’s very much appreciated.
      Keep up the good work Raffles.

      • Mark B says:

        Fully agree, the sponsored post was in addition to the 3 daily updates and clearly stated what it was, keep up the good work Rob

    • Agree, agree, agree. Well said!

    • scroogemcduck says:

      John – stop reading this blog and go away Find something a little less commercial. Goodbye and please turn the light off as you leave.

  3. Jeremy I says:

    Agree with Eshaq and Polly. Raffles’s posts take an incredible amount of work and we all stand to benefit.

    If you’d rather read an unstructured messy ill-informed and inaccurate web of confusing and opinionated posts masquerading as content… then I think we all know there’s a place for you in Flyer Talk!

    Thank you Raffles and I am now going to make an effort to buy stuff I dont really need via your referral links!


  4. Worzel says:

    I’m with Eshaq, Colin and Polly.

    Off to Singapore next Feb in 1st, back in Business Class-something that would never have happened without HFP.


    • Lady London says:

      I for one would not object if it was a specific announced policy of the site that up to 1 of the 3 posts per day might be a purely commercial posting. Perhaps people are worried about “creep” of commerciality if it’s not announced that on ‘x’ basis there may be ‘y’ number of commercial postings per ‘z’ week, day, month, year, whatever and just see it happening.

      Would still be better – and in particular far more honest and transparent – than other blogs. I am totally grateful to Raffles for his constant honesty and transparency and an honest and transparent policy that is announced about any increase in commercial content to support the site, well fair enough.

      • Louie says:

        “I for one would not object if it was a specific announced policy of the site that up to 1 of the 3 posts per day might be a purely commercial posting” – today at least the commercial posting is in addition to the usual 3 per day, so it’s not at the expense of regular content.

      • As I mentioned earlier, I do not actively ‘sell’ sponsored posts. I was approached about this and I told the advertiser that it would need to be heavily flagged up as sponsored, which it is. Unless I am approached again out of blue, there won’t be any more coming up.

        Compare this to, say, a sponsored page in GQ or Vogue where you would only know it was sponsored due to the world ‘Promotion’ in teeny tiny print at the top of the page, usually in a colour designed to blend in very well with the background!

        (PS. Ironically, the yachting post has 35 per cent more page views than the Accor post. Perhaps I should write more about yacht chartering!)

        • “Ironically, the yachting post has 35 per cent more page views than the Accor post.” of course that could just be readers looking for a chance to air their views on sponsorship… 😉

  5. Hairy Monkey says:

    Flew the TAM business seat from LHR – GRU last year. From what I read on other blogs it was the old Air Canada seats. Definitely not flat, but it was a night flight and I managed 8hrs sleep. It was comfy and I couldn’t complain.

    Saying that, I managed 6hrs solid sleep sitting upright in Ecomony coming back from Vegas last week. After effects of booze, though, I’m sure!!

  6. Mikeact says:

    Take no notice of the whingers, keep up the good work. ..and ‘Thanks’.

  7. Matthew says:

    Now to work out how to get 100 000 Avios points..!

  8. david says:

    Thanks Raffles,

    Anyone aware if we can book internal TAM flights (eg Rio to Sao Paulo) via avios on the BA website?
    Appreciate any comments.


    • Yes. However, TAM only releases domestic flights six months in advance.

    • I was about to disagree with Raffles here, but checking on BA.com I see that Rio to SP TAM flights are available for redemption bookings (availability isn’t great though seeing that this is a very heavily trafficked route)

      I was about to disagree because I failed to use BA.com to book a REVENUE flight for that route that didn’t try and send me via MAD or LHR. Be careful as to your choice of airport for these flights. If you want to connect with an international flight then you might want to use GIG or GRU. But for other purposes the domestic airports SDU and CGH are probably more convenient if you are staying in the centre of the cities. There is no point booking a flight that involves sitting in Brazilian traffic for long that you need to.

      • ba.com generally only sells CASH tickets if a flight is a BA codeshare (or it is a revenue sharing route across the Atlantic or to Japan)

        • I know. I used the TAM website no problem for my cash fare. Only tried BA,com because I get 4 Diamond Club points per pound spent there and every little helps.

      • Manuel says:

        Is it possible that the CHG-glights are not showing, only GRU flights?

  9. Judy Jones says:

    “Try doing 3 posts a day every day , without any incentive”

    Wow, the naivety of some people is truly startling.

    • Indeed, people like ‘John’ evidently believe things like server hosting, bandwidth, the time to research and write 3 articles a day all get conjured up out of thin air. Raffles obviously has costs to cover. It’s his blog to do with as he wants. If anyone doesn’t like it, the internet’s a large enough place to go elsewhere.

      • To be honest the ‘hard’ costs are modest, albeit four figures per year. The time requirements for writing and researching 21 posts a week plus answering around 100 emails from readers (which no-one ever sees) each week, updating the ‘reference’ posts etc does add up and, bottom line, needs to make sense for me.

  10. Am I right in saying there are no fuel surcharges for any tickets departing Brazil?

    • (Edited from my original)

      It does seem, having rechecked, that BA is again no longer adding any surcharges to tickets starting in Brazil. A one-way redemption is £20 ex Sao Paulo to London!

      • David says:

        It used to be that BA reward tickets originating in Brazil would not attract a fuel surcharge. Has this changed?

        • Actually, I just checked and they have gone again! They weren’t there, they appeared, and now they have gone!

          Back to a flat £20 tax for a one-way departing Sao Paulo.

        • Manuel says:


          They are still there. But you only see them when you click through to payment. I called BA and apparently they anly take them out for Brazilian residents.

        • You’re right, I just checked. Jumps from £20 to £150ish one-way from Brazil in World Traveller Plus when you click through.

        • Boris Toshev says:

          Well, Brazilian residents cannot book Avios tickets online anymore. It’s been showing the message for a year, but you could still book the flight without a problem (and without fuel surcharges). Now you simply cannot book the flights online. Have not tried phoning to see if they add the surcharges or not.

        • Maybe it’s an airport charge or something?

  11. LondonFoodie says:

    Raffles – you the man. Keep up the AMAZING work.

  12. Jenni says:

    On US and TAM, if flying economy (shock horror!), does one get priority boarding by showing CX Gold card and crediting flights to BAEC?

    • You should do, yes – check the oneworld website but I think Priority Boarding is a standard alliance benefit for all holders of oneworld Sapphire equivalent cards.

      • Jenni says:

        Thanks Raffles. So showing the card will work, I don’t have to have the CX number and ‘sapphire” printed on the boarding card? (apologies for the stupid questions, I’ve only had Avios redemption flights whilst having the CX Gold, and I put the number in the booking as obviously I wasn’t crediting any miles)

        • Yes, for priority boarding I am pretty sure that simply showing the card will do it. (Most of the time simply going into the priority boarding queue, regardless of status or anything, works as well 🙂 )

        • Jenni says:

          Haha thanks Raffles 😀

        • Yep, definitely fine to do it that way – got my parents to do this without a problem with their CX Gold card (my Dad was a bit miffed that they never asked for the card, he had it all ready to show the agent!)

        • Jenni says:

          Thanks Alan, got a few flights on US coming up so this is good to know. And seeing as the lounges are piss poor in the States, priority boarding is just about the only benefit of the card (when travelling hand luggage only, that is)!

        • I know what you mean, Jenni about lounges in the US! The only other benefit I’ve found is that the AA lounges (esp Flagship ones) seem to have reasonable free internet connections and often have printing facilities which can be handy for printing out confirmations, directions, etc.

        • flieduk says:

          HAHA. I wonder how long the priority queues are going to be tomorrow 😀

  13. Why can’t I comment on the previous post “Discover the best yacht chartering in Europe (sponsored post)”. I have chartered yachts and owned a charter yacht and have just returned from Croatia where I first visited 24 years ago. I have things to say!

  14. Another voice of support for Raffles – keep up the good work! Awesome stuff!

  15. craig says:

    Hi Raffles, given the far lower taxes charged on the flights, this might make economy redemptions more viable, whereas for BA from London the taxes almost equal fares obtained elsewhere. Do you have any info on Madrid-Sao Paulo TAM Avios redemptions? I was collecting for 2 BA business flights plus a 3rd using a partner voucher, but £1,550 saved in taxes (minus cost of flights to Madrid) makes that a serious option.

    • What sort of info? The price is above – 100,000 + £43 tax ex Madrid in Business on TAM, or £142 of tax on Iberia (booked via Iberia.com). Economy will be a little bit lower and will be 50,000 Avios each return.

      Not sure why it is currently next to impossible to see TAM redemptions online from Madrid but reward seats are there on Iberia for booking.

  16. Dave Williams says:

    Wooohoooo TEAM RAFFLES!!!!

    I am a VERY frequent traveler as of 18 months ago (90-100% travel across EMEA with work). Before this I was a miles ‘newbie’ collecting a few here and there where I could be bothered. I do not have time to trawl through PTS, FT, VFTW etc so VERY much appreciate all the stellar work Raffles has done/is doing summarizing the best info out there.

    I would happily pay for this site if it became unsustainable using the revenue routes Raffles is VERY TRANSPARENT about currently. Not something I’ve thought about but an interesting tidbit re: yacht charters.

    Having said that – please don’t start charging……. 🙂

  17. James says:


    The scuba diving liveaboards on a sailboat sound superb.
    Combining three things I love; travelling to interesting places, Sailing & Scuba Diving.

    Then I saw the prices and vomited on myself.

    You can do two weeks on a good quality liveaboard (motor-yacht) diving the great sites of the Red Sea for that money, including flights.

    If prices became more affordable I’d consider using this company & if I do I’ll go via the link on here 🙂