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 them. Click 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.
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 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.