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Can you use Avios points to fly to Easter Island or the Galapagos with LATAM?

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It is not often that we write about LATAM, the South American airline that formed out of LAN Chile and Brazilian carrier TAM earlier this decade. It is, however, part of oneworld and therefore an interesting opportunity for earning and spending Avios if you ever find yourself in South America.

What set off my interest in LATAM is that it has regular flights to the Galapagos Islands.  You can also use LATAM to reach Easter Island.

Whilst I haven’t expanded on it here, LATAM is also the only oneworld option if you want to fly to the Falkland Islands!  LATAM flies to the Falklands (airport code MPN) from Santiago a couple of times per week, with a stop in Punta Arenas.

(EDIT: there are some fantastic comments under this article from people who have done this trip – I strongly suggest you read them after you’ve read the main article.)

The Galapagos Islands on Avios

The Galapagos Islands are technically part of Ecuador. Since we last looked at this topic in 2015, LATAM has added two additional daily flights to the Galapagos.

The main airport is Galapagos Baltra (GPS) to which LATAM flies daily from Guayaquil (GYE) and Quito (UIO) in Ecuador.  From Guayaquil you can also fly directly to San Cristóbal (SCY), the easternmost island in the Galapagos.

The new flights make travelling to the Galapagos significantly more convenient and just goes to show how popular the Galapagos have become in the last few years.

How to visit the Galapagos on Avios

In theory, you can use Avios points on this route.  In practice, the system is a little bizarre. You can see reward flight availability if you making an Avios booking via ba.com although, be warned, it will not recognise the Galapagos airports.  You must use the airport codes GPS or SCY and then click through to complete the search.

I struggled finding availability but managed to find reward seats open for various dates in February 2020. Pricing appears to be 15,000 Avios plus £50 in charges, one way. Given that you can get round trip tickets for around £150 for cash this might not make the most sense.

Weirdly, although LATAM flies directly to Baltra from both Quito and Guaraquil, it is impossible to fly direct on an Avios ticket. You are basically forced to make a connecting stop, often with a layover of three hours or more. No doubt this increases the Avios cost.

For example, if you want to fly from Quito to Baltra, the only available flights are via Guaraquil. If you change your departure airport to Guaraquil for the same dates, however, you are shown flights that connect via Quito. It is, frankly, absurd.

Still, at least Baltra is available. When I tried finding Avios redemptions from Guayaquil to San Cristóbal, a route that LATAM flies, the British Airways website claims it does not exist. According to this FlyerTalk thread, however, it has been booked in the past

The bottom line is that LATAM appears to restrict redemption seats to members of its own frequent flyer scheme LATAM Pass.  This is a very tricky scheme to earn miles in if you are based in the UK with the best route being from Marriott Bonvoy.  You could also go from American Express Membership Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy (2:3) and onto LATAM Pass (1:1, or 1:1.25 if you transfer 60,000 at a time).

You may find it easier to simply pay for a seat.  From the UK LATAM site it prices at between £150 to £300+ in economy for the two-hour return flight.  Some online reports say that LATAM flights are often cheaper if booked on the Spanish-language Chilean site.

How to visit Easter Island with Avios

Easter Island on Avios

The other LATAM 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.

LATAM also flies to Papeete from Easter Island.

From Santiago, it is a 6 hour flight which costs as little as £250 in economy, return in August, although it can increase significantly.  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, LATAM appears to be playing games with Avios reward availability.  This Flyertalk thread says that LATAM (then LAN) was making reward seats available for one day – and one day only, 330 days out – to oneworld partners back in 2014.  Nothing seems to have changed because I couldn’t find any availability during my search.

I would not despair totally.  Looking at Flyertalk it seems that LATAM 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 LATAM forum on Flyertalk to see what is happening with seating.

The LATAM 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 Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Comments (64)

  • riku2 says:

    >>LATAM Pass. This is a very tricky scheme to earn miles in if you are based in the UK with the best route being from Marriott Bonvoy

    I would say it’s really easy because the airline is in One World so the easiest way is to credit BA and AA flights to LATAM Pass. If that wasn’t enough you can also earn miles flying Lufthansa, Austrian and Swiss. I don’t know any other program which covers both One World and Star Alliance airlines like this.

    I think what you mean to say is that if you don’t fly, then earning miles is hard but supposedly this website is about helping business and leisure travellers – perhaps not those flying though.

    • Ray says:

      Hi Riku

      I often hear reference to ‘crediting’ BA flights to another one-world partner.

      If it is not too far off topic, how is this done? I earn at least 50% of my air miles from flights and I am off to Lima on BA this Friday – and I ended up paying for three internal flights on LATAM while I am there. Since I will be back there before a year is out I could do with having some LATAM points by then.

      Ray

  • John says:

    “LATAM is also the only oneworld option if you want to fly to the Falkland Islands” is a bit of an understatement, It is also the only commercial option as the other way is to go 18 hours on an RAF aircraft.

    • Craig says:

      Or over 24 hours in a very slow RAF 4-engined turboprop which I have done several times. Fortunately I had a seat with a view.

      • Charlie Whiskey says:

        Two corrections: LATAM only flies to The Falkland once a week, from and back to Punta Arenas on a Saturday; and the RAF flight, twice a week from Brize Norton, is in a one-class A330 Voyager aircraft.

    • Heathrow Flyer says:

      I flew Brize Norton – Ascension Island – Falkland Islands a few years ago on the Air Tanker A330 with a 2 day stopover in Ascension on the way.

      Unfortunately the runway at Ascension is currently closed to the A330 so the flight is currently going via Cape Verde.

      The A330 is a one-class 2-4-2 layout, with the seating somewhere in between premium economy and economy.

      At time (2015) I think return tickets were around £900.

      • Charlie whiskey says:

        Return RAF flight tickets are now well over £2,000 unless you are a sponsored “official” passenger when they are about £1,500.

      • Craig says:

        The last time the runway was being refurbished I spent 2 weeks bouncing between Ascension and Recife. A very pleasant trip followed shortly afterward by 4 months in the Falkland Islands, mostly fun in a Butlins kind of way.

  • Tina says:

    I flew LAN from GYE to GPS in 2013. At that time it was not possible to fly directly from Quito.

    Bearing in mind the length of flight, I would be interested in business class fares to Easter Island. I understand it can be very expensive, less so if booked via the local Spanish language web site. Are you able to give indicative costs please?

    An article on the ow Latam Pass would be of immense interest! I have see it advertised on the ow website, but that is scant on detail to say the least……

    • Simon says:

      Agree as looking to visit and tour south America next year. Using avios for the lata pass looks interesting but complicated, for me at least!

    • Simon says:

      Thanks.

    • Tina says:

      I refer to the Latam continental air pass, not the FF program! https://www.oneworld.com/world-travel

    • Patrycja says:

      Hi, I travel to South America every year as my husband in Peruvian. Each year we do ‘side trips’ to other countries and it tends to be with LATAM as they have a great route selection from Lima.
      I always book flights on their Peruvian website as prices often are half price of UK site.
      I’ve flown to Easter Island from Santiago a few years back and I would highly recommend it as a fantastic trip!
      The best way to look at fares is to switch the site’s country to Peru and use Google translate if you don’t speak Spanish.
      Business class fare for November show £1,200 on their UK site but $1,000 on Peruvian site which is £800.
      Let me know if you need anything else

  • N says:

    A quick note on LATAM in Chile – cash tickets are cheap if you are local, but can cost 3-5 times as much if buying from abroad. This can be circumvented by using a Chilean OTA like despargar or any others!

    • Josh says:

      I’m not sure if it’s still the case, but the discounted tickets were supposed to only be for locals/citizens. We got caught out on some domestic flights in 2013 and had to pay the extra at check in.

      • David says:

        Not for me. When i got to the latam site i just switched to the chile website and bought my tickets there. Paid with a UK credit card and saved about 70%. They frequently cancel and adjust their domestic flights so i had many contacts with their call centre. As a OW sapphire i was able to select my desired seats on the phone for free (I couldn’t donit online.j

      • Patrycja says:

        They no longer enforce that policy. I’ve flown on local fares the last few years and have never been asked to pay the difference. The clause also disappeared from ts&cs of many of their routes

  • Andrew says:

    It’s a lot easier than you think for Easter Island. LATAM pull and push inventory all the time, I regularly saw 7x J seats available for redemption but they seem to appear and disappear.

    I booked the exact dates I wanted for Easter 2019 2x J back in October, at the time most dates were available. If there’s no availability try waiting 5-10 days.

    • marcw says:

      FYI everything changed late 2018/early 2019 when LATAM overhauled their whole FF programs. Now it’s virtually impossible to find Avios seats. The reason is that LATAM has seats available with their own miles, but on “fully flexible” which is not available to other oneworld partners. Every now and again you may see a seat available, but it’s extremely hard to plan ahead.

  • PaulW says:

    I tried to get availability punta arenas – falklands. Again massively restricted. Latam pass could get you tickets but the number of points on the route needed has increased four fold according to my friends in Stanley. Apparently as locals were getting tickets for friends this way as the return cash price for the 90 min flight is around £600!
    On the bright side any redemptions book into an interesting booking class from BAs side 😉

  • Callum says:

    That affects a lot more routes than just the Galapagos as well. Like Qantas, LATAM uses married segment logic with their rewards (e.g. you might be able to book Calama to Santiago to Punta Arenas but not the exact same Punta Arenas flight on its own).

    My best ever use of airmiles was using United miles to the Galapagos. You can fly from the Galapagos all the way to Mexico for 15,000 or anywhere in mainland North America for 20k. I made it an open jaw round trip (which allows a stopover) and went from the Galapagos to Colombia, stopped for 2 weeks then to Vancouver with 24hrs in Mexico City for, if my memory is correct, 15k. Even 20k is an absolute bargain!

  • Blindman says:

    Feb this year I did a RTW trip which included the Galapagos and Easter island.
    LHR-MAD RFS J fare.
    MAD-MDE (Medellin) with IB in J which cost 42.K Avios and £33 (mistake cost for taxes -should be £150 IIRC!!).
    I used M&M for BOG (Bogotá) to SCY (stop at UIO ) which cost 27K +£70 in J one way.
    GPS-UIO was also M&M at 17K +£27 one way. Y fares were 12K but not available for my dates. The M&M fares were direct and quicker whereas the limited Avios fare was 7.5K +£50 in Y and was always a connecting flight. Cash fares in Y were about £150.
    Then SCL to IPC.
    I bought a refundable cash J one way fare from the Chilean web site at £300.
    The UK web site wanted £1500. UK and Chilean Y fares were £600 IIRC.
    There were one way Avios J fares at 35K +£10 but never the Y fares at 15K and £5.
    The AVIOS availability on LATAM was erratic to say the least!
    Then IPC to PPT.
    Only one flight per week-Monday-These were easy to get with AVIOS at 12.5K and £21 in Y. Never saw any J fares.
    Then the best bargain of all, PPT to MEL (One stop at AKL).
    I used American Airlines Advantage , in J which cost 30K +£40. Y fares cost 15K +£25

    • Lady London says:

      RTW? But you didnt come back?

      • Blindman says:

        Hi
        We went on from MEL to Myanmar-Cash with air Asia-£150 one way.
        Then RGN to LCA (Cyprus) (stop in DOH) in Y with Qatar 22.5K +£160

        Then home 🙂

        • Lady London says:

          Wow. Slightly OT what did you think Of Rangoon?

          • Blindman says:

            Rangoon
            OK for a big city. Took about 2-3 easy days for the sights-DIY.
            Then moved onto Bagan. for 3 days. Best part of the trip Temples over 2 days, balloon trip relax.
            Then to Mandalay for 2 nights-Big city,, Hired a taxi for a day to see all the outlying sights.
            Then to Inle Lake for 3 nights. Relaxing time, spent one whole day on the lake.

            Thought Cyprus-was a dump so came home early 🙂

    • Neil Donoghue says:

      I can’t thank you enough for sharing this information today! I had a J flight from PPT to AKL booked with AA miles. Then an onward flight with Avios from AKL to SYD in J. Not only did you save me 40,000 Avios but I’ve also got a 1 hour connection as opposed to 5 hours now!! Can’t believe I didn’t check the AA chart…

    • eli says:

      how i’d love to read this in more detail on a blog etc. sounds awesome