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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.

How to visit the Galapagos on Avios

(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.

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 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.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (64)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • David S says:

    We did Easter Islsnd in February after using 2-4-1 from UK to Santiago (longest BA route). Avios availability for SCL to IPC was not available for the dates we wanted. However if you look for paid seats on the Chilean LATAM website (Google translate is a massive help) and pay in Pesos, the cost is much much cheaper and there is no restriction as it used to be only for Chilean citizens.
    Also if you book months in advance, the cost of business class seats is sometimes cheaper than economy- no idea why. But we were in flat beds for the 4.5 hour flight and paid less than economy prices. So avios availability wasnt really an issue for us.

  • Concerto says:

    So many interesting gems here. By the time I get around to doing all of this I will have forgotten or lost this info! I think the way to do it, as shown in the last couple of posts, is to mix and match different miles programs with a few cash tickets thrown in too.

  • David says:

    Having just returned from a S America trip last week I can confirm that domestic Chilean flights,this year to Calama, were much cheaper booked with a Chilean agency.
    We booked the remaining tickets on-line via LATAM, all in Y, at a pretty competitive price.
    For each of the flights we received emails a few days prior to departure asking whether we wanted to bid for an upgrade. As most of our flights were 1.5-2.5 hours we didn’t bother, however on our final leg from LIM-EZE, we successfully bid $50 each.
    One final note with IPC is the tier points earned, 140 ew, in a 787-9, in a very comfortable seat.
    Finally, our Chilean guide advised that they tend to use the name Rapa Nui now, not Easter Island.

  • GOONFACE says:

    Timely article, I’m flying to Easter Island tomorrow in LATAM business. It was only £100 more than Premium Economy, so why not!

    My first 5 hour flight on a flat bed!

  • Damien says:

    I went to Tahiti last year using avios. Flights only leave on one day from SCL, but you can get one that gives you 10 hours in Easter island. I rented a crappy jeep and had a whistle stop tour around the heads.Things to note though are:
    1. They close access to many of the heads at 6pm.
    2. The flight the day before me was actually delayed by 6 hours (don’t know how often that happens though)
    3. The airport is very very basic. Minimise your time at it.

  • LewisB says:

    I’m spending a few weeks in S America next year, Easter Island is a must so the comments here have been really helpful. Almost given up with the avios route but a cheap Y paid fare seems the way forward.

  • Russ says:

    You can get better J availability through Iberia’s site via Frankfurt, but still not much. But then of course you have to book a none point refundable ticket so it’s a bit risky to say the very least.

  • Paul says:

    Just another set of data points as I have done both of these trips in the last two years
    – I managed to snag 1 way Avianca business class ticket to Galapagos for c£200 then Avios to Guayaquil (but couldn’t get it to Quito which is where I wanted to be)
    – Business class tickets from Santiago to Easter island are around £300 return, there is no residency requirement for LATAM chile but there are for other LATAM. I loved Easter island
    – There is a once a week flight from Easter island to Papeete in Tahiti, so we did a week in Bora Bora. The timings are a bit brutal, we couldn’t find business Avios but there was economy and we got their economy + and the flight was empty (tickets cost a fortune to purchase for some reason.

    My name links to my Instagram which has some pics from those trips!

    Can’t recommend enough

    • LewisB says:

      Business to IPC for £300 rtn, is this cash via LATAM (chile site) booked well in advance?

      • Paul says:

        A quick search and I found return business flights from scl to ipc for about £380 6 November to 8 November on LATAM chile site.

        Easy 280 tier points

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          Now seems about £600 for those dates – but the outbound is VERY cheap!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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