Published on February 18th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut
Latin America Air Passes: Getting the Most Flights for Your Money
If you’re lucky enough to have a lot of vacation time, or perhaps productive enough to be hopping all over Latin America on business, then you may want to consider an air pass, which allow multiple flights throughout the region at what ideally should be discounted fares.
How to cover the most miles for the least amount of money? Check out what these air pass programs have to offer.
Programs: Gol Brazil Airpass, Gol Mercosul Airpass, Gol Northeast Airpass
What It Offers: Gol, the fast-growing, low-cost Brazilian airline, offers three different air passes. The Brazil Airpass, available only to non-residents of South America holding an international ticket, includes a minimum of four flight coupons and a maximum of nine, with a maximum stay of 30 days — all for flights within Brazil.
The Mercosul Pass, which has the same restrictions as the Brazil Airpass, also includes travel within Brazil, but extends your reach out to Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru and Bolivia.
If you’re focusing on just a few cities in Brazil, consider the Gol Northeast Pass, which is limited to travel among 15 cities in northeastern Brazil, including Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador da Bahia. This pass carries the same restrictions as the others, although travelers may purchase as few as three flight coupons, or as many as six.
The Cost: The cheapest rate for the Brazil Airpass is U.S.$532 for four flight coupons, with nine coupons priced at U.S.$1,152.
For the Mercosul Airpass, rates range from U.S.$632 for four coupons to U.S.1,252 for nine.
The Gol Northeast Airpass ranges in price from US.$390 for three coupons to U.S.$690 for six.
How to Book: You need to buy through a travel agent, although you can find details about the program on Gol’s Website.
Program: Visit South America
What It Offers: This program involves several members of oneworld, the marketing alliance that includes 12 airlines around the globe. It’s available to visitors from countries outside South America, and includes service to more than 30 destinations in South America, mostly served by LAN Airlines and American Airlines.
The Cost: There is a flat rate for each flight you take, based on the mileage. Flights up to 560 miles cost U.S.$119, and the most expensive rates are for flights between 2,301 and 3,500 miles, which go for U.S.$359.
How to Book: You’ll need to contact reservation staff at one of the member airlines, as the airline Websites are unable to handle the program “due to the complexity of these products.” But you can obtain more information by visiting the oneworld site.
Company: TAM Brazilian Airlines
Program: TAM Brazil Airpass
What It Offers: Available for foreigners to Brazil as well as Brazilian citizens living abroad, the TAM Brazil Airpass must be issued in conjunction with an international ticket. Travelers may choose to visit up to nine cities in economy class using this program. The maximum stay is 90 days from the first departure date.
The Cost: Rates start at U.S.$639 for one to four stops, with the top price of U.S.$1,829 for nine stops.
How to Book: Call TAM in the United States at (888) 235-9826 or in the United Kingdom and Ireland at +44 (0) 20 8741 2005. For details, visit the TAM Brazil Airpass page. TAM also operates a Brazil Airpass program on behalf of its marketing network, called the Star Alliance Brazil Airpass.
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