Destinations The Basics Travel Guide

How To Find & Book Award Tickets On These Very Desolate Routes – Australia / South America

Written by Charlie

As part of my upcoming 6 marathons on 6 continents in under 5 days, I had selected my cities and routes in a way that I would be able to hit all of the cities in a short time span while still ending in Washington, DC. Since I am running to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project and my runs were ending the day before 9/11, I really wanted to finish in the US.

How To Find & Book Award Tickets Between Australia & South America

That meant going for one of the emptiest routes in the sky – the Australia <-> South America route. If you look at a flight map of all flights at any given time, you will see that flights across the Southern Hemisphere are indeed sparse (the map below is from 2009 data).


See that very sparse area of flight paths in the south? / From: Jpatokal

Read more: Booking one of the most elusive routes in the sky

If you plan on traveling this route, which would be a nice way to squeeze in a different country on your return to the US/from the US, do know that the frequencies of flights is not high. The Aerolineas Argentinas flight from Sydney to Buenos Aires, Argentina does not even start service up again until December 1. The Qantas flight from Sydney to Santiago only departs on certain days of the week at times throughout the year.

Here are the flights and routes between Australia and South America:

  • Sydney – Santiago (Qantas)
  • Sydney – Auckland – Santiago (LAN)
  • Sydney – Sao Paulo (Aerolineas Argentinas)

LAN is introducing their new Boeing 787-9 jet on their Sydney-Auckland-Santiago route later next month (I will just be missing that plane!) and they say they may start doing a direct from Sydney to Santiago after that plane has been on the route for a while.

Finding & Booking Your Award 

If you plan on flying one of these routes, know that miles will likely be the best way to go. Without any kind of stiff competition, the airlines are not really running these routes at bargain prices. Nor should they since if they did not make a profit running them, they would have no reason to do so.

Fortunately, it is possible to book award flights to bridge these two continents. In fact, the cost to book the award is actually a very good value in miles.


  • 37,500 AA miles in coach one way
  • 50,000 AA miles in business one way
  • 50,000 British Airways Avios in coach one way
  • 150,000 British Airways Avios in business one way

With both Qantas and LAN, they are part of the oneworld alliance and bookable with your American Airline miles, British Airways Avios, or other oneworld partner miles you may have. While it is possible to book awards on both carriers using Alaska Air miles, you cannot book this route with miles as they do not offer this as part of their awards.

To find award space, you can start your search for Qantas right on AA’s website (note – you can also search on British Airways website but no real point in doing that unless you plan on redeeming Avios for the flight). When you see the calendar come up almost completely blank – don’t worry, it is not a mistake that is just what availability on this route (Sydney <-> Santiago) looks like!


The AA award calendar showing Qantas availability between Australia and Santiago – sparse!


The award calendar showing business class on Qantas between Australia and Santiago – even worse!

Availability is very fluid for the Qantas flights. I would sometimes see as many as 10 days of economy in a month available and then just 2. When I canceled my economy award ticket (rather switched to to business on LAN), that seat never went back into the award pool and the date has still not popped up since then.

If you have a particular date in mind, it would be worth it to setup a subscription with Expert Flyer to have them automatically notify you when your choice of award seat (coach or business) opens up.  Here is how to do that:

  • Go to ExpertFlyer (a subscription is $9.99 per month but free for the first 5 days)
  • Set a Flight Alert
  • Enter your search information (using QF for the airline, flight #27 for Syd-Scl or #28 for the reverse, and use fare class X for an economy award or U for business class)
  • Save it!

Set up ExpertFlyer to get alerted when availability pops up

ExpertFlyer will notify you when an award seat opens up for that particular flight in your class of travel.

You can book the Qantas flight right online at AA’s website when you find what you are looking for. Tip: there is very good availability for business class in both directions on Sundays once you get into November.

LAN Airlines

  • 37,500 AA miles in coach one way
  • 50,000 AA miles in business one way
  • 50,000 British Airways Avios in coach one way
  • 150,000 British Airways Avios in business one way

Booking your award with LAN is a little bit trickier as you have to do an extra step when searching for inventory. It does not come up on AA’s website, so you have to head over to British Airway’s website and begin your search there.

You can book your LAN flight on the British Airways website, but you will need to use your Avios and that is not really the best deal. Availability for the LAN flight in economy, however, is really good on days that have space. It is not uncommon to find 7 award seats available in economy. Business class is another thing altogether but it is out there (that is what I am currently booked in).


Use British Airways to search for LAN award space but book with your AA miles for the best value!

Once you find a date and availability, call American Airlines (800-882-8880) and give them your date of travel and the route and they can book it for you. Taxes and fees will be right around $50 or so per ticket. Since earlier this year, AA is no longer charging a fee to book awards over the phone that cannot be booked online so make sure that is not getting tacked on.


This is one of those routes that, in spite of going between major cities, will certainly not be a very popular one with most flyers. However, it is available and is a great way to get between the southern continents without having to transit through Asia or the US.

If you are wanting to book in business class (which is a great idea considering the 12+ hours of flying), you will not find a much better value in the additional miles required to book over economy. For only 12,500 miles, you can move from economy to business on a very long flight! But, it will just take a little work to find the space you are looking for.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.