I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.
United is offering tons of Business Class award space for the next 11 months on its flights to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Santiago, Chile.
Both routes will soon be flown by United’s brand new 787-9 Dreamliners with flat beds in Business Class. You can book either route for as little as 35,000 miles one way.
United 787-9 Dreamliner
The United 787-9 Dreamliner has 48 beds in Business class in a 2-2-2 configuration. I would choose a middle seat, since both have direct aisle access. If you choose a seat on either side of the plane, you’ll either need to climb over your seatmate or be climbed over during the flight.
Each seat converts to a fully flat bed with 6’6″ of sleeping space.
Between the United States and Argentina, United charges 30,000 miles each way in economy and 55,000 miles in Business Class.
But you don’t have to book the United award space with United miles. You can book the space with miles from any Star Alliance partner. If you want to book with another partner, search united.com without signing in. Note the date, cabin, and flight number of any Star Alliance flights with a blue button in its Saver award space column; then call the airline whose miles you’re using to book the award.
Here are the prices charged by some other Star Alliance partners (economy/Business one way) with their transfer partners in parentheses:
UR = Ultimate Rewards, MR = Membership Rewards, TY = ThankYou Points, SPG = Starpoints
- Asiana (SPG) : 25k/35k
- Air Canada Aeroplan (MR, SPG): 30k/47.5k
- Singapore (UR, MR, TY, SPG): 30k/50k
- Lufthansa Miles & More (SPG): 30k/52k
- United (UR): 30k/55k
- Avianca LifeMiles (none, must buy): 30k/60k
United flights to South America do not have fuel surcharges, so no matter what miles you use you’ll just pay taxes of $53 roundtrip to Chile and $60 roundtrip to Brazil.
Award Space Picture
All the calendars below are for direct flights to and from Houston for two people. It is zero extra miles to start your award anywhere else in the continental United States, Alaska, or Canada and connect to Houston as long as you find Saver award space on united.com for those connecting flights.
Yellow dates have Saver award space for two passengers in economy. Blue dates have Saver award space for two passengers in Business Class. Green dates have Saver award space for two passengers in both cabins.
Houston to Rio de Janeiro
The 787-9 Dreamliner starts flying on August 18, 2015.
Rio de Janeiro to Houston
The northbound flight is a slightly longer redeye.
Houston to Santiago
The 787-9 Dreamliner takes over this route on January 5, 2016. Just like Rio de Janeiro, both directions are redeyes.
Award space is fairly available in January, February, and March 2016, summer down there. April through June have plenty of economy award space.
Return space is more widely available in Business Class.
All the calendars above were for two people. I did one search for eight people from Houston to Rio in April and May 2016. Many of the dates have award space for eight people in flat beds!
Other Houston Dreamliner Routes
United is also placing its 787-9 Dreamliner on several other routes from Houston over the coming year: Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires. None have very good award space in Business Class with Buenos Aires space particularly abysmal.
There is excellent award space for two people in economy and Business Class from Houston (or elsewhere in the United States) to Rio de Janeiro and Santiago. United puts its 787-9 Dreamliner on the Rio route in a few weeks and on the Santiago route in January.
Just because the space is on United planes doesn’t mean you should use United miles to book. You can use any Star Alliance miles.
- Asiana charges only 35,000 miles one way in Business Class, compared to United’s 55,000 mile price. You can transfer SPG points to Asiana miles in about two weeks.
- Promiscuous transfer partner Singapore Airlines, a transfer partner of Chase, AMEX, Citi, and SPG, offers the routes for 50,000 miles one way in Business Class.
The best cards to get Singapore miles?
The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also earns 3x points on travel and gas and 2x points on dining and entertainment. The Citi Prestige® Card also offers 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.
Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.