Cheap Business Class Flights from South America
If you missed Part One of my epic Journey, you should go back and read it. I used expiring AsiaMiles to book a ~10,000 mile flight from Washington, D.C. to São Paulo, Brazil, via London. I'll spend almost 12 hours in London to eat and drink my way through the city. Then I hop on an Airbus 350-10 and the new Club World Business suites to South America. Once on the ground in São Paulo, I have 20 hours on the ground to see, eat and do all the things. But São Paulo is not where my journey ends. In fact, after 2 cities and 2 continents in 2 days, my journey has just begun! While this trip is mostly points and miles, I found an incredibly cheap business class flight from South America. So after 20 hours on the ground in São Paulo, I'm off to another continent.
Original Plan for Leaving South America
As I mentioned in Part One, I booked IAD-LHR-GRU with AsiaMiles before I knew it was part of a larger trip. Once it was time to go full-time Travel on Point(s), and I had 100,000 Bilt Rewards to showcase Bilt's amazing travel partners, I knew the fun began in South America. The world was my oyster and São Paulo is a hotbed for most major international carriers, so it seemed like an easy starting point. But then I hit a major snag.
Aeroplan, the award program of Air Canada, was my plan to leave South America. I spent almost two months tracking flights, including Lufthansa from São Paulo and Buenos Aires to Frankfurt, Turkish from São Paulo or Panama City to Istanbul, Swiss from São Paulo to Zurich, and many more. My preference was starting a massive multi-city Aeroplan trip, booked with Bilt Rewards from our DFW Meetup Giveaway, and flying Lufthansa First Class on its longest route in the world (Buenos Aires to Frankfurt).
Aeroplan Fails Me
Alas, as I wrote about a few weeks ago, Aeroplan is not reliable (dare I say completely useless?) right now for award space in South America. Turkish Airlines awards that I could see on the website were not bookable via telephone representatives, which is required for a multi-city itinerary more than a few legs. Additionally, direct flights on Copa Airlines and Lufthansa that were viewable on United Airlines and ExpertFlyer was suddenly not appearing on Aeroplan.
So I gave up. My trip was only a few weeks away and I decided that I could not count on Aeroplan to sort itself out and, quite frankly, I was tired of time and effort to get this portion of the trip booked. Overall, I spent over 8 hours on the phone and likely 40+ hours stalking award space, only to learn that telephone representatives could not book flights that were bookable on the Aeroplan website.
The Winning Ticket out of South America
This frustration led me to google flights to see what other options existed. You see, my original idea was to finish my Bilt trip in Colombo, Sri Lanka and take a cheap cash fare home on Qatar Qsuites (via Doha, Dallas, and Norfolk). This functional mileage run would have done two things:
- Got me home in style from a once-in-a-lifetime trip
- It would have earned almost 30,000 American Airlines Loyalty Points
That number of Loyalty Points is good enough for 3/4ths of the way towards AA Gold status. If anyone is interested, you can find those flights for as low as $1,400. Since I was already planning one leg as a cash fare/mileage run, I began searching cheap fares for business class out of São Paulo. Sure enough, there are great deals available! $1,200-$1,500 gets you all over Europe and some with very interesting routings.
My Cheap Qatar Airlines Cash Fare to Continents Three & Four
But it got better and better! When I drilled down dates and routes, I saw a crazy option: Qatar Qsuites from São Paulo to Cairo, Egypt. One flight option had a 22 hour layover in Doha to see the city, which I have never done. Sign me up! But wait, there's moooooooooore. The sub-5 hour Doha to Cairo flight is ticketed as a regional First class ticket. So I am a First class ticketed passenger for the regional flight, despite flying on Qsuites for both legs.
What does a regional First class ticket mean? For starters, I can visit the Al Safwa First Class Lounge at DOH airport. This lounge has 12 private sleeping rooms on a first-come, first-served basis. If I luck out, I can use one of these rooms for a full night's sleep upon arrival. I also have access to the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge and the brand-new Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge-The Garden that opened a few weeks ago. All in, this fare was under $1,700 for 19+ hours in Qsuites. I credited this flight to American Airlines and should earn between 13,000 and 18,000 AA miles and Loyalty Points.
My Trip Thus Far
Two-thirds of the way through my flight bookings, we are still barely scratching the surface of this trip. So far, I have time to spend in London, São Paulo, Doha, and Cairo. This leg of my trip is 19+ hours in Qatar Qsuites and 8,600+ miles flown.
In total, the first two parts of my trip include 39 hours of flight time and 18,000+ nautical miles flown. There's several crooked lines on this flight map!
For this part of the trip, I paid just under $1,700 for Qatar Qsuites. I credited this cash flight to my American Airlines account. AA earns miles and Loyalty Points on Qatar flights based on fare class and mileage flown, not revenue. So I earn AA miles at 1.5x the mileage flown for the first leg and 2.5x for the mileage flown on the second leg, for a total of 14,000+ AA miles and Loyalty Points. This helps climb the AA loyalty ladder on my way to AA status.
I'm super excited about this part of the trip. I have never spent time in Doha or in Cairo. For my 22 hours in Doha, I plan to visit the Museum of Islamic Art and wander the town. Then I'll head back to the airport to spend time in all three Qatar Airways' business and first lounges. After arrival in Cairo, I have a guide meeting me at the airport to take me to my hotel. More on that redemption in a later post. I have a full day tour planned in and around Cairo, including the pyramids at Giza, the Sphinx, and the Egyptian Museum. After a good night's sleep, I'll head to the airport the following morning and head off on the grandest adventure of them all. By this time, I have visited 4 cities on 4 continents in 6 days!
The Quirky Qatar Airways Booking System
I encountered several things on the Qatar Airways website that is frustrating and quirky. First, despite booking in business & first class (R- and A- fares, respectively), I am unable to select seats until check-in. Back in 2020 & 2021, Qatar instituted levels of business class fares that offer varying perks. R-class business class fares now require payment for advanced seat selection. Luckily, lounge access remains available and I can check out all those glorious lounges at DOH. Second, Qatar Airways regularly has payment issues on its website. Personally, my American Express Platinum card (for 5 points per dollar on airfare, of course) repeatedly failed. The payment screen kept erroring out and telling me to check my payment method. I gave up and used my Citi Premier for 3x points on airfare. Once I received a verification code via text message from Citi, my payment successfully processed. We have reports in our Facebook group of no cards working, however, and it is an ongoing issue to complete payments.
Previous & Upcoming Articles For This Trip
We will be back next week for part 3 of my journey. Here is a reminder of everything that will be coming down the pipeline for this series. Plus a bunch of reviews and trip reports in the near future:
- Part One:
- Part Two:
- Maximizing cash ticket on Qsuites, Doha and Cairo
- Part Three:
- Burning 100,000 Bilt Rewards Points Hopping All Around The Middle East & Europe, Plus Getting Home
- Part Four:
- Tours, Activites, Hotels & Everything In-between
Cheap Business Class Flights from South America: ToP Thoughts
Expect the unexpected, question the conventional, and (hopefully) prepared to be amazed. As I warned in the first part of this epic trip, anything is possible. I certainly did not expect to ditch an extended Aeroplan award out of South America, but here we are. Overall, I am very pleased with this cheap business class flight from South America, especially since the regional flight is First Class. I get access to the First Class lounge AND can avoid booking a hotel room in Doha. I am also happy to visit a new part of Africa for me and finally spend a few hours in Doha to see the sights. But don't worry, the adventure is just beginning. Stay tuned for Part 3!
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