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How to Book Award Tickets on GOL Airlines

I’m heading down to Sao Paulo next week, and for I’m-not-sure-what-reason I decided I wanted to spend a night in Asuncion, Paraguay, since I how often do I have the opportunity to go to Asuncion? (Answer: Once).

The most obvious way to accomplish this would have been to use 15,000 Avios miles and fly roundtrip on TAM, which has 2 flights a day between the cities. But the times of those flights didn’t work for me (I’m not sure a 3:50am flight from Asuncion works for anyone).

But GOL had mid-day flights that worked for the times I needed, so I went about looking to use miles for a seat instead of spending the actually-kinda-reasonable $270 for the flight.

GOL, a South American low fare (or “low fare”) airline, is a partner of both Delta and Air France, so I had a couple of options. Delta charges 25,000 miles roundtrip for flights within Southern South America, while Air France charges 30,000 miles for the same trip. Neither adds additional fuel surcharges, while (at least for the rest of 2014) Delta will only allow you to book a roundtrip award ticket, Air France will allow you to reserve a one-way award ticket, allowing me some flexibility if I wanted to take that 3:50am flight on TAM.

The easiest way to check award availability for GOL is to use the under-appreciated (and free!) Flightstats.com. Here’s how:

- You’ll need to create a free account with flightstats.com.

- Go to this page on flightstats.com and enter your cities and dates you’d like to fly.

- You’ll see results that look something like this:

gol2

- GOL books award space (they only offer Coach) into the X fare class. I’ve put an arrow next to where it says X/4, meaning there are at a minimum 4 X class seats available for award booking.

(Flightstats offers free award availability checking on a host of airlines, and View from the Wing has an older post outlining the award seat fare classes for lots of airlines here.)

Now you can just go and call Delta or Air France to book that space.

Unfortunately in my case, once I added in the $80 in taxes plus the $25 phone fee for Delta, it wasn’t worth 25,000 miles plus $105 to use miles (though one could argue what I’m going to do with my Delta miles, so why not just use them here?). I thought about using roughly 21,000 Ultimate Rewards points using their book with points option where you get 1.25 cents per point, but GOL does not show up in their airfare search (also it’s probably not a great use of those miles).

I did use my airfare credit I got with the Wells Fargo Amex Propel card. You can book on GOL through their booking portal, and I used 27,000 of the 40,000 bonus points I got with that card. I know that people have been saying they get roughly 1.5 cents per point when redeeming those points for airfare, but it showed me 1 cent per point when booking this flight.

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  1. Asuncion is a place unto itself (fantastic) if you can appreciate it. Looking forward to hear your thoughts.

  2. Like 99%+ of Americans, I’ve never been to Paraguay. I have thought of stopping there on my way to someplace else, but I recall you have to pay the visa fee — which I think is $160 — even if you’re only staying a day. No?

    • You have to pay the ridiculous fee, regardless of how long you’re staying (just like in Argentina). Thanks, US government!

      • Yeah, a lot of countries are into “reciprocity” (you screw our citizens, we’ll screw yours). Of course, it may be counter-productive. There have certainly been times when I’ve been planning travel to South America that I’ve altered my plans based on the tourst tax. Especially if you have your family with you, $160 pp is a big hit. Right now, for example, I would visit Chile (recently fee-free) and avoid Argentina ($160 pp).

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