Sometimes (depends of the market) the last minute air fares are on the expensive side and good opportunity to save some cash and burn miles/points.
Also, the airlines tend to be good at releasing award inventory at the very last minute that you can then ticket using your miles.
Here are three examples from the past week:
1. Delta miles for Aerolineas Argentinas GIG-AEP flight
I haven’t missed a flight for a very long time, but overslept the other Thursday my GOL flight GIG-AEP.
There was nothing available on Oneworld and the paid fares for this 3 hour flight were in the $400 range.
Then I checked Aerolineas Argentinas availability using Delta SkyMiles and managed to ticket premium economy/business class seat (25,000 miles) two hours before departure and made it to the airport just when the check in was about to close.
2. United miles for EZE-GRU-PTY-MEX
Had to get a friend from Buenos Aires to Mexico City and award availability via Santiago or Sao Paulo was quite good. United had availability where LifeMiles didn’t.
Using 40,000 miles for a business class is not a bad deal considering the prices charged. The economy redemption would have been 20,000 miles. Ticketed this one two days before departure
3. Delta miles for Aerolineas Argentinas AEP-GRU flight
This is a good reminder why it makes sense to book flights as one-ways as long as there is no penalty to do so.
GOL had cancelled the PNR when I didn’t make it to the GIG-AEP flight and Etihad was not very helpful. Decided to deal with Etihad at some later point (after making to the Platinum status) and found availability on Aerolineas Argentinas on every flight from AEP-GRU.
Tried to ticket economy award online, but Delta.com was having issues. The reservations in Buenos Aires was able able to ticket it and without phone booking fee. This was done less than 24 hours before departure.
There was availability on TAM as well that would have been good use of Avios. The flight time was not optimal, however.
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I tend to issue my award tickets couple of days before departure (not usually two hours), but seems that at least Delta is able to issue etickets promptly (compared to AA that sits on them for days).
The “service” that Aerolineas Argentinas provides on these regional flights on business/premium economy (they call it both) is atrocious. No adult beverages and the food was an inedible sandwich.
Delta miles in South America are useful due to GOL and Aerolineas Argentinas partnerships. I like the fact that there are no last minute ticketing fees unlike with some other airlines.