Welcome to my blog post on my South American Flying Adventure!
After a successful 2022 flying trip to the U.S, I wanted to do something similar for this year and before I continue, I like to thank my partner a lot for being accommodating and giving me the green light to do this solo trip. I promised her that the next year, I will take her along. Thank you, E!
Initially I wanted to fly back to the U.S to do more domestic flights, flying the Boeing 717, United's 787-10 and perhaps try out the new airlines in my list such as Spirit, Breeze Airways and the regional operators but something struck me on Flyertalk website that caught my attention, some fantastic Business class airfare in the South America. Copa Airlines and Latam offered very good deals on the regional flights and in August 2022, I went ahead and book my tickets. The excitement to travel further this time got me quite excited as not only I would be visiting a new continent, I would also get to try out the South American airlines. My only ride with a South American Airlines was with LAN Airlines A340-300 (CDG-MAD), you can check out the trip report over here. Since my first booking, I had been monitoring flights and booked when the price is right and the number of flights gradually grow until to the point where I have to relunctantly put a stop. Some routes were inexpensive but there are few routes that are expensive such as EZE/AEP to GRU. For whatever reason, the airfare cost a lot more than most 2-3 hour flights elsewhere. However if you are lucky, on certain days like Tuesday or Wednesday, you can get good airfares. So for my bookings, it took about 8 months to complete as I took a while to observe the airfares and route changes.
What is required for my trip?
This trip would be more challenging compared to last year as I would be visiting more countries. Different countries have different requirement. I would need a few things. First, I need to keep up to date the number of vaccinations to ensure that I am fully vaccinated, this is needed to enter the U.S and the South American countries. Secondly, I need to take the Yellow Fever vaccination especially I am visiting Brazil. The requirement for me to return home is I need one in order to avoid a 7 days quaratine. This doesn't cost cheap as I paid about S$225 (U.S $168). Thirdly, I need to make sure I have my itinerary ready for inspection just in case the border immigration officer question but this shouldn't be a problem since I have no intention of staying there long term. For my one-way ticket flights, I may be questioned. Lastly, just make sure I bring the essential items such as the medicine, enough clothes and my electronic devices. As I am planning to carry just my backpack, I want to ensure my journey to be as smooth as possible.
Regarding my flights to London and South America
Initially I wanted to book myself on Lufthansa either on SIN-LHR route or LHR-GRU (Sao Paolo) route, however, the exorbitant airfare has made me look elsewhere instead. After considering the likes of Qantas, Etihad, Qatar, Singapore Airlines and Emirates, I decided to go with Emirates as the idea of flying the A380 was the deciding factor. All 4 sectors with the airline would be operated by the A380. (SIN-DXB-LHR and LHR-DXB-SIN). As for the flights to Sao Paolo, I had a number of options and the main reason why I chose Delta Airlines is because I had some E-credit with the airline that I had to use before it expire end of this year. Secondly, I found a very good airfare on one of the days I was scanning through the flights so I went for it. I decided to use my Delta miles to upgrade one of the flight classes to Comfort +. Another advantage of flying with Delta is that you can opt to fly with Virgin Atlantic on the LHR-JFK route but I decided to stick with Delta Airlines for the 767-400ER and more importantly, enough flight time in between so that I won't miss the connecting flight. So flying with Delta Airlines makes the most sense for me and I get to experience how Delta Airlines service is like on the international routes. *Update April 2023. I notice a few flights out of LHR was operated by the A330-900 NEO from both Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines and after much consideration, I decided to re-route my flights by flying instead to ATL and connect there to GRU. This means that I would get to experience ATL Airport by international transfer (I was told it would less hassle than transfering through JFK) and also to experience the A330 (-300 and -900NEO), I chose the Virgin A330-900NEO option and fortunately for me there was a last window seat left on this flight when I did the booking.
My choices of South American airlines
I wish I can fly more than this list but due to time constraint, I have to limit myself and my poor wallet. (All these flights are self funded). At this point of time, I missed out on 2 airlines, Ultra Air and Viva Air (Colombia) as financial issues hit them and they are unable to continue operating flights. There were news about Avianca investing in them but that didn't happen. The airlines that I wanted to fly for a long time was Avianca and Latam so booking with them was a must for me. Unfortunately booking with these 2 airlines wasn't straight forward. No matter how many times I tried to pay with my credit cards, it just didn't work for me. So I had no choice but to book flights with these airlines through a 3rd party. This is the last resort if I can't book with the airline. Other than these 2 airlines, I had to use 3rd party app to book with GOL and Azul. For the rest of the airlines, I was able to book from their websites without issue. The airlines that I have to miss out are Sky Airlines, Flybondi, Air Canada (5th freedom route: EZE-GRU) and Satena as I couldn’t find suitable timing with these airlines. BOA (Boliviana De Aviacion) is one of the most interesting airlines in my list while the likes of Jetsmart,Wingo and GOL are low cost carriers that I want to compare with the others. Avianca seems to be in decline now that the airline has cut a lot of in-flight service to become more a of Low Cost Carrier, so this airline I have to add into my list to see for myself. Azul is another airline that I want to fly especially on its ERJ-195 E2 which would be a new type to my aircraft type. Aerolineas Argentina is one of my top priority as I read a lot about this airline in the aviation magazine as I spotted it's 747-400 at Madrid. The airline's 747-400 has long been retired and the least I can do now is to fly the airline, hopefully get to fly on the 737 MAX 8. Lastly, Copa Airlines came into the picture when I saw a fantastic offer of its business class, so adding this to my list was not a difficult decision. The livery reminds me so much of Continental Airlines and I will come into that when I do the trip report of this airline.
My 100th Airline: Aerolineas Argentina
Photo: Fernando Ariel Torre
I have plans to do a bit of celebration to mark this achievement. Nothing is confirmed yet but I am thinking of doing a video trip report, what do you guys think? I would also plan to design a card and get the crew on my flight to sign it. Something like this. (below)
My flight route
My flight route
Total miles: 43,390
LHR-ATL (Virgin Atlantic)
Trip report, click here
ATL-GRU (Delta Airlines)
Trip report, click here
CGH-SDU (LATAM Brazil)
Trip report, click here
GRU-AEP (Aerolineas Argentinas)
AEP-SCL (Aerolineas Argentinas)
SCL-LIM (LATAM Peru)
LIM-BOG (LATAM Peru)
LHR - London Heathrow
JFK - New York JFK
GRU and CGH (Sao Paolo Airports)
SDU and GIG (Rio De Janeiro Airports)
VCP - Campinas
AEP and EZE (Bueno Aires Airport)
SCL - Santiago (Chile)
Lim - Lima (Peru)
BOG - Bogota (Colombia)
MDE - Medellin (Colombia)
PTY - Panama City
VVI- Santa Cruz (Bolivia)
I will be flying on 12 airlines, 9 will be new to me. 12 new airports among the list of 17. As for the aircraft types, if everything goes to plan, I would fly on the Airbus A319, A320, A380, A330-300, A330-900NEO, Boeing 737-800, MAX 8, MAX 9, Boeing 767-300, 767-400ER, 787-8, ERJ-175 and ERJ-195 E2.
The new airlines in my list would be the ones in the list below
Which is the most exciting flight in this itinerary and which city am I looking forward to travel to?
Latam's 767 new business class product from Lima to Bogota, hopefully the aircraft type on that flight doesn't change. As for which city I am looking forward to visit, I always wanted to visit Rio De Janiero and Santiago. Given a choice between both cities, it has to be Rio De Janiero for the amazing scenery as quite often shown on hollywood movies.
Majority of the flights are booked in Economy Class. Some of them are booked with more stop-overs so that I can fly on the specific aircraft type and also to pay some friends a visit at the transiting airports. Deciding on these flight routing takes a lot of time as I need to decide how to start off and create a nice itinerary and end the journey without tiring myself too much. I also must not forget that I have to return to reality (work).
When I created this itinerary, I wanted to fly on the longest route in the world, Singapore to New York with Singapore Airlines and connect to South America from there but the lure of visiting my family was too great, so for the longest route in the world, I will do it one day.
Stay tuned for my trip reports and I would also be blogging on the cities I am visiting. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do. My first trip report of this flying adventure will be experiencing Emirates A380 from Singapore to Dubai.
For any updates on my flight progress, you can check out my flight logbook over here.
I would be flying off next month, so expect my trip reports to be out the earliest, end of May (2023).
Update* The flights have been completed and I have updated this blog post with my trip reports, do enjoy them!
Have a great one!