Iguazu Falls to CLE (or a US Gateway in between)

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#1
I booked an award flight to Santiago in J yesterday for 11 months out. I was watching flights leading up to yesterday and the options weren't ideal. Suddenly a one stop from CLE came up and it will work quite nicely. This on AA miles and on AA planes and there were TWO SAVER SEATS. W-w-w-wait. Maybe I was dreaming? :) Ok, ok, I'll wait for their SOP to change my flights to impossible connections ... but I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

This is more of a creative thinking question applied to coming home than one about award booking help, but I do want to book an award flight for the long flight home!

Santiago isn't really the big destination here for me. We have a side trip planned that will take us 5+ hours west into the Pacific and access seems to start and end in SCL. That's not to say we won't see and enjoy Santiago, some. But I'd like to see Iguazu Falls, too. All I currently have booked is the flight to SCL ... return flights are not yet scheduled (we have 2 weeks or so).

So. Say my wife and I are staying near the falls. My intention is to see both sides. Can anyone suggest a creative way to get home? The flights that show on award searches tend to be many hours and like 3 stops. Which is OK, but I might as well try to design my own stops and split up the hours better. If it makes sense. Many route through POA (so far United searches have been most productive for me, AA not so much and I haven't tried anything else yet). Don't know anything about POA but will research.

We won't have too much time to add another large visit. Or maybe we will as again, the trip is outlined but only the starting point anchored. Who's got ideas?

We have an adequate stash of UR (well over 300k) and MR. 113k BA which may help move us around down south. Our original massive AA pool has been nicely drained and we're down to 190k + 90k once I cancel one of 2 flights home from HKG (I need to update an older thread!). And 230k + 200k Alaska.

Ideas? Thanks in advance.
 

mec

Silver Member
#2
Might you be early to see availability on some options?

When I scroll back to early March I see some ~60k J options on Avianca from some different cities (EZE, LPB...)

I think there is a lot to see in a large area in that neck of the world, but think there is a wine festival in Mendoza at the beginning of May and the Park Hyatt there looks like a steal if you can work it in.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#3
Might you be early to see availability on some options?

When I scroll back to early March I see some ~60k J options on Avianca from some different cities (EZE, LPB...)

I think there is a lot to see in a large area in that neck of the world, but think there is a wine festival in Mendoza at the beginning of May and the Park Hyatt there looks like a steal if you can work it in.
Thanks for the reply. Yes, too early. But I've been prototyping return flights based on 4/3 thru the next weekend (my out going flight is 4/3).

EZE was in my notes to consider. It's fairly close to IGU/IGR and the Falls, but still requires some thinking. In some other thread I asked about Buenos Aires and wasn't sold that it was my best option, but it isn't crossed off by any means. I also did minor research on POA - Puerto Alegre - the connection that United seems to like. It doesn't look like a bad place to spend a day. But it IS in Brazil, do we'd have to make sure we have a proper Visa (thought I read that there was a new short-term Visa for Falls visitors but I'd have to re-find it). I'm not afraid of Brazil, just aware of the possible complications and costs. We DO already have our Yellow Fever shots.

Bolivia! (LPB). That's an interesting idea. I'll spend more time poking around the map and award searches through the weekend. Thanks for the ideas.
 

kristian

Level 2 Member
#4
Regarding Mendoza, the wine festival is in March, and is awesome. The Park Hyatt is a great redemption at 8k, but so is the Sheraton for 3-4k. You are looking at an entire continent which is a little hard to give suggestions on. I'm happy to give some suggestions on specific places. There is nothing wrong with Porto Alegre, but IMO BsAs has a ton more to offer.
 
#5
My experience from a couple of years ago... Cash flight on the Brazil side are pretty cheap between Igazu and Sao Paulo on GOL and Azul. Might be worth concentrating on award from Sao Paulo for best connections back to CLE. Argentina side is more expensive (cash) but we were able to do Igazu to AEP (Buenos Aires domestic airport) on LATAM award for 6000 AA miles and Buenos Aires is a great place to visit for a day or two if you have that much time.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#6
Thanks for all of the help so far. Some updates, as I progress through roughing in the flights to frame this trip. And, of course, some additional questions.

I see I can book flight back and forth to Easter Island (IPC) using BA Avios, I will have to supplement my holdings with 37k from my UR/MR holdings. I'm ok with that (but it will zero out a BA balance that was once substantial but took me 4-5 years to use!) Only J seats are available, also OK with me @37.5k each seat each way. Just for my knowledge, does anyone know the AA miles needed? I can try to call tomorrow, but I've heard their needs are MUCH higher.

I meant to use my LAN miles, some expired unexpectedly already and the 44k left do so at the end of the year. They aren't fitting here, but I will look to apply them to the other short flights in the area (to the Falls and where ever on the way back).

I was planning to spend only 1 full day PLUS our early-morning arrival day in SCL. I'm leaning towards bumping this out one day so we don't miss anything in this city.

Flights home from the falls - I checked the major cities that seemed likely departure gateways (LIM, EZE, SCL and GRU) for flights that get me back to CLE (or ORD/MIA/IAD/etc). EZE seems the most difficult and less flexible. I'm not crossing it off, but it doesn't look practical in our scheme. Via LIM is the "cheapest" and would work, but I've been to and through LIM enough that it isn't exciting in itself. While I didn't want to actually fly back to SCL to fly home, it does have attractive options and may end up being "it".

GRU has both an AA and UA options but for UA I'd have to find my own flight home from ORD or IAD. Well, I could look at that later if needed (to see if I can get this tacked on ... but flights are on Copa. If I remember, J is NOT lay flat).

Anyway. Researching the falls more it seems that the area is full of things to do and see in addition to the falls. My 2 days max just turned into 4 or whatever we can squeeze as the last main attraction. Visiting places on the way home is less important, and I'll be looking for a way to get us home conveniently, but also so as to maximize the time we spend here.
 
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knick1959

Level 2 Member
#7
I'm going to amend my last post with a separate post here. This, as I keep looking for info via google searches. I just read someone mentioning transferring SPG to LAN ...

I did a transfer of a small number of SPG points to LAN a couple of years ago (I have a couple of existing rants here, somewhere). This, to get enough miles for an award to the Galapagos Islands (GPS). It was a terrible experience. Miles didn't show up and only after 2-3 months and direct personal interaction did they finally register. I missed the flight I wanted but fortunately had an alternative that worked.

Anyway ... has anyone else with LAN miles/kms notice the very recent transfer to a new "multiplus" system? Emails were confusing, but a LAN signon does take you to a new site ... and back and forth in a confusing manner. It IS confusing and very new and seemingly error prone. But it appears you can book one ways on this new system (I seem to remember LAN being RT only, but I could be wrong).

The other thing I noted? SPG's website doesn't list LAN or this new entity as a transfer option. Even with the problems of the past I considered a transfer as a possible option. Now I don't! BA Avios will do it for me, tho.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#8
Update: I monitored the SPG website for a couple of weeks, looking to see if LAN or Multiplus showed up as a transfer partner again. Nadda. This would have saved me a couple of hundred bucks if I could have managed to sneak over a handful of points for LAN miles. But alas, it wasn't to be. A smaller handful of LAN miles will expire at the end of the year, but that's ok, I don't want to mess with this program directly any more. For now.

I ended up booking IGU->GRU with cash - 2 tickets ended up at ~$220 with fees. Before this I had managed to snag a reasonable flight from GRU to CLE using AA miles. So I have my route home and this completes the flight logistics for this trip.

After researching further on "things to do" in the Iguazu area I found that there really wasn't as much as I thought. The cool-sounding national park I read about in a Frommer's web article turns out to be remote and extremely challenging logistically even from Iguazu. Why they suggested it was a side trip is a little questionable, but I guess you would at least be in the same country :). The dam and the bird rescue center weren't quite as appealing. So, I've got 2 full days plus a remnant on the Argentina side and then a day after transferring to the Brazil side. Will start working on our visas for Brazil; already have yellow fever handled.

This gives us some time in Sao Paulo - 2 long-partial days. Hoping I can make this a meaningful addition to the trip in general.

I'm thinking about splurging for the hotel (former Sheraton) inside the Argentina park. The hotel in the Brazilian park is just TOO expensive even for 1 night. So not sure there.

Suggestions? Specifically, looking for Hotels in Santiago, Easter Island, IGU (Brazil side) and Sao Paulo. It looks easy to find ones that will work myself, but recommendations will certainly impact my decision. I have ample points in most major hotel programs but cash is also an easy option even if not absolutely required. Anyone? There are Radisson options in Santiago ... any experiences?

Thanks again.
 

Suzie

Level 2 Member
#9
I'm pretty sure I've responded to a similar question before on another thread but I can't find it.

Anyway, briefly -

We spent 3 nights on Argentina side of falls as we arrived late - 9:00 pm - the first night. Stayed at Melia (former SPG) in the park and we were on the trail and on our way to Devil's Throat right at 8:00 am and arrived before the first train of tourists that had embarked from the visitor center. It is an awesome sight and only about 15 of us had chosen to hike to the falls. We hiked most of the Argentina side with a break back at the hotel for some lunch, A/C and beer that day. Spent the next morning ~ 8:00 am-2:00 pm door to door - on the Brazil side. After lunch, we headed back out to see the rest of the Argentinian side. We did not go to the dam nor the bird rescue as they were things we have seen elsewhere and wanted more time at the falls.

I'm really glad we stayed in the park, however, we were doing it on SPG points that Melia honored and even gave us the wonderful buffet breakfast each morning. The staff there is terrific. I don't know what the cost is in $$. We were there in March and they had started renovation on the hotel and the pool was closed for renovation. We were not bothered by any of the construction, e.g. noise. The view from the hotel bar and lobby is really nice. I got some beautiful pictures of a double rainbow from the bar balcony.

Tip - go to Brazil side in the morning rather than afternoon if you want to see some beautiful rainbows - the location of the sun is better in the morning. Also, if you stay at Melia - you only pay one entrance to the park. You still have to pay the Brazilian side.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#10
I'm pretty sure I've responded to a similar question before on another thread but I can't find it.
Now that you've typed it (again :)) I seem to recognize some of the descriptions. But thanks for repeating. This is all directly pertainent.

Yes, the Melia. This seems like the place for us for 2 nights. It will cost us $289/night from memory but I'm waiting to see if signing up for their mailing list gets me any coupons. I've gotten way to used to everything "for free" so this feels so evil. However, this location optimizes time and the experience should be worth it, to me. So we'll do that for the Argentina side.

The park hotel on the Brazil side was $400+/night. I do have my limits, even for one night :).

I'll look for the other thread to see if I can extract more details. But thanks for the reply here.

Edit: The previous thread with your post was here:
https://saverocity.com/forum/threads/advice-for-award-booking-to-patagonia.670800/#post-825055
 
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