For U.S.-based travelers, getting to Ecuador with airline miles comes with several options. Flying from Quito to the Galapagos on points becomes a bit trickier but not altogether impossible either.
In this guide, let’s look at the ways to maximize your miles and points in order to check off Ecuador from your South American bucket list.
The 3 Best Ways of Getting to Ecuador with Airline Miles
1. American Airlines
Of the 3 main airline alliances, the Oneworld Alliance has the most extensive routing throughout Central and South America. Luckily, American Airlines is a member of the Oneworld Alliance, as is Latin American carrier LATAM.
American Airlines divides South America into 2 regions, South America Region 1 and South America Region 2. Ecuador is in the South America Region 1, along with other northern South American destinations like Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia.
American Airlines offers off-peak and peak awards to South America Region 1 from the Continental U.S. From January 16-June 14 and September 7-November 14, a one-way economy SAAver award will cost 17.5k AA miles.
During peak times, one-way SAAver awards cost 20k AA miles, while business class costs 30k AA miles.
American Airlines flies direct routes to Quito from Miami and Dallas/Fort Worth. Given the high number of domestic flights connecting into these major cities, your home U.S. airport will likely have flights into and out of Miami and/or Dallas/Fort Worth.
For more information about how to piece together award routings, take a moment to read about a few award flight basics.
Galapagos Islands flights can be pricey out-of-pocket. Whether you use American Airlines or not to book your U.S. to Ecuador flight, look at Oneworld partner British Airways and their distance-based award chart. Availability can be a bit spotty, but the cash savings is worth it.
American Airlines has, at best, average award availability in economy and even less so with premium award seats.
It’s not only during off-peak times either. There are just a few days in July and August with peak awards availability between Detroit and Quito.
Whether you’re trying to book an American Airlines award flight to Ecuador or elsewhere, don’t delay. If you find an award redemption that works with your travel plans, book it.
How to Earn AA miles:
- Citibank and Barclays offer co-branded American Airlines credit cards.
- SPG points transfer to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.
- Take advantage of AA Dining Rewards and the AA Shopping Portal.
ProTip: If you’re flying directly from Miami or Dallas/Fort Worth to Quito, it’ll cost fewer miles to book your award flights with British Airways. Because of the power of airline alliances, you can book these same AA awards for less with BA and still fly on the same American Airlines flights had you booked with American.
Search for these awards on BA and always beware of BA high surcharges and fees that wipe out the mile-savings value.
For more about British Airways and how to maximize this loyalty program, take a look at my beginner’s guide to using British Airways Avios.
2. United Airlines
The Star Alliance includes United and Latin American carriers Copa and Avianca. From the U.S., United offers direct flights from Houston Intercontinental, while Copa flies a direct route to Quito from Panama City. Avianca flys between Bogota, Colombia and Quito, as well.
As with Miami and Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston International is the connecting point for countless United flights from across the U.S.
Similar to American, United divides South America into 2 regions, Northern South America and Southern South America. Ecuador is in the Northern South America region.
A one-way economy Saver award is 20k United miles, while first and business class saver awards are 35k and 45k, respectively.
While United doesn’t offer off-peak pricing, they do allow 1 stopover and 2 open-jaws on award tickets. This certainly can bring about a lot of creativity in routing. You can add a stopover in Colombia or Peru, for example, for no extra miles.
More interestingly for travelers looking for Quito to Galapagos flights, you can use the United stopover to fly to the Galapagos for no additional United miles.
For 40k United miles and about $140ish in taxes and fees, you can fly round trip from the mainland U.S. to Ecuador with a stopover in the Galapagos.
United has solid saver award availability. If your travel dates have some flexibility, play around with the United calendar results to see if a better award routing is available.
Use the multi-city tool on the United website to piece together your itinerary.
How to Earn United Miles:
- United is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.
- SPG points also transfer to United but the bad 2:1 transfer ratio makes this a horrible value. (It’s better to utilize an indirect transfer route from SPG to Marriott to United if need be.)
- The United MileagePlus Explorer card has a 50k and sometimes a targeted 70k sign-up bonus.
- Earn more miles with dining rewards, the United shopping portal, and the MPX app.
JetBlue is not a member of any airline alliance. But, if getting to Ecuador with airline miles is a top priority, the True Blue loyalty program should not be overlooked.
JetBlue flies from Fort Lauderdale to Quito. The number of points needed for a JetBlue award flight to Quito will vary depending on the actual cash price of the ticket. For this reason, whether you want to redeem JetBlue points to Ecuador or elsewhere, it’s best to book during a JetBlue sale. The number of points needed will be less than when the fare is at its regular price.
Select book with points when you search for a flight and JetBlue will return options for your dates. In addition, you’ll notice the points needed to fly on other dates. Keep in mind the Blue Plus fare includes a checked bag. The Blue fare does not. You’ll need to add $25 if you’d like to check a bag when booking this fare class.
Unlike the airlines mentioned above, there are no blackout dates on JetBlue flights. Nor are there a limited number of award seats. You can use your points for any available seat, any time.
How to Earn JetBlue Points:
- Barclays has a co-branded JetBlue credit card.
- American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to JetBlue. But, this not the best use of your MR points. However, pay attention to transfer bonuses which allow you to get more TrueBlue points from your Membership Rewards.
ProTip: If you have the Southwest Companion Pass, use it to position yourself in Fort Lauderdale for a JetBlue Ecuador award flight.
What about Delta??
Delta is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance and flies direct from Atlanta to Quito. Since Delta stopped publishing an award chart and raised prices on partner award flights, it can be a challenge to know if you’re getting maximum value for your Delta SkyMiles.
According to super savvy travel hackers, like Drew from Travel is Free, we know it should cost 17.5k Delta SkyMiles for a one-way economy Delta flight between the U.S. and Quito. The price rises to 25k one-way in economy for a partner award.
However, Delta’s award prices fluctuate so use these numbers as a guide to understanding and judging the award pricing Delta shows you.
In reality, the lowest price I was able to find on the Atlanta to Quito route was 45k SkyMiles + $100ish in taxes and fees. Prices went up from there once I tested out departures from non-direct cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Whether you want to visit the Galapagos or the Mindo Cloud Forest, there are great options for maximizing your miles and points to Ecuador.
For travelers interested in flying to the Galapagos Islands, United’s award pricing with its free stopover can’t be beaten.
JetBlue awards to Ecuador can be a steal, especially if booked during a fare sale.
American off-peak awards to Ecuador stand out for their lower pricing, although availability can be tough to find for your exact dates.
Aside from the United stopover option, keep in mind British Airways Avios as a way to redeem for flights between Quito and the Galapagos.
How would you like to fly to Ecuador with airline miles?
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