Quito Ecuador

4 Best Ways of Getting To Ecuador with Airline Miles (Plus, Galapagos Tips, too!)

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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

Ecuador is a beautiful country with a ton of ecological diversity, from volcanoes to cloud forests, beaches, and access to the Amazon and the Galapagos.

There are plenty of things to do in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. Not to mention, Quito can be an excellent base from which to take day trips to explore more of the country.

Luckily, there are also a lot of ways to use your miles and points to get there!

1. American Airlines

American Airlines Airplane on the runway

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.

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.

However, what’s interesting is that even though American Airlines still publishes an award chart with peak and off-peak pricing, their award pricing, in reality, is quite dynamic. It fluctuates depending on things like season and demand.

Look at the screenshot below. You can see the variation in the number of miles needed. I even landed on a round trip price for just 30k American Airlines miles in economy. This is even lower than the off-peak price shown on the award chart.

Oftentimes, these lower prices are web specials that come with a few added restrictions but they can still be canceled and your miles reinstated for no fee.

American Airlines DTW-UIO Screenshot
A sample of available award flights from Detroit to Quito, Ecuador.

According to the award chart business-class to Ecuador costs 30k AA miles each way. However, once again, I found round trips in business class from Detroit to Quito for less than this. Similar to the economy example above, the calendar view of pricing shows award flights from 50k-90k miles round trip.

And this time the difference between the web special pricing was significant as you can see below!

American Airlines DTW-UIO Web Special Business Class

American Airlines flies direct routes to Quito from Miami. Given the high number of domestic flights connecting here, your home U.S. airport will likely have flights into and out of Miami.

For more information about how to piece together award routings, take a moment to read about a few award flight basics.

Award Availability:

On any given day, American Airlines tends to have award availability to Quito, Ecuador. The question becomes more about the price of that award flight and whether or not you have the flexibility to take advantage of cheaper travel dates.

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, especially if you find the lowest pricing on your dates.

How to Earn AA miles:

  • Citibank and Barclays offer co-branded American Airlines credit cards.
  • Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to American Airlines at a 3:1 ratio. For 60k Marriot points, you’ll get 20k American Airline miles plus a 5k mile bonus for a total of 25k AA miles.
  • Take advantage of AA Dining Rewards, the AA Shopping Portal and Simply Miles to earn American Airlines miles.
  • Pair your AA loyalty account with your World of Hyatt or IHG account to earn AA miles when you stay at hotels in these programs.

ProTip: If you’re flying directly from Miami to Quito, it’ll likely 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.

BA AA MIA-UIO Screenshot
Round trip Miami to Quito.

2. Delta

Delta is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance and flies direct from Atlanta to Quito. Since Delta stopped publishing an award chart and prices awards dynamically, it can be a challenge to know if you’re getting maximum value for your Delta SkyMiles.

However, as insane as Delta’s pricing can sometimes be, you can also find competitive award pricing, if not the lowest pricing among the 3 legacy airlines, depending on your route and dates.

Delta Chicago to Ecuador Screenshot

As you can see from this calendar view on flights from Chicago to Quito, Delta’s award prices fluctuate. However, the pricing is more than competitive when compared to other best ways to use miles and points to get to Ecuador.

Although my dates aren’t the lowest award price, with some flexibility I could pay as little as 32k Delta miles to get to Quito.

Delta Availability:

Delta tends to have decent to good award availability, overall. However, you must be on the lookout for ludicrously high award pricing.

By comparing your options for getting to Ecuador with points and miles, you’ll have a better sense of what’s reasonable and not for your travel dates.

How to Earn Delta Miles:

  • Delta is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards. Just note, there is an excise fee to transfer Amex points to Delta, but even so, these travel rewards credit cards can help you top up your Delta account.
  • Delta also has several co-branded airline credit cards with American Express all of which come with a welcome bonus to earn even more Delta miles. These include:
    • Blue Delta SkyMiles card
    • Gold Delta SkyMiles card
    • Delta SkyMiles Platinum card
    • Delta SkyMiles Reserve card
    • Delta SkyMiles Gold Business card
    • Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business card
    • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card (Business cards are a great way to access additional travel rewards!)
  • Earn Delta miles through their shopping portal and dining rewards program.

3. United Airlines

DP United Airplane

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 flies between Bogota, Colombia and Quito, as well.

As with Miami, Houston International is the connecting point for countless United flights from across the U.S.

Similar to American Airlines, 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 costs as little as 20k United miles, while first and business-class saver awards are as low as 35k and 45k, respectively. The variation in pricing comes because United has moved away from fixed pricing to a dynamic award model.

United allows 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.

United Airlines UIO-GPS Excursionist Perk
Piecing together my Galapagos itinerary, the flight from Quito to the Galapagos costs 0 extra miles.

For as little as 40k United miles, you can fly round trip from the mainland U.S. to Ecuador with a stopover in the Galapagos. However, these lowest price tickets often come with 2 stops which isn’t exactly ideal.

For itineraries with 1 stop originating in the U.S. and connecting in Houston, expect to pay between 25k-33k United miles each way in economy.

United Availability:

United Airlines DEN-UIO Award Flight Calendar Screenshot

United has solid award availability. However, it will take digging into the results for an optimal itinerary without numerous connections and/or long layovers. 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 if trying to add a Galapagos excursion.

How to Earn United Miles:

  • United is a Chase Ultimate Rewards 1:1 airline transfer partner. The points you earn with Chase Ultimate Rewards earning credit cards transfer to United.
  • Marriott Bonvoy points also transfer to United but with a 3:1.1 transfer ratio. 
  • United offers several airline credit cards all of which come with a welcome bonus to earn even more United miles. These include:
    • United Explorer card 
    • United Quest card
    • United Gateway card
    • United Club Infinite card
    • United Business card
  • Earn United miles, as well, with dining rewards, the United shopping portal, and the MPX app.

4. JetBlue

JetBlue Airplane on the tarmac

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 “Use TrueBlue 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.

JetBlue Availability:

JetBlue FLL-UIO Screenshot

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.

ProTip: If you’re not seeing favorable pricing on your dates, choose “select new dates” to see a calendar view of award pricing.

How to Earn JetBlue Points:

  • Barclays has a co-branded JetBlue credit card.
  • JetBlue is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, Citi, Capital One, and Marriott. However, pay attention to the transfer ratio for Citibank and the excise fee charged by American Express. Periodic transfer bonuses will allow you to get more TrueBlue points from your flexible points.
  • Use the JetBlue dining program and shopping portal to earn more TrueBlue points.

ProTip: If you have the Southwest Companion Pass, use it to position yourself in Fort Lauderdale for a JetBlue Ecuador award flight.

How to use Points and Miles to Get to the Galapagos

Couple of blue footed boobies performing mating dance

If you’re planning a trip to Ecuador, chances are you are also looking at how to get to the Galapagos Islands. This environmental wonderland tops many people’s bucket lists.

The island of Batra has the main airport with flights from Quito and Guayaquil. There are only a few airlines that run flights between the mainland of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands so airfares can get pricey.

Aside from using United’s Excursionist Perk to add a free one-way to your Ecuador award flight, it’s worth it to look at Avianca and Delta, as well.

Avianca is in the Star Alliance with United and also flies from Quito and Guayaquil to Batra. You can compare Avianca’s pricing with United’s pricing to find the best price.

You can fly for as little as 8,500 Aviana LifeMiles one-way to Batra, while United typically has flights for as little as 13k United miles.

Lifemiles is a transfer partner with American Express, Citi ThankYou, Capital One, and Marriott Bonvoy. This comes in handy, not just because Avianca is likely to be the cheaper option, but because if you have no United miles or Chase points (United transfer partner) you still have options for an award flight to the Galapagos.

LATAM is another airline that flies Galapagos routes. They are also partners with Delta.

Delta has dynamic pricing, however, award searches reveal round-trip award flights for as little as 25k Delta miles. And remember, even though you are booking on Delta’s website and paying with Delta miles, the flight will be flown by their partner LATAM.

Bottom Line:

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, the Star Alliance possibilities with Avianca and United 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, as does Delta’s when you can find dates with the lowest award prices.

If you’re someone with a variety of miles and points, it’s best to compare all your options to find the best price and maximize your points and miles to Ecuador.

How would you like to fly to Ecuador with airline miles?

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The 3 Best Ways of Getting to Ecuador with Airline Miles

22 thoughts on “4 Best Ways of Getting To Ecuador with Airline Miles (Plus, Galapagos Tips, too!)”

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful and comprehensive guide to using airline miles for Ecuador. Your examination of each airline–as opposed to making this a high-level review–is so much more helpful. 🙂

  2. We definitely need to start playing to points game. I don’t know what would be more exciting – cheaper AA tickets or the creativity in routing. We tend to be racking up AA points from a variety of sources so that is probably where we would be booking.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      That’s great, Jenn! AA tip…book early. They’re availability can be slim so you want to book when you see the awards you want. 🙂

  3. It’s a really arcane art sometimes, getting one’s head around the best way to use airmiles, so it’s good to find posts like this which lay it all out. We used to use AA points for any flights within the alliance but switched this last year because they put all the awards pricing up (so you needed a lot more points for any given flight). Suddenly BA was a better option again!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      BA does have some fantastic uses of their Avios, Kavita. You have to be flexible and keep up-to-date with the latest info to get the most from your miles.

  4. Ugh, I really need to start saving up airline miles. So far I’ve almost exclusively flown with budget airlines without reward points. But I do want to get down to South America sometime in the near future, and this data is certainly helpful for when I do.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Yes, Skye! There are so many travel perks to take advantage of. Definitely start earning those miles and points for South America.

  5. I’m envious of those who can use miles to redeem flights. In the Philippines, if you buy cheap tickets (like on sale), they don’t credit it. If I were American, I would definitely sign up with American Airlines, too. I’ve heard many good things about that carrier.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Ah yes, Aleah, we are lucky with our travel rewards system. Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

  6. Great airline air miles tips! I use delta/Virgin Altanic as their point system is pretty good for transatlantic flights & getting a air miles free transatlantic flight. British Airways points are good for flights within Europe and getting a free flight with air miles within Europe

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Lucy. You are so right! BA Avios are so great for inter-Europe flights.

  7. What a great post breaking down the ways to get to Ecuador on miles. I’d love to go but the cost is always so high but this sounds like a great way to make it happen

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Totally, Adelina. Award travel is a great way to make those travel dreams you thought were out of reach possible.

  8. That’s an interesting way to plan a travel. Guess many other places can be planned this way.
    I don’t fly often to accumulate so many points. Maybe after some years, they will reach a substantial level. He he…

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Seems like that would be the way to go Jitaditya, but actually flying is the least lucrative way to earn miles and points. Better to maximize the money you spend everyday with travel rewards credit cards.

  9. Taking a flight that too by redemption of loyalty points is still something far fetched for me. However, you have really explained properly about which airline reward system is the best for redemption to certain destinations like Ecuador.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      You have to start with the basics and earn miles and points with credit cards and your everyday spending, Arnav. Once you learn how, using the miles and points becomes the fun part.

  10. Whoa, its getting deals like these that makes me wish I lived in the US. Sad to say getting to Ecuador from Asia hub of Bangkok or Singapore are really pricey no matter what month of the year. Though I still hope of visiting Ecuador soon!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Carla. Ecuador has so much to offer. I hope you can find a way to visit soon!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Tricky to find because of the type of planes many carriers use for these routes. Avianca has a route from NYC-JFK to Bogota with lie-flat seats, but the connection to Quito wouldn’t have them.

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