How to Fly Business Class to South America for the Cost of an Economy Ticket

PHOTO: Shutterstock

You probably know that the cost of a business-class seat increases significantly from a coach option, oftentimes double or even triple the price. But it doesn't have to.

Sure, economy class is cheap and functional. It gets you from point A to point B, but you may want a little luxury in your life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You deserve a recliner–or even a lie-flat–seat in the sky, a choice of premium food and beverages, and a pleasant pre-departure treatment.

So, how do you fly in business class without emptying your entire savings account or worse? Fodor’s has already explained how to find cheap premium-class flights to Europe, and now let’s discuss some of the best airline options for flying to South America in business class without spending lots of cash.

 

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1. & 2. Copa’s business class seats 3. A Copa Airlines Boeing 737 at LAX  Copa Airlines; Shutterstock

 

Round-Trip Premium Class to South America from the West Coast

Panamanian Copa Airlines, a member of Star Alliance, operates service to more than a dozen airports in the United States. You can fly to the airline’s hub in Panama City and connect to many South American destinations. For example, it’s possible to book flights from Los Angeles to Quito, Ecuador for under $1,100 in business class, which is quite affordable as far as flights in premium cabins go.

Most of Star Alliance’s international airlines fly out of Los Angeles International Airport’s Tom Bradley Terminal, and Copa is no exception. As a business-class passenger, you can access the Star Alliance VIP lounge where you can find quality refreshments, a home theater room, a library, an outdoor terrace, and shower suites.

Copa operates a Boeing 737 on most routes between the U.S. and South America. The seats, however, are not lie-flat. They do recline about 7.5 inches and together with a footrest offer enough space for a comfortable six-hour journey to Panama City and then on to your final South American destination.

Another nice perk: an amenity kit with socks, an eye mask, and some toiletries. Plus, you’ll also be able to choose a meal from multiple options on the menu and watch movies on a personal screen that slides out of the armrests.

 

1. Aeromexico’s Clase Premier 2. Boeing 737-800 3. An Aeromexico in-flight dining option Aeromexico

 

Round-Trip Premium Class to South America From the Midwest

It’s easy to envy those who live in or near Chicago. There are constantly flight sales to basically any travel destination–name a place you want to visit and a travel deal will pop up within a day or two.

One of the great deals you can score right now is from Chicago to Quito on Aeromexico. If you have the Galapagos Islands on your mind, Quito will likely be the gateway city. There are currently plenty of dates with business-class seats going for under $1,100 per return journey. The universe showers Chicago with flight deals!

Aeromexico, a SkyTeam partner, operates a Boeing 737 on this particular route. You’ll find 16 Clase Premier seats that are laid out in a 2-2 configuration–think of it as an upgraded version of a typical domestic First Class seat. The seats, unfortunately, are not lie-flat, but rather recliner seats with 39 inches of pitch, plus a footrest.

You’ll also find an in-flight entertainment system, USB ports, and power outlets. As expected, you’ll be served a meal and a choice of beverages. Overall, you will be pleased with what you get for the low cost of a flight in Clase Premier.

 

1. An Avianca A320 2. Avianca’s business-class Avianca

 

Round-Trip Premium Class to South America From the East Coast

Avianca is another South America-based airline—specifically in Bogota, Colombia–which services only seven U.S. cities, with Chicago being the eighth starting in November 2018. John F. Kennedy International Airport happens to be one of their U.S. destinations, so it can be easy to get to Latin America in style from the East Coast without spending a fortune.

Business class gives you access the Swiss Business Class Lounge in JFK’s Terminal 4, where you can enjoy a food buffet, alcohol, complimentary showers, a selection of newspapers, Wi-Fi, power outlets, and other amenities. You might read some reviews saying that some passengers find this specific lounge not as big or as nice as the Swiss lounges in Europe, but it’s significantly better than spending your pre-flight time in the terminal.

Avianca uses Airbus A330 aircraft on its JFK-Bogota route. If you end up on one of the newer planes with a 1-2-1 seat configuration, you will fly in a lie-flat seat. Still, the old version of the same plane has a 2-2-2 configuration, and the seat reclines about 90 percent. In either case, you’ll have a comfortable ride.

Once on board, you’ll receive an amenity kit with many essentials. You’ll be offered hot and cold beverages, of course, and catered meals during your flight. You’ll have access to an in-flight entertainment system and in-seat power outlets if you need to charge any of your personal electronics.

Are you ready to find out how much all this costs? Well, not much. Business-class flights to Bogota, Colombia’s capital can be had for under $800 round-trip. The cost goes up to about $1,200 if you prefer non-stop flights. You even can continue your journey on to Lima, Peru, for less than $1,200.

How Else Can I Save on Business-Class Flights to South America?

Ever heard of mistake fares? This is exactly what it sounds like. As airfare prices are still handled by humans, mistakes are made. Suddenly a zero is missing or a comma is misplaced. Oops.

This method does not guarantee a cheap flight, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee a cheap flight to your desired destination, but sometimes you can get lucky and score big. It helps to be flexible and have a long bucket list of potential destinations.

To locate such deals, browse through websites like Airfare Watchdog or Secret Flying, which publish many available mistake fares. The daily deals are updated in real-time, and the one rule to follow is to be quick. Mistake fares last for only as long as it takes someone to correct them. So, you have to book now and think later. Otherwise, your dream vacation disappears into thin air.

The other potential downside of mistake fares is that they’re not always honored. In fact, more often than not, they’re not honored. If you book one of these deals, do not make further plans–repeat, DO NOT book lodging or car rentals unless they’re fully refundable–until you have a ticket number.

Just remember, business class can be within your reach. Airfare deals pop up every day. You simply need to know where to look.