Central American Adventure – Putting It All Together

This was a pretty complicated itinerary that required several different air mile programs to complete.  You can find my guide to using miles to get to Central America here.   I used miles from my Top 8 recommended programs.  Simply put, we flew from Brisbane to Belize, overland to Flores, flew Flores via Guatemala City to San Jose, Costa Rica; and another short hop to Panama.  From there we flew Panama to Las Vegas, rental car to LAX, flew to Maui, then a short hop to Honolulu.  The final return was Honolulu-Brisbane.  Now let’s break it down into individual airline awards.

1.  US AIRWAYS – South Pacific-Central America award in business class – 120,000 each.  This was the hardest one to get as it was in August when availability trans-Pacific is at a premium.  The other challenge I had to deal with was that US was starting to enforce maximum permitted mileage though there were still some agents who didn’t seem to have  a clue.  My first suggested itinerary used ANA via Tokyo on a 787 to Seattle but for some reason US agents couldn’t see that space even though I could see it easily on UA’s tool.  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as there were problems with 787 aircraft leading to many cancellations.  We finally booked the open jaw using Thai from Brisbane – Bangkok – Seoul, Air Canada from Seoul – Vancouver, then United (only had economy seats available) from Vancouver – Houston – Belize.  BNE-BKK-ICN-YVR-IAH-BZE.  The return was easier, a simple Honolulu – Seoul – Bangkok on Asiana, then a tight connection to Thai for the final flight to Brisbane.  HNL-ICN-BKK-BNE.  We used miles earned from the Grand Slam promo held annually from 2008-2011.


2.  UNITED AIRLINES – Central America award Flores – Guatemala City – San Jose, Costa Rica.  Easily booked online at United for 7500 miles each using flights operated by Aviateca and Lacsa as part of TACA.  Miles earned from credit card sign-ups.


3.  AVIANCA-TACA LIFEMILES award San Jose – Panama in economy for 7000 miles each.  Original flight was on Lacsa but when this flight was cancelled I got them to put us on Copa.  Miles sourced from Lifemiles Visa sign-up.

4.  LIFEMILES award on Copa, Panama – Las Vegas, 15,000 miles each.  I specifically chose Vegas as our point of entry to the USA after research showed there were very few international flights to LAS so customs would be easier.  I was right, it was a breeze!  Miles sourced from Lifemiles Visa sign-up, the shopping promo from Oct 2012 and needed to top up some miles & cash.