We have all spent time studying airline reservation systems. Seeking out the best deals possible, only to realize to that our few dollars in savings will cost us 12 hours of extra lay over time. Flying from the West Coast to Brazil has been one of the most challenging flight reservation projects I’ve embarked on.
Until recently there was really only one way of flying to Brazil, and that was through an East Coast hub, and then through Sao Paulo for almost all destinations. Now with Lan Peru and Taca, there are far more abundant options for us. While they aren’t always the cheapest, they are the easiest in terms of lay overs, flight times and abundance of final destinations. There are three reasons I like this flight path over the East Coast to Sao Paulo flight path.
For starters, these flights are often red eye flights. For some this is a complete turn off, but for me, it means I can take my time getting to the airport and sleep through the first leg of the journey. Instead of getting off work Thursday evening, and waiting until midday Friday to start my journey, I leave within hours of getting home. I will arrive mid day Friday, instead of arriving early Saturday.
Normally flying to the east coast requires 4-6 hours, then a 4-6 hour lay over, a 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo, another layover (with customs and a recheck-in) and then a final flight of anywhere between 1-5 hours. With flights through Lan Peru or Taca, we fly straight south for 4-6 hours, with a 1-2 hour lay over in Central America, followed by another 4-6 hour flight to Peru, followed up with a direct flight to many destinations within Brazil. While the travel time is fairly similar, the break up of flights into 4-6 hour durations, with only 1-3 hour lay overs makes the trip much less tedious. It is also nice to make your first layover in a foreign country rather then Dallas, Miami, or Chicago!
Finally, the last leg of the journey often goes directly to your destination within Brazil, circumventing the need to recheck luggage in Sao Paulo after customs. On the return voyage, the same is true, since your first stop in the US will likely be your destination.
It is also possible to get a layover long enough in Peru to go enjoy the country for a few hours. No visa is required, although there is a small airport exit fee. From the main airport near Lima, I have taken a taxi into the city, toured a few areas and had a great meal before heading off for the final leg of my journey. A nice little break in the middle of a long journey!
For those who travel with a log of luggage, legally, airlines are supposed to allow 2x 70lbs bags (the only country that requires this!), but Taca only allows 2x 50lbs bags. This may change in the future, but make sure you verify with the airline what their current baggage allowances are.
Now, what should be packed for your vacation?