You are currently viewing My plane tickets between Rio and São Paulo: $43 instead of $1422

After sharing the general tips I used to save on my 25 flights this fall, I’m continuing with the very concrete examples, ticket by ticket. Today I’m sharing with you my 2 domestic flights in Brazil (between Rio and São Paulo), with which I even set a personal record. I paid $43 instead of $1422 for the roundtrip.

This special feature shows you concretely how we apply our tips to save money on plane tickets. Because there’s always a way to save!

Here’s my incredible example in Brazil, between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.


My trip to Brazil in November

I love a good deal so much that when I heard about the deal on tickets for the viral tour by Taylor Swift for US$23 in Brazil (instead of $1500 in Toronto), I decided to fly to Brazil.

Even though it’s not really my style of music (as you saw with the reason for my trip to Las Vegas for the pop-punk festival at the start of this feature), I have a real passion for paying a lot less than other people do for anything.

(An unhealthy passion perhaps… but what can I say, I love deals!)

My Canada-Brazil flights were booked separately and I had no choice but to arrive in São Paulo to save money, even though I wanted to go to Rio. That’s the self-transfer tip: often it’s better to buy the cheapest long-distance ticket and then get a separate ticket for a shorter flight.

Except I booked my trip to Brazil 2 days before departure, so Rio-São Paulo flights were incredibly expensive at the last minute. I obviously wouldn’t have paid $1422 and in a worst-case scenario, I would have taken an $18 bus between Rio and São Paulo.  

But my great tip was so much better than buses, especially to save time on such a short trip.


São Paulo-Rio plane tickets at $1422 roundtrip

In several posts about Brazil by Indira, a member of our Flytrippers team who lives there, she mentions that domestic flights in Brazil are often inexpensive (as in almost every country in the world).

Usually, you can find tickets for as little as $41 one-way for Rio-São Paulo, or $83 roundtrip.

Normal São Paulo-Rio ticket (image credit: Skyscanner)


But that’s only if you book in advance! It’s almost always more expensive at the last minute between 2 major cities, regardless of distance.

As explained in part 1 of this feature, to save money for my shorter flights, I always buy separate one-ways (instead of the roundtrips that 99% of travelers always book).

So we’ll look at the 2 flights separately.

It was $778 one-way (it was 3 days from the flight). Batshit crazy for a 1-hour flight.

São Paulo-Rio ticket (image credit: Skyscanner)


In case you still haven’t understood, one of the most basic and important notions to know is that plane ticket prices vary enormously. This example, from $42 to $778 for the same flight, should do the trick this time! 

It’s insane. But that’s how plane tickets are: supply and demand. Nothing else.

For the return trip (and therefore a little less last-minute, since it was more than a week later), it wasn’t much better at all, at $644 one-way.

Rio-São Paulo ticket (image credit: Skyscanner)


By the way, even this is a concrete example of the separate one-ways tip. The cheapest outbound airline was LATAM, and the cheapest inbound was GOL. 

So if you’d been looking for 1 roundtrip instead of 2 one-ways, mathematically, it would necessarily have been even more than the already very high price of $1422 roundtrip. Because roundtrips limit you to using the same airline in both directions, and you pay more for no reason. 

But so many people don’t even know this, and that’s normal if nobody tells you. It’s always handy to know and apply Flytrippers’ pro tips, and it can even save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 


My São Paulo-Rio plane tickets at $43 roundtrip

This is my record: absolutely the best use of points in my life. It just doesn’t make sense to deprive yourself of travel rewards, but there are some that are even more wonderful.

If you didn’t understand the difference between points of the more simple type (usually fixed value) and points of the more lucrative type (usually unlimited value), this example will vividly demonstrate it.

I could have used my RBC Avion points in 2 different ways for these flights.

For these $1422 tickets, it costs:

  • 142,200 points with the redemption option of the more simple type (value of 1¢ per point)
  • 16,714 points since I took the redemption option of the more lucrative type (value of 8.3¢ per point)

Can you see the difference? 

Literally 8X more value, for exactly the same thing. A rather extreme example, but points of the more lucrative type are amazing like that!

With points of the more lucrative type, the number of points required isn’t necessarily linked to the price in cash! So you can get outsized value! It makes for better uses — and not-so-good uses too, IT VARIES. 

With points of the more simple type… it’s a fixed value. No good or bad uses, because it always has the same value. So it can never be worth more.

In my lifetime, I’ve booked dozens and dozens of flights with points of the more lucrative type, and these 2 uses in Brazil are, without a doubt, the ones that have given me the most value. 

The value is always the amount of money saved per point used. Simple. 

It’s the most important measurement unit in the world of travel rewards, which is always used for those like me who love to MAXIMIZE the value of the free travel they earn.

So here are the more concrete details.


Inbound flight (São Paulo-Rio) for $31

I used British Airways Avios points, which are the easiest to get with transferable points. Either by transferring RBC Avion points (so easy to get in large quantities) or American Express points (less recommended since these are transferable to Aeroplan too).

LAST CHANCE! The RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card's record-high welcome bonus offer ends April 30th. The current deal on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is the one to prioritize, but if you have enough spending to get 2 (applying on the same calendar day), it's not to be missed!

For the outbound flight, I paid $31 and 6,000 British Airways Avios points… instead of $778 in cash!

My São Paulo-Rio ticket (image credit: British Airways)


That gave me a value of 12.5¢/pt because I saved $747 (ticket at $778 in cash minus $31 in taxes/fees paid) with 6,000 points. 

That’s just incredible. 

Our conservative Flytrippers Valuation of RBC Avion points is ≈ 1.5¢/pt. That’s the unlimited value: I used points worth ≈ $90, but got $747 in free travel with them!

So with the current welcome bonus on the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card, instead of getting a net value of ≈ $780, you could have $11,250 in value if you use them at 12.5¢/pt!

Just with one welcome bonus: $11,250!

I repeat: this is an extreme example, of course. But that’s why those who love deals and want to maximize just like we do… focus on points of the more lucrative type obviously.

But it’s not that hard to get thousands of dollars instead of “just” $780.

These are the same points I used this summer for my long flight on the best business class in the world for $161 instead of $3856 (that was 5.3¢/pt). 

Usually, business class and first class (2 different things, contrary to what most travelers believe) are the best uses for points in terms of value. Because they cost so much in cash. 

But sometimes, you can save a lot with this type of points even for economy class flights.

And that’s why travel rewards pros always have a stash of points ready, in case they run into a situation like the one that allowed me to pay $43 instead of $1422 for the roundtrip, with only a tiny amount of points required too.

Imagine if I had wasted my lucrative RBC Avion points (or Avios, or Aeroplan, or Amex, or MBNA) on bad uses at a fixed value of 1¢/pt, as so many people unfortunately do.

People often do it because they don’t know it can be worth more, but sometimes because they don’t understand the principle that you just have to not use your points when it’s a bad use.

Now you know! If you want to know more, take a look at our infographic that summarizes the basics of travel rewards.


Outbound flight (Rio-São Paulo-Rio) for $12

Anyway, for the return flight, this was actually my very first use of American Airlines AAdvantage points in my life! It’s another transfer partner in the RBC Avion program that’s not often a good use, but was in this case! 

Hence the importance of always having such lucrative transferable points, and not wasting them on terrible 1¢/pt uses as so many people unfortunately do. 

And the importance of comparing each option. If I had looked just with Avios points, I would have missed this deal. It takes 2 minutes to do the search.

I paid $12 and 7,500 AAdvantage points instead of $644 in cash. That’s equivalent to 10,714 RBC Avion points because the transfer rate to this program is not as good (1 to 0.7 instead of 1 to 1 with Avios).

My Rio-São Paulo Ticket (image credit: American Airlines)


That’s a value of 5.9¢ per RBC Avion point.

Almost 4 times the conservative point value, and almost 6 times more than when you use RBC Avion points at 1¢/pt. 

That’s exactly the same flight that cost $644 with cash, on the same airline at the same time! 

That’s the beauty of the more lucrative type of points: the number of points required is NOT linked to the price in cash!

Want to learn the basics of travel rewards? Our free webinar for beginners is coming up soon, so save your spot now!


How you too can benefit from this tip with the current record deal

If you’re even the slightest bit interested in lucrative points like that, you can’t go wrong with the record-high offer on the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card

On the other hand, if you really want to maximize everything, you can even get it at the same time as the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card, because that one’s bonus is usually only increased once a year. As long as you follow the 3 important rules of travel rewards at the top of our infographic which summarizes the basics to improve your credit score.

You’d have the best combo of deals for points of the more lucrative type available right now.

But listen, if you want it simple, it can be.

If you want it more simple, the other option is the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card. This is one of the highest offers ever seen in Canada for simple points

It gives you $750, which is very, very good. It’s so good that we recommend it to all travelers who qualify, even those who want points of the more lucrative type. 

But this one you should get later, to improve your credit score and get more rewards.

If you get the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card, you get $750 free. You can use the $650 on any travel expense without complicating your life, it’s simple — and a $100 travel credit that you can use for hotels.

But it can never be worth more than $750, because these are points of the more simple type.

With points from the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card, it can be worth so much more, like my example in Brazil.


How I booked and paid for my plane tickets

I’ll do a detailed post on the search process with all the points currencies (including Aeroplan, which I compared for this flight, as always).

But it’s really not rocket science since we don’t have that many of the more lucrative types of programs in Canada. You just try them out 1 by 1, that’s all. 

When it comes to saving money on your trips (with points or not), it’s literally always a matter of taking the time to compare.

The Avios airline points program is the 2nd best for Canadians. I’ve used them many times. I quickly checked it out, as LATAM is a dominant airline in Brazil and a partner of the British Airways Avios program.

To do searches for British Airways Avios points (to see seat availability), you go to the British Airways website.

There were seats available at the super low fixed price, so I was able to book right away. 

To book with British Airways Avios points, you go to the British Airways website.

I had leftover Avios points from this summer, so I didn’t have to do the points transfer from RBC Avion to Avios this time, but the transfer usually goes through very quickly.

For the return flight, I looked at AAdvantage even though in 485 lifetime flights, it had never been of good use. It literally takes 2 minutes to check…

After that, it’s the same principle as with almost all programs. I wanted to use American Airlines AAdvantage points, so I went to the American Airlines website to do the search.

And jackpot, the seat on the GOL airline was there. Note that GOL isn’t part of any airline alliance, so it’s usually available through very few programs.

But transferring RBC Avion points to AAdvantage takes a bit longer (and longer than any Amex transfer, too).

I was quite afraid I’d have to take the bus back. But in the end, after 6 days (!!!), so barely 24 hours before my flight, the points arrived and the seat was still available!

I wanted to book with American Airlines AAdvantage points, so I went to the American Airlines website.


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Paying $43 instead of $1422 is literally one of my best point uses ever, even after using hundreds of thousands of points. That’s why points of the more lucrative type are so great for those who like to get more value.


What would you like to know about Andrew’s tips to save on flights to Brazil? Tell us in the comments below.


See the flight deals we spot: Cheap flights

Discover free travel with rewards: Travel rewards

Explore awesome destinations: Travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: Travel tips


Featured image: Rio de Janeiro (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 71/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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