Spend Your Soon-To-Be Devalued United Miles on an Award Flight to the World Cup in Brazil!


A couple months ago, I wrote a post on Frugal Travel Guy. I mentioned (among other things) how the airlines had been blocking all award seats for the whole June and July 2014. And then I predicted–boldly enough, LOL–that tickets would go back on sale and that all you needed to do is wait.

I know one thing. As soon as the initial hype is over, the plane tickets will go back on sale. And we will see saver award flights from North America, too— after all, the US is not exactly a soccer nation!

I have been criticized for that “boldness” on more than one occasion. One of the readers on Travel Blog Buzz came up with a great line that I loved: “Hope is not a plan.” Well, take a lot at the United award calendar and rejoice. The 5 markets I have checked, currently show wide availability between the US and Rio de Janeiro in saver business: JFK, MIA, ORD, IAD, and LAX for both departure and return.


The vast majority of flights that I found are via Panama on Copa, whose business class is nothing to write home about. But seriously, this is the World Cup!


Return availability is also wide open. Just a few days ago it was all white.






Like I said before, there is great availability from all other cities I mentioned before, as well. Even if you want coach, I would still book these right now provided you’ve got the miles. I’m pretty sure, the economy seats will be released as well eventually, and you’ll be able to change your ticket free of charge for $75. In conclusion, I’d like to add yet another quote from my FTG post.

There will be apartment owners in Brazil who’ll be delighted to rent you an apartment for mere pennies on what they’re asking for right now, because they have held out too long and lost. All you will need to do is get your butt to Rio (or wherever in Brazil you’re going to) with one night booked (just in case) and a phone list of local R.E. agencies. I guarantee, as soon as you’re on the ground, the asking prices will be falling around you like autumn leaves.

Of course, I could be wrong about that, but so far I haven’t 🙂

Photo credits:
iko / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


6 Responses to Spend Your Soon-To-Be Devalued United Miles on an Award Flight to the World Cup in Brazil!

  1. Francisco C says:

    is this what you are doing for accomodations?

  2. Andy Shuman says:

    Yes, I’m planning on booking the first night (just in case) and rent an apartment while there.

  3. ORD-TGU says:

    I have NO accommodations in RIO. Not even the first night. I know of a friend of a friend who may have a place, so you know how that works.

    Do you have any leads for apartments. What do you think is a reasonable price for apartment in RIO?

    I only need it for 3 nights, then off to Natal where I have a place to stay. How about Recife?

  4. Andy Shuman says:

    Well, I think you should try to book for the first night. Just for the piece of mind, you know.

    I used to have quite a few local contacts, but I haven’t been to Brazil in a few years, and I’ve lost most of them. There is a Dutch guy (I think) called Eric, his website is copaapartments.com. Excellent English and a nice guy overall. I also had a good luck with Bobby blameitonrio.com. I don’t
    know if he’s still in business or not.

    The thing is, however, that until you’re on the ground, everyone is gonna give you the same crazy rates you keep hearing. Just book one night on airbnb.com or elsewhere to be safe.

    Worse come to worst consider love motels for the night. I got a lot of heat once when I recommended it but I don’t care. Love motels in Brazil can be incredible. I was taken by Brazilian friends to a lavish party in unbelievable settings, and didn’t realize what kind of place it was at first. Since they only cater to the locals, I don’t think they will seriously hike the rates for the World Cup.

    Just a word of caution: there are a lot of scams going on with apartment rentals especially due to the World Cup, so be careful.

    Don’t know anything about Recife, sorry.

  5. Gonzalo says:

    Hello Andy, I am Gonzalo from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    I have just read in your blog these recomendations.

    I am planning to go Rio in 2 months, so i am looking for an aparment in copacabana for a week and i want to know ir Copaapartments.com is a reliable agency.

    Thank you very much.

    my best!

    • Andy Shuman says:

      They were reliable when I rented from them, but I don’t have any updates. They should be OK, but I would put the deposit on a credit card should there be any issues. Having said that, here are zillions short-term rental agencies in Rio. You could book your first night at a hotel, then go local. Probably would be cheaper to rent on the spot.

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