Tips for Purchasing Plane Tickets in Brazil
by Txconnection on December 15, 2010
The increasing number of low cost airlines in Brazil means stiff competition among the country's economy airlines. For some routes, it is actually cheaper to fly than to take the bus. With major destinations spread out throughout the country, a trip to Brazil is bound to involve air transport at some point. If you're short on time or you've grown wary of the icy, overnight South American bus haul, fly. Just fly.
The following are my tips for purchasing airfare in Brazil.
Price Compare. There are lots of options to choose from. Gol, TAM, Azul and Webjet each have an extensive network servicing major destinations within the country. OceanAir services mostly eastern Brazil; Puma recently expanded beyond the Amazon region; and Pluna and Avianca service some destinations in the south of Brazil. To view airline route maps, go to www.airlineroutemaps.com.
Forget Using Your Credit Card. After an hour of researching airfare, you find the perfect flight on Gol. You can't believe the great deal you're getting. You quickly navigate the purchase process and press submit to seal the deal. You receive an error message. You panic but only a little bit. At the risk of being charged twice for the ticket, you go through the process again. And again. And again. You do this with all of your credit cards to no avail. As it turns out, most Brazilian airlines do not accept foreign credit cards, or they accept only cards with added protection against unauthorized use (e.g., Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode). How do you purchase a ticket before the sale ends then (assuming your card is rejected)? You'll have to head to a local travel agency or airline office. Don't assume there will be one in every city.
Prepare to Pay Cash. Travel agencies are not likely to accept your foreign credit card either. Time to max out your bank's ATM withdrawal limit! Remember to do your research before visiting a travel agency. Know exactly which flight you want and how much it costs. If you know the web promotional rate, you'll know if your local travel agency is giving you a good deal. Expect to pay a small fee for the transaction.
Avoid Purchasing at Airport Ticket Counters. We witnessed reps at airport ticket counters offering fares substantially higher than those we knew were available online. We also saw the same reps using pressure tactics to get potential customers to purchase at the inflated rate. To get the best deal, I would advise going to a travel agency first.