TAM Joins OneWorld As A New Member Airline

While most of the attention today has been on US Airways, given that they’ve officially left Star Alliance and become affiliated with OneWorld, it’s worth noting that TAM did exactly the same thing and is also a OneWorld member airline as of today.

New OneWorld Logo

The past few months have been fascinating as far as TAM is concerned. For years they haven’t released any premium cabin award space whatsoever, though beginning in February they’ve had wide open availability in First and Business class on their routes to the US. I had the chance to fly them from Sao Paulo to New York in first class last week, and really enjoyed my flight.

TAM-777-First-Class-02
TAM 777-300ER first class cabin

This abundance of award space certainly came as a surprise, and I honestly didn’t expect the availability to last more than a few hours. Instead, we’ve had nearly two months where almost every first class seat has been available for award redemption.

Gary suggested the glut was related to TAM’s merger with LAN, and corresponding change of alliance:

This is purely speculation, but my hunch is that the massive release of award seats is related to TAM’s impending exit from Star Alliance, entry into oneworld, and realignment of booking classes.

I’m always inclined to agree with Gary, and this may indeed still be the case.

In the meantime, however, British Airways has added TAM inventory to their award search tool, and availability in first at least still looks fantastic:

TAM-First-Class-Award-1
Economy on American or first on TAM? Hmmmm….

This also means you can now redeem British Airways Avios for flights on TAM, and the price will be the same whether you’re flying from New York or Miami. It’s worth noting that since TAM doesn’t impose any fuel surcharges (due in part to Brazilian law), British Airways won’t either.

TAM-First-Class-Award-2

TAM-First-Class-Award-4

In general, I think you’re likely better off redeeming American AAdvantage miles (62,500 miles one-way) or US Airways Dividend Miles (125,000 roundtrip). With either of those programs you’d be able to add flights from your home city for no additional miles, and longhaul flights aren’t typically the best use of Avios anyways. 

If you were previously using the ANA tool to find award availability on TAM, keep in mind that ANA will no longer display TAM inventory now that TAM has left the Star Alliance. The British Airways tool is the best option at this point in time.

Comments

  1. @Lucky – I mentioned this on one of Gary’s posts today, but US is still blocking TAM First awards. No word on whether this is intentional or an IT glitch. I hope they sort it (if it’s a glitch) before TAM shutters the whole thing again!

    I haven’t tried using AA miles (they were unable to do it as of a couple of days ago, as you know). Any word if AA is back up?

  2. The counterargument I mentioned as far as the explanation is that it wouldn’t have made sense that it started so early or lasted so long if it was transition-related. And it’s also route-specific, we don’t see first class out of Miami the way we do out of New York.

    Bottom-line is the availability makes no sense…

  3. @Heather – I wasn’t aware that AA was working on this at the moment (we would have heard). The question is if phone agents at least are now able to book it again.

  4. TAM is still an Aeroplan partner, although I believe you cannot mix carriers. The April 6 flight shows up on Aeroplan’s website for JFK GRU but not YYZ/YUL-GRU

  5. Heather, I was able to put the TAM F awards on hold using AA miles. Availability on the BA website was correct.

  6. I’d encourage you to explore (or revisit) the benefits to some of focusing on BA Avios as their Oneworld account of choice over AA and others, primarily because of BA’s feature to link accounts of family members under one household, allowing you to pool miles together.
    For those who open mileage accounts for their kids that only fly once a year, or for those who can’t open a lot of credit cards, this unique feature of BA can make it the best choice in Oneworld for a lot of users.

  7. +1 Brazilflyer.

    I’ve got a stash of BA miles that I have just been hanging on to, and now this give me a great option to start redeeming for some trips.

  8. For dates in November, BAEC was showing 7 TAM First Class seats on LHR-GRU! In a cabin of 4 seats!!!

  9. Put JJ F awards on hold last night via AA, JFK-GRU. BA said there were 4 seats on one day and 5 on another day not sure how that’s possible when only 4 seats exists. After I booked my 3 seats BA showed 0 on the flight that had 4 and still 5 on the other.

    Hope this trip actually happens.

  10. Lucky, do you know if TAM releases any F seats to/from Europe? At all?

    Also, is the BA calender view only for BA flights? Is it possible to search for partner flights for more than one day at a time on BA.com or any other free service?

    Thanks.

  11. Lucky, do you know if domestic TAM flights are bookable with AA miles? The agent I spoke with was able to see space but was unable to book it. Just wondering if you had any experience with this. Thank you!

  12. @ Chris — It absolutely should be. I would recommend calling again, could have just been that there was an availability discrepancy.

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