Brazilian carrier TAM has announced that they will start flying nonstop between JFK and Toronto. The flight will operate once daily on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday effective 03/29/15.
It’s a tag-on flight from Sao Paulo and operated so that the 767 doesn’t just sit parked at JFK all day. It’s a 5th freedom route that allows a foreign carrier to sell tickets on select routes between 2 other countries. Similar to the JFK-Vancouver 777 route that is sold by Cathay Pacific.
When a foreign carrier operates a route within 1 other country, like Qantas’ JFK-Los Angeles route, it can only be booked when continuing onto Australia. However the TAM and Cathay routes can be booked by themselves and offer some of the most comfortable seats you’ll find between the US and Canada.
It’s a route that used to be flown by TAM’s merger partner LAN, but that ended a few years ago.
TAM allows 2 free 32KG (70.5 pound) bags on all tickets from the US and Canada, so you’ll get 141 pounds of free checked luggage.
Introductory pricing on the route can be had from JFK to Toronto one-way for $94 and from Toronto to JFK for $128. If you have 2×50 pound checked bags on other airlines that can set you back $60 each way. 2×70 pound checked bags on American would set you back $260 each way.
Those fares are bookable now on Orbitz.
TAM is a OneWorld airline, so you can use Avios for this route. The rates are the same as for flights on American, 4.5K Avios in coach and 9K Avios in business each way.
However TAM is currently only releasing 1 coach award seat per flight. I do expect them to release more award seats as we get closer to the start of these flights.
Want to travel with lots of bags on an award without waiting for that to happen?
You can redeem 9K Avios for a one-way business class flight on American and get 3 free 70 pound bags for a total of 210 pounds of free checked luggage. That’s an awesome business class redemption, just 4.5K extra miles to go to a business class and from no free bags to 3 free bags!
3×50 pound bags on a coach ticket would set you back $210 each way. 3×70 pound bags on a coach ticket would set you back $510 each way! Or use a business award to get that for free.
You can earn 50K Avios on the Chase British Airways Visa which has the annual fee waived for a limited time only.
Currently there is a 40% bonus for transferring AMEX MR points into Avios. That means that a round-trip business class redemption with 3 free bags each way will take just 13K AMEX points!
On domestic flights BA charges triple the Avios for business class.
However on international flights it’s just double the Avios, so it’s worth bearing in mind that flying in American business class comes with 3 free bags as it will often make sense to splurge for the extra 4.5K or 7.5K Avios just to get the free bags.
So the next time you use Avios to fly on a short flight to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central America do it in business if you will have several checked bags.
If you’re a family consider flying 1 or 2 members in business to get 3 free bags each. If you just want to sit together they’ll be happy to seat you all in coach and you’ll just have used the extra Avios for the free bags :D