One of the biggest hassles of returning from international travel is the absurdly long lines plaguing customs and immigration, especially at large hub airports with large amounts of traffic. Of course, if you’ve got Global Entry or even the Mobile Passport Control app, you stand a good chance at dodging most of these lines. But for the rest of us, the stress of immigration (especially with connecting flights) is a great way to kick-start post vacation blues.
In an attempt to help mitigate this, the US has implemented a series of ‘pre-clearance’ checkpoints at departing airports, so that when you land you can simply get off the plane and go about your day. Now, excitingly, the US Ambassador to Colombia has confirmed that a pre-clearance facility in Bogotá is in the works, with an anticipated opening about a year from now.
We’ve already written all about Colombia and why you should visit, but this addition makes the country that much more appealing. If you’re looking to go, check out TPG’s vlog about his trip to Medellín. We’ve also put together some of the best flight deals and hotels for you to redeem your points:
There are quite a few airlines that head to Colombia from the US, with flights from American Airlines, Avianca, COPA, JetBlue, Spirit and United. As TPG found, award availability tends to be best from American Airlines, with nonstops generally available via Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) or Miami (MIA).
One of our favorite airlines, Alaska, is a partner of American and charges 20,000 miles + taxes for a one way in economy (from West Coast), or 30,000 in first class (from anywhere):
You can also fly using Avianca Lifemiles, a hugely underrated program with some of the best award sweet spots available, especially as it regularly sells miles with huge bonuses. Avianca is also a transfer partner of American Express®, Citi®, and Capital One, so there are plenty of options to accumulate miles. Best of all, it’s cheap to fly, with a nonstop economy ticket from Bogotá (BOG)-Los Angeles (LAX) costing just 16,000 Lifemiles in economy or 33,000 in business.
Or, you can do like TPG did and fly the nonstop to New York (JFK) on the A330 to check out one of the cheapest lie-flat seats you can purchase.
If you need to stock up on Lifemiles, any of these cards will offer you quick and easy ways to earn a lot of miles in a short time:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months of opening your account. However, be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’ve been targeted for a higher bonus of up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points (offer subject to change at any time).
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 35,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Terms Apply.
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Earn 20,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months after opening your account.
- Citi Premier℠ Card: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Hotels abound in Bogotá, whether you’re trying to stay at the Four Seasons, like TPG staffer Nick Ellis did, booking via American Express’ Fine Hotels & Resorts program, or taking advantage of one of Hyatt’s hotels to book with points.
Speaking of Hyatt, staying at the Grand Hyatt Colombia represents a phenomenal use of your Hyatt points. As a category 3 hotel, a single night will cost just 12,000 points for a king room. Even better, you can book a room with club access for 17,000 points/night. We’ve long said that using Chase Ultimate Rewards, which transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Hyatt, is one of the best ways to redeem your points. This is especially true at the Grand Hyatt, where your out of pocket cost can be nearly as much as $400:
If you need more Hyatt points to chase that club room, there are great offers currently available from these cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Check out our review of this card here.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
There’s also a the W Bogotá available for just 25,000 points per night, which we tried and loved for its stylish look and great amenities.
Colombia is on the rise for its touristic hot spots and cheap prices. For North American travelers opportunities abound, with frequent flights and a plethora of hotels that you can book on points or with luxury hotel programs, granting you high-level luxury for little out-of-pocket costs. With the addition of a pre-clearance facility at Bogotá Airport (BOG), that’s one less obstacle out of the way, so you can truly enjoy your South American getaway.
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