The Galapagos islands, a province of Ecuador, had been on my list of places I’ve always wanted to go and I used my points to finally visit. I will go over what airlines you can book to the main airport of Baltra (GPS) and the entrance process.
The airlines that fly into Baltra are Avianca, a Star Alliance member, and LAN, a One World member. TAME also flies into Baltra but I’m not sure if you are able to use miles for this airline.
Using United Miles for Avianca
Since Avianca is a Star Alliance member, you can use United miles to fly to the Galapagos. It will cost 40k miles roundtrip in economy or 70k miles in business for low level awards. All you have to do is search on the United website to book the flights. There seems to be plenty of availability when I did some sample searches for various cities in the US for various dates. You can connect in either Quito or Guayaquil, Equador before heading to the Galapagos and the last connection will use AeroGal planes.
Using BA Avios or AA miles for LAN
This is a bit trickier. In order to search for flights, you have to use the British Airways site, however, when you type in GPS into the destination, it doesn’t come up. You will just have to type it in manually to get results. You may also have to do separate searches to get the results you want. I noticed that MIA to GPS will show LAN availability so you can start there and work your way backwards. When you find the flights that you want, write down the flight # and times. If you want to make it one ticket, you will have to call a British Airways agent.
To use AA miles, you will have to call American Airline agents and feed them the flight details and they will be able to book the flights for you. According to the award chart, Ecuador is in South America Region 1, so it will cost you 35k for MileageSaaver awards in economy.
Galapagos Transit Card
Before you can travel to the Galapagos, you are required to purchase a transit card which you can get at the airport at the INGALA counter . The cost is $20 USD and you have to pay in cash only. (As a side note, Ecuador uses USD as their currency so no need to exchange money)
To obtain this transit card, look for this sign at the airport in the ticketing area
In Quito, it will be a stand alone area near ticket area A. In Guayaquil, it will be near the Avianca ticketing area.
Additional Luggage Check
When you arrive in Quito or Guayaquil, you will have to collect your bags and go back through security for your next flight. Before you can do this, you will have to find the SICGAL luggage inspection area which is near the area where you obtain the Transit Card. They inspect your luggage and place a white tag on it if you are checking it in.
Galapagos Entrance Fee
When you arrive in the Galapagos, you will collect your bags and go through the island immigration and customs. They will scan your Transit Card and you will have to pay the $100 USD entrance fee in cash. Children under 12 will cost $50 USD to enter.
Transiting from the Airport to Port Ayora
If you are staying in Port Ayora on the Santa Cruz Island, here is a helpful post on how to get there. You basically have to take a bus from the airport to the dock off the Baltra Island, then you take a small boat to Santa Cruz island which costs $1, then you take either a bus ($2) or a taxi (white truck which costs $18) to the Port. The whole transit process takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Congratulations! You finally made it to the Galapagos Islands. Enjoy! Here are some other posts related to what to do and where to stay in the Galapagos.
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