It is great that TAM Airlines joined One World on March 31, 2014 because that means you can now book flights using Avios. British Airways Avios are distance based awards which means that the distance determines the award cost. Here is the break down:
Here is where TAM flies between the US and Brazil:
New York (JKF) to Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo (25k avios in economy)
Orlando to Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo (25k avios in economy)
Miami to Rio de Janeiro (25k avios), Sao Paulo (25k avios), Belem (12,500 avios), Manaus (12,500 avios), Belo Horizonte (20k avios), Brasilia (20k avios), Fortaleza (20k avios)
To search for award availability, you must go to BA.com and you have to search for specific dates as BA does not have an award calendar.
I did a sample search in August from Miami to Rio de Janeiro which should cost 25,000 Avios one way in economy. It was difficult to find economy availability on TAM, however, there was lots of Business Class availability which would cost 50,000 Avios one way.
This is a lot of Avios to spend but it could be worth it to try their business class product. I did have a chance to try the business class from Miami to Manaus in their new lie flat business which I thought was great. (Review here).
After you make your booking, you have to check in online on TAM’s website 24 hrs before the flight and you are able to pick your seat then. I had trouble checking in online from Brasil but I was able to do so once I got to the airport.
If you are an American citizen, you need a visa to go to Brasil. Here is a post of my process of getting a Visa in Houston.