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Best Airlines in South America


For those planning to travel throughout the giant continent of South America, you’ll be glad to learn that air travel has stepped up to offer some of the world’s best airlines. With high safety standards, thoughtful customer service, and many comfortable options for every budget, air travel has also become the most cost-effective way to get in and around South America. Of course, not all airlines are made equal… Some clearly fly above the rest. For the traveler heading south, read on for the best airlines in South America (and which destinations they’re best for!).

The Best Airlines in South America

Cross-referencing awards given by the World Airline Awards, recent articles, and our own experiences, below are the airlines that we can confidently claim are the best in South America. Here’s why, and which destinations they can take you to.

1. LAN Airlines

Based out of Chile, LAN Airlines is indisputably known as the best carrier on the continent. The most awarded airline in South America, it is a part of the newly joined LATAM Airlines Group (the fusion of LAN and Brazilian TAM Airlines), Latin America’s largest airline holding company.

It is the predominant airline in Chile and Peru, and the second largest carrier in Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador.

As of 2021, LATAM will become a member of the Sky Team, this is also a great airline to fly for those hoping to earn airline points they can also use back home.

Destinations we use LAN Airlines most for: Peru, Ecuador, Galapagos

2. Avianca

Colombia’s flag carrier, Avianca is the largest airline in Colombia and the second largest in all of Latin America. Combined with its subsidiaries, it has the most extensive network of destinations in Latin America. It recently became a member of the Star Alliance.

In the past decade, Avianca subsidiaries Avianca Brazil and Avianca Ecuador have become frontrunners flying to both destinations, offering extensive flight schedules.

Destinations we use Avianca most for: Ecuador, Brazil

3. TAM Airlines

Recently merged with LAN airlines to form the LATAM Airlines Group, TAM is currently the largest Brazilian airlines.

TAM offers flights to major Brazilian cities, as well as smaller planes to help you get to more remote destinations (such as those in the Amazon).

Destinations we use TAM Airlines most for: Brazil

4. Azul Airlines

The leading low cost carrier in Brazil, Azul Airlines has met the demand for affordable flights in the country by providing frequent and affordable air service to underserved markets throughout Brazil. Established by the founder of American low cost carrier JetBlue, it is the third largest airline in Brazil, after TAM and Gol.

While larger airlines have primarily nailed down the markets for international flights in and out of Brazil, you can count on Azul Airlines to offer reliable service to many routes within Brazil.

Destinations we use Azul Airlines most for: Brazil

5. Sky Airline

Based out of Chile, Sky Airline is the second largest airline in the country after LAN Airlines. Operating on a semi-low cost model, it flies to Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, as well as offering charter flights throughout South America.

Destinations we use Sky Airline most for: Peru, Brazil

6. Gol

The largest low-cost carrier in all of South America, Brazilian Gol Airlines operates a growing domestic and international flight network. It is the second largest airline in Brazil after TAM, and a long favorite for those looking for cheaper flights.

Gol’s frequent flyer program is Smiles, and the points can be used on partners Aerolineas Argentinas, Air France, Delta Air Lines, Iberia, KLM and Qatar Airways (several of which you may use to fly to South America!).

Destinations we use Gol most for: Brazil, Peru

7. Star Peru

Star Peru is the airline for reaching any destination within Peru, as they offer passenger and cargo flights (scheduled and charter) between ten cities in the country (and one to the Brazilian Amazon).

Destinations we use Star Peru most for: Peru (internal), Amazon (Brazil & Peru)

8. Peruvian Airlines

An up-and-comer in Peru, Peruvian Airlines has already earned respect as a low-cost airline flying to Peru’s most popular internal destinations. Operating nine domestic routes out of Lima, it expansive timetable has helped it win over travelers from older airlines in recent years. We consider it hands down one of the best domestic airlines in South America.

Destinations we use Peruvian Airlines for: Peru (internal)

The Best Way to Book

Want to make a last-minute Machu Picchu extension to your Amazon cruise and need to change your flight? Think you’d rather spend two more days at the beach and a couple less trekking in the Andes? Let us help re-arrange you travel plans with no hassle and make travel between our South American destinations as relaxing and stress-free as possible.

They say it’s all about the journey, so let’s make the journey a good one shall we?  Book with any of these best airlines in South America, and you can count on easy and reliable travel from one dream destination to another. Contact us for help booking your trip to South America.


While Rainforest Cruises aim to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information herein or found by following any link on this site. Rainforest Cruises cannot and will not accept responsibility for any omissions or inaccuracies, or for any consequences arising therefrom, including any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the display or use of this information.

This entry was posted February 3, 2016
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