Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Luggage Limits on Domestic Flights in Brazil

International flights from South & North America to Brazil have a luggage limit of 40kg/88lb per person with TAM, with similar limits for other international carriers that cover Brazilian air routes. Many European, African and Asian airlines limit luggage to 32kg/70lb.

Domestic flights in Brazil with TAM and GOL, the two major internal carriers, have luggage limits of 23kg/50lbs per person. This is made up of two bags maximum. If flying in with TAM, any connecting domestic flights have Hand luggage is limited to 5kg/11lbs per person, with a size of 10x10x20cm.

Most business visitors and tourists can manage to pack less than this, although cruise passengers touring Brazil after finishing in Santos/Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro quite often exceed those limits (due to needing more outfits of course!). Excess charges depend on the class of airline seat bought. The smaller airlines such as Avianca, WebJet, Trip, Azul and JetSul also have a general limit of 23kg on inter-city flights, but this may be lower on some of the more local flights with smaller planes. Check your tickets before every flight to make sure, they should state the limits, or Baggagem.

In practice, airlines do not always charge for baggage that exceeds 23kg. If the flight is not full, you may be lucky and find your luggage being passed through without a word, just a smile in return. If you arrive with excess luggage, then a friendly smile and perhaps even a little flirting may help, as long as it is directed at the correct person - it has been known to work in the past!

Oversize Baggage

Of course, many visitors to Brazil will be thinking of bringing oversize items with them - surf boards, kite-surf and scuba-diving equipment, instruments, golf clubs, triathlon bikes even. These will be charged extra, and it is necessary to check with the airline for details in advance.

Domestic Flights in Brazil

If visiting other parts of Brazil during tours or on business, rather than just Sao Paulo and Rio, it is worth checking a few different options before buying your flights. if only visiting one other city, Salvador  say, you can check prices for flying into Rio then out of Salvador. Even if you have to connect back in Sao Paulo or Rio first, the price of the final domestic flight from Salvador to make your connection may work out cheaper when included as part of your international package. Your options are also opened up a little by having two major cities for flying home, rather than just buying returns to Rio.

This can be especially important for people visiting places far distant from Sao Paulo or Rio. For example if you finish a tour of Brazil at an Amazon lodge close to Manaus, the lodge boats might only have you back in the city for midday. Flights to Sao Paulo can then be better options for connecting to your overnight international flight. It can often be cheaper to buy single flights from inside Brazil. The cheapest seats for online booking are only available inside the country, although the passenger doesn’t necessarily have to be in the country themselves at the time. You do need  an agent in the country though.

Domestic flights in Brazil are mainly covered by TAM and GOL airlines. Other smaller airlines cover a selection of routes, with OceanAir, Trip, Azul, Jetsul and WebJet offering more than just local coverage. If you find the correct flight, these airlines can often work out cheaper for just a couple  of flights if your route is covered.

If you are touring Brazil and visiting a few different destinations though, it is best to use only one of the two major Brazilian airlines for all your domestic flights. Both TAM and GOL have a Brazil Airpass to enable foreign visitors to travel around the whole country more cheaply (with the exception of the Fernando de Noronha islands!).

The TAM Brazil and South America Airpasses and the GOL Brazil/South America/North-East Airpasses are options that you should explore. TAM have also recently joined forces with LAN, who cover far more of the Spanish-speaking countries and have lots of domestic routes from Buenos Aires, Santiago and Lima. This may mean a vast increase in the amount of South America destinations that can be covered on one airpass in the future.

Whichever airpass works best for your itinerary, the idea is generally the same as they work on similar lines. You must already have bought your international flights for entry into Brazil and exit too, although one flight only is possible for those travelling overland from Argentina or arriving by cruise boat for example. As long as you have your international flight ticket number, you can organise a Brazil Airpass, or one for South America. This must be done from home though, before you travel, the airpass is not open to international visitors already in South America.

The flights must be bought via a registered flight agent based outside of Brazil, such as the wonderful Linda at Vision Travel. The airlines’ own websites and those such as Expedia do not offer this service.

The airpasses work on coupons, with a minimum of four destinations included. If you are only visiting three cities it may be worth including a fourth ‘dummy’ flight to use the airpass, rather than buying your flights individually, especially if longer domestic journeys are involved.

The prices vary, with TAM being cheaper if your international flight to Brazil is also with the airline. As yet, GOL do not fly long-haul routes outside of South America. 

Buying International Flights for Brazil

There are many different entry points for international flights arriving in Brazil, and with a little information you can make your journeys to and from Brazil, and around the country too, cheaper and easier on yourself logistically.

The main entry point for international flights is Guarulhos Airport (code GRU) in Sao Paulo, which received some 26 million passengers in 2010, almost 40% of those on international flights. Guarulhos is the largest airport in South America, and sits 25km north-east of the city. New international routes are opening regularly there all the time.

Rio de Janeiro is another popular place to arrive of course, with many airlines covering the two major cities of Brazil, sometimes on the same flight. Both cities also connect with the other South American capitals and major cities.

There are also international flights leaving directly from Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza, Natal and now Porto Alegre for Europe and the USA, with Florianopolis and Porto Alegre also having direct connections to Buenos Aires in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay to the south. Iguazu Falls also has a direct connection over The Andes to Lima in Peru. 

Below is a list of the airlines that cover routes involving Brazil. 

Brazilian Airlines that fly outside of South America: TAM

Brazilian Airlines that fly to South American capitals: TAM; GOL

Brazilian Airlines that fly around Brazil: TAM; GOL; OceanAir, Trip, Azul, Jetsul and WebJet

South America: Aerolineas Argentinas; Aero Sur; Avianca; LAN; Pluna; Surinam; TACA.

North & Central America: Aeromexico; Air Canada; Air Caraibe; American; Continental; Copa; Delta; Korean (via LAX); United; US Airways.

Europe: Air China (via Madrid); Air Europa; Air France; Alitalia; British Airways; BMI; Condor; Iberia; KLM; Lufthansa; Spanair; Swiss; TAP; Turkish; Transaereo (Rio only); TUIfly; US Airways (Rio only)

Africa: South African; TAAG;

Middle-East & Asia: El Al; Korean (via LAX); Emirates; Malaysian (via Cape Town); Nippon; Qatar; Singapore (via Barcelona); Turkish.

Below is a list of the airlines which have links with each major city in Brazil. Please note that this does not mean that the airlines themselves fly there, but they share flights with TAM usually, so they may be the best option for you, or at least help you find the place to begin your searches.

Sao Paulo

TAM; GOL; TRIP; Puma; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Aerolineas Argentinas; Aeromexico; AeroSur; Air Canada; Air China; Air France; Alitalia; American; Avianca; British Airways; BMI; Condor; Continental; Copa; Delta; EL AL; Emirates; Iberia; KLM; Korean; LAN; Lufthansa; Nippon; PLUNA; Qatar; Singapore; South African; Spanair; Swiss; TAAG Angola; TACA; TAP; Turkish; United; US Airways.

Rio de Janeiro

TAM; GOL; TRIP; Puma; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Aerolineas Argentinas; Air Canada; Air France; Alitalia; American; Avianca; British Airways; BMI; Condor; Continental; Copa; Delta; Iberia; KLM; Korean; LAN; Lufthansa; PLUNA; Qatar; Swiss; TAAG Angola; TACA; TAP; United; US Airways.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Air Canada; Air France; American; British Airways; BMI; Condor; Continental; Copa; Delta; Iberia; KLM; LAN; Lufthansa; Qatar; PLUNA; Swiss; TACA; TAP; United; US Airways.

Belo Horizonte

TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Air Canada; Air France; American; Condor; Copa; Delta; Iberia; KLM; LAN; Lufthansa; Qatar; PLUNA; Swiss; TAP; United.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Air Canada; Air Europa; Air France; American; Blu-Express; Condor; Continental; Delta; Iberia; KLM; LAN; Lufthansa; Qatar; TAP; TUIfly; United; US Airways.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Air Canada; Air France; American; Condor; Continental; Iberia; KLM; LAN; Lufthansa; PLUNA; Qatar; Swiss; TAP; United.

Porto Alegre

TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Aerolineas Argentinas; Air Canada; Air France; American; Condor; Continental; Copa; Delta; Iberia; KLM; LAN; Lufthansa; PLUNA; Qatar; Swiss; TACA; TAP; United; US Airways.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Air Canada; Air France; American;  Condor; Continental; Delta; Iberia; KLM; LAN; Qatar; TAP; TUIfly; United; US Airways.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Air France; Air Italy; American; ArkeFly; Condor; Delta; Iberia; KLM; LAN; Qatar; TACV; TAP; United.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; Azul; Puma; SETE.

Air Caraibes; Air France; American; Condor; KLM; Surinam Airways; TAP; United.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Air France; American; Condor; Continental; Delta; KLM; LAN; Qatar; Swiss; TAP; United.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; Azul; 

Air France; American; Condor; Copa; Delta; KLM; LAN; Qatar; TAP; United.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Air France; Air Italy; American; Condor; KLM; LAN; TAP; United.


TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Condor; Delta; KLM; TAP; United.

Campo Grande

TAM; GOL; TRIP; AviancaBrazil; Azul; 

Condor; Delta; KLM; Qatar; TAP; United.

Cities connected directly with Brazil: Buenos Aires; Montevideo; Santiago; Santa Cruz; Asuncion; Lima; Bogota; Caracas; Panama City; Mexico City; Miami; Orlando; New York; Atlanta; Washington DC; Houston; Charlotte; Los Angeles; London; Lisbon; Paris; Amsterdam; Madrid; Barcelona; Frankfurt; Rome; Cape Town; Johannesburg; Luanda; Abu Dhabi; Doha; Dubai; Kuala Lumpur; Seoul; Beijing; Tokyo.