Which business class is best for flights between Australia and Brazil?

By Brandon Loo, October 12 2018
Which business class is best for flights between Australia and Brazil?

South America is one of the furthest destinations from Australia, and although you can fly non-stop to Santiago de Chile, there are no direct flights between Australia and Brazil: so whether you’re headed to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, or anywhere else in the continent's largest country, expect to spend a day or more travelling each way with at least one stop as well.

For such long flight times and airport layovers, your choice of business class can have a big impact on your journey, as the type of seats, service and lounges you’ll get along the way can vary significantly among your options.

Australian Business Traveller takes a look at the different ways of getting to Brazil, and how the various business class offerings stack up.

Quickest for the eastern states: Qantas and LATAM

If you’re based on the east coast, especially in Sydney or Melbourne, chances are you’ll want to take advantage of having the quickest connection available, offered by Qantas and LATAM.

Regarding direct flights, Qantas flies a Boeing 747 from Sydney to Santiago, the capital of Chile, while LATAM does the same with a Boeing 787 from Melbourne.

From Chile, an extra 3-4 hours flying with LATAM will get you across South America and into Brazil. Total flight times from Australia to Brazil range anywhere from 19 hours to 24 hours, depending on how long you need to stop in Santiago.

Qantas’ aging Boeing 747s sport the second-generation Skybed in a 2-3-2 layout on the main deck and 2-2 arrangement upstairs. These seats aren't on-par with the Roo's newer Business Suites on the Boeing 787, of course, and don't offer direct aisle access for most.

LATAM’s Boeing 787s also feature flat-beds, but in 2-2-2 layout – also not quite up to modern expectations, although there's at least no 'middle seat', and this modern aircraft does offer a quieter and more comfortable ride than its older sibling.

The final connection from Santiago to Brazil could see you on LATAM’s Boeing 787, Boeing 767, or the smaller Airbus A320/A321 which doesn’t have business class.

You’ll have access to the Qantas lounges in Australia, as well as the revamped LATAM lounge in Santiago.

LATAM also flies between Sydney and Santiago but makes a stop in Auckland each way – not so bad if Santiago is your final destination, or you're an Auckland resident who can fly straight to South America non-stop, but if you're jetting from Australia to Brazil, this flight makes it a two-stop journey, rendering the non-stop Santiago routes from Sydney and Melbourne as more efficient.

More premium and less hassle: Emirates and Qatar Airways

The other one-stop options are with Emirates or Qatar Airways, which will interest residents of Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide (as applicable) who would rather avoid a domestic transfer at Sydney or Melbourne.

(The other big Middle Eastern carrier, Etihad, only offers flights from Abu Dhabi to Brazil via a stop in Europe, from where you'll complete your journey on another airline.)

A slight disadvantage of this option is the flight timing – you’re looking at 14 hours from east coast cities to Dubai or Doha (or 11 hrs from Perth), then another 15-16 hours trekking to Brazil.

But if you don't mind trading time for comfort, then you can enjoy two long flights in the airlines’ best business class cabins, and even have the chance to book into first class on selected routes.

Qatar Airways flies from Australia to Doha with a mix of Airbus A380, Airbus A350 and older Boeing 777 jets. Onward from Qatar, São Paulo is the airline's only Brazilian destination.

Australia to São Paulo via Doha with Qatar Airways
Australia to São Paulo via Doha with Qatar Airways

On Airbus A350 and A380 flights, you'll find a modern 1-2-1 seating with fully-flat beds, ticking all the regular boxes for international business class:

AusBT review: Qatar Airways Airbus A380 business class, Sydney-Doha

Also read: Qatar Airways Airbus A350 business class review, Adelaide-Doha

But, if you seek out flights QR906/907 between Sydney and Doha, you'll now find the airline's excellent Qsuites on board, boasting even more privacy with sliding doors in business class. Selected seats can even be paired to form a double bed:

Over at Emirates, a mix of A380s and Boeing 777s appear on flights from Australia to Dubai, and onwards to both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Australia to Brazil via Dubai with Emirates
Australia to Brazil via Dubai with Emirates

The Airbus A380 is the plane to be on, with 1-2-1 seating in business class, an onboard bar and lounge area, and if you've gone one better and booked a first class suite, the inflight shower spas.

Emirates Airbus A380 business class
Emirates Airbus A380 business class

However, Emirates is also running its newly-revamped Boeing 777-200LR jets on selected flights between Dubai and São Paulo, which also offer fully-flat beds in business class and inflight entertainment screens as large as you'd expect in first class, albeit in a 2-2-2 layout:

AusBT review: Emirates' new Boeing 777-200LR business class seat (Dubai-São Paulo)

Flying with Emirates will grant you access to their lounges where available, while flying with Qatar gets you into to the less-salubrious Qantas lounges in Australia.

Of course, at each airline's home hub – Doha for Qatar Airways, Dubai for Emirates – flagship lounges await, so take your pick.

Qatar Airways' Al Mourjan business class lounge, Doha
Qatar Airways' Al Mourjan business class lounge, Doha

Also read: Qatar Airways Al Mourjan lounge review and Emirates Business Lounge (Concourse A) review

Across the Tasman: Air New Zealand

If you don't mind a dash across the ditch to stop in Auckland, then Air New Zealand can take you to Buenos Aires, the cosmopolitan capital of Argentina.

From there, Aerolineas Argentinas will carry you onwards to Brazil. But watch out - it may be in economy class, and they might use different airports within Brazil.

If you see notes like this in your booking, then it's best to try find an alternative routing.

Watch out for these catches, highlighted in pink.
Watch out for these catches, highlighted in pink.

Those heading to São Paulo might be booked on Turkish Airlines from Buenos Aires, which has business class on the Boeing 777-300ER.

Air New Zealand offers business class on the Boeing 787-9 and Boeing 777 variants from Australia, and then the Boeing 777-200 to Buenos Aires.

Business Premier features lie-flat seats, but in a 'herringbone' layout which has less privacy than the newer 'reverse herringbone' seats seen on other airlines. A 1-2-1 configuration ensures aisle access for everyone, at least.

Overall, it's an attractive option if Argentina is your final destination, but less so for those headed to Brazil, as it'll involve at least two stops along the way.

The American alternative: American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines

The three main US-based airlines can also get you across the Pacific and onwards to Brazil, however, it’s not a competitive proposal due to the domestic transfers required, headaches associated with transiting within the US, and business class products that aren't quite as refined as their rivals.

Delta partners with Virgin Australia to offer flights from Australia to Los Angeles. However once you’ve negotiated the bedlam that is LAX, you’ll most likely need to do a domestic hop to their hub of Atlanta, before continuing on to Brazil.

American Airlines buddies up with Qantas to provide flights across the Pacific to Los Angeles, where you’ll need to transfer to the New York or Miami hubs to proceed onwards to Brazil, unless your destination is São Paulo, in which case AA runs six non-stop flights per week from Los Angeles, but with relatively long transit times if you're connecting from Australia.

Finally, United Airlines provides a one-stop option with its Sydney to Houston direct service, but generally, the next flight to Brazil requires around 11 hours in transit when connecting from Australia, and 17-18 hours on the ground when flying home. Passengers travelling to Los Angeles would also need to transfer to Houston to continue to Brazil.

What’s your preferred way to fly from Australia to Brazil? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Brandon Loo

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 177

I use Air NZ due to the ease of transit through Argentina and that I can now enter Argentina without a visa so I can have a stop over on the way over and enjoy a steak and Malbec. Aerolineas is like US carrier business however it’s a short flight.

Prior to that I used the LAN/QF flights via either BUE then via SCL.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

06 Nov 2015

Total posts 12

No mention of the Air NZ two stop option?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jun 2017

Total posts 41

Brandon, this article clearly missed Air NZ from AKL-EZE which to Perth customers could be appealing and offers a pretty competitive product. I even know people who do it from Melbourne.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 329

In Sydney & Melbourne QR pax can use QF Business or First ( Staus or Class) dependt.

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 108

Hi everyone, thanks for your comments regarding Air NZ to Buenos Aires.

We didn't include it initially since it wasn't the most convenient option to Brazil (the focus of this article), with at least two stops along the way, and the final leg to Brazil potentially operated by a 737 with economy only.

However I have now added it into the article to complete the comparison between everyone's preferred airline :)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 177

Hi Brandon, Air NZ when booking with them ensure you are in J. I had that both on Brazilian and Chilean connecting flights. It’s standard J recliner but that is what LATAM is as well.

20 Sep 2017

Total posts 8

Hi Brandon

Just checking can you going via Dallas on Qantas and American Airlines?

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 108

Hi 747sp, you probably could book that as LATAM and AA offer DFW to Brazil direct flights, however if you look on a map, you'll see that it's an inefficient way to get there with lots of flying needed.

For example, Sydney to Dallas to São Paulo is 13,689 miles or more than 22,000 km.

Sydney to Santiago to São Paulo is 8,686 miles, or just under 14,000 km.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 363

From PER there is another option, SAA. I did BNE-PER-JNB-GRU. Wasn't a great product (2-2-2) but still full flat.

Not so great from east coast as it adds an extra stop and the hassle of domestic to international transfer. But it's an option for people from PER. Flying time is 20hrs.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2016

Total posts 129

Just returned yesterday from Santiago flying QF in J class. Flew internally in Y class on LATAM and one leg on Aerolineas Agrentinas. Flew a LATAM 787 from to Sao Paulo and my preference would still be QF to get into South America. Still rate the 747 and Qantas as a very good product despie the age of the aircraft.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

14 Nov 2013

Total posts 42

Agreed, Qantas has the superior product compared to the other airlines servicing Sth America.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 265

One thing, QR don't fly "older 777 jets" to Australia. The CBR (and second SYD flight) are on new 77W's with QSuites (as mentioned).

Also from PER you could do PER-LHR (QF)-GRU/GIG (BA). Or a number of two stop options via Europe (Aus-SIN-FRA-GIG/GRU for example) or AC BNE/SYD/MEL-YVR-YYZ-GRU.


12 Oct 2018

Total posts 2

Great article & advice for those heading to the south of Brazil, but Brazil is not just the southern cities. There are additional options if you are doing business or holidays in the North East of Brazil ( home to 50 million people) Why fly 15 hours from DXB or DOH to Rio or SP if you are heading to Fortaleza,Salvador or Recife ? The northern cities in Brazil are well connected to Europe with TAP and Miami with Latam , its only 7 hours from Lisbon or Miami to Fortaleza or Recife , while this might seem the long way consider this....the north eastern cities in Brazil are a very long way from Chile, on a recent trip it took 12 hours from SCL to get to Fortaleza and 15 hours back , and that is before crossing the pacific to Melbourne or Sydney. It is all about final destination !

08 Aug 2017

Total posts 43

Good suggestion, thanks, EPC. I’ve been to Recife a couple of times via SCL and GRU and it’s a demanding trip. (Try it in Y class. Or don’t). Might be better combining with some business in Europe or US East Coast next time.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

14 Nov 2013

Total posts 42

I have made 5 trips to Sth America in the last 18 months, by far Qantas is the most reliable to get me to Santiago. I tried Air NZ twice (Buenos Aires) purely due to the fact i would be travelling on their 787. Both trips there and back the aircraft was changed for their older 777 which is nothing like what they offer on their 787. At least Qantas is consistent and reliable, LANTAM i dont like as their J class service and food is lacking (in my opinion).

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 95

I’d choose Air NZ

28 Nov 2012

Total posts 94

QANTAS have talked up direct to Rio once they have ULR aircraft

12 Oct 2018

Total posts 3

I fly to Curitiba in Brazil regularly. I returned on the QF28 yesterday and despite being delayed and missing my connecting domestic flight it was still faster than the Middle East options you mentioned. I have done he EK option once in First on a points redemption and was fun, but after a while I just wanted to be on where I was going.

My observations/pieces of advice: LATAM don’t have domestic business and premium economy from SCL on the A321/320 should be avoided if you can. Although they only fly the wide body’s into GRU from what I can tell, so you may have no choice if flying to GIG or elsewhere. Avianca Brazil have a great product on their A330 to GRU if you’re willing to switch it up once you get to SCL. Aerolineas fly direct to Curitiba from BA, but the Air NZ option I’ll never do again because often you need to change from EZE to AEP to get the flight in Brazil. The QF/LA options are the most convient for me.
Also, a LATAM crew member told me on the flight over SCL, the airline is developing new J seats for launch in 2019/2020?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2015

Total posts 78

My main considerations for choosing flights is the time in transit and the arrival time into the final destination. Therefore I would never fly to Brazil on LATAM's Melb-Santiago service because the late arrival time into Santiago either means you arrive into Brazil at 2am (the worst possible time for Jetlag and safety) or you have a 5-10 hour transit in Santiago.

I prefer a three stop option (either Melb-Sydney-Santiago-Brazil or Melb-Auckland-Santiago-Brazil) using a combination of Qantas and LATAM flights.

I would do everything possible to avoid Rio's international airport which is a horrible airport for a city of 7+ million. Incredibly even though LATAM are the biggest airline in South America they don't have a lounge in Rio (however there is an average American Airlines lounge for international departures). Given most travellers are probably visiting multiple cities I would strongly recommend arriving into Rio via the Santos Dumont domestic airport which is more central and has the most spectacular take off and landing.

The Brazilian arm of LATAM (formerly TAM) is very average and I have had numerous poor experiences flying them (when possible try to get on a LATAM Chile flight as opposed to a LATAM Brazil flight). To give you an idea of how average LATAMs Brazilian offering is, there is no domestic business class and they don't offer a single domestic lounge in Brazil. To put that into perspective, Sao Paulo has a population of 20+ million and there is no domestic lounge, while Qantas have dozens of domestic lounges. I was in Alice Springs recently which has a population 800-900 times smaller than SP but stil manages to have a lounge! There is also effectively no Oneworld benefits flying LATAM domestically in Brazil, even as OW Emerald I have never managed to even select a seat. On many criterion I would rate LATAM Brazil several notches below Jetstar.

The other point I would make is the connection options between Santiago and Brazil (booking via Qantas or LATAM) seem to be very inconsistent depending on the day of the week or the time of the year. There are some shocking options that come up when searching the two websites. I've also found the Santiago-SP route notorious for aircraft changes, flight number changes, and flight time changes (I've experienced this a dozen times over the last 3 years).

Brandon, it would be nice to know what options there are for flying from Santiago to Brazilian cities other than SP and RJ.

08 Aug 2017

Total posts 43

+1: In my experience LATAM Brazil (TAM) are terrible in every respect. Which is a great shame given I really enjoy the LATAM Chile (LAN) product: usually such lovely service regardless that the J config is old school 2-2-2.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Jul 2015

Total posts 40

Hi Brandon - thanks for updating the article, it’s much easier to read now with the maps separated in the various options.

Re Qatar - this has never been a viable option for me due to the horrendous layover on the return leg, 20+ hours to get back to MEL. Also the aircraft on the DOH > GRU leg is a bit of a lottery, can either be the oldest 2-2-2 config or QSuites on some days from December.

Cost is another important consideration for most. Although LA/QF have a poorer product compared to QR/EK, they are often 50% cheaper. Return journeys on QF/LA can usually be found around $4-5k, QR/EK generally $8k+

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 9

Excellent article, Brandon. Loved the photos and maps. We are spoilt for choices these days. Travel to South America has become much easier now when one compares to what we had to endure decades ago. Up until the late sixties, the only way to get there was the long way via LAX/SFO, or even worse, in an easterly direction, via Europe. Then came Lan Chile who pioneered the SCL-IPC-PPT route, where they would connect with QF and TE (LA actually wanted to reach Sydney but, over-protective of then state owned QF, the Australian government of the day would not give them traffic rights into Australia). Latam still operates that PPT route today, a truly wonderful journey… if you have the time! In 1980 AR pioneered what they called the “Transpolar” route, from EZE-RGL-AKL, where they would connect with TE/QF to Australia. Initially operated only twice monthly (yes, fortnightly!) using 747-200Bs, this was a really challenging operation for AR. Because of the 747’s limited range, and the strong head-winds flying west across the Pacific, the “Transpolar” required a refueling stop at RGL in Argentine Patagonia prior to the big hop across the South Pacific. Not to burn fuel reserves unnecessarily, often the aircraft would be towed to the head of the runway before the engines were started full-blast for immediate take-off. These flights offered First and Economy class. As AR was building up this route, often there were spare seats at the back, and lucky economy fliers were sometimes able to score an empty middle row of four and have their own sky bed..! Unthinkable these days of packed flights! AR eventually obtained traffic rights into Australia and continued serving the “Transpolar” route for several decades, until 2013, when the route was abandoned for a variety of reasons.

I travel frequently to South America, mostly to BUE and SAO-RIO, My preferred carrier is QF because QF’s Business Class is better than anyone else’s on that route. I enjoy the transit at SCL which keeps getting better as Chile to invest in infrastructure and services. Often, I stay a day or two in SCL. However, we miss the direct QF17-18 service to EZE, which certainly saved us much time and cost. I find Latam a difficult (if not impossible) airline to book flights using QF FF points but their on-board service is good.

When travelling to BUE, we often fly from SCL on LA or AR to the downtown AEP, which is closer to downtown than EZE. There is much change happening in aviation in Argentina as low cost carriers start operation (including Norwegian Air!), and airports are being modernised. This includes AEP and EZE with major upgrades that will bring them up to world-class standards. BUE now also has a third airport at “El Palomar”, for low cost services. Soon, all international flights from BUE except those to Uruguay, will be switched to operate from EZE only. This means that the excellent NZ flight AKL-EZE will then connect at EZE with the full range of AR and Brazilian carriers that fly to a multitude of destinations all over Brazil. Also note that EK operate EZE-GIG daily, and both TK, QR and now also Ethiopian offer EZE-GRU, all with late evening departures from EZE.

Interestingly, EK have also just started flights SCL-GRU-DXB. This is a five times a week 777-200 service, that leaves past midnight. Not an ideal connection for QF and LA flights from SYD, but somewhat better connection for the late afternoon LA arrival from MEL. Gets into GRU at the crack of dawn, for an easy drive into the city before the morning rush hour.

Hopefully, in the not too distant future, QF will operate direct flights into GRU or GIG, either non-stop or via SCL or even EZE. Keep an eye out for new carriers flying from South America to Oceania: recently airlines were invited by the Argentine Government to tender for new routes and this included one that applied for EZE-PER-SIN route! Straight over the South Pole! Safe travels and buen viaje/boa viagem!

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 79

I think you forgot one route.. SYD-DFW-GRU or at least don't see the map of it...

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 79

Some AV or LATAM flights do not offer Business Class as we know it... they have Premium Economy within South America in A319/320/321...

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Which business class is best for flights between Australia and Brazil?