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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!