American Airlines Abandoning the Last U.S. Flight to Bolivia

Bolivian media is reporting that the South American country’s only non-stop flight to the U.S. is being eliminated. American Airlines is dropping Miami – Santa Cruz, Bolivia at the end of November. This comes after backtracking on putting the Boeing 737 MAX on the more than 3200 mile route.

In November American Airlines rolled out a schedule change — a plan to fly their Boeing 737 MAX to Brazil and to Bolivia swapping out Boeing 757s that offer lie flat business class for their new, least comfortable domestic aircraft and operate them on two . This was supposed to start in May.

Ostensibly the move was because they weren’t able to make the economics even of a Boeing 757 work on these routes. However in March they pulled that plan and kept Boeing 757s flying instead.

Now (and without the 737 MAX in the fleet) American has decided to end Santa Cruz, Bolivia service altogether meaning there will no longer be any non-stop service between the U.S. and Bolivia.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. A country with incredible natural beauty doesn’t get US tourists because it insists on a $160 visa fee. When Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Chile don’t charge that fee, it’s no wonder that I haven’t made it to Bolivia yet.

  2. Brteacher, If $160 keeps you away from such a country, you may be better off staying at home.

  3. @Petco – seriously, +1. I’m actually now more interested in Bolivia because I previously didn’t know that fact about it. The presence of a visa fee, and now the absence of nonstop flights, means that it’s likely to be one of the increasingly few remaining places to not be flooded with package tourists.

  4. @CW, BoA still operated direct flights on that route, albeit on an ancient 767. There have never been package tourists in Bolivia nor will there ever be. Its still a good place to check out , although I would do it on Copa instead of BoA.

  5. @Gary, Boliviana de Aviación flies direct from Bolivia to Miami, so there will still be non-stop service between the two countries

  6. Peteco, I’ve traveled to Chile and Peru in the last three years, among many other places. Do you think that Peru and Chile are inferior to Bolivia in terms of natural beauty? I see no need to stay at home, just because you think that I should pay an extra $160 x the family members who travel with me, not to mention the time and hassle of obtaining the visa. I’m currently planning a trip to Argentina next spring, but you think I should stay home instead of seeing Iguazu Falls and Argentine Patagonia? Thanks but no thanks for the advice.

  7. The point is that it’s a big world full of wonderful things to see. All things being equal, I’ll choose the ones that don’t cost an extra $160 per person, and so will lots of other people. Chile, Argentina, and Brazil all used to charge that same $160, and they’ve all gotten rid of it, because they know that the visa fee hurts tourism. Bolivia hasn’t figured that out yet, but this should wake them up.

  8. Bolivia “insists on a $160 visa fee” to Americans, just because Bolivians have to pay $160 for a similar visa to visit the US.

  9. Now I know why I could find C inventory on flights to VVI in December for my SWU…I just assumed I was lucky and had caught AA rev management error since C space is now non existent for booking in advance.

    Also fun to find out about this through a Facebook post when my itin on AA is still supposedly fully intact. Thanks for the advance info Gary!

  10. My wife was born in Bolivia. The 160$ fee for solo travel isn’t really problematic. However, the fee for herself and I, and the 4 kids – well it does add up. I’d also mention that Bolivia is a rather poor country, and 160$ can easily cover the cost of 5 days in a nice hotel, right in the city center of La Paz. When you factor in the costs after the visa, it’s a ridiculously affordable place to visit.

    In terms of tourism – Its a fine place, but there is a reason why it’s overshadowed by its more popular neighbors.

  11. “Bolivia “insists on a $160 visa fee” to Americans, just because Bolivians have to pay $160 for a similar visa to visit the US.”

    Yeah, it’s called reciprocity. And citizens of Chile, Argentina, and Brazil also have to pay $160 for a US visa, but they figured out that reciprocity hurts tourism in a big way and damages their economy. Getting rid of the fee would help Bolivian tourism significantly. On the other hand, the US economy is not significantly impacted by tourists from Bolivia.

  12. I wonder if Lloyd Aero Boliviano will be able to step in and take up the slack. They are always on schedule, but their schedule is plus or minus 24 hours.

  13. @brteacher
    Chileans don’t need to pay for a visa to visit the US. It now participates in the visa waiver program, since 2014

  14. Having flown this route regularly, I can tell you AA regularly provided even worse service than in the USA. I cannot count how many times they stranded me. So, after loosing customers to the Bolivian airline (BOA) they stopped service to the capitol (LaPaz) of Bolivia. Then they announced replacing the 757 with the 737 Max, which resulted in more lose of future bookings. Then they changed the schedule so it was impossible to make any Bolivian domestic connections, both on arrival and departure. So you had to overnight both ways if you were coming from any part of Bolivia other than Santa Cruz. So more customers, even elite AA members like me, stopped making future bookings on AA. Not being able to make the economics of a 757 work on this route was totally self inflicted.

  15. No me sorprende ultimamente hasta la atencion era pésima, es lo mejor que pueden hacer retirarce de nuestro pais, y Los pasajes cobraban exajeradamente caros. Ojala Avianca no renuncie ellos si tienen muy buen servicio.

  16. I remember flying on AA to La Paz in 2002 … what a wonderful time that was

    At least AA will finally start flying the 787 to Montevideo later this year … it’s about time

  17. I am sure that the cancellation of the services the little interest that many passengers have with American. Compared to other South American airlines that have excellent service, more space between seats, meals and drinks at no cost, etc.

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