Unsurprisingly, most visitors intent on exploring Brazil’s lush bulk (rather than limiting themselves to just a city or two) choose to fly. International carriers serve Brazil’s most popular destinations, but more adventurous travelers will need to use one of the two national airlines, Tam and Gol (sometimes still called Varig). There’s plenty of debate about which is better, but Gol recently surpassed Tam as Brazil’s top regional carrier.
While flights on either airline are relatively inexpensive, budget travelers hoping to make every real count will want to look into air passes, available from both Tam and Gol. The savings can be impressive, with service to some 70 destinations equally priced as part of the plan, even for remote destinations such as Manaus and Porto Velho, we well as popular tourist towns like Salvador da Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Natal, and Fortaleza. There are, however, several restrictions: For instance, non-residents must purchase the passes outside the country, to be used within a limited time period.
The real problem with the plan, however, was that until recently, you couldn’t even purchase your air pass online—you needed to call the offices directly after trying to sort out each airlines’ confusing website. The lengthy process confused some travelers. Many forums recommended working with a flesh-and-blood travel agent specializing in Brazil, but this (along with commissions) seems as old-fashioned as VCRs and rotary phones.
Enter Brol.com, a Brazil-oriented website that has long offered online booking for flights, hotels, and more. In 2011 they also began offering the first online booking for Brazilian air passes ever. Though Brol is currently your only option for buying air passes online, it’s probable that other companies will soon follow suit.
Brol may well remain the most best place to select the air pass that’s right for you, however. The easy-to-understand interface is also in English, and has maps and suggested itineraries to help you plan your trip. Brol offers both Tam and Gol passes, some of which include Mercosur countries (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay) and others all of South America.