Advice on award tix to South Africa?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by riverchica, May 30, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. riverchica
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    riverchica Silver Member

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    After a several year hiatus, I've jumped back into accumulating miles and need to book an award ticket from the West Coast to Cape Town for March 2012. It's been a few years since I booked an international award ticket to Africa and I'm a bit boggled by all the possibilities.

    I've got miles tucked away in a variety of places, mainly ~100k on BA, ~75k on Delta, about ~40k on Continental, ~50k on American, and then ~125k Membership Rewards points that I could transfer.

    Any recommendations? What carriers to ZA are the best bang for miles in business or first?
     
  2. sniklec
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    sniklec Silver Member

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    Is Alaska a Membership Rewards transfer partner? (They are a partner for the SPG card, but I don't know about MR.) If so, after obtaining an additional 15K points, you could transfer 140K to AS and fly all the way to Johannesburg on Cathay Pacific in first class.
     
  3. riverchica
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    riverchica Silver Member

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    AS isn't an MR transfer partner. I"m intrigued by getting to fly on Cathay Pacific though! I could use BA miles for one-way to ZA on Cathay Pacific...
     
  4. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    BA isn't going to permit a Pacific routing to South Africa except using their more expensive distance-based chart. So that's out. ;)

    In general British Airways availability to South Africa is pretty good, at least in first class (which is very expensive from the US -- business class is 180k, first is 270k). You've got pretty heinous fuel surcharges, assume > $1000 for a premium cabin ticket roundtrip.

    Star Alliance though (think Amex transfer to Continental) has some really great options...
    * South African Airways, direct from JFK and IAD
    * United/Lufthansa/Swiss/etc transatlantic then Lufthansa/Swiss/South African to South Africa
    * Don't forget Turkish via Istanbul (great availability Istanbul - Jo'burg) and EgyptAir via Cairo
    * There's even Brussels Airways to Northern Africa and connecting to South African

    With Delta miles, search the Air France website, KLM availability can be decent. (And Delta is an Amex transfer partner) Don't rely on the Delta website.
     
  5. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Great write up!
     
  6. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    Possibly trade BA and AA miles for CO miles and get an award ticket in J for Lufthansa and SA? Trade additional miles for a paper SWU and hope there is space available to an upgrade in F? I read multiple threads on FT and MP in which people have been able to upgrade to F on the FRA-JNB segment on the A380 from J using an UA SWU. Less miles to use for F but would be risking LH J....
     
  7. riverchica
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    riverchica Silver Member

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    These are great suggestions!

    I flew KLM to Africa quite a bit in years past and was not particularly impressed by their first class cabins. Are they better now?
     
  8. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    KLM business class is IMHO quite unimpressive. But then so if Lufthansa's. BA and South African have better seats.
     
  9. thrashsoundly
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    thrashsoundly Silver Member

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    Here's a sideways question, but still topical:
    I'm interested in award travel to make a southern hemisphere RTW tour of the rugby power countries, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina, but I'm having trouble finding OneWorld flights spanning South America and Africa without routing through Europe.
    In my research I've found that LAN codeshares with South African, but I'm not sure if award travel would allow that flight, since SA is a *A member. Does anyone know if this is the case? It seems OneWorld makes it "difficult" to get from South America to Africa.
     
  10. riverchica
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    riverchica Silver Member

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    Yay! I booked a ticket!

    For a total of 135,000 miles and ~$240 in fees/phone booking charges (of which $125 was refunded by AmEx - did I mention I love AmEx?), I got a ticket SEA - CPT w/ first class in Lufthansa through Frankfurt and business on South African Airways. :D
     
    BurBunny and gleff like this.
  11. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    For the record,

    1. I think the AmEx MR transfer into CO is ending this fall, so don't procrastinate if this is what you plan to do.

    2. KLM doesn't offer FC, only biz, economy comfort (seats for a fee except their elites, not a separate cabin or booking class) and economy on two-class cabins.

    3. I don't think SWUs can be used to upgrade award tickets, including the paper UA ones for LH flights.
     
  12. Gardyloo
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    Gardyloo Gold Member

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    Are these AA miles? It would help to know.

    I'm personally not aware of any Lan codeshares with SA, but could be wrong. What flights are codeshared? (The OW timetable does not show a Lan code on SA's GRU-JNB.)

    This problem will be solved next year when MH joins Oneworld, assuming they keep their EZE-CPT route (which will be a fabulous improvement to OW's route structure.) Until then, routing via Europe or Oz seems the only option.
     

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