Redemption options: N.O. to Africa

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by Travelmom4, Dec 19, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Travelmom4

    Travelmom4 Silver Member

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    Husband and I are planning a trip in 18-24 months to Africa with four kids. We'll be traveling from New Orleans and will likely fly into So. Africa, Tanzania or Kenya (don't even know what our options are yet). From NO, there are several daily flights to Houston on Continental, also AA to Miami and Dallas and some to ATL on Delta.
    We have AMEX MR points (500k), Diners Points (300k), Continental/United Miles (400k), Delta (200k) and AA Miles ( 250k). We also each have recently acquired cards from both AMEX SPG and Chase Sapphire. Our spending on cc's is about $10k per month.
    Of course, I would like to get maximum value from our points/miles. I'm not expecting to book all of our tickets using points but would love to get 3 or 4 business seats. Do any of you experienced flyers have a wild guess as to where I might want to consolidate my cc spending? I know that it's a very inexact science at this point but I would like to at least make an educated guess. Any advice will be appreciated.
     
  2. EconoTraveler

    EconoTraveler Silver Member

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    It might be worthwhile to retain Gary's services for this itinerary: http://bookyouraward.com/
     
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  3. thetenken
    Original Member

    thetenken Silver Member

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    Depending on where exactly you want to go, there are a few options.

    South African Airways I know has a direct flight from NYC to JNB. This will put you into Africa on two flights, which might be desirable, depending on the age of your children. Less running around terminals and dealing with logistics. Ethiopian is also the latest Star Alliance member, and supposedly has really good availability to their hub in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From there it'll cover you to most locations in East Africa.

    Kenya Air is Skyteam and has a good network in Africa, and other major airlines have routings through Europe (BA, KLM, etc).

    The big issues I see here is that you are looking for availability for 6 people in business class, and you need to figure out where you want to go exactly. Africa's a pretty big place, and the logistics and transportation options are limited. I would recommend finding one spot to go to and then possibly taking a tour that will meet your needs.

    South Africa is a pretty good place for you to go for a one-stop shop of animal safaris (Kruger), fine dining (Stellenbosch/Cape Town), and decent infrastructure.

    I believe roundtrip from U.S. to Africa using United miles is 120k miles per person for business, which will then cost you 720k miles. Do you all have to fly together on the same planes?
     
  4. gleff
    Original Member

    gleff Co-founder

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    The more seats you're looking for, assuming you require being on the same flights, the tougher it is. Two seats is easy. Splitting up 2+2 is easy. But if you're looking for 3-4... You can sometimes find that on Lufthansa. You can often find that on British Airways. And you can sometimes find it on Turkish.

    South African is good about releasing award space but usually only 2 business seats per flight for South Africa - Europe and South Africa - U.S.

    While British Airways will consistently offer as many as 4 first class award seats, their award pricing is nuts, > 270k miles per person roundtrip and then you still pay fuel surcharges to you're out of pocket > $1000 per ticket in cash too.

    So what I would do is concentrate on Star Alliance. You can use United/Continental miles... Chase Sapphire points transferred to United/Continental... and Amex points transferred to Star programs although Amex partners aren't generally ideal for this given mileage pricing and fuel surcharges.

    So what I would do is spend on the Chase Sapphire card and you'll likely wind up moving those points over to United.

    I'd also consider whether it's possible to split up onto different flights in order to maximize chances of getting more award seats, e.g. 2 + 2 (and one passenger goes paid). You might do better than that, but it would be a pleasant surprise :)
     
  5. Travelmom4

    Travelmom4 Silver Member

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    Thanks to all for the advice. Yes, I am planning on engaging Gary for this one when I am a bit more certain of the parameters. He booked business seats for the six of us to London and Paris last summer and it was a great trip. Aside from the fact that my kids are getting spoiled, which I can't blame on him, I couldn't have been happier with the service.

    I'm not counting on six award seats for the Africa trip. I'm hoping for four (and we may be able to split up if necessary) and will pay for the others. I'm going to concentrate my spending on the Sapphire card and plan on a transfer .

    Btw, I also have 300-400k US Air miles-aren't those Star Alliance? If so, I'll be sure not to use them on another trip in the meantime.
     
  6. thetenken
    Original Member

    thetenken Silver Member

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    Yes, US Airways is Star Alliance. They also have a slightly cheaper redemption than United, 110,000 in business vs. 120,000 for United. You might also want to take advantage of their buy miles promotion running now until December 31, which is a great deal if you're traveling business.

    Good luck with the trip planning! Definitely find out where you wanna go first, then see what you can do about it.
     
  7. Travelmom4

    Travelmom4 Silver Member

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    Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the guidance. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc. to all.
     

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