Tag Archives: South African Airlines

Introduction: South Africa and Dubai

One of our favorite cities in the world, is Cape Town, South Africa, and although getting to South Africa using points and miles can be very difficult, it’s not impossible!  In this series we will cover our visit to Cape Town and Dubai, and how we set about booking this award.

If you would like to visit South Africa, and need help maximizing the use of your miles and points, please consider using our Award Booking Service!

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Here’s the Itinerary:

02/07 SA208 Washington to Johannesburg departing 5:40PM arriving 5:25PM (16h45m)
02/09 FA103 Johannesburg to Madikwe departing 10:10AM arriving 11:00AM (1h)
02/13 FA102 Madikwe to Johannesburg departing 11:15AM arriving 12:15PM
02/13 BA6425 Johannesburg to Cape Town departing 3:00PM arriving 5:10PM (2h10m)
02/19 SA378 Cape Town to Johannesburg departing 5:45AM arriving 7:40AM (1h55m)
02/19 EK768 Johannesburg to Dubai departing 9:15AM arriving 7:20PM (8h5m)
02/22 EK205 Dubai to Milan departing 9:10AM arriving 1:10PM (7h)
02/22 EK205 Milan to New York departing 3:40PM arriving 7:00PM (9h20m)

Planning – How to get to South Africa and Back with Points & Miles

There are relatively few direct flights from the US to South Africa. Delta has a direct out of Atlanta, but with the terrible value of Delta’s award program (also known as sky peso’s), coupled with terrible availability in premium cabins, we quickly eliminated Delta as a viable option. The only other direct option is South African Airlines, which thankfully is a Star Alliance member.  If you don’t mind routing through Europe (and adding substantial additional flight time), then there are additional flight options.  Additionally, you can avoid routing through Europe by flying Ethiopian Airlines, but there is a stop in Addis Ababa.   Like South African Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines is also a Star Alliance member.

South African and United are both Star Alliance members, and United has pretty decent mileage award rates to South Africa on Star Alliance partners. United charges just 80,000 miles for business class to South African on their Star Alliance partner South African Airlines.  Since we want a direct flight, the choice was clear- we would use United miles to book South African business class on the outbound. Sign up for the Chase United Explorer credit card, and you are well on your way to earning enough miles for a business class flight to South Africa!

For the return, we wanted to try out Emirates first class. Using Alaska miles, it is just 100,000 miles for First class from Africa to North America, and when using Alaska miles there is the added bonus of a free stopover.  This is a tremendous value.  You can fly first class from South Africa to Dubai, stop in Dubai for as long as you want, and then fly first class from Dubai to New York all for only 100,000 Alaska miles!  As an added bonus, Emirates flies it’s flagship A380 from Dubai to New York, so you get to experience their amazing onboard shower too!  Starwood Preferred is a transfer partner of Alaska Mileage Plan, and points transfer at a rate of 1.25 to 1, so an excellent way to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles is by signing up for the SPG American Express Personal credit card and SPG American Express Business credit card.