Is visiting South Africa on your bucket list but you’re just not sure how to actually get to South Africa with your points and miles?
Maybe you want to experience the adrenaline rush that comes from spotting a pride of lions on that once-in-a-lifetime safari or perhaps feel the excitement when a Southern Right whale breaches the water alongside your boat.
Then this South Africa points and miles guide is for you!
Luckily, if you’ve decided to book a flight to South Africa with your points and miles, there are plenty of options that offer great value and reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
How to Get to South Africa with Points and Miles
Trips to Africa aren’t considered the most affordable vacations. A bucket list southern Africa safari can start at a couple of thousand dollars to many tens of thousands of dollars depending on your travel style. So, using miles and points to fly to South Africa can be a huge money-saver!
How many miles to South Africa varies depending on the points and miles award program, but generally speaking:
- Award flights for economy flights can range from 65,000 miles to 80,000 miles round trip.
- Business class flights will range from 104,000 miles to 150,000 miles.
Also, fuel surcharges can range from about $10 to hundreds of dollars per ticket. So be sure to compare the mile cost to the taxes and fees.
Now, let’s look at how to get to South Africa with miles and points!
Use ANA Miles: Best Business Class to South Africa
This might be the best way to get to South Africa using your miles because it’s also the cheapest way to get to South Africa in terms of points.
It’ll only cost 65,000 ANA miles round trip in economy class! Or, if you prefer more luxury, you can fly round trip in business class for only 104,000 ANA miles, which is the best award ticket to South Africa in terms of mileage redemption.
However, while ANA might be the cheapest way to get to South Africa using your points, they’ll pass on fuel surcharges with certain airlines. So, pay attention to those taxes and fees because they can be hundreds of dollars!
For example, if we look at flying from Washington, D.C. to Johannesburg, it’ll only cost you 65,000 miles and $99.46 round trip. When comparing options to find the best award ticket to South Africa, this might currently top the list in terms of overall value.
If flying coach for that long makes you cringe, remember it’s only 104,000 ANA miles to fly business class round trip.
One important tip to remember when booking ANA award flights using partners, you must book a round trip ticket. Also, fuel surcharges will vary depending on the Star Alliance partner airline you fly. As you can see above, an itinerary operated by South African Airways comes with high fees but a partner like Ethiopian Airlines is much less out-of-pocket.
On the other hand, ANA non-alliance partner, Etihad, passes on NO fuel surcharges on their route to Johannesburg via Abu Dhabi. So you can book from North America to Africa in economy class or business class for 65k or 104k and pay no fees!
This award is arguably the best business class to South Africa award flight.
This Etihad redemption cannot be mixed with other Star Alliance partners and is not bookable online. You’ll need to call ANA to book.
If you need ANA miles, they’re a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles to Fly to South Africa
Virgin Atlantic miles are extremely valuable and using them to fly to South Africa can be a solid way to redeem them. While the mileage price isn’t the cheapest, earning Virgin Atlantic miles is just so easy!
They’re transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Marriott Bonvoy.
The benefit of using Virgin Atlantic is they have non-alliance partnerships with South African Airways and Delta Airlines. Unfortunately, when using your miles to book flights on South African Airways fuel surcharges are passed on to you.
And while Virgin Atlantic shows South African Airways award availability on their website, the only time I could possibly recommend using South African Airways via Virgin Atlantic is during a Virgin Atlantic transfer promotion. Even with a transfer bonus, you’d want to calculate if higher fuel surcharges are worth the mile savings.
But using your miles to fly on Delta Airlines can be a good option for airline tickets to South Africa.
For example. Atlanta to South Africa in economy class would only cost 40,000 miles and $5.60 for a one-way flight.
If you prefer to fly in a premium cabin it’ll cost you 60,000 Virgin Atlantic miles one-way, plus taxes.
Search directly on Virgin Atlantic to find availability. And, remember Virgin Atlantic will cost fewer miles for non-stop flights.
Add a Free South Africa Excursion with United Miles.
Using United miles to fly to South Africa isn’t one of the cheapest options whether you’re flying in coach or business class. But, United doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges to their customers. For example, using United miles on South African Airways comes only with the mandatory taxes.
So, while you might save a lot of miles using ANA miles, you also might spend hundreds of dollars on fuel surcharges with Star Alliance partners via ANA.
For example, when looking to fly from Atlanta to South Africa (Johannesburg), some programs like Aeroplan and ANA pass on fuel surcharges when flying Lufthansa. Yet, United will only charge 40,000 miles and $39.70.
So while this option costs more miles, you save hundreds of dollars on fuel surcharges.
If you’re looking to fly business class, United charges 80,000 miles one-way.
Now, if you decided to use the United Excursionist Perk, this can add some real value to your United miles.
For example, if you were to look at flights from Tampa to South Africa (Johannesburg), but also wanted plane tickets from Johannesburg to Cape Town (JNB to CPT), with an eventual return back to Tampa, you’d pay 40,000 miles and $39.70 to fly from Tampa to Johannesburg,
Then for the return flight to Tampa, you’ll only pay 40,000 miles and $83.53.
The cash price of this ticket is $3,684, which means you’re redeeming your points at 4.4 cents per point, a phenomenal for an economy ticket!
Hoping instead to see more of southern Africa? Plan an excursion to Botswana for an incredible Okavango Delta experience.
United miles are a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, or use one of their co-branded credit cards, like the United Explorer card, to earn United miles.
Book a Mixed Class South Africa Flight with Avianca Miles.
Just like United, the big benefit to using Avianca miles is the fact they don’t pass on fuel surcharges to customers and don’t charge a close-in booking fee if you’re booking within 21 days of departure
Booking an economy flight to South Africa, Avianca charges 40,000 miles each way, which is the same as United. If you were looking for a business class, LifeMile charges 78,000 miles, 2,000 miles less than United’s award chart saver price.
Another great benefit of LifeMiles is the ability to book mixed cabin awards.
For example, flying from Boston to South Africa (Johannesburg), you can book a mixed cabin ticket. You could fly to Washington, D.C. in economy class and then fly the long haul in business class for 71,730 miles.
This ticket will cost 75,440 LifeMiles and $12.91. Other airlines will charge you the full business class price for a mixed cabin ticket.
Avianca is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Capital One Miles, Marriott Bonvoy, and they have their own co-branded credit cards like the Avianca Vuela Visa.
Programs like American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points, occasionally have transfer bonuses to Avianca, so you could pay even fewer miles if you were to take advantage of those transfer bonuses.
Use Flying Blue Miles to Get to South Africa.
Flying Blue might not be the first program you think of when flying to South Africa, but you shouldn’t overlook this program.
While Flying Blue no longer has an award chart, the amount of miles needed for an award ticket is based on the cash price of a ticket. This dynamic award pricing means sometimes you can find a deal.
For example, flying from Los Angeles to Johannesburg in economy class, it’ll only cost 35,000 miles and $134.81 for a one-way ticket.
When booking with Flying Blue, they’ll pass on fuel surcharges to the customer. So while the mile requirement for economy tickets might be lower than other options, the out-of-pocket cost will be higher as well. You’ll want to compare the award cost to the cash price to see if you’re getting a good deal.
Flying Blue miles are also easy to earn. They’re transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy.
American Express and Citi have even offered transfer bonuses to Flying Blue, costing you fewer miles for these award flights to South Africa and taking the sting out of those fuel surcharges.
Aeroplan Miles for a Flight to South Africa + a Stopover.
Aeroplan has some amazing uses for their miles and business class to South Africa is a really good option.
When flying economy, Aeroplan charges 50,000 miles for a one-way flight to South Africa. Unfortunately, this option is more expensive than other economy options. 🙁
The real value for Aeroplan is for business class flights to South Africa. If you were using United miles on South African Airways to fly business class, it would cost you 80,000 miles plus taxes.
But, that same exact flight would only cost you 75,000 Aeroplan miles and the taxes and fees on that South African Airways flight would be the same.
Another great part about Aeroplan is you’re allowed a stopover! And this can add a lot of value to your miles. So, if you wanted to fly business class from New York to Johannesburg using Aeroplan miles, it would cost you 150,000 Aeroplan miles and $56.04.
If you decided to take advantage of their stopover, you could fly from New York to Johannesburg, then continue to Zurich, and finally return home, completely in business class. This would still cost you 150,000 Aeroplan miles and $91.68.
This is a great way to add value to your points and also cross off a new destination on your bucket list.
Aeroplan miles are a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy.
Use American Airlines to Fly to South Africa.
We finally get to a Oneworld partner on this list! While I feel American Airlines offers an underwhelming experience, their miles are quite useful on their partners.
If you were flying economy class using American Airlines miles, it would only cost 40,000 miles each way. That includes flying economy on Etihad or Qatar flights.
Business class will cost 75,000 miles one-way and first class to South Africa will cost 120,000 American Airlines miles.
While these aren’t the cheapest options on the market, earning American Airlines miles is very easy to do. American Airlines has co-branded credit cards with both Citi and Barclays, plus you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to American.
Most notably, you could fly in the Qatar Q-Suites from Washington, D.C. to Johannesburg for 75,000 AA miles and minimal taxes.
Or if you wanted to fly Etihad business class, that would still cost just 75,000 American Airlines miles and minimal taxes.
These options represent a good use of your American Airlines miles, especially as we see award space become stingier and seats opening up closer to departure.
American Airlines charges a close-in booking fee of $75 per award ticket when you book an award flight within 21 days of departure. While I feel this fee is ridiculous, some of these award tickets can be thousands of dollars. So while paying an extra $75 is annoying, it can be worth it.
Visiting South Africa using your points and miles might sound difficult, but if the thrill of a safari is on your bucket list, then you have a lot of options!
So, which do you think is the best way to fly to South Africa?
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