Cheapest Miles To Africa

My “cheapest miles to…” series is simply an effort to find the cheapest frequent flyer miles to use when planning a trip to a specific region, and what credit cards are going to earn you those miles.

Here is the “cheapest miles to Africa” chart that shows the prices (for economy and business) and transfer partners (from bank points) for every relevant mileage program. Then I’ll talk about some details and best uses.

If you’re interested in a different region, check out the other posts in the series:

Chart of Prices in Miles to Africa

Prices are roundtrip, and go here if you want to see a list of which cards transfer to which airlines (and remember many airlines have a card of their own).

Economy Business Alliance Transfers From
ANA 65k 104 Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
Alitalia 50k – 80k 80k – 120k SkyTeam Amex MR, SPG
AA 75k 150k OneWorld SPG
Korean Air 80k 120k SkyTeam Chase UR
United 80k 160k Star Alliance Chase UR
Air France 80k 200k SkyTeam Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
Alaska 85k – 100k 140k – 160k SPG
Avianca 90k 156k – 162 Star Alliance
Singapore 75k – 90k 115k – 145k Star Alliance Amex MR, Chase UR, Citi TY, SPG
Lufthansa 80k – 100k 135k – 185k Star Alliance SPG
Air Canada 80k – 100k 150k – 165k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
Air Berlin 120k 240k OneWorld SPG
Delta 160k – 200k 307k – 425k SkyTeam Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG

 

Distance Based Programs

Example: New York (via Doha) to Nairobi, Kenya

JAL 90k 120k OneWorld SPG
Asia Miles 90k 135k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
BA Avios 90k 270k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG

 

Example: LA (via Doha) to Cape Town South Africa

Asia Miles 130k 190k OneWorld SPG
JAL 140k 190k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
BA Avios 135k 405k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG

 

 

Explaining The Differences In Price

You may notice that many mileage prices vary. Like Air Canada’s Aeroplan charges 80k or 100k miles depending on the trip. And most of those price differences are because many award charts split Northern Africa off from the rest of Africa. Often Northern Africa (like Morocco and Tunisia) are a slightly cheaper price, like the Middle East.

Programs that charge less for “Northern Africa” include:

  • Air Canada
  • Singapore
  • Lufthansa
  • Alitalia

 

Exceptions:

Air Canada, I just realized, is actually a bad example. Some genius decided that the southern majority of Africa should cost more miles than North Africa in economy, and less in business class. The prices are 80k/165k for northern Africa. Then for the rest of Africa it’s 100k/150k. Not really note worthy… except for the fact that this is the one time that North Africa isn’t cheaper, and it doesn’t make much sense.

 

Alaska Miles also vary in price but it’s not based on regions, but rather which airline you fly. Alaska isn’t part of an alliance, but they have many airline partners including Emirates and Air France. In order to find out what the price in miles will be to Africa when using Alaska Miles, you need see the Alaska Award Chart and know which airline you’re flying.

Alaska Miles price like the following:

  • Air France = 80k/140k/na
  • British Airways = 100k/140k/160k (+ big fuel surcharges)
  • Cathay = 100k/125k/140k
  • Emirates = 95k/155k/200k

It surprised me the first time I saw Cathay Pacific on that list. Hong Kong to get to Africa? Really? But good thing you get a stopover on oneways, or 2 on  a roundtrip.

 

Lufthansa 3 Region Awards

Normally you have to avoid booking awards that touch three regions when you book an Award using Lufthansa miles, as it jacks the price up to a “3 region award”. Any 3 region award ignores the price of the award chart and is priced out as 100k/185k/290k.

Therefore if you’re planning a trip to northern Africa, you can’t stop in Europe or it will increase the price.

But if you’re traveling to anything that isn’t the little bit of Northern Africa, you can book a 3 region award at no extra cost, as the price to Central/Southern Africa is the same price as the 3 region award anyways. This is also pretty cool because you can book two stopovers with Lufthansa Miles. You could stopover in Europe oneway, and Kenya on the way back from South Africa or something.

 

Delta Sucks

Delta doesn’t actually publish an Award Chart so I left them off the last Cheapest Miles To post. According to Delta, you can just go to Delta.com and see how much the flight would cost. So this time I did just that. Of the routes I tried, those were the price ranges I got. Absolutely terrible prices.

It’s times like these where it’s hard for me to even understand why anyone would want a Delta SkyMile, more commonly known as SkyPesos.

 

Best Uses of Miles to Africa

 

65,000 ANA Miles to Africa

This is interesting for a few reasons, but one being that Africa and the Middle East are just one region… one enormous region. Another interesting thing is that the price is 65,000 miles to anywhere in Africa/Middle East, making ANA miles the cheapest miles to use to get to anywhere in Africa. By far, in economy and business class.

Yes, Alitalia is 50k to Northern Africa, but that’s not really much of Africa. This includes all of Africa for 65k.

The problem is that fuel surcharges can be astronomical. And transiting through Europe adds on airport taxes as well. It is totally possible to pay $500 in fuel and fees on a roundtrip to Africa depending on the airline and route. Check out the part of the New ANA Miles on fuel surcharges.

 

50k/80k Alitalia Miles to Northern Africa

Alitalia has a super reasonable price to Northern Africa and “Near East”, as roundtrips from North America are 50,000 miles in economy and 80,000 in business class. This would include Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt (“Near East”).

 

50k Flying Blue’s definition of Europe + 50% off?

Similarly, Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue Miles seem to not know what Europe is. Flying Blue also charges 50,000 miles for an economy roundtrip to Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya… but they call it “Europe”.

Regardless of what this part of Africa is called (although, definitely not Europe), 50k is a great price, made even better when prices are 50% off with Flying Blue’s Promo Awards. Yes, 50% off 50,000 miles = 25,000 miles. It is totally possible to book a roundtrip ticket to Africa during a Promo Award for 25,000 miles, and the fuel surcharges aren’t bad at all.

I’m pretty sure 25,000 miles is the cheapest flight you’ll ever pay to Africa with miles (our last mistake fare to Kenya was $211 and 0 miles). However, it has to be during Promo Awards, and most of the time Promo Awards are 25% off… which is still great at 37,5000 miles. And Africa, in this case, is going to really mean Morocco and Tunisia, which is cool but definitely more of an Arab feel rather than a lush safari or jungle kind of feel.

 

United Miles

A few things about United miles. First, this is a great time to use United miles because the prices are decently competitive and you don’t want to pay fuel surcharges on a long flight like this. United never passes on fuel surcharges, which is awesome.

Plus, you get a stopover. Stopover in Europe, stopover somewhere else in Africa, stopover in the Middle East… it doesn’t much matter.

But I’ve got one odd little trick that you may recall from United Stopover Secrets. United does this really odd thing when you stopover in Africa on the way to Japan (besides the fact that a stopover in Africa on your way to Japan is a crazy route). The crazy thing is that United.com prices the ticket as a Japan ticket instead of an Africa ticket, which is cheaper than the Africa ticket. By combining the two the price will come out 70k/130k/160k. Those prices aren’t bad at all actually, and you get to see the world! If you aren’t familiar with this, you need to read United Stopover Secrets.

 

AA with no fuel surcharges

AA doesn’t offer stopovers, and the price isn’t insanely cheap, but it’s reasonable and everyone has a ton of AA miles, right?

Well, I just wanted to note that AA doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges with any of their partners except British Airways. This is a big deal for travel to Africa if only because BA’s fuel surcharges are huge and they are completely avoidable. But the problem is worse because AA.com is likely only going to show British Airways flights because the other options aren’t even available on AA award searches (see the Master Chart of Finding Airline Award Availability).

Your real options are Qatar and some Iberia flights in west Africa. However, really your best option most of the time is Qatar. You need to call to book these awards, but it could possibly save you $649 (the YQ shown on a BA flight from Chicago to South Africa)! Plus, LHR has expensive airport taxes. Just know that you have much cheaper options that aren’t showing on AA.com’s award search.

Update: AA rules are that you can’t technically use Etihad to transit to Africa.

 

ANA Round-The-World Awards?

One thing I didn’t include on the award chart is the fact that ANA has kept their old award chart but turned it into the “round the world” award chart. Its prices are the same for the same distances. But this time you get 8 stopovers and you can’t backtrack. You basically have to move one direction across the globe; east or west.

Therefore if you did a round the world ticket using ANA miles you could stopover in Africa as long as you continue east to Asia and then return across the Pacific.

I figured I could come up with some hypothetical route to price it out. Chicago – Frankfurt – Johannesburg – Singapore – Tokyo – Chicago

To my surprise that’s “only” 24,702 miles of flying. In which case, according to ANA’s RTW award chart, it would only cost you 100,000 miles. 100k/145k/220k. For such an incredible trip, that’s actually really cheap.

It’s an incredible price in terms of  miles, but the problem will be the fuel surcharges that add up with ANA. You can easily rack up $1,000+ in fees on a trip like this. If you’re interested in more info, specifically on which partners ANA passes on fuel surcharges with, check out my new ANA Miles post.

 

200k Alaska Miles for Emirates First Class

This may sound out of my nature, but I hate long haul flying and flights to Africa can be some really long flying. And everyone seems to be crazy over the Emirates First Class anyways (because apparently showering for 5 minutes with low water pressure in a tiny tube at 30,000 feet in the sky is way cooler than the lounge (I wouldn’t know, I’ve only done the lounge shower… which isn’t that exciting)).

But my thought was, why use 90,000 Alaska Miles to fly to Dubai in Emirates First, when for 10,000 Miles more you can go all the way to South Africa or something. This would both get you more shower/flight time and it would get you some place that isn’t Dubai, which is a plus of its own. Oh, and don’t forget you get a stopover each direction with Alaska miles, or even on a oneway.

 

Conclusion

I feel like this was a productive post for anyone looking to use miles to get to Africa. Here are some things we learned:

  • United pricing trick
  • Flying Blue Promo Awards for 25k-37.5k for a roundtrip could include Northern Africa
  • ANA’s RTW award chart could work in Africa for relatively cheap
  • How to avoid fuel surcharges on AA to Africa
  • Alaska Miles and Lufthansa miles could lead you to two stopovers on your roundtrip to Africa

And hopefully you learned about the cheapest option for getting to Africa with the miles you have just by looking at the chart. If this is helpful, check out the other posts in the series.

Related Posts:

20 Comments

  1. You can at least theoretically get Delta seats to Africa for 40,000 miles one way. Availability at that rate is probably dreadful, but it’s something to check if you’re trying to get rid of your SkyMiles and hold onto the more valuable miles from other carriers. I’m going in March.

    Reply
    • Thx. Booked after the recent change?

      Reply
    • Booked in April as soon as the flights were available.

      Reply
    • It must be YMMV on Delta. I’m seeing a fair amount of biz at 80k each way to South Africa. 50k each way in economy. Looking toward end of schedule though.

      Reply
  2. Excellent overview…you mentioned Etihad as an option with AA miles to Africa. I thought Qatar was the only exception to the “you can only have connections in Europe on the way to Africa” rule. Has this changed?

    Reply
    • Doh, you’re right.
      Now I think I got confused because the rules state that you have to transit over the Atlantic to get to Africa. But upon checking it specifically lists Europe as the only exception for transit to Africa… which is ridiculous. So the only purpose of Etihad and Qatar for AA members is to get to DOH and AUH. :-p

      Reply
    • Booked IAD- 3 day stopover in Paris – JNB for 70k AS in biz. Surprisingly excellent space on AF and KLM in December. Now if I can find some space on Qatar using AA miles on the way back…

      Reply
  3. I take it you’re not a fan of Dubai either? I just got back from my Etigad mistake fare and the least cool part of the trip was the day layover in UAE.
    South Africa of course being the highlight :)

    Reply
    • lol, well, might surprise people, but I’ve never been. I’ve just never got the appeal. But I’m sure I’ll get a layover soon enough, and probably find some cool things, plus have friends there. But the idea of going to the biggest mall doesn’t excite me, that seeing the “biggest basket” in the middle of Ohio. 😀

      Reply
  4. Thinking of this redemption for the family vacation summer ’16. I’m looking for as many destinations as I can for a month long trip, for the fewest miles. So far I should get 5 stops for 140k miles. Thanks for putting this together Drew, I used your hopper post to help hatch this plan. Open to suggestions.

    -75k AA miles Business ORD-CPT on Qatar (for the reason Brennan mentioned, correct us if we’re wrong). Im choosing to travel business since this would be a 30+ hour trip. We’re bringing along our three kids, so this way we’d arrive much more rested than in coach. Not looking forward to laying over in Qatar or Dubai.
    -40k Lufthansa miles for two stopovers and an open jaw at Star Alliance destinations working our way North in economy. This should give stops: 1) Capetown, 2) First stopover, 3) Destination, 4) Second stopover, 5) Casablanca as open-jaw then flight home.
    -25k Flying Blue miles CMN-MPS in economy. Casablanca seems to be the only aiport 1) Seen as “Europe” by Flying Blue, and 2) both a Skyteam and Star Alliance destination.

    Reply
    • How are you coming back home from MPS? I’m also planning a very similar visit but instead of Casablanca I want to go to Seychelles.

      Reply
    • I travel with a family of five and never find enough space on regional flights to the hubs. I just get a ride with family or take a bus. Flying blue would save 62.5k miles over AA, and we have friends in Minneapolis so it might make sense for us.

      Reply
  5. Great post. A region that tends to be forgotten among other bloggers and in general. Unfortunately my timing is off, as my gf and I are going in Sept and we’re already locked in to use United miles, which as you mention is not too bad in comparison with the other options (especially Delta, my goodness! I signed for their FF pgm when I got started in the hobby, and then started learning, since that point, I have not earned one SkyPeso)

    Reply
  6. Thank you Drew. This is very timely as I am exploring my options using miles for a trip to Africa next year.

    Reply
  7. Great post. Just booked 5 economy tickets to Johannesburg for late March/early April 2016. I used 40,000 United miles each to get IAD-JFK-JNB and then 50,000 Delta miles to get back JNB-ATL-IAD. It is really hard to get 5 award seats on any flight, but the most shocking thing was how much availability Delta had. Granted, some of it was for 60,000 or 80,000 miles per seat, which is TWICE what the seats were on United, but at least there was some space. I couldn’t find any space using United miles getting back, even trying some unusual routings. Good way to burn up the Delta miles (all earned with the Suntrust Debit card paying federal income taxes! (so sad to see that go!). Tried to use Avios, but all routings through London had killer fees.

    Reply
  8. Just so you know, I’m sleepy and tired today because this post had me up late last night trying to figure out good ways to get to Kilimanjaro. Using AA off-peak to Europe and going from there, a Flying Blue promo award, using the ANA award but with doing the transatlantic leg on United metal to keep the YQ low, taking advantage of the awesome Alaska options (especially the chance to do a RTW option with Cathay and stopping in HKG)—my head hurts.

    Reply
    • Hey, let me know what you figure out. Right now we are planning on using United Miles for our trip to JRO in 2017. Always looking for better options.

      Reply
  9. Drew,
    Great content as always. I am interested in taking advantage of United’s
    “loophole” involving Japan and South Africa. Is it possible to stop over in Japan on the way to South Africa? Or would I set up the itinerary with South Africa as the stopover, even though it’s really our destination?

    Trying to leverage this into 2 or 3 days of skiing on Hokkaido on our way back to Seattle after a few weeks of summer in South Africa.

    Reply
  10. The cheapest flight to africa I could find is with etihad pionts on royal air maroc 22k each way and that even includes going to NBO

    Reply
  11. Hello there, Drew. Thanks for the awesome post! I was also surprised to see Cathay on the list for Alaska’s award chart. I went to Cathay’s website to see where they fly and I don’t believe Cathay flies directly to anywhere in Africa without using one of its Oneworld partners like Qatar Airways. Can you share some thoughts on whether there is actually a destination in Africa that uses CX all the way from the U.S.? Thanks a million!

    Gratefully,
    Patrick

    Reply

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