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:
- Cheapest Miles to Hawaii
- Cheapest Miles to Caribbean
- Cheapest Miles to Europe
- Cheapest Miles to East Asia
- Cheapest Miles to India / Middle East
- Cheapest Miles to South America
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).
|ANA||65k||104||Star Alliance||Amex MR, SPG|
|Alitalia||50k – 80k||80k – 120k||SkyTeam||Amex MR, 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|
|Delta||160k – 200k||307k – 425k||SkyTeam||Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG|
Distance Based Programs
Example: New York (via Doha) to Nairobi, Kenya
|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
|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
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 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.
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.
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.