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Yesterday I published “Awards Between South America and Australia or New Zealand” because two days ago I published “How to Book a RTW Trip in 2015. Use These Underpriced Awards Around the World,” which lists the best awards between far flung regions. Take a look at those if you’re an adventurer who wants to take a BIG trip.
I got thinking about other interesting ways to move on from Australia. There are two direct flights to Africa.
South African Airways, a member of Star Alliance like United, flies from Johannesburg to Perth. Qantas, a member of oneworld like American, flies from Sydney to Johannesburg.
Award space is excellent on both routes, but the Qantas route is much cheaper with American Airlines miles than the South African route is with any type of miles.
What is the Business Class Product
South African Business Class on its A340 is ever so slightly angled. I flew it from Buenos Aires to Johannesburg and filed this trip report.
Qantas flies its 747 on its Sydney <-> Johannesburg route. According to Seat Guru, the Business Class is in the nose and upper deck and is fully flat. Here’s my review of Qantas Business Class on the A380.
How to Search Award Space
South African award space can be searched on united.com. Here’s how.
Qantas award space can be searched on aa.com. Here’s how.
Award Space Picture
South African Flight
Award space is excellent in economy and Business Class on the South African flight between Johannesburg and Perth for two people for the next 11 months. Many of the daily flights have award space for two people in both economy and Business Class.
Here are all the award calendars. Yellow means economy award space for two passengers that day. Blue means space for two passenger in Business Class that day. Green means award space for two passengers in both cabins that day.
It shouldn’t be any trouble at all to find award space in your preferred cabin between Johannesburg and Perth as part of your round-the-world (RTW) trip.
The Qantas flight doesn’t have such consistent award space. For instance, for the next month there is no award space for two weeks then award space in economy basically every day.
Business Class space is very rare for long stretched. The next day with Business Class award space is August 6.
Then Business Class space becomes fairly available in October and November.
Then Business Class space is back to being wide open in January and February, summer in both destinations. Note the gray 37.5k days, indicating that most days without Business Class space during this time period at least have economy space.
Economy space is excellent for most of the year, though with several gaps of a few weeks each.All the preceding calendars were for 1 person, but I didn’t see a big difference when I switched to searching for two people:
The South African flight, when booking with United or other Star Alliance miles, has few connection options in Australia and New Zealand. The only partner in the region is Air New Zealand, and it only has flights from Auckland and seasonally from Christchurch to Perth.
This flight has much better connection options in Africa because of South African’s hub in Johannesburg. You can connect for zero extra miles within South Africa or within Southern and Central Africa. A few examples:
By contrast, the Qantas flight offers far more connection options in Australia and New Zealand from Qantas’ Sydney hub. It also offers a few connection options in Johannesburg on British Airways (operated by Comair) flights within Southern Africa. This map offers a few possibilities in Australia and New Zealand and all the options in Africa.
How to Book
Depends on which miles you want to use.
For the Qantas flight, you definitely want to use American Airlines miles. American charges:
- 37,500 miles one way in economy between Australia or New Zealand and Africa
- 50,000 miles one way in Business Class between Australia or New Zealand and Africa
You can find the British Airways and Qantas space on aa.com, so just book right there. Taxes are $66 from Sydney to Johannesburg and $71 the other way. There are very mild surcharges on the British Airways flights within Africa if you book those as part of the award.
For the South African flight, there are a few options–none very cheap. United (book online) charges:
- 50,000 miles one way in economy between Australia or New Zealand and Africa
- 85,000 miles one way in Business Class between Australia or New Zealand and Africa
Avianca LifeMiles (book online) charges the same.
Booking with another Star Alliance carrier’s miles will incur fuel surcharges of about $171 per person.
There are no cheap deals with other Star Alliance carriers:
- Lufthansa wants 50k/92k one way
- Singapore wants 45k/72.5k one way
- Asiana wants 60k/90k
All these carriers you’d need to call and give the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight you want to book.
Basically the South African flight is very expensive with miles. Book the Qantas flight with American Airlines miles.
Pay your award taxes with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.
Getting the Miles
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings. There is no annual fee the first year, then $95.
Getting United miles is even easier with 55,000 mile offers on the United personal and business cards plus a 45,000 point offer on the Sapphire Preferred and a 60,000 point offer on the Ink Plus. Points earned on the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus transfer 1:1 instantly to United miles.
There is good award space between Australia and South Africa with connections in both regions.
The best value awards will use 50,000 American Airlines miles to fly Qantas Business Class between Australia or New Zealand and Southern Africa on the Sydney <-> Johannesburg route. Award space is very good on the route for most of the year in economy and part of the year in Business Class. With flexibility, Africa <-> Australia can definitely be part of your big RTW award.
Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.