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Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Africa. This is not the best use of American Airlines miles because award prices are high, and there is only partner you can really use while avoiding fuel surcharges. But if you have American Airlines miles and want to know your options to Africa, this is your guide.
What You’re Reading
For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement. That’s enough miles for a roundtrip to Africa.
Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.
If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.
“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index
- Part 1 — 5 Ways to Stretch American Airlines Miles on Economy Redemptions
- Part 2 — 6 Ultra-Luxurious First Classes to Book with American Airlines Miles
- Part 3 — Where to Search Award Space for All Partners
- Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need
- Part 5 — Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges
- Part 6 — Redeeming for Domestic Awards
- Part 7 — Redeeming for Hawaii
- Part 8 — Redeeming for East and Southeast Asia
- Part 9 — Redeeming for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent
- Part 10 — Redeeming for Australia and New Zealand
- Part 11 — Redeeming for South or Central America
- Part 12 — Redeeming for Europe
- Part 13 — Redeeming for Africa
- Part 14 — Redeeming for Fiji, Tahiti, and French Polynesia
The Partners for Africa Awards
American Airlines puts Egypt in the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent Region. The rest of continental Africa is the Africa region.
There are no American Airlines partners with direct flights from North America to Africa. As you undoubtedly remember from Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need, American Airlines has that weird rule that you need to fly directly from your origin region to destination region unless there is a specific exception.
From North America to Africa, there are two specific exceptions:
- You can transit Europe
- You can transit the Middle East on Qatar flights (but not other partners like Etihad)
Realistically transiting Europe means flying British Airways, which has a big African route network. You can also fly Iberia and airberlin to some North African destinations, but their route networks are small.
The main partner to lock into is Qatar Airways because it has good award space and no fuel surcharges.
Award space on British Airways and airberlin is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.
Award space on Qatar and Iberia is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.
From North America to Africa, American Airlines charges:
- 37,500 miles one way in economy
- 75,000 miles one way in Business Class
- 100,000 miles one way in First Class
These miles prices are steep, about in line with the devalued United and Delta charts, which is surprising because most of American Airlines’ current award chart is cheaper than United and Delta awards.
In addition to the miles, you pay government taxes on all awards. In addition to taxes, you pay fuel surcharges on American Airlines awards that fly British Airways and Iberia. The fuel surcharges on British Airways flights are humungous Here is an award from New York to South Africa, flying British Airways Business and First Class.
Because of the fuel surcharges, I won’t be mentioning British Airways flights again in this post.
Fuel surcharges on Iberia are much smaller, at just a few hundred dollars roundtrip.
Routes & Award Space
As I mentioned, the key partner to Africa is Qatar because it has the best award space and a good route network. Here is Qatar’s North American and African route network from its hub in Doha.
You can connect to the Qatar flights in New York, Philly, Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles very easily on American Airlines/US Airways flights. This will cost you zero extra miles as long as Qatar “publishes a fare” from your home airport to your destination, another concept explained in Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need.
Award Space on Qatar Flights
Qatar economy and Business Class space is excellent. I used Award Nexus to search all eight American routes that are flying to Doha from March 1 to March 7. I found award space for two people on almost every flight in that time period. Each city pair, like “JFK-DOH” represents a flight with two Business Class award seats.
There’s so much space that it doesn’t fit on the calendar. For instance, on March 2, there is award space on all eight routes for two people in Business Class, and award space on two New York flights.
Award space is similarly excellent from Doha to Africa and on return flights.
Booking the Award
Search segment-by-segment if necessary to find award space from your airport to an international gateway and award space on the Qatar flights separately.
You need to book by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880. The good news is that you will pay zero phone booking fee, since that fee was waived when an award can’t be booked online.
Pay your award taxes with your Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the award taxes and fees on these ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy pay the taxes with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement.
Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.
American Airlines miles are not very good to Africa because the awards are expensive and basically need to route through Doha, which is out of the way, to save on fuel surcharges. There is great award space though on the relevant Qatar flights in economy and Business Class.
Right now, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.
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.