south african biz
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Africa is a land of contrast, beauty and unique splendor. From Dakar to Durban, and everywhere in between there are countless things to do. Safari? Yep. Wine tour? Yep. Surfing? Yep. Incredible cityscapes? Oh yeah. Thanks to a unique opportunity highlighted by OneMileAtATime, you can secure business class – starting at just 20,000 points one way.

Shell Game

If you have Amex Points in the U.S. or Virgin Atlantic Miles anywhere in the world, you’re in luck. You’re going to transfer Amex points to Virgin Atlantic to book travel on South African. That’s right, you’re turning credit card points into airline miles, which you’ll use on another airline.

The Magic

Virgin Atlantic charges just 25,000 points between the US and Dakar, Senegal. South Africa requires more points, but during frequent transfer bonuses, you can fly non stop from the US for just 58,000 Amex Points one way. That’s an incredible opportunity to fly more than 14 hours in a flat bed, for just 58,000 points. Europe to South Africa is 110,000 points round trip, but if you’re booking using U.S. Amex points during a transfer bonus, it would be 85,000 points round trip, or 43,000 one way. A great opportunity for a 2 in 1 trip to Europe and Africa.

The Dakar Route

Virgin Atlantic charges just 25,000 points between East Coast US cities and Dakar, Senegal. Dakar is a beautiful place to visit – with much to offer. It’s also a great head start on a long trip. Flying business class for 25,000 points – and then taking advantage of cheap deals elsewhere could be a great hack to getting to South Africa. During a transfer bonus, which we could expect as soon as January, you’d need just 20,000 Amex points one way.

The Johannesburg Route

Virgin Atlantic generally charges 75,000 points one way to Johannesburg from the East Coast US and Europe. But thanks to frequent transfer bonuses for U.S. cardholders, this can often require 58,000 points one way, or 116,000 points round trip. That’s far lower than any other program.

Finding Seats

The easiest way to find seats is by using United.com. On the site, simply search the route you’d like to either African destination by pressing “using miles”. If you find a South African Airways flight, with “saver” business class space using miles, it’s bookable with Virgin Atlantic. Just call in to Virgin Atlantic to book. Enjoy!

HT: OneMileAtATime

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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4 Comments

      1. Hi GSTP,
        It’s not due to Richard. I’ve known about this particular sweetspot for a couple of years and came across while researching award sweet spots.
        Cheers,
        John

  1. You forget to mention that the only available route from USA to Dakar on SAA is from Washington, DC.
    That fact highlighted in the original post, but not here – so very limited use (if you can find award space which is another issue).
    Flew on SAA from JFK to JNB for 60K one-way (120K RT) United miles, but booked separate tickets because of availability. Also note that Excursionist perk may not work on desired in-Africa flights (may call United to verify), even one-way with connection can be a problem. It may be due to SAA seat release policy.
    JFK-JNB/JNB-JFK were a nice planes with good crews and good food/service.
    United.com typically shows award space correctly, but SAA ads seats sporadically: some appear 1 year ahead, some just few months – so it changes daily more or less… Overall, if you can grab a non-stop USA-Africa – it would be well worth it.

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