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Travelling to South Africa with points & miles: the plane

To the point South Africa is a destination that many people dream about. In particular Andréanne and Amélie, two milesopedia readers who wished to see this destination treated in our series of articles"Where to go".

This post is also available in: FR

In this first article – very detailed – dedicated to South Africa, we will look at the different possibilities available to us with the points and miles concerning the air ticket.

Our articles on South Africa

First of all, feel free to consult our other articles such as:

Going to South Africa with points and miles: airfare

South Africa is an expensive destination. It is very rare to find tickets from Canada for less than $1200 in economy class.

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
Economy class fare – Montreal – Johannesburg

And let’s not even talk about business class, which is around $5,500 round trip.

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
Business Class Fare – Montreal – Johannesburg

And it is a destination that is difficult to reach from North America: few direct flights, a quasi obligatory connection in Europe, often long connection because most flights take off in the evening, while flights from Canada arrive in the morning.

To find an award ticket, it is always necessary to know the airlines that connect our destinations… and to go from these destinations back to our point of origin to find the right flights / connections. To do this, we use Flightconnections.com

Destination and connecting airports

South Africa has 2 international airports:

  • Johannesburg (JNB)
  • Cape Town (CPT)

Johannesburg is connected to North America by:

Hub Airline Alliance Program
New York (JFK) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Atlanta (ATL) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
The lines connecting Johannesburg

Other hubs to look out for when searching for award tickets are:

Hub Airline Alliance Program
London (LHR) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Frankfurt (FRA) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Munich (MUC) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Zurich (ZRH) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Istanbul (STI) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Cairo (CAI) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Addis Ababa (ADD) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Accra (ACC) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach

PS: We won’t mention the other hubs because it is almost impossible for Canadians to get miles in the relevant frequent flyer programs.

As for Cape Town, the choices are more limited:

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
The lines connecting Cape Town

We will retain here 4 hubs:

Hub Airline Alliance Program
Munich (MUC) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Franfurt (FRA) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Istanbul (STI) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach
Addis Ababa (ADD) Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Panama City Beach

As a mileage hunter, our instinct is to eliminate Lufthansa. Of all those mentioned, it is the only one that applies carrier surcharges making the award ticket totally unattractive financially (over $700 in taxes).

Searching for a ticket on Aeroplan

Once the first obvious search is done (back and forth on a specific date), it is often unsuccessful.

Either Aeroplan is offering flights that may not be suitable for you, or the search engine has not gone as far as you have in thinking up winning combinations!

That’s why we often advise you:

In this case, we looked for a route:

  • between Montreal and Johannesburg
  • for a typical travel period of 10 to 15 days
  • avoiding companies with carrier surcharges

We do not hide you that it isnecessary to be flexible for this type of journey. Availability is sporadic, but it exists! If you plan ahead, you should be able to put together a great itinerary!

To get there from North America, it will cost you 100,000 Aeroplan miles in economy class and 150,000 Aeroplan miles in business class.

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
South Africa from North America via Aeroplan

Tip: On this type of route, it is possible to make a stop on both the outward and return trips. It is therefore an excellent opportunity to arrive in Johannesburg and depart from Cape Town… or to make an extended stopover in Europe, the United States or elsewhere in Africa! It is a montage called“mini-tour of the world“.

We have tried several routes to show you what is possible.

One way via Zurich

Swiss offers a flight with a connection in Zurich. You pay few taxes… but as the connection is made in Europe, it is long, very long.

This is a good option if you plan to stop over in Europe for several days before going to South Africa!

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
South Africa via Zurich on Aeroplan

One way via Toronto and Addis Ababa

Another option on the same day, a flight via Toronto and Addis Ababa. The advantage: short connection times. Since the transatlantic portion is on Ethiopian Airlines (on a new aircraft, a 788 Dreamliner), taxes are low, even though Air Canada is involved in the Montreal-Toronto portion.

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
South Africa via Toronto and Addis Ababa on Aeroplan

The return via Washington

South African Airways offers a flight between Johannesburg and Washington. In fact, as you will see in the screenshot below, there is an unspecified stop that is made in Accra (that’s why we mentioned this city in the table of available connections above).

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
Return from South Africa via Washington on Aeroplan

The new Flightconnections interface shows us the choices with 1 – 2 matches, filtering by alliance. Here is a picture of this line:

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
The Montreal-Washington-Johannesburg route with a quick stop in Accra

Round trip to South Africa with Aeroplan

Once you’ve found these dates and flights, all you have to do is enter them into your multi-city search (or if you’re lucky, you can find them in the round trip option).

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
Complete itinerary to South Africa with Aeroplan

100,000 Aeroplan miles and $170 in taxes, a bargain compared to flights at the same time!

Aeroplan’s business class option to South Africa, the real deal!

However, in our opinion, the real bargain would be to find a business class seat for such a long trip! 50,000 miles more, the gap is not so extraordinary for the comfort obtained. Here is an example (with transatlantic flights in business).

Travel To South Africa With Points & Miles: Airline
Example of a business class itinerary to South Africa on Aeroplan

Bottom Line

As you have seen, once you have:

  • mastered connections via flightconnections.com
  • retained by companies that do not apply carrier surcharges
  • “given the game” on your travel dates (1 to 2 weeks of flexibility recommended for this destination)

it is now possible to find flights to South Africa with your Aeroplan Miles!

Our suggestions would be to focus on those routes that often offer the most availability:

  • Toronto-Addis Ababa-Johannesburg
  • Washington-Addis Ababa-Johannesburg
  • Montreal-Istanbul-Johannesburg
  • Montreal-Zurich-Johannesburg
  • New York-Johannesburg

To get those 100,000 / 150,000 Aeroplan miles, we recommend you to check out our article detailing all the major credit card offers to get at least 100,000 Aeroplan miles.



This post is also available in: FR

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Jean-Maximilien
Jean-Maximilien is an expert in Canada and France about Loyalty programs, Credit cards and Travel. He is the Founding President of Milesopedia.

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