Johannesburg to Dubai to LA First Class for $90

Now that I have secured my return flights from South Africa, it’s time we take a look at just how much money I saved not only on this portion of the flights, but my entire trip so far. On my return from south Africa, there is a British Airways positioning flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg, this is a paid flight but only amounts to $260 in business class. Since this is a short little hop and not an international flight, I’ll leave it out here. Also keep in mind that I could have left out of Cape Town with miles, but had a brain fart and scheduled out of Johannesburg instead. Sometimes that happens when you look at some many award flights, my brain gets overloaded I guess and forget to change things back. Oh well, it’ll just contribute to me EQM on American with some bonus earn too! So all’s well that ends in elite status.

Let’s take a look at my routing for the return trip to the USA. Starting in Johannesburg, I’ll be boarding into a fantastic reverse herringbone setup on Qatar Airways.

QR Seat Layout 787.JPG

Reverse herringbone business class layouts are widely considered the best business class layout currently in the air. An added bonus is that I finally get a window seat in business class on the plane that I spent many years designing the wiring for, the Boeing 787-8. While I will be taking my first trip on board a 787 in a few weeks, it will be in a United plane with a really crappy seat layout, so I took the best seat position in the center aisle. Not ideal since I much prefer the window, but I’d rather not have to climb over a sleeping seatmate on an 8-hour flight, but I digress.


Qatar Airways will be flying a roughly 8 hour segment from Johannesburg to Doha. A quick layover in Doha, Qatar and then a first class flight segment from Doha, Qatar to Dubai, UAE. This first class seat isn’t anything terribly exciting, as it is on a widebody A330, but set up much like a domestic first class seat in the US… it’s only a 1.5 hour flight so nothing too over the top is needed here. These short segments still tend to have good service, so it short still be an interesting flight none the less.


After a few days in Dubai, the flight segment from Dubai to LA is next up. This is probably the single most anticipated flight of the year. The segment is being flown by Emirates on their amazing first class product. This baby includes an onboard shower, an over the top look and a first class suite that features doors that can be shut so I don’t need to look at the world outside my opulent seat… ok it’s over the top for sure, but it’s so much fun looking. I can't wait to take this flight, 16 hours in the air in one of the best first class products out there.

So what did all of this cost me? Well aside from more miles than I had hoped to spend, the actual price I paid was less than $90 total between the two award bookings. Yep, only $90 to fly from South Africa, to Dubai, to LA… 26 hours of flying… for $90… in premium class seats. What more could I possibly ask for? Well, how much would these segments have cost me if I purchased them outright? Another whopping number here, combined, these 3 flights would have sold for about $10,000.

Lets look at the total cost of everything combined. My actual out of pocket expense was less than $700… could have been less but I chose to fly British Airways and they charge a fuel surcharge on award flights, so it was the price to pay for a chance to fly the queen of the skies, the Boeing 747. How much would everything have cost if I bought it all separately, and paid cash? Brace yourselves, it would be about $28,000. While I could never afford such a luxury, it is amazing that by careful financial planning, use of credit cards for everything, and so know how, I am able to secure amazing seats on the best airlines. A few years ago, I would never have imagined I’d be pulling this off… I even wondered if it was the right move when i first started into the miles game. This has been a resounding success, and I’m almost more excited about the flights than the destinations.