Air France

Flying to South Africa

Yesterday covered a little of the planned outbound flight from Cape Town, South Africa. The question still remains, how to get to Cape Town in the first place. This is a question I’m still trying to answer right now. Using award points to fly in premium classes is amazing, but is always a challenge to set up an itinerary that works.

Right now I’m still pretty early in the year and only will likely have the 1 round trip left to book this year. So while I have points to play with, they aren’t all in the right place at the moment for me to book the flights I want. Alaska Airlines has the points I need for the Emirates flights, but I’m waiting on 25,000 points to post to my account so that the flight can be booked. Citi owes me 30,000 AAdvantage miles that they have been dragging their feet on posting to my account. So while I have the points I need for a round trip, they aren’t all posted to my account yet.

After nailing down a decently flexible award time frame for Emirates, the challenge to find me way to South Africa began. There are so many options to fly to South Africa, but knowing all of those options, knowing what is the best in what situation, and finding available award space is a big challenge… but one I really enjoy. Since a credit card pick up just gave me access to 50,000 Delta miles, I thought I could grab a business class ticket to South Africa. This is possible, at least for part of the journey, the flight to France would have been in Economy at a business class price.

Qatar Airways doesn’t have award space to South Africa, same with Etihad, same with many airlines. South Africa seems to be a problem for award space, Emirates is only offering business class on their 777-300ER for the leg to Dubai, and even that is only available on select dates.

One option I have found is British Airways, but I’d have to spend my AAdvantage miles, which i had hoped to not use this year in anticipation of a big big trip in 2017 or 2018. It wouldn’t even have been a big deal to fly business class… except British Airways business class gets bad reviews, really bad reviews. So British Airways should be done in First Class. British Airways first is on par with other carriers business class if that gives you any idea of what to expect with them. The upside here is that the leg to Johannesburg is flown with a 747-400, which I’ve been wanting to fly for a while, these queens of the sy are being phased out, I’d love to grab a flight before they are gone.

The one thing I have not yet tried is to book individual segments. Use some Delta miles to London, then pick up British Airways to South Africa. We’ll have to see what I can arrange in the near future. Meanwhile, stay tuned for my booking as soon as I figure out this routing.

 

The 2016 Flight Plan

It's barely 2016, and already my flight schedule is filling up quickly. For the first time, I have flights booked on 6 different airlines this year, likely to add a 7th in the next few weeks. So what are these airlines?

France:

  • Delta
  • Air France

Argentina:

  • United
  • Turkish Airlines
  • American

Hawaii

  • Alaska Airlines

The last and probably most exiting for me is the one I'm trying to pin down right now for the end of the year - Emirates

France

A lot has happened in the last few weeks with regards to flights in 2016. My work trip to France has taken a bit of a course change that is going to fairly significantly impact how I qualify for Platinum Status this year on American Airlines. My company decided to book me on Delta in place of American Airlines who usually takes me to France. This was a bit of a frustration for me as I have status with American and One World airlines. Delta is like starting from scratch. I do not have status with Delta and cannot properly choose the seats with the leg room I want/need. 

This was not something I was happy about for many reasons. First, I lose elite qualifying miles on American Airlines, which are important for hitting my goal of 50,000 flight miles that allow me to renew my Platinum Status. Second is the fact that I live in Philadelphia, American flies from Philly, Delta flies from Newark... this is a huge problem with getting to and from the airport, requiring an additional 1.5 hours of driving on both ends of the flight. Third is the inability to chose seats that fit my not so up to par knee which has had surgery in the past and subsequently can become painful in a standard economy seat. Forth, flying Delta requires tight connections in France and Amsterdam. Really the only up side here is contributing miles to my mile bank.

Argentina

I've spoken about this trip in the past, my first major award flight. United is flying me from PHL to IAH to GRU. Turkish Airlines picks up the final leg to EZE. All of that is business class on a 787-8 and a 777-300ER. A few days spent in Buenos Aires at an SPG hotel. On the way back, I pick up a flight on American in a 777-200 first class. Look for the review in the middle of February.

Hawaii

This was just booked a week or so ago when I was able to nail down a half priced room in Hawaii. Alaska Airlines is being flown because I have a $99 companion fare from my Alaska Airlines credit card. This is a $900 fare for $160 after taxes, an amazing deal if you ask me. This is a great chance to explore a state I have not yet added to my list of visited places. Cannot wait for this trip.

Cape Town/Dubai

This one is a long way off, but one I think is close to being nailed down for at least one direction. The leg leaving Cape Town, South Africa is very close to being booked. The plan right now is to leave Cape Town and jump to Johannesburg where I catch a flight to Dubai in business class on Emirates. In Dubai, I'll take advantage of Alaska Airlines stopover to stay in Dubai a few days before continuing to Dallas in First Class in the amazing A380-800 product... yep it has an in flight shower. This is the most exciting leg for me.

Getting to Cape Town is yet to be figured out, but I am excited to see what I can pull off there as well.

 

To all of my readers, Happy 2016, get out there an visit the world!