Free SAA Domestic Ticket

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Jun 8th, 2005, 12:55 PM
  #1
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Free SAA Domestic Ticket

I remember Rocco posting something about a free domestic ticket in conjunction with an international business class flight. Rocco-is this only through miles or if you actually purchase the international ticket?
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Jun 8th, 2005, 02:29 PM
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laguna,

I have researched this lately, as for awhile I thought I would lack the necessary mileage for my desired Botswana safari scheduled for next May.

Here is what I have found out:

1. There is only a free companion ticket when purchasing a business class flight. However, this is all a bait and switch type tactic, as the price of the SAA business class ticket, at least for us Southern Californians, is about $10,000. So, pay $10,000 for one ticket, get the 2nd ticket free.

Instead, I have found that if you don't mind the routing, it is possible to fly from LAX - Cincinnati - Frankfurt - Joburg in business class for only $3,800 per ticket. Therefore, buying two of these tickets is more than $1000 per night cheaper.

2. There is a way to get a "free" economy class ticket on SAA through AMEX Membership Rewards. If you buy a regular priced ticket and spend 40,000 miles, you will be given a companion ticket. However, for a full priced primary ticket, you are not really saving anything.

---My preferred method is to fly direct from LAX - London on my own accord, and then spend 80,000 miles per person for the London - Joburg (or Cape Town) business class flight. This also gives me a free business class regional flight, providing I go directly into my safari (you are allowed to start out in Cape Town or Joburg, but if you do, you will sacrifice the free regional flight).

One route I may try in the future is Tel Aviv to Johannesburg. It is a mere 60,000 Delta Skymiles for a business class flight on El Al Airlines, although there will be no regional free flight when using anything but SAA (or British Airways, I suppose, as BA flies to Lusaka and possibly other destinations such as Harare).

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Jun 8th, 2005, 02:41 PM
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>>>Therefore, buying two of these tickets is more than $1000 per night cheaper.

NIGHT = FLIGHT

This is on Lufthansa, and was reported to me by my American Express Platinum Card Travel Planner
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Jun 8th, 2005, 02:41 PM
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(And I believe is valid through 8/31/06)
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Jun 8th, 2005, 04:57 PM
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If you can't find a ticket another way, a domestic ticket costs 20,000 miles miles on Delta if you need one. By domestic, it can be in SA or anywhere in Africa that SA flies. Business class is 30,000.

We got ff tickets to SA but since the carrier was not SA; we had to use additional miles to get to Zambia. We booked these separately so you can do just the domestic part for miles.
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Jun 8th, 2005, 06:03 PM
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mpkp,

There are also great alternatives like Kulula Airlines and Nationwide Airlines that are half the price of SAA. Personally, I wouldn't spend 20,000 miles on top of an 80,000 mile Europe - South Africa ticket, because at that point, for only 20,000 miles more one would be able to fly all the way from North America to South Africa.

On a sidenote...looks like we are each in for some fantastic gameviewing in South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi, given the fact that it is a very dry year.

Are you 100% done with your itinerary?

I will be booking my Cape Town accomodations by Friday and then I just need to pay for my Zambian air transfers.

Are you excited yet? I am dying every time I look at the websites for Luangwa River Lodge, Kasaka, Puku Ridge and Chongwe River. In your case, I can only imagine how many hippos are going to be crowded right up to the hippo hide and the amount of animals that will be at Kaingo's newest attraction, the "Last Waterhole Hide." I imagine that if you are lucky enough you may see an antelope or other smaller animal snapped up by a Nile Crocodile.

(The smile is for the crocodile stocking up for the next few months, not for the unfortunate demise of the prey, although that would be pretty cool to witness).

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Jun 8th, 2005, 06:11 PM
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Rocco,
The fare you mentioned through Amex Travel for $3800 is that through the Platinum 2 for 1 program? In other words, are you paying for one $7600 ticket and getting the companion ticket 'free'? Or can you buy just one ticket for $3800?
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Jun 8th, 2005, 06:28 PM
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Yes we are 100% done. However, I am concerned about the weather and hope that even if it is hot, that it will be dry -- not too humid. Mike loves the hot weather but i love the air conditioning.

We are 3 days in Cape Town, 3 days at kaing, 3 days at mwamba, 3 days at luangwa and 4 days at kasaka river lodge.

We have the camera and have just finished taking a course. I will probably take the second one to stay in practice and learn even more. Still debating about the lens we want -- or mor -- can afford to get. And we are debating about the epson p-2000 or the archos. Unfortunately, we can't find anything that compares the two. I have heard complaints about archos support but the device itself appears to be well liked. Have not seen anything about support for the epson.

We did use 140,000 miles each -- 120,000 to fly business class from atl to cape town and 20,000 to get from cape town to
zambia. Kad we flown over on SAA, the additional 20,000 would not have been necessary but they only allow about 1 seat from Atlanta according to Delta so we are flying KLM.
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Jun 8th, 2005, 06:40 PM
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Patty,

It is my understanding that a single traveler would be able to take advantage of this offer, as it is NOT the 2 for 1 offer.

I do not know if this is only through American Express or if it is also possible to buy directly from Lufthansa. I would not hesitate to pay $3800 for one second to get me all the way from Los Angeles to Joburg in Business Class. The Cincinnati stopover is a bit inconvenient, but in the grand scheme of things it is quite forgivable.
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Jun 8th, 2005, 06:55 PM
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Rocco,
I am all set to go to SA in three weeks via BA and SAA. The question is for an upcoming trip next year. what I am planning on doing is using miles to fly LA-LHR in business and then purchase a business class ticket on SAA to JNB. So your understanding would be that by purchasing a flight on SAA say to CPT, they should throw in a domestic ticket to say Nelspruit and back to CPT???
Thanks
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Jun 8th, 2005, 07:08 PM
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Laguna,

No. If you procured your ticket to South Africa with your miles (80,000), however, then you would be able to get a free flight to Nelspruit (or even as far north as Malawi and everywhere inbetween) providing that you flew out of Joburg (or Cape Town) on the same day as you are arriving.

You would then have the chance to return to Joburg (or Cape Town if that is where you landed) to spend a few days there.

Example...I am using 80,000 miles to get from LHR to JNB. Upon arrival in JNB, I have a 2 hour layover before flying off to Lusaka, Zambia, for my 12 night Zambian safari.

Upon completion of my 12 night safari, I will return to JNB, where I will then buy my own return ticket to Cape Town. After four nights in Cape Town, I will return to Joburg, and then buy my own ticket to Nelspruit or take a light air transfer directly to Simbambili or one of its neighboring lodges. I am only allowed one extra add on flight and since Lusaka is further and more expensive than Nelspruit, and since I can fly JNB-CPT for $125 round trip on Kulula, I elected to use my free regional flight to get to Lusaka.

Unless it is a business expense, you may be better off buying your own ticket to London, and then using your miles to get from London to Joburg. I have found ff tickets from LHR - JNB much easier than I have found ff tickets from USA - Europe or USA - South Africa.

Plus, I figure that I really need the comfort on the second half of my flight, moreso than on the first half of my flight where I will tolerate 10.5 hours of econonmy class on a direct flight from LAX - London.
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Jun 8th, 2005, 07:11 PM
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laguna,

One more thought. I recall the AMEX Platinum Card travel advisor telling me that it was actually cheaper for me to fly all the way from LAX - Cincinnati - Frankfurt - JNB, than a business class flight from LHR - JNB would cost me.

Perhaps you would be best served going on Lufthansa and then paying out of pocket for a Frankfurt - London flight, although I am not sure this is allowed to have a multiple day stopover in Frankfurt. Definitely something worth looking into further.
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Jun 8th, 2005, 08:05 PM
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Thanks Rocco-some great ideas here. I do like SAA a lot and would prefer them to Lufthansa but what you say is interesting. I've been pricing out roundtrip flights LHR-JNB and its only around $4000 R/T on SAA and in some respects the flight from LA-Europe is even worse with the time difference and I have done it in coach before and hated it.
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Jun 8th, 2005, 09:24 PM
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Laguna,

Just to clarify, I want to be sure that you are clear that I mean it is cheaper to fly BUSINESS CLASS from LAX - Cincinnati - Frankfurt - Joburg than it is to fly Business Class from London - Joburg.

Who knows, maybe you can even fly out of Orange County to Cincinnati? Personally, I detest LAX and would much rather fly out of Orange County or Ontario whenever the opportunity presents itself.
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Jun 9th, 2005, 03:09 AM
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This confuses me! I think Roccco implied that you need to use the "free" internal flight the same day. Last year I flew ATL/JNB, spent the night and then flew JNB/MalaMala all with 80,000 Delta FF miles. On the return, MalaMala/JNB I also spent the night before returning to ATL. Flying in I could not make the connection to MM so I had to spend the night but not on the return. The Delta agent said no problem about spending an extra night.
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Jun 9th, 2005, 03:15 AM
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THe problem for me in trying to set up the flights is that SAA lands at 9 AM in Joburg, and do not have a flight to VicFalls till the next day, since this flight leaves at 9 as well.

I am spending 80,000 delta miles (garnered through Amex) for an economy ticket, since getting the business class is virtually impossible.


The best I could find to VicFalls was BA for around $400
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Jun 9th, 2005, 05:47 AM
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sundowner,

Upon arrival in Johannesburg, I had wanted to spend my first night in Johannesburg, but the Delta representative told me that this would create an "open-jaw" ticket and would disallow me from getting a free regional flight, unless I traveled that same day of arrival. Perhaps their rules have changed?

Last year, upon arrival I did the same thing, flying directly to Lusaka, but I never thought anything of it, since I spent all 11 nights of my time in Southern Africa in Zambia last year, without a single night in South Africa.

For your Victoria Falls flight, did you also try Nationwide Airlines? Also, look for a flight into Livingstone. If it is more than $50 per person less, it may be worth considering, and then doing the transfer across the border.
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Jun 9th, 2005, 07:00 AM
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Rocco - it could easily be a rule change, or more just as easily, the difference in agents.

I wasn't even trying to book through to MalaMala - didn't even occur to me to try. But I said something to the agent that let him know that Jburg wasn't my final destination and he quickly made all the arrangements to include MM in my FF ticket.
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Jun 9th, 2005, 07:33 AM
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Rocco,

I think flying BA will be cheaper than Nationwide, at least for the dates I selected.
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Jun 9th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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sundowner and Rocco,
I think your agents were both right.

sundowner,
Since you were flying to/from the same destination (MalaMala), you had a roundtrip (not open jaw) and are allowed one stopover. Delta rules allow either an open jaw or one stopover plus as many connections of up to 12 hours as you want on the same award itinerary (but there's even an exception to that). You used your one allowed stopover on your return to ATL. Your overnight on your way to MalaMala was not technically a stopover but rather an extended connection (which just happened to be overnight). Since a same day connection wasn't available, this is where the exception to the 12 hour rule comes into play. It's called 'first available flight' and this is what allowed you the second overnight on your itinerary.

Rocco,
You're using your one allowed stopover in JNB on your return. In your case, since there was award space available to connect same day to your final destination, they won't allow a second overnight. Had there been no award space on the JNB-Lusaka flight(s) that day or if your LHR-JNB flight arrived too late in the day to connect, then the exception is granted. And by award space availability, I mean that there has to be space in your class of service (business), i.e. they can't force you to take an available economy seat. You can have an extended connection of over 12 hours and wait for the next available business seat. I'm assuming there's multiple classes of service on the JNB-Lusaka route, otherwise if it's an all economy route, then ignore that last point.

The only thing I'm unsure of in your situation is why the DL rep mentioned anything about an open jaw to you, as it doesn't appear to me that you have or would've had an open jaw. You're flying both to and back from Lusaka, right? If so, then you still have a roundtrip not an open jaw regardless of how many times you stop in JNB or elsewhere. You would only have an open jaw if you were flying back from somewhere other than Lusaka.

Some agents will grant the exception to the 12 hour rule automatically, others will want to get it approved. The rep I spoke with 2 days ago put me on hold for a while and came back and OK'd my itinerary and documented everything so I wouldn't have any problems at the time of ticketing.

Hope this makes sense. Please correct me if I've made any wrong assumptions about either of your itineraries.
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