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How hard is it to get a flight to South Africa using American Express points???

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Mar 24th, 2003, 12:38 AM
  #1
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How hard is it to get a flight to South Africa using American Express points???

American Express was finally foolish enough to give me an American Express Gold Card a couple months ago. While I thought that I wouldn't have time to rack up any points before booking my trip, it now looks like I already have 60,000 membership points, earning me a companion round trip seat in Economy class (40,000).

Does South African Air only set aside a few seats per flight for American Express membership points? Also, do these points take a few weeks before they are recognized?

If I was able to get a free r/t ticket, it would save me about $2,000 USD. I cannot believe how expensive it is to fly to South Africa this year, but I guess I should not be surprised given the recent prices of fuel.

Hopefully this will be my last year flying economy class, as it really is a brutal flight going from Los Angeles to South Africa.
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Mar 24th, 2003, 03:25 AM
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I don't know about SAA and using miles personally but friends seem to have endless problems. Delta is a co-share so you could use your miles through them which is what I have done in the past. However, not all class of seats ie fares are available for upgrade and companion tickets. I think a free ticket in coach uses 75,000 miles so rack up those miles and use them for a ticket then you can get a consolidator fare for the other ticket which is probably a less expensive way.
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Mar 24th, 2003, 07:00 AM
  #3
zuni
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We used our Amex points for Africa 2 years ago. We went through Virgin Atlantic. We had no problem. The airlines only have so many seat per flight and they are available 10 months prior to your actual date. So I called exactly 10 months on departure waited until the 10 months for return ticket. If you are able to do your plans that far in advance you should have no problem. We didn't take our points out to put into another airline until we knew how much we needed. Then they were transfered within a few days. Good luck. We used premium economy on Virgin and it was wonderful.
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Mar 24th, 2003, 08:22 AM
  #4
rhtt
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Just an update: spoke with Delta last week to reconfirm our plan to use Delta miles (supplemented with AmEx points) for SAA travel. Takes 80,000 miles per economy class ticket, and the 330-day rule pertains.
 
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Mar 24th, 2003, 10:16 AM
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We are using AmEx points to fly business class on SAA through Delta- no problem - just called delta - made the reservation - they held it a few days - transferred the points - combined with our existing delta points - tickets issued. May have restricted routes though - we are flying to Cape Town with a stop in JBourg rather than flying direct from Atlanta to Cape Town. we made our reservations the first day we could - upgrades were not available - had to use ff miles for the whole ticket - 240,000 miles
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Mar 24th, 2003, 11:36 AM
  #6
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Billyjeff,

Was it 240,000 miles per business class ticket or 240,000 combined (120,000 per business class ticket)?

Thanks.

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Mar 24th, 2003, 12:30 PM
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Rocco - it is 120,000 miles per business class ticket round trip. We had Delta ff miles and simply transferred AmEX reward points to combine. When you look at the cost of business class, this is really getting the most out of the AmEx points.
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Mar 24th, 2003, 06:20 PM
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Rocco: If you need help planning you need to go to http://www.flyertalk.com/milesfr.shtml, there simply register and type in search for your question or post the question. A wealth of knowledge there and ppl will gladly help you.....im flying next year to SA on American Airlines (via Oneworld partnership....), good luck.
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Mar 24th, 2003, 06:55 PM
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Billyjeff,

Thanks for the feedback.

120,000 for business class is a great bargain, considering that it is 80,000 for economy class.

While SAA probably has one of the best economy classes I have seen, with personal DVD players with movies-on-demand, video games and music CD's, it is still nothing compared to their business class, where I will likely not have to listen to crying children and be next to ten people sneezing.

I wonder how much more it is for First Class seats with the 180 degree folding seats (folds completely flat into a bed)??? After this year, I want the WHOLE experience. While I loved my trip last year that featured Singita, the Mount Nelson Hotel, the Table Bay Hotel, Matetsi Private Game Lodge and The Victoria Falls Hotel, the one thing that would have made it complete would be better flights, both for the international segments and the trip to Vic Falls when I flew in on Air Zimbabwe.

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Mar 24th, 2003, 07:30 PM
  #10
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Dear Roccco,

Did you look into using miles or points on your flight from Cape Town to Lusaka or Lilongwe? We're flying for 20,000 Delta miles from Walvis Bay, Namibia to JNB (for a stay of a couple days) to Lilongwe. Not bad!

BTW, did you see my post about overlanding from Lilongwe to Mfuwe?
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Mar 24th, 2003, 07:31 PM
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P.S. Roccco,

I've got a website that I'm sure you'll love: www.flyertalk.com

LOTS of information from a bunch of totally obsessed mileage hounds. Lots of fun!
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Mar 25th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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Rocco - it is 200,000 miles for first class. Big jump up from business class.
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Mar 26th, 2003, 07:24 AM
  #13
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If you believe SAA offers a good economy class, it simply means you've not ridden back there.

I've been in their economy section on four trans-Atlantic hauls - and it was the PITS, absolute PITS. Horrible seating and crowding. Movies going all night long. Bathrooms at times do not all function. Packed to the gills.

Yes, we had zero choice, and simply had to bear it. But if you've an option, stay out of economy on SAA if you can.
 
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Feb 15th, 2005, 04:29 PM
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I agree about the seating on SAA. It's like being in a coffin for fifteen hours. Yet, the airplanes are always packed; I don't get it. The service is fine, the planes are clean but it is inhumane to make people sit with these seats so close together. I am a SAA gold card member but have sworn off the airline until they change the seats. I now go through London on British Air rather than fly in those seats.
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Feb 15th, 2005, 07:18 PM
  #15
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According to my Hunting Newsletter (no, I am not a hunter, I just want to know what the enemy is up to), SAA will be expanding legroom on every plane that flies from the USA - South Africa and Europe - South Africa, but it will be a gradual process, starting in early 2005 and finishing in early 2006.

Personally, I am very pleased with the seats I was able to acquire with my AMEX Membership Rewards Points this year. Each ticket is valued upwards of $10,000 USD and I was able to get four tickets for only 80,000 miles per piece. $40,000+ value for 320,000 miles, and I have confirmed with SAA that I will be flying on 747's each way from London - Johannesburg on planes with "Sky Beds" that fold to 180 degrees, as well as business class flights from Johannesburg - Lusaka, Zambia.

My original post, if you notice the date, goes back to March 2003. That year, I believe that I ended up paying for my own seats and flew from Los Angeles - Atlanta - Johannesburg - Lusaka.

However, last year, I went the same route as this year, going London - Johannesburg - Lusaka in Business Class for 80,000 miles per person. Personally, after flying Business Class there is no comparison. Besides flying Business Class, the opportunity to use SAA's Business Class Baobab Lounge is a tremendous benefit and makes stopovers a breeze. Great private bathrooms with very nice showers, internet access, big screen televisions, wine, beer, soft drinks, snacks, etc., and best of all, peace and quiet.
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Feb 16th, 2005, 12:41 PM
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We flew "world business class" (= front of the plane) on NW/KLM (which are Delta partners) from DC-AMS-Joburg and then home from Capetown, and it is very nice -- their beds are not literally "flat" but recline something like 175 degrees, tilted at an angle -- the food was delish as was the champagne, & movies on demand really helped pass the time. I would never pay to fly business class but it is definitely worth using the miles if you have them -- it's hard to get the FF seats, but definitely worth every single crummy phone call! The biggest benefit is being able to put your legs up and fully extend them out in front of you -- definitely helps prevent deep vein thrombosis (which I, an otherwise healthy 30-something, got not long after my economy class flights to Australia & NZ -- survived multiple massive pulmonary emboli -- & now only fly business class internationally!).
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