Need help with SAA FF tix to Kruger

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Aug 4th, 2005, 05:29 PM
  #1
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Need help with SAA FF tix to Kruger

Our daughter will be near Capetown for a med school rotation next April. My husband, son & I are hoping to visit her and also do a safari, most likely in Kruger. This will be our first time to the continent and would appreciate any input.

I was able to reserve flights on SAA using points from Dulles/Washington,DC to Capetown and must ticket them by 8/9. My dilemma is how to best utilize the frequent flier mileage to get to Kruger.

First, can anyone please tell me which airports would be closest to Kruger that SAA flies to?

Then what are your suggestions in terms of getting there and then flying back to the states?

At this point I'm thinking we could fly into Capetown and spend several days in the area. Probably visit the winelands. Then we could either buy airfare to fly to Johannesburg, get a rental car and drive to Kruger (Is there much to see on the way?) Or buy airfare straight to Kruger.

For the return, I'm told we could fly out of which ever airport is nearest Kruger that SAA flies and then get our connection thru Johannesburg back to the US all on our frequent flier tickets.

Unfortunately, I have no idea yet which part of Kruger we would be in, or how many days we would want to spend there. But we need to add on the Kruger leg to fly out and ticket our reservations within the next 5 days - or else pay the fee to make changes later.

So if anyone can tell me the names of close airports to Kruger, or make recommendations on how best to get from Capetown to Kruger, I'd appreciate it. In terms of travel time, we would arrive in Capetown at noon on 4/9, and would then depart with a connection in Johannesburg at 6:40pm on 4/21.

Thanks so much for your help!
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Aug 5th, 2005, 03:49 AM
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sandi
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Erin -

I'm no expert, but there have been several threads re a flight from CPT to Kruger direct. Not sure into which airport - may be Hoedspruit or Nelspruit and from either a transfer would be arranged to your camp. The Hoedspruit airport is good for camps on the private Manyeletti Reserve; the Nelspruit airport good for camps on the private Sabi Sand Reserve - assuming you're considering camps on private reserves. However, from either airport you can get to the entrances to Kruper proper for camping inside the park. You have to decide quickly where you wish to stay for your safari here.

Then from either of these two airports there are flights returning to JNB to connect to your homebound flight.

I believe/recall that recently SAA was offering a connecting internal flight along with the International flights, but that may have been for paid tickets only.

If no one else answers your question with more detail, speak with SAA and ascertain into which airport your FF miles will get you to/from - or you may have to pay for this r/t ticket, (CPT/HDS or NLP/JNB) but they're not all that expensive. There's also a small South African "regional" air carrier - Kalulu (I believe that's the name) who offers better pricing on some of their routes.

South African Fodorites - Erin needs your help, or Roccco (or anyone else)... you've checked these out previously.
 
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Aug 5th, 2005, 06:54 AM
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I have no idea what the closest airport to Kruger is but if you're using Delta Skymiles, you're allowed one stopover or an open jaw. So technically you could have a roundtrip award from IAD to the nearest airport to Kruger as your final destination and have Capetown be the stopover point. That should be allowed routing as long as the flights to/from the nearest airport to Kruger are operated by SAA.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 02:59 PM
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Sandi and Patty, thanks for your replies. Your input pointed me in the right direction.

Unfortunately, after dealing with the airlines, I'm still confused as to what is allowable on these frequent flier tickets. I called Delta again and the agent thought I would need to have 2 tickets.

I then called South African Airways and they said that it can be done with one FF ticket. I could fly into Capetown and stay for several days as a stopover. Then I could travel on to Kruger as my final destination. Stay however long. Then I would just need to return from Kruger to fly back to the US. I asked the SAA agent which airport would be the closest to Kruger that I could fly with Delta miles. She told me Mpumalanga/Kruger.

However, when I called Delta back, they could find no record of this airport that's in their agreement. And she couldn't find documentation of allowing a stopover as such. She did tell me that the only airports that were near Kruger that she could book were Mala Mala or Nelspruit/Kruger.

At that time, I couldn't get a flight from Capetown to either of these airports on the days we'd want anyways using mileage. But I could fly back from Nelspruit to Johannesburg for our return flight as part of our award travel. If that airport is fairly close, then I just need to purchase one-way tickets from Capetown to Kruger.

Or the other possiblity of flying from Capetown to Joburg and then driving up to Kruger. Has anyone done this recently? Any interesting sights along the way? What's the travel time and driving conditions? Any other interesting places not too far from Kruger (less than 5 hours) that we would want to fly to and then drive on to Kruger? I'm just starting to research this, and would be grateful for any other recommendations.

So if anyone out there knows specifically which airports I could fly to on a Delta award ticket that would be near Kruger, I would welcome your response. And any info on driving from Joburg, or another location, to Kruger would be helpful, too.

Thanks again!
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Aug 5th, 2005, 03:04 PM
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The drive from Kruger to Joburg is about six hours assuming Skukuza is the part of Kruger you are at. It is worth an overnight in the area to view the panoramic route.

Nelspruit is the nearest airport. Mala Mala is a small field that services Mala Mala and Lion Sands and maybe one other game reserve.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 03:22 PM
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I couldn't find an airport named Mpumalanga/Kruger on SAA's online flight schedule page (but I did find both Nelspruit and Mala Mala), so could it be possible that this flight isn't operated by SAA but rather a partner or affiliate? If that's the case, I don't think you'd be able to use DL miles on this flight.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 03:27 PM
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Mpumulanga is Nelspruit I believe.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 03:31 PM
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It's Kruger Mpumalanga Intl Airport:
http://www.kmiairport.co.za/

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Aug 5th, 2005, 03:32 PM
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napamatt,
You're right. I just did a web search myself. Mpumalanga = Nelspruit = MQP. Both the SAA and DL agents were referring to the same airport.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 03:38 PM
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Erin,

Depending on which part of Kruger you are visiting, you will fly into either Nelspruit or Hoedspruit. Pick a place that you would like to visit and there should be instructions on how best to get there, advising you which of the above two airports you should fly into.

This should be a FREE flight that may be added onto your international ticket. You may fly into Cape Town and then there is a direct flight from Cape Town to Nelspruit. This may save you a $400 pp fare.

Likewise, you should be able to get a free regional flight, if not into the Kruger area, to anywhere in the region that SAA flies. Such destinations would include Victoria Falls, Lusaka (Zambia, should you wish to explore a less commercialized area for your safari) or anywhere else that SAA goes in Southern Africa.

April would be a really nice time to visit Cape Town and will also be nice for safari before their winter begins.

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Aug 5th, 2005, 05:24 PM
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I would try Delta again. I'm sure you'll get a different agent and some know more than others. Especially since the SAA agent told you it could be done.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 07:48 PM
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I flew on a direct flight Cape Town to Nelspruit (Southern Kruger)(also called MPQ Mpumalanga Kruger International Airport). I then took a transfer to the Timbavati which was arranged by the camp that I was staying at. If Delta wont do it, the flight from CPT to Nelspruit was very cheap-around $80 one way. I then flew back from Hoedspruit (central part of Kruger) to JNB (again I purchased this and it was like $60 one way). Nelspruit is the only place you can fly directly from CPT otherwise you have to change planes in JNB. I think Mala Mala is only for guests of that lodge. The other airport that serves the northern part of the park is Phalaborwa.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 09:20 PM
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laguna,

Are you quoting prices on SAA or on Kulula?

I am pricing out this flight right now, and it is $364pp for JNB-MPQ on SAA. My dates don't work for Kulula and anyway, their departing flight out of MPQ back to JNB on Kulula would have been at 9:20AM...bye bye morning game drive!

More than likely, I will be on a direct flight from Cape Town to MPQ. Including the return flight to JNB, it is $524pp. However, rather than a lengthy road transfer to Simbambili, I will take a light air transfer that will cost about $100pp.

I will try Kulula for the JNB-CPT flight that will follow my 12 night Zambian safari. The cost is unbelievably low at $75pp for a one-way flight.
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Aug 6th, 2005, 07:55 PM
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Roccco-
This is SAA. Their prices changed drastically. One month before we were scheduled to go it was R3000 per person from HDS to JNB and then suddenly dropped.
Be warned about Kalula-the lines at JNB for check in for them were terrible and a lot of their flights seemed to be delayed. Have you tried SAA's website?
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Aug 10th, 2005, 07:06 AM
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Thank you to everyone who offered info and suggestions. I am thrilled to report that after many calls to Delta, we were able to get the flights we wanted before the 2 week ticketing deadline. At 80,000 points/ticket, my husband, son and I are able to fly from Dulles to Capetown (with a transfer thru Joburg). Then with having that be our stopover, 9 days later we fly to Hoedspruit/Kruger (thru Joburg again) as our final destination. 3 days later we depart Hoedspruit and travel back to Dulles (again thru Joberg). I am amazed that we can have 6 different flights spread out over 3 different travel periods all on one award travel ticket.

For those of you who are looking to book something similar, be persistent. Several Delta agents told me it could not be done. Then it actually took 3 more phone calls over the next week to get all 3 of us on the same flights. Initially none were available, then we got 2 of us going to Kruger. 2 days later I called again and the 3rd seat had miraculously opened up.

Rocco and Laguna, I was pricing the CPT to HDS flights on SAA and I couldn't get anything under $350 one way. I was looking for flights around Easter weekend, which I've read is a very big travel time, so I assume that was driving the cost up.

Thanks again Fodorites for sharing your wealth of knowledge! I'm sure I'll be posting additional questions as I continue to make our travel arrangements.
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Aug 10th, 2005, 09:27 AM
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I'm glad to hear you were finally able to put all of your flights together. Gnerally I find the DL partner award agents to be fairly knowledgeable, but it helps to understand the rules of what is and isn't allowed and figure out all of the possible routing options before calling just as you did. Congrats!
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