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Scrambling to book Delta Skymile tickets for Africa/Italy trip - is this a good airfare ?

Scrambling to book Delta Skymile tickets for Africa/Italy trip - is this a good airfare ?

Jun 29th, 2008, 12:48 PM
  #1  
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Scrambling to book Delta Skymile tickets for Africa/Italy trip - is this a good airfare ?

This is definitely a "how long is a piece of string" question.

We plan to spend 5 weeks in Africa and 4 weeks in Italy/Austria early next year. We have a bunch of points on Delta and Air Canada and I've concocted the following itinerary using a combination of purchased tickets, hopeful use of upgrade certificates and points. Here's the airline itinerary

- Toronto to Kilimanjaro (via Amsterdam)
- Dar es Salaam to Cape Town
- J'Berg to Venice (via Amsterdam)
- Vienna to Toronto

For the Toronto - Amsterdam portion we might be able to use our Biz class upgrade; from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro we're confirmed Business (same from J'Berg to Amsterdam).

I've assumed $1,000 each for the Dar to Cape Town portion (not sure yet how we'll get to J'Berg, or from where - maybe Port Elizabeth).

I can do the above itinerary for $3,500 each (Canadian dollars - pretty close to US) - is that a good deal?

I've been looking at lots of other options but can't seem to come close to that price considering some of the legs are business class - haven't had a chance to contact a biz class consolidator yet - not sure it that would result in a different outcome?

Any comments would be appreciated!
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 12:56 PM
  #2  
 
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i dibn't know the situation in view to the upgrades etc.
but when i get hold of upgrades for booked flitghts i stick to it as it is extremly difficult to get them on african routes.


3500 seems reasonable to me.
but wait for the response of the real cracks...

i got biz class tickets from europe to south africa for march next year; after a weeklong procedure i could finally get hold of them.
i guess it's the same with the US-africa-routes.

guess it's also depending on your personal evaluation whether you consider 3500 worthwhile.

i would definately keep the award tickets!
divine54 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 01:45 PM
  #3  
 
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What segments are award vs paid? Other than AMS-JRO/JNB-AMS, what segments are in business vs economy? How many Skymiles and Aeroplan miles are you using and for which segments? How many more Skymiles and Aeroplan miles do you have?
Patty is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 01:58 PM
  #4  
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Hi Patty - here's the breakdown

YYZ - AMS; VIE - YYZ - paid economy hoping for upgrade (50%/50% chance) on AMS portion - $1,100 each
AMS - KIA; JNB - AMS - Business points on Delta; using 100K points; purchasing 60K for $1250 and transfering some Amex pts - plus $600/ea for taxes/surcharges
DAR-CPT - paid economy - assuming about $1,000 each
AMS - VCE - paid economy - assuming $150 each

So - to answer your questions directly - only AMS-KIA and JNB-AMS are guaranteed business via Delta points. As mentioned a 50%/50% chance of using an upgrade cert on AC for YYZ-AMS. Not using any Aeroplan miles, just my upgrade certs which expire at the end of Feb 09 anyway....no other opps to use them.

Won't have any more Skymiles after this - will have about 140K Aeroplan miles.

Thanks for your help!



Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 02:35 PM
  #5  
 
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You could try having some of your intra-Africa segments included in the Delta award by routing either AMS-NBO(stopover)-JNB(destination)-AMS or AMS-DAR(stopover)-NBO-JNB(destination)-AMS.

The NBO-JNB or DAR-NBO-JNB segments would be on Kenya Airways (KQ). AMS-NBO could be KQ or KL.

You'd end up having to purchase some segments separately to get to JRO and CPT and might have to overnight somewhere enroute. If you decide to use NBO as your stopover point, you could also take the shuttle from Nairobi to Arusha.

I don't think you'd be able to have JRO as your stopover point because KQ doesn't serve JRO (they codeshare on the NBO-JRO route but the flight is operated by Precision Air which makes it ineligible for Skymiles redemption) and I don't think you can have an open jaw at your stopover point (i.e. fly into JRO, make your own way to Dar, and fly out of DAR).

Have you already purchased the YYZ-AMS/VIE-YYZ tickets? If not, have you checked availability on YYZ-AMS/AMS-YYZ using Skymiles? I believe you can have both a stopover (AMS) and open jaw (JRO/JNB) on one itinerary now although I haven't done so myself. Some agents will still insist it's either a stopover or open jaw, but if you can find availability, you can get them to try pricing it and see what comes back. Awards are all priced by computer now.

If that works, you'd need 20,000 additional miles each but it might be worth buying them if you can get your transatlantic segments included. I think you'd also save some money on taxes as ex-Europe Skymiles awards are charged fuel surcharges whereas ex-US/Canada awards don't have to pay fuel surcharges yet (starts August 15th).
In this case, you wouldn't include the intra-Africa segments I mentioned above as part of your award itinerary.

If none of the above works, can you and would you be interested in using your Aeroplan miles for DAR-JNB-CPT on South African? I'm not familiar with Aeroplan so don't know if they offer intra-Africa awards or how many miles it would cost or if it's even a good redemption value.
Patty is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 03:41 PM
  #6  
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Hi Patty - thanks for all your suggestions - your knowledge is way ahead of mine so I need some clarification if you don't mind...

- re intra Africa segments - the Delta agent tried to do that from JRO and DAR but couldn't find a code share - so I understand you're saying if I flew into NBO and got to JRO by paying for that segment I might get an extra intra Africa segment out of the Delta ticket? I've already assumed having to pay for DAR-CPT - would it be less expensive?

No, I haven't purchased the YYZ-AMS/VIE-YYZ portion. Should I check Delta for just that portion? I only have 100k miles (which can be increased to 200k via purchase and Amex transfer). Don't understand the role of the stopover and open jaw - how do I get to JRO? Not sure if the 20K points you mention is on top of that - can't purchase any more this year.

I'll call Aeroplan about the Intra Africa portion but not sure the value equation is there.

Thanks for your very detailed comments.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 04:42 PM
  #7  
 
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Yes, the 20K I mentioned is on top of the 100K. A North America to Africa business award costs 120K vs 100K for a Europe to Africa award.

Are you purchasing the 60K miles from Delta or Amex Membership Rewards? US cardholders can purchase up to 500K per year from Membership Rewards but I'm not sure if it's the same for Canadian cardholders. If you're buying from Delta, is the 60K all going to one person's account or is it 30K each into two separate accounts? You can purchase up to 50K per year for each account. You can also gift up to 50K per year, so you may be able to do some combination of purchase and gift miles for the extra 40K. Clarify that with Delta as I've never purchased/gifted miles before but it certainly sounds like you can get up to 100K a year this way.

http://www.delta.com/help/faqs/buy_m...onal/index.jsp

What is the maximum number of miles I can purchase?

Any individual may deposit a maximum of 50,000 miles in their own account within any calendar year through Buy Miles for You. For example, you can buy 50,000 miles for yourself and a friend or family member can give you a 50,000 mile gift within the same calendar year through Gift Miles.


Provided there's availability, I was thinking along the lines of:

YYZ-AMS-JRO(openjaw)JNB-AMS(stopover)-YYZ

If they allow both the openjaw and stopover, this itinerary should price out at 120K. YYZ-AMS is operated by KL. If the YYZ-AMS nonstop doesn't have award availability, you could try for 1 connection routings such as YYZ-CDG-AMS. You'd buy the AMS-VCE and VIE-AMS segments separately.

If you really can't buy any more miles, then I'd try for the intra-African segments.

Was the Delta agent looking for something to CPT? Kenya Airways will only get you as far as JNB so perhaps that's why they couldn't find anything. You could do either DAR-NBO-JNB or NBO-JNB on KQ assuming there's award availability (which I've found to generally be pretty good on KQ). You can check flight schedules at www.kenya-airways.com or www.skyteam.com keeping in mind that codeshares operated by Precision Air can't be used for redemption.

If you used DAR as your stopover point, you'd have to buy a one way JRO-DAR ticket which should be under $200pp.

If you used NBO as your stopover point, you'd have to buy a one way NBO-JRO ticket (approx $200+pp) or you could take a shuttle for around $30pp plus the cost of the Kenyan transit visa (either $20 or $30pp, not sure). The shuttle takes approx 5 hours. You'd also need a one way DAR-NBO ticket or if you're concluding your time in Tanzania at Zanzibar, you can fly ZNZ-NBO and bypass DAR ($200-$300pp).

Like I said, I don't believe they'll let you fly into JRO, make your own way to Dar and fly DAR-NBO-JNB which would be more ideal, but I'm not absolutely certain that they won't allow it either. So perhaps you could simply ask them to add DAR-NBO-JNB to your existing AMS-JRO/JNB-AMS itinerary and see what happens. If it doesn't work, then try for DAR or NBO as your stopover point.

AMS-DAR is operated by KL. It's the same flight as AMS-JRO, the plane continues on to DAR after stopping at JRO. Or you could do AMS-NBO-DAR on KQ which would be a morning arrival at DAR enabling you to continue to JRO same day.

With AMS-NBO, you have the KL flight which arrives in the evening or the KQ flight which arrives in the morning. Again, a morning arrival at NBO would enable you to continue to JRO same day.

In any of these scenarios you'd also need to buy a JNB-CPT ticket and possibly need to overnight somewhere, so it's a little more convoluted way of getting from A to B so you'd have to decide if it's worthwhile.

Hope this clarifies things. If not, let me know.
Patty is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 02:59 AM
  #8  
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Thank you Patty - that's all very clear.

I failed to mention the reason we hadn't considered YYZ-AMS et al is we have only have one Delta membership and 100K in it..............and we have our 125K points at Aeroplan. So by traveling to AMS together we could then get on the KLM - AMS portion.

(I had looked at traveling separately on the different points but it was impossible to coordinate)

But your suggestions about Amex got me excited - I quickly opened a Skymiles account for my husband, figuring I could gift 50K and buy 50K (and get the 40% bonus that expires today).......(BTW Amex Canada only sells you 25% of what you need to transfer) if I could get the YYZ-AMS routing. But alas, the fineprint on the purchase/gift miles says the account has to be open for 60 days and have some activity. Rats. (I am going to see if I can find a friend to gift me - but that might be tough coordinating today!)

So - back to the original. I think you are right - the agent was trying to get me to CPT and didn't mention Kenya Air at all - I'm going to call back today - I hope they can reopen the reservation (Aeroplan can't or that's probably more accurately, won't).

I can't thank you enough for your help........
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 06:50 AM
  #9  
 
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Couldn't your husband gift you? I think the 60 day restriction is on receiving gift miles not giving gift miles. I don't think the person giving the gift needs to be a Skymiles member.

However, were you counting on the 40% bonus as part of the total miles you needed for the award? Because I don't think the bonus will post immediately.

http://www.delta.com/skymiles/buy_tr..._lto/index.jsp

The 20%, 30%, or 40% mileage bonus should also post to the receiving account within 4 to 6 weeks after the miles are claimed by visiting www.delta.com/getmiles.

When does your award hold expire?
Patty is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 09:19 AM
  #10  
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Patty - I was at a meeting this morning intently thinking about the Skymiles issue and it struck me that maybe my husband could gift me - I yelled out loud which was completely inappropriate!

I think it will work for him to gift me - I've logged on as him and seem to be able to get to the gift miles screen - to your other point at first I was counting on the bonus miles but I can work around it. If I can do it today at least I lower the per mile cost.

My next task is to figure out if the YYZ-AMS et al part works - actually I know I'm holding seats on 2 of the legs (AMS-JRO and JNB-AMS) so I'll try to get them to work with those.

I'll let you know - thanks so much for mentioning this - I NEVER considered it!
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 11:33 AM
  #11  
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Patty - this is the latest from Delta - I'm holding the seats until July 6th - looks great to me. Couldn't do an open jaw AND stopover for the 120K so I'm planning to buy internal Africa flights (or maybe Aeroplan as you had suggested)

Here's the itinerary

- YYZ - AMS; then AMS - JRO (January 19/20) - all KLM

- DAR - AMS (via NBO) February 25 - KQ

- AMS - YYZ (via DTW) Mar 31- NW

So it's 240K total in points - purchase breaks down as follows

- have 101K
- buy 100K - 50K I'll buy and 50K my husband will gift to me
- 35K Amex transfer plus 5K purchased points from Amex

So the new costs are

100K Delta purchase - $3,000
Taxes/etc on ticket $440
Amex transfer $100

Total $3,540 (US) plus whatever internal flights we'll have - maybe $1,000 each? High side estimate I think.

I would have been thrilled if this had been the SAME cost as the other itinerary - but in fact the cost is lower AND we're flying business for the important long routes.

Am I missing something? It seems to make sense to me?

Thankyouthankyouthankyou!
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 12:34 PM
  #12  
 
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What you have is actually an openjaw and stopover. The fact that you're flying into JRO and departing from DAR makes it an openjaw and your stopover is at AMS on your return.

So I don't quite understand why they won't let you do JNB-AMS instead of DAR-AMS. Did they try pricing it that way and did it result in a higher mileage? The only thing I can think of is possibly they're treating JRO and DAR as co-terminals.

Anyway, I think what you have is great. I was just scratching my head to see if there's any possibility of making it more efficient, but even if you can't, at least you're flying business on the transatlantic segments and at a lower cost.

Are you booked on KL617 from AMS to DTW or one of the NW operated flights? I'm curious because it used to (maybe still does?) cost more miles if you take a NW or CO transatlantic flight vs a transatlantic flight on DL, KL, AF and others.

I think you've got it covered, so congrats!
Patty is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 01:02 PM
  #13  
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Patty - I was almost 2 and 1/2 hours on the phone with Delta and my head is still spinning - but I will try to answer your questions!!!

"What you have is actually an openjaw and stopover. The fact that you're flying into JRO and departing from DAR makes it an openjaw and your stopover is at AMS on your return"

I think this still qualifies as a stopover because the JRO flight continues to DAR - so we just get off and that's ok

"So I don't quite understand why they won't let you do JNB-AMS instead of DAR-AMS. Did they try pricing it that way and did it result in a higher mileage? The only thing I can think of is possibly they're treating JRO and DAR as co-terminals."

Yes - at that point it came in at 165K each instead of 120K each....

"Anyway, I think what you have is great. I was just scratching my head to see if there's any possibility of making it more efficient, but even if you can't, at least you're flying business on the transatlantic segments and at a lower cost"

I couldn't be happier!

"Are you booked on KL617 from AMS to DTW or one of the NW operated flights? I'm curious because it used to (maybe still does?) cost more miles if you take a NW or CO transatlantic flight vs a transatlantic flight on DL, KL, AF and others."

We're on NW for AMS-DTW (and then onto YYZ) but it didn't cost more miles.

Patty - once again I can't thank you enough - I never would have have this routing, on business for a lower amount had you not taken the time to help me.

Could I please make a donation to a charity of your choice in your name? Please advise the charity and your name - my email is

[email protected]

I hope you'll take me up on this offer! And thanks agains
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 01:04 PM
  #14  
 
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You were efficient Patty! And you are right: KLM DTW-AMS business would be 90.000 VS 100.000 on CO dont know about the other airlines, i m so sad CO is leaving skyteam, but for many more its great they will be joining *A. Sorry for going off-topic
Alejandra is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 01:28 PM
  #15  
 
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Elizabeth,
I'm glad I was able to help! Thanks so much for the offer. I'll be emailing you.

Thanks, Alejandra! It used to be that either CO or NW bumped a transatlantic award up to 100K, but there have been so many changes it's hard to keep up! I can't wait for DL to introduce their 3 tier awards soon (sarcasm).
Patty is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 01:44 PM
  #16  
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Patty - I just did the donation and have sent you an email - thanks again for all your help!
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 03:16 PM
  #17  
dmlove
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Elizabeth, I just want to say that I think that was a very thoughtful offer (and to have actually followed through....kudos!)
 
Jun 30th, 2008, 04:29 PM
  #18  
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dmlove - it was my pleasure to make the donation - Patty's help was invaluable.....and the charity she chose helps wildlife in Kenya.....which is a lovely circle.

Elizabeth_S is offline  
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