Booking Africa using Miles/Points

Flying to Africa from the US is a long haul so using miles/points to fly in Business or First Class makes a huge difference. There are sweet spots in various airline award charts and I was able to take advantage of 3 of them for an upcoming trip.


Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines offers Cathay Pacific awards from the US to Africa for 50,000 miles in Business and 70,000 miles in First each way. Cathay Pacific itself charges 85,000 miles in Business Class and 125,000 miles in First Class. There was only 1 seat left in both classes so the best value would be to use Alaska Airlines miles for the First Class seat and Cathay Pacific miles for the Business Class seat. Alaska Airlines doesn’t have access to Business Class award tickets on Cathay Pacific if there is less than 2 seats available showing on British Airways or Cathay Pacific site. Booking the 1st ticket using Alaska Miles was essential in this situation as there was only 2 seats left in Business on the HKG-JNB leg. Cathay Pacific doesn’t offer First Class on that route.

SFO-HKG-JNB in First Class for 70,000 Alaska Miles & $47.50 in taxes/fees. This is an excellent value given the paid price is $9,940.98 therefore a value of $0.14 per mile 🙂

Paid Cathay First Class

Paid Cathay First Class


Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific charges 85,000 miles in Business Class and 125,000 miles in First Class each way. I was able to top off my Asia Miles account by transferring AMEX points at a 1:1 ratio. The transfer time from AMEX to Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles) took exactly 48 hours from initiating the transfer.

SFO-HKG-JNB in Business Class for 85,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles & $200 (HKD 1578) in taxes/fees.

Cathay Pacific Business

Cathay Pacific Business


American Airlines

The sweet spot is to book Qatar Airlines via DOH (Doha) for 75,000 miles in Business each way. Unfortunately, Qatar had zero award availability during the dates we are traveling. We opted to fly Etihad Apartment Class from AUH to JFK using 110,000 miles one way. To find Etihad availability, I used ExpertFlyer and then called American’s Australian call center to book the award.

AUH-JFK-SFO in First Class for 110,00 American Airlines miles & $55.03 in taxes/fees.

Etihad First Class

Etihad First Class

Total Miles used for 2 Travelers:

70,000 Alaska Miles (1 Seat in Cathay Pacific First Class)
85,000 Cathay Pacific Miles (1 Seat in Cathay Pacific Business Class)
220,000 American Miles (2 Seats in Etihad First Class)

We paid cash for tickets from South Africa to Abu Dhabi via Seychelles.


Have you redeemed miles for Africa? If so, comment below.

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2 Responses

  1. May 30, 2020

    […] was our first flight on our journey to Africa last year which I booked on miles/points. I was only able to secure 1 First Class seat at the time of booking, but I set an ExpertFlyer […]

  2. June 15, 2020

    […] was our final long haul flight on the way home from our journey to Africa last year which I booked on miles/points. I was only able to secure 2 First Class seats (3A & 4A) at the time of booking which can be […]

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