The Best Ways To Fly to Africa With Points and Miles [Step-by-Step]

Africa

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Africa is one of the most wondrous continents in the world. Home to some of the rarest, untainted natural beauty, nature lovers and exotic travelers as a whole need to put Africa on their bucket lists.

Whether you’re planning to travel to Africa for tourism, to visit family, or to conduct business, staying aware of the best ways to fly to Africa using points and miles can end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run.

So without further ado, we’ll show you the best frequent flyer programs to use to book flights!

Nonstop Flights Between the U.S. and Africa

There aren’t all that many airlines that have nonstop service from the U.S. to Africa. We’ve outlined the nonstop options to fly to North Africa in a separate guide and encourage you to visit that specific guide if your travels will take you to Morocco or Egypt.

Here are all of the foreign airlines that offer nonstop flights to the rest of Africa, excluding North Africa:

  • Ethiopian Airlines
    • New York (JFK) – Lomé (LFW) – Addis Ababa (ADD)
    • Newark (EWR) – Lomé (LFW) – Addis Ababa (ADD)
    • Chicago (ORD) – Addis Ababa (ADD) – Dublin (DUB) – Chicago (ORD)
    • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Addis Ababa (ADD) – Dublin (DUB) – Chicago (ORD)
  • Kenya Airways
    • New York (JFK) – Nairobi (NBO)

Here are all of the U.S. airlines that offer nonstop flights to the rest of Africa, excluding North Africa.

  • Delta Air Lines
    • Atlanta (ATL) – Lagos (LOS)
    • Atlanta (ATL) – Johannesburg (JNB)
    • New York (JFK) – Accra (ACC)
    • New York (JFK) – Dakar (DSS)
    • New York (JFK) – Lagos (LOS)
  • United Airlines
    • Newark (EWR) – Cape Town (CPT)
    • Newark (EWR) – Johannesburg (JNB)
    • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Accra (ACC)

Currently, there are several countries in Africa with nonstop routes from the U.S.:

  1. Ethiopia — Addis Ababa (ADD)
  2. Ghana — Accra (ACC)
  3. Kenya — Nairobi (NBO)
  4. Nigeria — Lagos (LOS)
  5. South Africa — Cape Town (CPT) and Johannesburg (JNB)
  6. Togo — Lomé (LFW)

Best Programs To Use To Book Flights to Africa

If you’re crunched on time, you’ll want to focus on nonstop flights — but if you are willing to book a layover or even a stopover (longer than 24 hours), you’ll probably end up booking a more enjoyable flight.

So let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can fly to Africa using points and miles!

Emirates Skywards

Emirates first class
Emirates first class is magical. Image Credit: Stephen Au

The classiest, most extravagant way to fly to Africa (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter) is aboard none other than Emirates first class.

If you don’t mind planning a short layover or even a stopover in Dubai and are willing to spend time looking for coveted award availability, then the unparalleled Emirates first class experience can be yours. And in a world where the network of true first class routes is shrinking, Emirates is one of the only airlines offering first class products on shorter, non-flagship routes, which can be handy when flying to Africa.

The best way to book Emirates first class awards to Africa is by redeeming Emirates miles with its own Skywards loyalty program.

And when redeeming miles for Emirates first class tickets, you can add a complimentary stopover for free — plus, since these are known as Flex Plus fares, you can change or cancel your flights with no fees!

Your total taxes and fees will run around $260 in each direction, which is a bargain for the $10,000+ plane tickets you have the privilege of booking.

Here are some exceptional first class routes you can book using Emirates miles:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Dubai (DXB) – Luanda (LAD) one-way in Emirates first class for 178,750 Emirates miles + ~$262 in taxes and fees
  • Dallas (DFW) – Dubai (DXB) – Lusaka (LUN) one-way in Emirates first class for 187,500 Emirates miles + ~$262 in taxes and fees
  • Houston (IAH) – Dubai (DXB) – Lagos (LOS) one-way in Emirates first class for 187,500 Emirates miles + ~$262 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Dubai (DXB) – Accra (ACC) one-way in Emirates first class for 187,500 Emirates miles + ~$262 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Dubai (DXB) – Khartoum (KRT) one-way in Emirates first class for 150,000 Emirates miles + ~$262 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Dubai (DXB) – Dar es Salaam (DAR) one-way in Emirates first class for 168,750 Emirates miles + ~$262 in taxes and fees
  • Seattle (SEA) – Dubai (DXB) – Entebbe (EBB) one-way in Emirates first class for 168,750 Emirates miles + ~$262 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Dubai (DXB) – Nairobi (NBO) one-way in Emirates first class for 160,000 Emirates miles + ~$262 in taxes and fees

It’s fairly easy to book Emirates first class, but it’s a good idea to search for each segment individually. Go ahead and follow these instructions to book your Emirates first class ticket:

  1. Visit the Emirates homepage.
  2. In the center of the homepage, there’s a search box. Toggle the box that says Classic rewards to search for award availability.
  3. Enter your city pairs, number of passengers, desired cabin class, and travel date(s).
  4. Click Search flights.
  5. After finding a suitable flight, use your miles and a credit card to pay for any applicable taxes and fees.

Earning Emirates Skywards Miles

Redeeming points for Emirates first class flights might be challenging, but earning those points isn’t.

Thanks to transfer partnerships with Chase Ultimate RewardsAmex Membership RewardsCiti ThankYou RewardsBrex RewardsCapital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy, you can earn Emirates miles in more ways than ever.

To make things simpler, your points will transfer to Emirates instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you’re redeeming Amex, Brex, Chase, Capital One, or Citi points.

Lastly, Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1 ratio in around 3 business days. And if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Emirates at once, you’ll actually get a bonus of 5,000 Emirates miles.

Recommended Chase Cards 

Bottom Line: Without a doubt, Emirates first class is the most luxurious way to fly to Africa with points and miles. You’ll be savoring caviar, sipping Dom Perignon, and enjoying all of the accouterments of this legendary first class product in no time, thanks to points and miles!

ANA Mileage Club

Ethiopian Airlines business class
Use ANA miles to fly Ethiopian business class to Africa. Image Credit: Ethiopian Airlines

All Nippon Airways’s frequent flyer program, known as ANA Mileage Club, is one of the most liked in the world.

Thanks to attractive business class redemption rates, access to a diverse network of Star Alliance flights, and the ability to easily earn ANA miles, ANA Mileage Club has garnered a superb reputation.

If you’re able to search for and book round-trip award space (no one-way flights) and are willing to pay for fuel surcharges, you can get some exceptional value.

As a reminder, fuel surcharges from European airlines like Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, and SAS are all passed on — avoid those to save over $1,500 in round-trip fees.

Luckily, 2 airlines don’t come with huge fees on ANA redemptions: Ethiopian Airlines and United.

Cabin ClassANA Miles Cost (Round-Trip)Ethiopian Airlines Taxes and FeesUnited Airlines Taxes and Fees
Economy65,000~$519~$186
Business104,000~$1,086~$193

Another perk of ANA Mileage Club is that you can add a complimentary stopover, which is particularly useful for Ethiopian Airlines-operated flights from Africa to the U.S.

That’s because Ethiopian Airlines flights departing Addis Ababa towards the U.S. have stops in Dublin, Ireland! Note that Ethiopian Airlines flights departing the U.S. towards Addis Ababa are nonstop flights.

So if you maximized ANA miles, you could end up visiting Africa and Ireland for the same mileage price!

Here are a few terrific redemptions you can make using ANA miles:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Addis Ababa (ADD) – Dublin (DUB) – Chicago (ORD) in Ethiopian Airlines business class with a stopover in Dublin (DUB) for 104,000 ANA miles + ~$519 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Lomé (LFW) – Addis Ababa (ADD) round-trip with a stopover in Lomé in Ethiopian Airlines business class for 104,000 ANA miles + ~$1,086 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Accra (ACC) round-trip in United Polaris class for 104,000 ANA Miles + ~$193 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Addis Ababa (ADD) – Dublin (DUB) – Chicago (ORD) in Ethiopian Airlines business class with a stopover in Dublin (DUB) 104,000 ANA Miles + ~$519 in taxes and fees

We generally don’t recommend using ANA’s website to conduct award searches — rather, you should use a better-designed search engine, such as United to search for award availability:

  1. Go to United.com to search for award availability.
  2. After finding award space, write down all of the flight details.
  3. Go to the ANA homepage.
  4. Click ANA Mileage Club on the top-right section of the homepage.
  5. Under the Flight Awards section in the left-hand side box, click International, followed by Award Reservation.
  6. You’ll be prompted to log into your ANA Mileage Club account.
  7. Enter the travel details from the flight result in step 2.
  8. After verifying award availability on ANA’s website, transfer your Amex or Marriott Bonvoy points.
  9. Redo the search and book the reservation by redeeming miles and with a credit card to pay for taxes and fees.

Earning ANA Mileage Club Miles

While ANA miles aren’t quite as easy to earn as Emirates miles, the Japanese frequent flyer program is still partnered with Amex Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

Transfers from Amex take around 3 business days while those from Marriott Bonvoy take around 7 business days, so be sure to factor that into your travel booking.

American Express Membership Rewards transfers at a 1:1 ratio while Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio. With Marriott, you’ll earn a bonus of 5,000 ANA miles whenever you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to ANA.

Recommended American Express Cards

Bottom Line: ANA Mileage Club is the best loyalty program to use for Star Alliance business class awards to Africa, as long as you stick with airlines whose fuel surcharges are not passed on. It’s easy to earn ANA miles, thanks to a strategic transfer partnership with Amex Membership Rewards.

Avianca LifeMiles

Lufthansa B747-8 First Class Seat 1A - Cherag Dubash
Lufthansa first class. Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

Avianca LifeMiles is one of the fastest-growing frequent flyer programs in the world. And while the program has a bunch of quirks, there’s a lot to love about it.

Simply put, you can’t beat the ease of earning LifeMiles, the ability to book premium Star Alliance award tickets without fuel surcharges, and the solid redemption rates.

In this case, LifeMiles is handy for booking excellent business or first class products that would otherwise come with massive out-of-pocket costs of $1,500+ round-trip! That number plummets to a whopping $38 one-way, even in first class.

And it’s technically possible to book first class award tickets all the way to Africa using LifeMiles on Lufthansa, but the only African destination currently serviced by a first class-equipped Lufthansa plane is Johannesburg (JNB).

To make things more challenging, Lufthansa first class is only bookable using points up to 15 days before departure at most, so only last-minute planners can book Lufthansa first class with points.

Here’s the LifeMiles award chart for flights between the U.S. and Africa:

Cabin ClassAvianca LifeMiles Cost (One-Way)Taxes and Fees (One-Way)
Economy42,500~$38
Business78,000~$38
First105,000~$38

As you can tell, being able to book $10,000 first class or $5,000 business class tickets is an absolute steal!

Hot Tip: LifeMiles uses a weighted average to price mixed cabin award tickets, which means that if you fly a portion of your journey in first class and the rest in business class, your award ticket will be cheaper than an entirely first class ticket! 

Here are some incredible redemptions you can make using LifeMiles from the U.S. to Africa:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Windhoek (WDH) one-way in Lufthansa first class and business class for 90,525 LifeMiles + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • Houston (IAH) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Nairobi (NBO) one-way in Lufthansa first class and business class for 93,433 LifeMiles + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Johannesburg (JNB) one-way in Lufthansa first class for 105,000 LifeMiles + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • Miami (MIA) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Abuja (ABV) one-way in Lufthansa first class and business class for 95,035 LifeMiles + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Cape Town (CPT) one-way in Lufthansa first class and business class for 88,765 LifeMiles + ~$38 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Mauritius (MRU) one-way in Lufthansa first class and business class for 91,495 LifeMiles + ~$38 in taxes and fees

Unfortunately, one of the quirks with LifeMiles is that if your itinerary has more than 1 stop or has many possible routings, it’s very difficult to get your booking to show up on the website. And LifeMiles’ customer service team is notoriously hard to work with.

Nonetheless, you can book your tickets with LifeMiles by following this list of steps:

  1. Go to the LifeMiles website.
  2. Click the flag icon in the top-right corner to change the site language to English.
  3. Click Log in in the top-right corner once you’re on the English site.
  4. Log into your LifeMiles account.
  5. On the homepage, click the button that says Travel on the ribbon at the top of the page.
  6. Enter your trip details in the search box and click Find Flights.
  7. Choose your travel date(s).
  8. Choose your desired flight option.
  9. Redeem your LifeMiles and use a credit card to pay for taxes and fees.

Earning Avianca LifeMiles

Avianca LifeMiles are ridiculously easy to earn.

In addition to having lucrative transfer partnerships with Amex Membership RewardsCiti ThankYou RewardsCapital One MilesMarriott Bonvoy, and Brex Rewards, LifeMiles is one of the only frequent flyer programs that routinely offers incredible mileage sales where you can buy miles for 1 to 1.4 cents apiece.

Amex, Brex, Capital One, and Citi all transfer to Avianca LifeMiles instantly at a 1:1 ratio. Plus, Marriott Bonvoy has a 3:1 transfer ratio with the usual 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Marriott Bonvoy transfers take around 1 business day.

Lastly, Avianca has 2 co-branded credit cards that earn miles directly.

Recommended Citi Cards

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premier Card
Learn More
(at our partner's secure site)
  • Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels.
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $95
$1,280
Citi Rewards+® Card

Citi Rewards+® Card
Learn More
(at our partner's secure site)
  • Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer and on purchases from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% – 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
  • The Citi Rewards+® Card – the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase – with no cap.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% – 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-840)
  • Annual Fee: $0

$320

United MileagePlus

Swiss Air business class
SWISS Air business class. Image Credit: SWISS Air

United MileagePlus is one of the most streamlined frequent flyer programs in the world.

Boasting a best-in-class online search engine, intuitive ways to earn miles, and strong brand awareness, there are a lot of reasons why you’d want to book your award travel through United.

Just be aware that United MileagePlus will rarely get you the best redemption rates. But it’s the most uncomplicated program to book award travel on.

United MileagePlus generally doesn’t offer amazing value for business and first class flights due to its dynamic pricing system and the absence of an award chart. The best deals are known as Saver awards, but regardless of which mileage price you end up paying, you won’t be shelling out any extra money to pay for fuel surcharges.

Here are some fantastic redemptions you can make using United miles:

  • Boston (BOS) – Zurich (ZRH) – Mahé (SEZ) one-way in SWISS Air business class and Edelweiss business class for 88,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Chicago (ORD) – Brussels (BRU) – Kigali (KGL) one-way in United Polaris class and Brussels Airlines business class for 88,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Miami (MIA) – Zurich (ZRH) – Johannesburg (JNB) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 88,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Vienna (VIE) – Mauritius (MRU) one-way in Austrian Airlines business class for 88,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Newark (EWR) – Brussels (BRU) – Douala (DLA) one-way in United Polaris class and Brussels Airlines business class for 88,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Lisbon (LIS) – Maputo (MPM) one-way in TAP Air Portugal business class for 88,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Brussels (BRU) – Bujumbura (BJM) one-way in United Polaris class and Brussels Airlines business class for 88,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees

Any of these sound appetizing to you? Follow these instructions to book your United MileagePlus flight:

  1. Visit the United Airlines website.
  2. On the homepage, you’ll see a search box. Toggle the box that says Book with miles.
  3. Fill in the search box. Click Find flights.
  4. Pick which flight you’d like to book.
  5. Confirm the reservation by spending United MileagePlus miles and by using a credit card to pay for taxes and fees.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles

United MileagePlus miles can be earned in many ways, but the most common is 1 of 2 ways:

Generally, you should stick to transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards due to the better categories through which you can earn points, as well as the increased flexibility of your Ultimate Rewards points.

Lastly, you can top off your United miles with Marriott Bonvoy, which has a 3:1.1 transfer ratio and a bonus of 5,500 miles when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to United. That means if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to United MileagePlus, you’ll end up with 27,500 United miles (22,000 from the 3:1.1 ratio plus 5,500 from the transfer bonus).

Air Canada Aeroplan

Etihad Airways Airbus A380 Business Studio Flat-Bed
Fly Etihad Airways’ Business Studio to Africa! Image Credit: Greg Stone

If you’re looking for alternative ways to fly to Africa using points, you might remember that Etihad Airways, which is based in Abu Dhabi, offers an exceptional premium cabin experience, whether you’re in business class or first class.

Your first instinct might be to redeem Etihad miles for Etihad flights, but for these redemptions, the best bet is Air Canada Aeroplan, a non-alliance partner.

You’ll generally want to avoid booking first class since Etihad doesn’t offer a first class product except to Casablanca (CMN) and Aeroplan charges according to the highest class of any segment in the itinerary, even if you’re not flying in first class the whole way.

Also, Air Canada Aeroplan allows you to add a stopover for just 5,000 miles extra, which means you can add a stopover in the U.A.E. en route to Africa!

To make things even more attractive, it’s also a good idea to consider booking Star Alliance business class flights using Aeroplan miles because fuel surcharges are not passed on.

Indeed, Aeroplan is the first loyalty program we’ve talked about in this guide that doesn’t pass on Star Alliance fuel surcharges and allows you to easily add a stopover to your itinerary.

Here are some excellent routes you can book using Aeroplan miles:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Nairobi (NBO) one-way in Etihad business class with a stopover in Abu Dhabi for 105,000 Aeroplan miles + ~$41 in taxes and fees
  • Denver (DEN) – Munich (MUC) – Cape Town (CPT) one-way in Lufthansa business class with a stopover in Munich for 105,000 Aeroplan miles + ~$41 in taxes and fees
  • Detroit (DTW) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Port Harcourt (PHC) one-way in Lufthansa business class with a stopover in Munich for 90,000 Aeroplan miles + ~$41 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Johannesburg (JNB) one-way in Etihad business class with a stopover in Abu Dhabi for 105,000 Aeroplan miles + ~$41 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Mahé (SEZ) one-way in Etihad business class with a stopover in Abu Dhabi for 105,000 Aeroplan miles + ~$41 in taxes and fees

Aeroplan’s website is extremely accurate and reliable. That being said, you can only search for 1 date at a time, which can make finding award space tedious.

To combat this, we recommend using other airline websites to find suitable award availability. After finding award availability, you can confirm your flights on Aeroplan’s website.

  1. Find award availability through Etihad Guest (if flying Etihad) or on United.com (if flying on a Star Alliance airline like Lufthansa).
  2. Find award availability that matches your travel situation.
  3. Visit Aeroplan’s website.
  4. In the top-right corner, click Sign In.
  5. Log into your Aeroplan account.
  6. Replicate your flight search and confirm that the same flights are showing up in Aeroplan’s search engine.
  7. Redeem your Aeroplan miles and pay for taxes and fees using a credit card to confirm your reservation.

Earning Aeroplan Miles

Earning Aeroplan miles is simple enough — the best way to do it is through transfer partners.

Air Canada Aeroplan is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex, Capital One, and Chase transfer to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly. Marriott Bonvoy transfers to Aeroplan in around 5 business days at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Air Canada.

Recommended Capital One Cards

American Airlines AAdvantage

Qatar QSuites, 777, Alex Miller of Upgraded Points, Inflight Entertainment
Qatar Airways Qsuites is an absolute delight. Image Credit: Alex Miller

American Airlines is our first Oneworld partner — its frequent flyer program is referred to as AAdvantage.

We love using American Airlines miles to book Qatar Airways Qsuites, which is one of the best business class products in the world. With enclosed suites, plenty of privacy, world-class catering, and luxury amenities, there’s no reason not to book Qsuites!

American Airlines doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges on Qatar Airways, but if you fly on a different airline like British Airways, you’ll see massive fuel surcharges.

Qatar Airways flies to Doha, its hub airport in the Middle East. After a layover in Doha, you’ll proceed to your final destination in Africa.

Here’s how much a one-way flight will cost when booked using AAdvantage miles between the U.S. and Africa:

Cabin ClassAAdvantage Miles Cost (One-Way)Qatar Airways Taxes and Fees
Economy40,000~$16
Business75,000~$16

Here are some amazing redemptions you can make on Qsuites to Africa:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Doha (DOH) – Lusaka (LUN) one-way in Qatar Airways Qsuites for 75,000 American Airlines miles + ~$16 in taxes and fees
  • Dallas (DFW) – Doha (DOH) – Entebbe (EBB) one-way in Qatar Airways Qsuites for 75,000 American Airlines miles + ~$16 in taxes and fees
  • Philadelphia (PHL) – Doha (DOH) – Maputo (MPM) one-way in Qatar Airways Qsuites for 75,000 American Airlines miles + ~$16 in taxes and fees
  • Seattle (SEA) – Doha (DOH) – Djibouti (JIB) one-way in Qatar Airways Qsuites for 75,000 American Airlines miles + ~$16 in taxes and fees

Here’s how you can book AAdvantage award flights:

  1. Go to the American Airlines website.
  2. In the middle of the homepage screen, check off the box that says Redeem miles.
  3. Choose One way or Round trip.
  4. Enter your itinerary information and click Search.
  5. Find a suitable flight, redeem your AAdvantage miles, and use your credit card to pay for taxes and fees.

Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines AAdvantage doesn’t have a consistent 1:1 transfer partnership.

However, you can earn American Airlines miles from co-branded credit cards by Citi and Barclays.

Lastly, you can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to American Airlines at a 3:1 ratio. You’ll also get a bonus of 5,000 American Airlines miles when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to AAdvantage. Marriott Bonvoy transfers to AAdvantage take around 2 business days.

Hot Tip: Through November 13, 2021, Citi has added American Airlines as a temporary transfer partner, which is great for Citi ThankYou Rewards loyalists!

Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Cards

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Card
Learn More
(at Chase's secure site)
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn up to 14x total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Card.
  • 2x Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).
  • 1x point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $0

$210
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Learn More
(at Chase's secure site)
  • Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases + 10X total points on eligible purchases in select categories.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn up to 17x total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • 2x Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $95

$1,050
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card


Learn More
(at Amex's secure site)
  • Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-840)
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

$525
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card


Learn More
(at Amex's secure site)
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-840)
  • Annual fee: $125
  • Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

$525

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Qatar Airways Boeing 777 Qsuite Business Class Cabin
Don’t have American Airlines miles? Don’t worry — Qsuites can be yours with Amex points, too. Image Credit: Greg Stone

Not everybody has millions of Marriott Bonvoy points or American Airlines miles laying around. So if you’re looking to book Qsuites to Africa and don’t have these points, don’t worry!

You can book Qsuites flights using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles! However, you’ll be on the hook for large fuel surcharges, so just keep that in mind.

Here are some great example redemptions you can book:

  • Boston (BOS) – Doha (DOH) – Dar es Salaam (DAR) one-way in Qatar Airways Qsuites for 90,000 Asia Miles + ~$507 in taxes and fees
  • Houston (IAH) – Doha (DOH) – Lagos (LOS) one-way in Qatar Airways Qsuites for 90,000 Asia Miles + ~$507 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Doha (DOH) – Nairobi (NBO) one-way in Qatar Airways Qsuites for 90,000 Asia Miles + ~$507 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Doha (DOH) – Khartoum (KRT) one-way in Qatar Airways Qsuites for 90,000 Asia Miles + ~$507 in taxes and fees

To book flights using Asia Miles, we recommend first searching on American Airlines’ or British Airways’ website and then calling Asia Miles to book.

That’s because Asia Miles employs some confusing married segment logic. For example, if you find a flight from Los Angeles to Doha in Qsuites and a connecting flight from Doha to Nairobi in Qsuites, Asia Miles doesn’t always make the entire itinerary available using points.

Here’s the easiest way to book Qsuites using Asia Miles:

  1. Visit American Airlines’s website.
  2. Check off the box that says Redeem miles in the search box and select One way or Round trip.
  3. Enter your itinerary details and click Search.
  4. After finding availability, call Asia Miles at 866-892-2598.
  5. Feed the customer service agent the flight details and complete the booking.

Earning Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific makes it easy to earn Asia Miles.

Asia Miles is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex transfers at a 1:1 ratio within a few hours. Brex and Citi both transfer in 1 business day at a 1:1 ratio. Capital One transfers at a 1:1 ratio in less than 2 business days.

Lastly, Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus when transferring 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and takes around 5 business days.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Air France business class
Air France business class. Image Credit: Air France

The last frequent flyer program we’ll be talking about is Air France/KLM Flying Blue. This is an essential loyalty program to discuss because it offers the best SkyTeam award ticket pricing.

Most importantly, you can book Air France or KLM business class itineraries to lesser-known cities and countries in Africa where there would otherwise be no convenient schedules.

With a single stop in Paris (CDG) or Amsterdam (AMS), you can access interesting cities that otherwise wouldn’t be served by any other full-service airline.

So if you want to fly to countries like Madagascar, Chad, and Benin, Air France will probably get you there in the most comfort, in the least amount of time, and with the lowest overall logistical complications.

Flying Blue passes on all fuel surcharges and uses a dynamic award pricing scheme for Air France and KLM flights; you can even calculate the lowest award pricing online.

Here are some fantastic ways you can book SkyTeam flights to Africa using Flying Blue miles:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Paris (CDG) – Pointe-Noire (PNR) one-way in Air France business class for 115,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$456 in taxes and fees
  • Boston (BOS) – Paris (CDG) – Bangui (BGF) one-way in Air France business class for 98,500 Flying Blue miles + ~$456 in taxes and fees
  • Denver (DEN) – Paris (CDG) – Malabo (SSG) one-way in Air France business class for 115,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$453 in taxes and fees
  • Detroit (DTW) – Paris (CDG) – Libreville (LBV) one-way in Air France business class for 115,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$455 in taxes and fees
  • Houston (IAH) – Paris (CDG) – N’Djamena (NDJ) one-way in Air France business class for 93,500 Flying Blue miles + ~$456 in taxes and fees
  • Las Vegas (LAS) – Amsterdam (AMS) – Kigali (KGL) one-way in KLM business class for 115,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$453 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Amsterdam (AMS) – Zanzibar (ZNZ) one-way in KLM business class for 115,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$481 in taxes and fees
  • Miami (MIA) – Paris (CDG) – Antananarivo (TNR) one-way in Air France business class for 85,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$453 in taxes and fees
  • Minneapolis (MSP) – Paris (CDG) – Cotonou (COO) one-way in Air France business class for 85,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$456 in taxes and fees
  • Orlando (MCO) – Amsterdam (AMS) – Accra (ACC) one-way in KLM business class for 115,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$480 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Amsterdam (AMS) – Nairobi (NBO) one-way in KLM business class for 85,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$456 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Amsterdam (AMS) – Cape Town (CPT) one-way in KLM business class for 85,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$460 in taxes and fees

To book an award ticket with Flying Blue miles, use these instructions:

  1. Visit the U.S. Air France website.
  2. Click Log in in the top-right corner and enter your account information.
  3. On the homepage, click Book with Miles button on top left of the search box.
  4. Click either Round trip or One-way.
  5. Enter your desired airport codes. Choose your departure and return dates, number of passengers, and class of service.
  6. Click Search flights.
  7. Find your desired flight itinerary and book the ticket using Flying Blue miles and a credit card for residual taxes and fees.

Earning Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles

It’s super easy to earn lots of Flying Blue miles.

You can take advantage of Flying Blue’s transfer relationships with Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex, Brex, Chase, Capital One, and Citi transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott Bonvoy transfers take around 3 business days and process at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Flying Blue.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking to book an ultra-luxurious Emirates first class flight all the way to Africa, a mixed cabin booking in first and business class, a convenient nonstop itinerary with lie-flat business class seats, or a connecting flight to a secondary country in Africa, there’s bound to be a suitable way to redeem points for flights to Africa.

In this guide, we started by walking you through how to book Emirates first class, the leader in first class luxury. Then, we walked you through the best deals for nonstop flights aboard Star Alliance airlines via ANA Mileage Club, Avianca LifeMiles, and United MileagePlus.

After that, we showed you that it’s possible to book Etihad Airways business class flights (as well as other Star Alliance flights) using Aeroplan miles.

Then, we took a deep dive into American Airlines AAdvantage and Asia Miles as our go-to award programs for Oneworld flights (Qsuites in particular).

To close out this guide, we outlined the attractive features of Air France/KLM Flying Blue, which often offers the only 1-stop service between the U.S. and smaller countries in Africa.

Regardless of your needs, you now have the most authoritative guide on how to fly to Africa using points and miles.


The information regarding the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.


Frequently asked questions

What is the best airline to fly to Africa?

It’s no secret that Emirates has one of the best first class products in the world. The best way to fly in luxury to Africa is aboard Emirates with a layover in Dubai.

If you’re lucky, you may also be able to book Lufthansa first class to Africa via Frankfurt if your final destination is Johannesburg!

Are there any direct flights to Africa?

Yes!

We talked about Northern Africa in a separate guide, where Egyptair and Royal Air Maroc operate nonstop flights to Cairo and Casablanca.

In addition, Ethiopian Airlines offers nonstop flights to Addis Ababa, Lomé, and even Dublin!

Kenya Airways has 1 U.S. flight between New York and Nairobi.

Delta has nonstop flights from Atlanta to Lagos and Johannesburg, as well as from New York to Accra, Dakar, and Lagos.

United has nonstop flights from Newark to Cape Town and Johannesburg, as well as from Washington, D.C. to Accra.

How long is a flight to Africa?

It depends. If you’re flying nonstop, expect your flight from the U.S. to Western Africa to last 7 to 10 hours.

If you’re flying from the U.S. to Eastern Africa, expect the flight to be around 13 to 15 hours.

Lastly, if you’re flying from the U.S. to South Africa, expect the flight to last around 14 to 16 hours.

Keep in mind that all of these numbers are in each direction.

What are the best ways to fly to Africa with points and miles?

The best way to fly first class to Africa using points and miles is booking Emirates first class using Emirates miles.

The best way to fly business class to Africa using points and miles is to book Ethiopian Airlines or United Airlines business class using ANA miles.

You can also redeem Avianca LifeMiles, United MileagePlus miles, Air Canada Aeroplan miles, American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles for other options like Lufthansa, SWISS Air, Qatar Airways, Air France, and KLM.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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