Long haul airfare deals abound today and Delta at $853 from Los Angeles to Johannesburg, South Africa is as low as I have seen in past few months. San Francisco is $875 for departures from late October into February 2016.
Delta Airlines Los Angeles LAX – Atlanta ATL – Johannesburg JNB, South Africa
$852.30 Tuesday November 17 – Tuesday, November 24
Base fare $727 means a Delta SkyMiles member without elite status with this ticket earns 3,635 Delta Skymiles redeemable miles and 21,156 MQM for Delta economy V class, however, you still need to reach $3,000 MQD in ticket spend as a U.S. flyer to earn low level 25,000 MQM Silver elite with Delta Skymiles.
A 17-hour flight from JNB to Atlanta in economy class pains me to even consider. I have some painful memories of San Francisco-Hong Kong flights from more than a decade ago.
You can also route flights with KLM and Air France for about $30 more.
AAdvantage of British Airways to South Africa
British Airways is a more expensive ticket, but the miles earned and the routing is far more appealing to me.
British Airways San Francisco SFO – London LHR – Johannesburg JNB
$961 economy O class November 12-26, 2015
(LAX-JNB flights are priced a little lower at $939 round trip).
This itinerary breaks up the long haul flights into two flights of ten to eleven hours each. When flying economy class, I think it is far more tolerable to avoid flights over 10 to 11 hours. They are truly a pain in the ass, as I still recall from my KLM nonstop San Francisco-Amsterdam economy flights in February.
Even better is the mileage earned flying British Airways with economy O class eligible for 100% elite qualifying miles and redeemable miles in American AAdvantage.
SFO-LHR-JNB-LHR-SFO is 21,975 flight miles. This single ticket earns 88% of the miles needed for American Airlines AAdvantage Gold elite status at 25,000 EQM.
Last night I studied hotel rates in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and found some good deals for $275 for five nights. The American Airlines fare SFO to Rio de Janeiro at $635 + $160 Visa + $250 for a 5-night hotel stay is a trip I am seriously contemplating for my American Airlines AAdvantage elite fast track offer to earn AAdvantage Executive Platinum with 30,000 EQM by October 9.
South Africa though is where I truly want to travel and there are advantages to flying British Airways to Johannesburg. Unfortunately, the $961 fare from California does not start until late October. I am favoring a ticket to Johannesburg instead of Rio, since I have never been to the African continent. Also, no visa required for US citizens visiting South Africa for less than 90 days. That makes the fare difference between $800 for Rio ticket + Brazil visa or $1,100 for Johannesburg negligible with South Africa providing 50% more AAdvantage EQM for my elite fast-track offer.
This British Airways fare looks like a good deal. I hope to find something in this price range to South Africa for flights before October 9. And, I need to check Johannesburg hotel rates. I have been wanting to try out some of the Marriott Protea hotels in South Africa as another bonus to visiting the country.