AAdvantage of British Airways to South Africa for $939 vs. Delta $853

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

LAX-JNB DL $853 Nov15

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).

SFO-JNB $961 BA Nov 12-26

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.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. I took DL C+ as a PM from ATL to DXB–15.5 hrs outbound, 17.5 hrs inbound because of wind change. It’s really not that bad in C+ with more pitch, row space and access to aisle. DL even provided Evian bottled water for all coach.

  2. Also, it’s not 3635 Delta Skymiles “EQM.” I think you meant MQM since it’s DL and also, elite qualifying miles would be 20758 miles. 3635 miles would be redeemable miles w/o any medallion status.

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