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Thrifty Traveler Premium sent out an alert this morning that immediately made me excited even though I won’t be able to take advantage of this one: United has nonstop business class award space from New York (Newark) to Cape Town, South Africa during summer and early fall 2022 (to be clear, that’s winter and early spring in South Africa). If you’re looking to pair Cape Town with a safari, South African winter months are often considered among the best time since vegetation is thinner, which makes for easier animal sightings.
- United is offering saver-level business class on the nonstop flight from New York (Newark) to Cape Town, South Africa on select dates between June and October 2022.
Cape Town can be a terrific place to visit. Known for good food and beautiful scenery and beaches in the surrounding area, it could make for a great visit (you’ll obviously need to monitor travel restrictions and requirements). Before we visited Cape Town the first time, I didn’t realize that you could see penguins on some of the beaches of South Africa, but my wife educated me and we went down to Boulders Beach and marveled at the show.
And while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the wildlife viewing on the Eastern end of South Africa at Kruger National Park, my wife and I made sure to check out the slightly larger aquatic life a couple of hours from Cape Town in Gansbaii.
We even fit in a little time to visit Ernie Els’s winery in Stellenbosch while in the region.
My point is that there is plenty to do for all types of interests, so nonstop business class availability certainly drew my interest, particularly with four seats available on many days. We’ve connected through Europe or the Middle East on trips to and from South Africa in the past. Nonstop from Newark cuts out a lot of extra travel time.
I used SeatSpy to get a look at one year of availability so that I could easily see which dates were still available. Grey semi-circles are economy availability and green semi-circles are business class (this only shows nonstop availability and only for saver seats on United metal).
Sure enough, just as Thrifty Traveler reported, some dates had four seats available in business class.
United charges 70K miles each way for these seats. Unfortunately, a lot of availability has been scooped up, but I do see some dates with at least 3 seats available to partners.
The best way to book is via ANA Mileage Club, an Amex transfer partner, which charges 104K miles round trip in business class.
Note that ANA requires round trip booking, so you can’t book one-way with ANA (a one-way search will error out, so you must search round trip). ANA does allow a free stopover on a oneway, so you could stopover in Cape Town and then continue onward on South African Airways or Ethiopian elsewhere in the region, which is a phenomenal value. If South African Airways still flies into Skukuza Airport (I believe they do), you could theoretically stopover in Cape Town and then fly all the way to Kruger National Park if you can find availability. The Protea Kruger Gate isn’t far from the airport and last I knew there was an Avis car rental there.
Other options to book include:
- Avianca LifeMiles (Amex transfer partner, Brex transfer partner, Capital One transfer partner, Citi transfer partner): 78K miles each way (though this may be reduced with an economy class connecting flight on either end)
- Air Canada Aeroplan (Amex transfer partner, Bilt transfer partner, Capital One transfer partner, Chase transfer partner): 85K miles each way (on the nonstop). I didn’t check distance bands, but it may be possible to build in a stopover in Cape Town and then continue on elsewhere in South Africa on South African Airways (or elsewhere in Africa on either South African Airways or Ethiopian Airways for a max of 100K miles one-way).
- Turkish Miles & Smiles (Citi transfer partner, Capital One transfer partner, Bilt transfer partner): 85K miles each way
There will be no fuel surcharges on United flights.
Overall, this is a great deal for those able to scoop it up — while there isn’t a ton of availability left, there is some still to be booked in both directions.