Let me begin by saying that I could have never put this trip together without hiring Andrew from the Point Pros (Andrew@pointspros.com). If you are looking to hire someone to help you book a complicated award ticket or any kind of an award ticket, I would HIGHLY recommend Andrew. Andrew works under Ben (aka Lucky) who writes One Mile At A Time
What I had thought would be a simple trip to South Africa with a free stopover in Scotland on our way home turned into so much more. Getting to Scotland was very difficult and costly with UK passenger and landing fees. We had hoped that if we deleted that portion of our trip it would be easier to book, but it wasn’t. We’ll save Scotland for some other trip. Deleting Scotland has allowed us to think about adding in a different stopover city. Remember, on long haul trips, you get a free stopover for as long as you want.
Apparently South African Airways hasn’t released any award booking seats from the United States to South Africa during the time period we wanted to go. We needed to patch together an itinerary to get us there on the 16th as we were flying from Johannesburg to Nelspruit for our safari on the 17th. Unfortunately, the closest we could get to Johannesburg on an award booking was on the 14th. With award booking you have to remain flexible – you most likely will not get what you want with more exotic destinations. Though Blogger Hubby hates to waste money on hotels I’m rather happy about it – it gives me time to adjust to the time changes before we go on safari on the 17th.
Put on your seat belt and get comfortable as you read about these flights.
We will be flying from Detroit to Washington Dulles where we will have about a six hour layover (any friends want to pick us up and take us out of the airport for the afternoon?). From Dulles we’ll fly in business class overnight to London Heathrow and where we have a (gasp) 14 hour layover. Rather than stay in the airport that long, we’ll probably take a train into London – a place I have never been. We’ll actually have two overnight flights, like we did flying into Sydney. We’ll return to Heathrow and take an overnight flight down to Johannesburg on South African Airways.
After spending a few days in Johannesburg and meeting our son, our daughter-in-law and baby to be, we’ll go on two different safaris in Kruger. Looking forward to this but a little concerned about the 4 AM guided safari tours – that’s very early!
For the return home, and this is the part that gets ugly, we will be returning from Cape Town (an Open Jaw flight). Using award miles to get out of South Africa was not easy. The choices were either EgyptAir (which had poor reviews) or Ethiopian Airlines in economy but on the new Dreamliner. We’ll fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then onward to Addis Abba, Ethiopia. We’ll have a layover and then fly on to Rome, on Ethiopia Airlines in Business. From Rome we’ll fly to Copenhagen, Denmark on Scandinavian Airlines. What a day of traveling. We’ll spend 6 nights in Copenhagen. We’re open to lots of suggestions including whether it is worthwhile to take the train or ferry over to Sweden.
For our flights home from Copenhagen we’ll fly into Toronto on Air Canada’s Executive First Class suites which have a 1-1-1 configuration. Click on the link and you’ll see what I am referring to. A short hop to Chicago and then a shorter hop to Detroit and we’ll be back from where we started from. I guess you can see why we needed help. Through Expert Flyer we have listed several other flights that we’d like to be on if seats become available.
All this for 240,000 miles total (Ultimate Rewards points transferred to United) and $212 per person. If we were to pay cash for this exact itinerary, it would be over $21,000. Granted there were shorter ways to fly (direct from Dulles to Johannesburg) but that cost more money and since we are retired, we have time plus I get to fly into Ethiopia. We will fly 22,439 miles on this epic journey. We can pay and make changes to this itinerary but if we make any changes after February 1st, that will put us into the new award chart and would end us costing us many more points.
Finally, again many thanks to Ben and Andrew from the Point Pros and I would HIGHLY recommend them.
Here is what our trip will look like:
- 11 Reasons to Visit South Africa – Today! (thewolfwilltravel.com)