The Ultimate Guide to United Miles: Part 15 – All The Ways To Get To Africa

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While United only flies to one African destination (Lagos in Nigeria) themselves, they have several Star Alliance airlines which fly to many cities and countries in Africa.  United miles are the best miles to use for flights to Africa!

United Miles To Africa

United Miles are the Best Miles to Use to get to Africa!

The Ultimate Guide To United Miles Index

The Best Tip For Searching On

Don’t forget to change your search results to show you 50 flights (instead of the default) when you search on  This will show you more flight options which may work for you!

Step 1 – Click On “Advanced Search”

Go to and click on  “Advanced Search” at the bottom of the award search page.

Step 2 – Change “Number of Flights to Display” To “50”

Click on the drop-down box by the “Number of Flights to Display” and change it from the “Default” to “50

United Miles To Africa

Step 2- Increase the Number of Flights to Display to 50

You will see MANY more flight options this way!

How To Use The Information In This Post

You could rely on to find you awards seats to Africa.  And United’s website is pretty good.  But it is unlikely to find every possible option on using United miles to Africa.

If you’re really commited to finding award seats to Africa and don’t want to hire an award booking service, you could search for award seats on many of the routes below.

The information below will help you find the long-distance flight to Africa.  The best way to search is segment-by-segment.

Once you find the long-distance flight to Africa, you should start searching for flights to your final destination in Africa and then from your US departure city to the gateway (i.e. where the flight to Africa departs from the US).

And here are ways to earn lots of United miles!

Award Pricing 

There are three separate regions within the African continent. The Middle East region includes Egypt, but also countries like Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

United Miles To Africa

Countries In The Middle East Region

The Northern Africa region includes Algeria, Canary Island, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.

United Miles To Africa

Countries In The Northern Africa Region

The rest of Africa is placed in the Central or Southern Africa region, which includes Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, amongst others.

United Miles To Africa

Countries In The Central or Southern Africa Region

All 3 regions currently have the same price for awards from the Mainland US and Canada.

United Miles To Africa

United’s One Way Award Chart To Northern, Central, And Southern Africa, And The Middle East

For one-way awards from the US, Alaska, or Canada to the Middle East (includes Egypt), you will pay:

  • 40,000 miles each way in economy
  • 60,000 miles each way in Business Class
  • 75,000 miles each way in First Class

For one-way awards from Hawaii to Northern Africa, you will pay:

  • 45,000 miles each way in economy
  • 65,000 miles each way in Business Class
  • 85,000 miles each way in First Class

For one-way awards from Hawaii to Central or Southern Africa, you will pay:

  • 50,000 miles each way in economy
  • 75,000 miles each way in Business Class
  • 90,000 miles each way in First Class

For one-way awards from Hawaii to the Middle East, you will pay:

  • 40,000 miles each way in economy
  • 60,000 miles each way in Business Class
  • 80,000 miles each way in First Class

Non-Stop Flights From North America To Africa

United Miles To Africa

You Can Use United Miles To Fly Directly From North America To Africa!

United flies 4 times per week from Houston to Lagos, Nigeria.  This is the only flight on United from the US to Africa.  Availability is generally good in both economy and Business Class. Three Star Alliance partners – EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, and South African Airways – are based in Africa and have flights directly from North America.  You can then find connections within Africa to other destinations.

1.  EgyptAir

You can fly to Cairo (CAI) from:

  • New York (JFK)
  • Toronto (YYZ)

Both economy and Business Class awards are available.  There are good connections from Cairo to the rest of Northern Africa and the Middle East.

2.  Ethiopian Airlines

You can fly to Addis Ababa (ADD) from:

  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • Toronto (YYZ)

Both economy and Business Class are usually available.  Ethiopian Airlines has good connections to the rest of Central Africa, Southern Africa, and Indian Ocean destinations.

3.  South African Airways

You can fly to Johannesburg (JNB) from:

  • New York (JFK)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)

In general, Business Class awards are tough, but not impossible, to find on these flights, though economy class awards are available.

Booking A Flight To Seychelles With Minimal Stops

Seychelles is a popular island destination in Africa, but the only Star Alliance airline that serves Mahé island in Seychelles (SEZ) is Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa, and only on certain days of the week.

United Miles To Africa

United Miles can Take you to the Seychelles

However, since Ethiopian Airlines has flights to Washington, DC and Toronto, it’s possible to fly to Seychelles with only a few flights.

Let’s say you want to fly from Charlotte to Seychelles.  You will likely have to find an award flight(s) from Charlotte to either Washington, DC or Toronto, then an award flight(s) from one of those cities to Addis Ababa in Ethipia and then finally an award flight from Addis Ababa to Seychelles.

Even though we want a roundtrip, it’s good to search one direction at a time.  Let’s search from Charlotte to Seychelles and see what the United site gives us.

*TIP:  If you do not find award seats from your origin city to your destination, try searching segment by segment.  Start for the longest segment first.

In this case, that would be either Toronto (YYZ) or Washington, DC (IAD) to Addis Ababa (ADD).

Step 1 – Select City Pairs, Travel Date, Number Of Passengers, And “Award Travel”

On the United website, type in the origin and destination airports.  Since this is a flexible trip, we’ll select “My Dates are Flexible” and select a month.  We’re looking for 2 tickets and are searching “Award Travel.”

United Miles To Africa

Step 1 – Select City Pairs, Travel Dates, Number Of Passengers, And “Award Travel”

After clicking search, the United website will try to find flights that can be booked, and display which dates are available.

  • The dates that are not highlighted (in white) have no Saver availability.
  • The dates in yellow have only Saver Economy availability (though are worth checking anyway).
  • The dates in green have both Saver Economy and Saver Business/First availability.
  • The dates in blue have only Saver Business/First availability.
United Miles To Africa

Results Of Our Search For Flights From Charlotte To Seychelles

Step 2 – Chose A Travel Date

We’d prefer to leave at the beginning of a weekend, so let’s see what flights are available on Saturday, February 8 by clicking on that date.

There are award tickets available from Charlotte to Seychelles on February 8 via Washington DC and Addis Ababa.  The cost is 40,000 miles one-way in economy per passenger, or 60,000 miles one-way in Business per passenger.

Note:  US Airways will be leaving the Star Alliance on March 30, 2014.  While you can book US Airways awards before March 30, 2014 for travel in the future, you won’t be able to change the date of a US Airways flight after March 1 because they won’t be available with United miles.

So in this example, you can’t change the date of the Charlotte to Washington, DC flight after March 1.

United Miles To Africa

Step 2 – Chose A Travel Date

Always look out for “Mixed Cabin” warnings on the United website.

In this case, the Charlotte to Washington and Washington to Addis Ababa flights are available in First/Business Class, but the Addis Ababa to Seychelles flight is only available in Economy.

This can still be a good deal, because the longest part of the journey (the ~ 14 hour flight from the US to Ethiopia) is in Business Class.

Flying To Africa Via Europe

While non-stop flights from North America to Africa can be great, they are not always available! Most options for awards to Africa require stopping over in Europe.  This is also a great way to stretch your legs or even see another city on your trip!

You pay the SAME amount of United miles for a flight from the US to Africa if you stop over in Europe or if you fly on a non-stop flight from the US to Africa.

In a previous post, we discussed how to book flights from North America to Europe.  From Europe, we can book connecting flights to Africa.

1.  South African Airways

You can fly to Johannesburg (JNB) from:

  • London (LHR)
  • Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Munich (MUC)

You can book a flight from North America to one of these cities and connect to a South African Airways flight.

United Miles To Africa

You Can Fly On South African Airways From Johannesburg To Frankfurt, London, And Munich

2.  Ethiopian Airlines

You can fly to Addis Ababa (ADD) from:

  • Brussels (BRU)
  • Paris (CDG)
  • Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Milan (MXP)
  • Rome (FCO)
  • Stockholm (ARN)
  • London (LHR).
United Miles To Africa

Ethiopian Airlines Flies To Addis Ababa From These Cities

3.  EgyptAir

You can fly to Cairo (CAI) from:

  • Amsterdam (AMS)
  • Athens (ATH)
  • Barcelona (BCN)
  • Berlin (SXF)
  • Brussels (BRU)
  • Budapest (BUD)
  • Copenhagen (CPH)
  • Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Geneva (GVA)
  • Istanbul (IST)
  • Larnaca (LCA)
  • London (LHR)
  • Madrid (MAD)
  • Manchester (MAN)
  • Milan (MXP)
  • Moscow (DME)
  • Munich (MUC)
  • Paris (CDG)
  • Rome (FCO)
  • Vienna (VIE)
United Miles To Africa

European Cities With Connecting EgyptAir Flights

4.  TAP Portugal

You can fly from Lisbon to many cities in Northern and Western Africa, including:

  • Algiers (ALG)
  • Luanda (LAD)
  • Accra (ACC)
  • Bamako (BKO)
  • Marrakech (RAK)
  • Casablanca (CMN)
  • Tanger (TNG)
  • Maputo (MPM)
  • Dakar (DKR)

You can also fly from Lisbon to:

  • Cape Verde (SID)
  • Sao Tome (STE)
  • Principe (PCP)
United Miles To Africa

TAP Portugal Flies From Lisbon To These Cities

5.  Brussels Airlines

You can fly from Brussels (BRU) to many cities in Northern and Central Africa, including:

  • Conakry (CKY)
  • Dakar (DKR)
  • Entebbe (EBB)
  • Marrakech (RAK)
  • Nairobi (NBO)
United Miles To Africa

Brussels Airlines Flies From Brussels To These Cities

Note that does NOT show you Brussels Air flights.  But you can search for them on the ANA website and then call United to book those same flights!

6.  Turkish Airlines

You can fly to many African cities from Istanbul (IST), including:

  • Accra (ACC)
  • Addis Ababa (ADD)
  • Cairo (CAI)
  • Cape Town (CPT)
  • Dakar (DKR)
  • Johannesburg (JNB)
  • Kilimanjaro (JRO)

It can be tough to find Business Class awards to popular destinations like Cape Town, but economy class seats are generally available.

United Miles To Africa

You Can Fly On Turkish Airlines From Istanbul To These Cities

7.  Lufthansa

You can fly from Frankfurt (FRA) to:

  • Johannesburg (JNB)
  • Addis Ababa (ADD)
  • Casablanca (CMN)
  • Marrakech (RAK)

In addition, they have a seasonal (Northern Hemisphere winter) flight from Munich (MUC) to Cape Town (CPT).


You can fly from Zurich (ZRH) to:

  • Dar-Es-Salaam (DAR)
  • Nairobi (NBO)
  • Johannesburg (JNB)
  • Cairo (CAI)

However, you cannot book Swiss Air First Class seats with United miles.

United Miles To Africa

SWISS Flies From Zurich To These Cities

Booking Flights To Kilimanjaro Via Europe

Fortunately, booking an award to Kilimanjaro (JRO) isn’t as tough as actually climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro!

United Miles To Africa

Getting Here is Easier Than Climbing it!

Ethiopian Airlines and Turkish Airlines fly into Kilimanjaro airport.  So we can fly via Istanbul (IST) to reach Kilimanjaro. If you search for flights from Istanbul (IST) to Kilimanjaro (JRO), you’ll notice that there is availability almost every single day. That means that we only have to find flights to Istanbul to connect to the flight to Kilimanjaro.

Good thing Star Alliance has many routes between North America and Europe! For example, let’s say you want to book a trip from Houston (IAH) to Kilimanjaro (JRO) with a stopover in Istanbul on the way home.  All for the same amount of United miles as a flight without the stopover. You would search for awards from:

  • Houston to Kilimanjaro
  • Kilimanjaro to Istanbul
  • Istanbul to Houston

Step 1 – Search For Flights From Istanbul To Kilimanjaro

After you find dates where your flights are available, you can insert the cities into United’s “Multiple Destinations” search tool.  While I wouldn’t mind having to connect between Houston and Istanbul (for example, Houston to Frankfurt to Istanbul), Turkish Airlines has a nonstop flight that has decent availability.

United Miles To Africa

Search For Flights From Istanbul (IST) To Kilimanjaro (JRO)

Your search reveals plenty of award seats!

United Miles To Africa

Plenty of Award Availability!

Step 2 – Search For Flights With A Stopover In Istanbul

Enter the cities into United’s “Multiple Destinations” search tool.

United Miles To Africa

Search For flights From Houston To Kilimanjaro With A Stopover In Istanbul

Your search reveals that economy and Business Class award seats are available.

United Miles To Africa

There Is economy And Business Class Availability From Houston To Kilimanjaro Via Istanbul

And there are Business Class Award seats from Kilimanjaro to Istanbul.

United Miles To Africa

For The Return, There Is Business Class Available From Kilimanjaro To Istanbul

There is Business Class award availability from Istanbul to Houston.

United Miles To Africa

After A Stopover In Istanbul, There Is A Nonstop Flight To Houston Available In Business Class

Your total cost for a ticket from Houston to Kilimanjaro with a stopover in Istanbul is 120,000 miles and ~ $90.

United Miles To Africa

Houston To Kiilmanjro With An Istanbul Stopover For 120,000 miles + ~ $90 In Taxes in Business Class!

Because United only serves one destination in Africa (Lagos, Nigeria), prices for business or first class to most African destinations will go up after February 1st because awards with partner airlines will cost more.

Bottom Line

United miles give you the most ways to get to Africa.  You can fly directly from North American to Africa or you can travel via Europe.

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26 responses to “The Ultimate Guide to United Miles: Part 15 – All The Ways To Get To Africa

  1. thanks for the info. I’m in the stages of planning a Kilimanjaro hike as we speak. This will really help.To bad the award miles will go up before I can actually book the flight!!

  2. WOW- a very comprehensive blog showing the ways to get to Africa. How I wish I had this information about a month ago when we were booking our award flight to J’burg. We are flying from DTW to IAD to over night on UAL to LHR. We arrive at 6 AM and don’t leave for J’burg till 9 PM and I think it is great since I have never been to London. We plan on getting a package at the airport for a day tour of the city. Later that night our journey to and from South AFrica continue including a surprise stopover for us. Here is how we did it:

  3. We’ve gone to South Africa twice using United miles.

    First in 2003 was LAX-LHR in Air New Zealand Business, LHR-FRA-JNB-CPT in Lufthansa Business/First, and the same return. It was a LONG trip there and back but totally worth it.

    Second in 2010 (for our wedding!) was SUPPOSED to be LAX-FRA-JNB-CPT in Lufthansa First but the Iceland volcano canceled the European flights! So we booked LAX-IAD in United First and IAD-JNB-CPT in South African Economy at the last minute. South African economy wasn’t nearly as bad as expected, though the 2.5 hr ground stop in Dakar, Senegal, was not pretty. We were able to return JNB-FRA-LAX in Lufthansa First, fortunately.

    Since Lufthansa First/Business awards are now impossible until the 2 weeks prior to departure, we are considering LAX-IST-CPT/JNB on Turkish Airlines for our return in 2015.

    Anyone who hasn’t been to South Africa and wants to do safari or wine tasting should totally consider it. It’s a long way, but South Africa is perhaps the most beautiful country in the world (especially the Cape region and a few others) with the most luxurious safari lodges across most budgets.

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  14. Darius a friend of mine has 45535 united miles he needs 50K to get gold status. He has a brother that lives in Notrh California and he would be willing to fly into San Fran or Sacramento how can he accomplish this in the most efficent way before the end of the year?


  15. Looking to get to Johannesburg, SA in July, I have around 225,000 US Air Dividend miles, I have around 450,000 miles in my Marriott Rewards, is there a way I can use these miles to get two round trip tickets in biz class to get to SA with reward pts?

  16. Darius, I just booked 2 roundtrip tickets in business class to Kenya for a safari and beach trip. Thanks for all the tips. I couldn’t have done it without all your tips. It took a lot of searches on the UAL site and I used your routing examples. Looking forward to thanking you in person in Seattle in April at FTU.

  17. I am currently planning a safari with a side trip to the Seychelles. The problem is that it appears Ethiopian Airlines is no longer offering service to the Seychelles as of March 14th. I found this info on Wikipedia and UA’s site doesn’t show any seats after March.

    What would be some other options to get to the Seychelles?

  18. Nice series. Very useful and helps me plan my end of year trip to India..I was curious to know if you have similar series for other airlines like Delta, American and so. Would like to know about yyour experiences planning with those options.

  19. HI! I have been enjoying your column. I have two question on stopovers.

    1. I know US to Asia United award travel allows a stopover in Africa. But does Europe to Asia award travel allow a stop over in Africa?

    2. On United award travel, can there be an open jaw in the stop-over? In other words, from IAD to DPS, say, stop over in FRA and fly out ot Asia from IST.

    Many thanks

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  21. I wanted to know what you thought of this new offer from SAA Voyager and Marriott for earning Voyager miles? This new offer is a result of Marriott taking over Protea Hotels in South Africa. This offer will allow you to convert Marriott Reward points to SAA Voyager miles. Is this a good deal or are you still better off using United Airlines miles to book travel on SAA to get to Africa?