How to Use American Airlines Miles to Africa

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American Airlines is a member of the oneworld alliance and has partnerships with several other airlines.  So you can use American Airlines miles to fly on partner airlines to destinations that American Airlines doesn’t fly.

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You Can Use American Airlines Miles to Fly on Qatar to Africa

Using American Airlines Miles to Africa

Link:   American Airlines oneworld Award Chart

For example, American Airlines doesn’t fly to Africa.  But you can fly on Comair, the only oneworld airlines partner that flies between African cities.  Comair is affiliated with British Airways and flies short flights in and around South Africa.

However, American Airlines has partners in Europe (like British Airways) and the Middle East (like Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, and Etihad) that do fly to and from Africa.

Countries in Africa include:

  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Benin
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Ivory Coast
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Melilla
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Republic of Congo
  • Reunion
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Although Egypt is in Africa, American Airlines considers it part of the India, Middle East area for award redemptions.

How Many American Airlines Miles to Fly to Africa

Between North America and Africa, American Airlines charges:

  • 37,500 American Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 75,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 100,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in First Class
American Airlines award cost

37,500 American Airlines Miles Can Get You to Africa

Restriction Using American Airlines Miles to Africa

Although you can use American Airlines miles to fly to Africa, American Airlines has 1 restriction.  American Airlines routing rules from North America to Africa state you can only travel via the Atlantic Ocean.

So you can NOT use 1 American Airlines award ticket to fly on Cathay Pacific to Johannesburg via Hong Kong.  You would have to redeem 2 separate award tickets.

American Airlines usually only lets you connect in Europe for award tickets between North America and Africa.  Qatar Airways (in Doha), Royal Jordanian (in Amman), and Etihad (in Abu Dhabi) are Middle East based airlines, but under American Airlines rules you would NOT be able to fly them.  Normally you could only book on British Airways for most African destinations which means paying hefty fuel surcharges.

However, the Wandering Aramean reports that you may be able to book a single award ticket to Africa on Qatar Airways between some cities in North America and Africa.

There Must Be a Published Route 

According to the Wandering Aramean you can book an award to Africa on Qatar Airways IF there is a published fare on Qatar Airways between your origin and destination cities.

If you have multiple airline partners on 1 award ticket, the “overwater carrier” (the airline that flies you across the ocean) is the 1 that decides if an award ticket is valid.  This means Qatar Airways must be the overwater carrier.

According to the Qatar Airways route map, they fly to the following African destinations:

  • Addis Ababa
  • Alexandria
  • Algiers
  • Cairo
  • Cape Town
  • Casablanca
  • Dar Es Salaam
  • Djibouti
  • Entebbe
  • Johannesburg
  • Khartoum
  • Kigali
  • Kilimanjaro
  • Lagos
  • Luxor
  • Maputo
  • Nairobi
  • Tripoli
  • Tunis

Qatar Airways flies to these North American cities:

  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Montreal (YUL)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Washington, DC (IAD)

Check If Qatar Airways Publishes a Fare Between 2 Cities

In the post about using American Airlines miles on Etihad, I showed you how to use ExpertFlyer to see if an airline publishes a fare between 2 cities.

I wanted to test this out for Qatar Airways, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian which are airline partners of American Airlines.

Step 1 – Use Expert Flyer “Fare Information”

To see if Qatar Airways publishes fares between these cities, I checked ExpertFlyer’s Fare Information.

Step 1 – Use  ExpertFlyer “Fare Information”

Step 2 – Enter Your Travel Information

Type in your:

  • Departing airport
  • Arriving airport
  • Date
  • Airline (for our example, we used Qatar Airways)

Then click “Search.”

I checked New York to Addis Ababa, both are Qatar Airways destinations.

Enter the city pairs, date of travel, and airline.

Step 2 – Enter Your Travel Information

My search revealed that Qatar Airways DOES publish fares between New York and Addis Ababa, so you should be able to book this with 1 American Airlines award ticket.

What About Cities Qatar Airways Doesn’t Fly?

The easiest way to search for Qatar Airways flights is to search for flights individually.  For example, I want to fly from Kansas City to Johannesburg.

Qatar Airways doesn’t fly to Kansas City, so I would have to find a flight (or flights) on US Airways or American Airlines to a city that Qatar Airways flies, like Dallas or Philadelphia.

However, the American Airlines’ website does NOT display Qatar Airways award tickets.  The best way to search for Qatar Airways award seats is to use the British Airways search tool.  To use the search tool, you have to have a British Airways Executive Club (Avios) account.

How to Search for Flights on the British Airways Website

You can get to the search tool from the British Airways website.

Step 1 – Hover on “Executive Club” and Click on “Spending Avios”

Hover over “Executive Club,” then click on “Spending Avios.”

ba spending avios

Step 1 – Hover on “Executive Club,” then Click on “Spending Avios”

Step 2 – Click “Book flights with Avios”

Click “Book flights with Avios.”   We aren’t actually booking flights using British Airways Avios points, just using the British Airways’ search tool to find flights on Qatar Airways!

Click "book flights with Avios"

Step 2 – Click “Book Flights with Avios”

Step 3 – Search for Flights by Segment

I searched for flights to Doha from various US cities that Qatar Airways flies to, like Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia.

I searched segment-by-segment, searching flights from the USA to Doha.

Step 3 – Search for Flights by Segment

I found flights from Dallas to Doha.

There are seats in Economy Class from Dallas to Doha, but not in Business Class.

There Are Coach Seats From Dallas to Doha, But Not Business Class

Write down the dates and flight details.  Then search for a flight from Doha to Johannesburg.

Flights from the US to Doha arrive 1 day after you depart.  And flights from Doha to Johannesburg leave early in the morning the day after you arrive in Doha.  So make sure to search the correct date!

Search from Doha to Johannesburg

Search From Doha to Johannesburg

I found a flight from Doha to Johannesburg.

There is availability from Doha to Johannesburg about 12 hours after the Dallas-Doha flight arrives.

There Is a Coach Ticket From Doha to Johannesburg ~12 hours After the Dallas to Doha Flight Arrives

When you use American Airlines miles internationally, you can have a connection up to 23 hours and 59 minutes.  Because American Airlines does NOT allow stopovers on award tickets, you can NOT have a stopover.

Write down the flight details from Doha to Johannesburg flight.  If you were leaving from Dallas, you could call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book your flight.

However, I am flying from Kansas City, so I have to search for a connection from Kansas City to Dallas.  You can search the British Airways website or the American Airlines website.

mci dfw search

I Searched for Flights From Kansas City to Dallas

There were many flights available, so I chose 1 with a ~3 hour connection in Dallas.  On international award tickets, you’re allowed connections of up to 23 hours and 59 minutes in each city, so you could spend the night in Dallas.

I had several choices of connecting flights from Kansas City to Dallas

There Are Lots of Flights From Kansas City to Dallas

Write down the flight information and call American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

I gave those flights to the American Airlines agent.  She was more than happy to let me do all the work!  The total cost for 2 coach tickets from Kansas City to Johannesburg was 37,500 + ~$23 in taxes per person 1-way!

This matches the price listed on the American Airlines award chart!

37,500 miles one-way from the USA to Africa.

37,500 Miles 1-Way From the USA to Africa

Note:  You have to pay a telephone booking fee of $35 IF you do not have American Airlines elite status.

So for 37,500 American Airlines miles and ~$23 in taxes, you can fly from almost anywhere in the US (like Kansas City) to Africa!

This costs 37,500 American miles one-way and $22.90!

You Pay 37,500 American Airlines miles + ~$23 to Fly 1-Way From Kansas City to Johannesburg

You Can’t Fly on Royal Jordanian From the US to Africa on 1 Award Ticket

Royal Jordanian is based in Amman, Jordan.  They don’t fly to many cities in Africa, and they do NOT publish fares between the US and Africa.

For example, Royal Jordanian flies to both New York City and Algiers.  But they do NOT publish a fare between those cities or other similar destinations.  So you can not book 1 award from the USA to Africa on Royal Jordanian.

An ExpertFlyer search confirms this:

The fares shown are not published by Royal Jordanian, so you cannot book one award from the USA to Africa on Royal Jordanian.

The Flights Shown Are Not Published by Royal Jordanian

When I called American Airlines, I was quoted 75,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in coach to fly from New York to Amman to Algiers.  Because I would have to book one 45,000 American Airlines mile award ticket from New York to Amman and one 30,000 American Airlines mile award ticket from Amman to Algiers.

So you can NOT book 1 award ticket from the US to Africa on Royal Jordanian.

You Can Fly on Etihad From the US to Africa on 1 Award Ticket

While Etihad Airways is not a member of the oneworld alliance, they have a separate partnership with American Airlines.  So you can use your American Airlines miles to fly Etihad from the US to the Middle East and Indian subcontinent.

According to ExpertFlyer, Etihad DOES publish fares between some US cities and Africa, like between Washington, DC and Johannesburg.

ExpertFlyer shows that Etihad publishes fares from Washington DC to Johannesburg, but ...

ExpertFlyer Shows Etihad Has Published Fares From Washington, DC to Johannesburg

I excitedly called American Airlines to book an award ticket from Washington, DC to Johannesburg on Etihad (using the tools in this post).

However, unlike on Qatar Airways, American Airlines does NOT allow 1 single award ticket from the US to Africa on Etihad.  You have to redeem 2 separate award tickets: 1 from Washington, DC to Abu Dhabi and 1 from Abu Dhabi to Johannesburg.

I got the same result for other US cities to Africa that Etihad flies.

This means you can NOT fly on 1 award ticket from the US and Africa using American Airlines miles on Etihad.

Can I Use US Airways Miles?

Although US Airways and American Airlines are merging, you can NOT transfer miles between your US Airways and American Airlines accounts.  However, because US Airways, Qatar Airways, and Royal Jordanian are in the oneworld alliance, you can use your US Airways miles for flights on Qatar Airways or Royal Jordanian.

US Airways does NOT have routing restrictions like American Airlines.  So you CAN redeem US Airways miles on Royal Jordanian to Africa.  However, you have to book a round-trip because US Airways does NOT offer 1-way award tickets.  But you can have 1 stopover or 1 open-jaw (where you fly into 1 city and return from another) on US Airways.

However, you can NOT use US Airways miles on Etihad, because they are not partners.

US Airways award prices (roundtrip)

You Can Only Fly Round-Trip Using US Airways Miles

Between North America and Africa, US Airways charges:

  • 70,000 US Airways miles round-trip in coach
  • 110,000 US Airways miles round-trip in Business Class
  • 150,000 US Airways miles round-trip in First Class

If you can book a round-trip flight, US Airways is:

  • Cheaper
  • Doesn’t have routing restrictions
  • Allows 1 stopover or 1 open-jaw

Bottom Line

You can use American Airlines miles to fly to Africa.  But you have to fly on partner Airlines like British Airways.

Normally, you can only fly to Africa if you 1st fly to Europe and then fly to Africa.  This meant you had to fly on British Airways and pay high fuel surcharges or redeem 2 award tickets.

But you can book an award to Africa using American Airlines miles on Qatar Airways IF they publish a fare between your origin and destination cities.  Because Qatar Airways publishes a far between Dallas and Doha, you could fly from Kansas City to Dallas to Doha to Johannesburg on 1 award ticket.  And you would only pay 37,500 American Airlines miles + ~$23 in taxes per person 1-way!

You could use US Airways miles to fly to Africa but you have to fly round-trip.  You will pay fewer miles, not have routing restrictions, and can get a stopover.

Have you redeemed American Airlines or US Airways miles to Africa?

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16 responses to “How to Use American Airlines Miles to Africa

  1. It is not clear why you claim “maybe” on the details I’ve provided when there has been ample evidence provided (by me and others) to show that it is definitely a change in the rules. If QR is used via DOH there is much more flexibility in the awards now.

    Also, the published fare thing is not much of an issue with QR; they have codeshares on a ton of AA flights and publish fares to a bunch of cities in the USA, even where they do not fly to them. And it is free and easy to find those published fares using ITA rather than paying for ExpertFlyer.

  2. south african

    Thank you so much for covering JNB! Can you do some more posts about this, especially if you can cover how to get availability in business and how to use different points from different currencies?

  3. For Cathay pacific, how AA charges miles for premium economy class? This class is between coach and business class.

    Thanks for the great articles.

  4. Hi! Quick question regarding American/US Air miles. Does US Air allow you to use your miles to book a one-way flight available on American? I Know US Airways themselves only allow round trip award redemptions, but I’m hoping the rule changes when booking on America. Thank you!!!

  5. @AJ611 US requires a RT if using their miles, no matter what.

  6. i actually have a ORD to JNB ticket via AA for 150k in business through DOH. the layovers are long (12 and 8 hours) and at inconvenient times; although they appear to have a nice lounge for Qatar. doha does not seem to be all that enticing, particularly for me to try and escape in my windows to get a glimpse. a couple questions, around US airways –
    1. should i be able to see the same availability whether using AA or US*A ?
    2. US*A allows an open-jaw or stopover – any creative suggestions to see somewhere interesting along these routes if i try a rebook via US*A?

    going to do a volunteer program on a lion camp – can’t wait !

  7. US still partners with SAA but good luck getting an award ticket from NA.

  8. i ended up canceling my 150k AA through doha on qatar and booking a trip via US for 120k miles that is to JNB via CX and home via QR with a stop in abu dhabi (where i plan on spending a fair amount of time at yas marina)

  9. I have received 40,000 miles from the US Airway Dividend Card promotion, but I need another 30,000 miles to qualify for a round trip ticket to Johannesburg. Any ideas on how to obtain the remaining miles? My trip is May, 2015. Thanks very, very much.
    Betty

  10. There’s a typo in your headline for the Etihad section – it says you CAN book a single award on Etihad.

  11. mwbratberg@gmail.com

    Thanks for the tutorial! I am exploring options for flying AUS-NBO in November 2015, and would like to avoid LRH and its fees. Although we could spend the night at DOH, that isn’t ideal.

    The flights generally arrive in DOH in the 18:00 to 18:20 range, and there is a DOH-NBO departure at 19:15 (the only other departure is at 12:15, requiring an overnight). I’m not sure whether 1:15 or less is enough time to connect in DOH. Thoughts?

  12. mwbratberg@gmail.com

    I meant LHR, not LRH, obviously.

  13. What about tacking on a BA flight to another southern Africa airport once in JNB using AA miles? Any thoughts on whether that can that be done on a single award ticket? Specifically, I’m looking to get to WDH from SFO.

  14. Need some guidance for honeymoon planning using AA miles!

    We are trying to leave NYC to South Africa on a safari during the holidays of 2016. As flights stand now we would not be able to arrive in JNB until Wens. 12/28 on a Qatar JFK-DOH-JNB routing in biz.

    I found 2 biz class flights on Qatar from CDG to DOH on 12/25/16 and DOH to JNB on 12/26/16, but not sure if I can add in a JFK to CDG route as we will origin from New York. We could pay cash to get to Paris possibly but would prefer to use the award miles and not sure this routing would even be permissible (JFK-CDG-DOH-JNB).

    Any help would be so greatly appreciated!!