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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.
Using American Airlines Miles to Africa
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:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- Republic of Congo
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
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
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.
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
- Cape Town
- Dar Es Salaam
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
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 2 – Enter Your Travel Information
Type in your:
- Departing airport
- Arriving airport
- Airline (for our example, we used Qatar Airways)
Then click “Search.”
I checked New York to Addis Ababa, both are Qatar Airways destinations.
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.”
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!
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 found flights from Dallas to Doha.
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!
I found a flight from Doha to Johannesburg.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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:
- Doesn’t have routing restrictions
- Allows 1 stopover or 1 open-jaw
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?