Everything you always wanted to know about South African Voyager Redemptions and International First Class for just 45,500 miles Round Trip
Table of Contents
Introduction to South African Airlines Voyager Mileage Redemptions
South African Voyager uses a number of different award charts.
South African Airlines redemptions are accessible as Dynamic Awards and as you’d expect, the pricing goes along with the ticket prices. Typically, it is a pretty sad use of miles.
Every few months, there are JourneyBlitz promotions for South African-operated flights that drop the mileage requirements drastically, but you are stuck with the high fuel surcharges.
JourbeyBlitz promotions can be booked online.
For the SA Airlines subsidiaries and the various Non-Star Alliance partners (Emirates, TAM, Jet Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia), there are separate award charts. Very few of them actually provide any real value. Note that fuel surcharges usually come on top of the already expensive awards.
The Star Alliance award chart can be found here.
There are a few sweet spots in this award chart – more about that later.
How to Book Partner Awards?
You can’t book any partner redemptions online – sadly.
The US Call Center (1-800-722-9675) has knowledgeable yet stubborn agents (there is only one or two working the redemption desks usually). If they do what you want, that’s great, but otherwise, you won’t get anywhere with them.
The agents in Hong Kong (+85228773277) are well trained too and much more courteous and flexible.
The actual redemption process is a bit quirky, as you make a reservation first and then you click your way online to a redemption certificate and give this number to the agent who processes your credit card payment.
Awards for Friends and Family
South African Voyager does not impose limits – you can generally book award tickets for anyone.
Other Charges/Fuel Surcharges
Despite reports to the contrary, South African Voyager imposes all fuel surcharges just as you see in the ITA Matrix. Most programs have a few partners where the fuel surcharge isn’t charged fully (or simply forgotten). That is not true with SA Voyager – at least I haven’t found it yet.
Naturally, you want to look for partners with low/minimal fuel surcharges like Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, ANA, or EVA Air.
The only published routing rule is that you need to go with the most direct routing. It’s obviously open to interpretation as to what that means.
I have found that routing from the US to Australia via Asia is OK if you only do ONE transit in Asia per direction. Also, you can route via Europe to Africa from the US (and vice versa).
It seems to me that there is a computer suggestion for routings, but in the end, an agent can override it as they see fit. Now, the US agents are not flexible with this at all.
You are limited to six segments for a Round Trip.
Partner awards must be booked as a Round Trip (well you are at least charged for that).
You can ‘mix and match’ Star Alliance partners, but not with OTHER partners or South African.
Agents can often see Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines availability that other programs can’t access. Sometimes, they can’t see what you see on United.com (oddly enough).
Stop Overs and Open Jaws
You get one stopover and one open jaw for awards that span at least two award zones.
Sweet Spots in the Star Alliance Partner Award Chart
US – Australia/New Zealand Business Class on United/Air New Zealand
Awards price out at 160,900 miles Round Trip. Both United and Air New Zealand have direct flights from the US to both Australia and New Zealand, and there are no fuel surcharges. This award is typically easy to book.
Intra-Asia Business and First Class on Singapore Airlines/ANA
The rates in the award chart are good to begin with, including 30,600 for Round Trip in Business and 45,500 in First Class, but it gets even better. The Asia zone for South African Voyager is huge, including Brunei, Cambodia, China, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Maldives, Taiwan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Russia Euro-Asia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam!
Singapore Airlines has First Class on many flights in Asia and so does Thai Airways! You can book Tokyo to Singapore, or Osaka to Bangkok in First Class with a return for just 45,500 miles!