How to save over 50% off Delta One with SkyMiles to South Africa from Atlanta (hint: just fly the long way)!

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From home page

Delta is “A” award winning points program. SkyMiles can take you anywhere if you have enough of them. Let me give you one example (yes, this is a bit of a joke / rant post). And since I am considering a #SkyMilesLife visit to Africa I wanted to check my Delta One options.

Delta flies direct from Atlanta to Johannesburg South Africa. Now it on a 777 and, for now, features the worst Delta One seat in the air. And if you are flexible you can save a lot of Delta points.

A reasonable amount of SkyMiles?

It pays to be flexible?

Well, err, maybe not so much. But it is like 15 hours in the air to fly this route and well over 8000 miles. But is there a cheaper way? Yes there is! You do as Christopher Columbus did and go the other way around the world to save over 50% of your SkyMiles. Take a look.

If you simply book 2 tickets, the first one in Delta One business class to Hong Kong, and then overnight, and fly Skyteam partner KLM in business class to Johannesburg (via Amsterdam) then notice the price of BOTH of those tickets.

Ticket One

Ticket Two

Yes, you will “only” pay 420,000 Delta award winning SkyMiles for those two tickets and have the pleasure of flying over 20,000 miles (each way) vs. the very reasonable 930,000 SkyMiles (hey, it’s under 1 million) for the direct short 15 hour 8000 mile flight. 😉

I don’t know about the rest of you Atlanta Delta flyers, but I am going to always look for the most value for my SkyMiles and if that means circumnavigating the globe to save over 50% – that is what I am going to do! Even if it means a little extra time and distance on Delta and Skyteam jets and a hotel room or two along the way. You? – René



  1. Almost 1 million miles each? Are you kidding me! This is a bucket trip for my family of 3 and want to fly up front. I can envision 1 million for three but this is crazy ! The long way would save years of saving points. Great research Rene. ( I will probably just wait for the next Great Recession when airlines tank and beg for customers who then have the upper hand )

  2. Not sure if you have any of your old AA miles left, but I just looked over at their award booking for ATL-JNB, and you can get their way cheaper using AA. For the dates I plugged in, they even had saver fares in business class available for 75K (one-way). It routes you thru LHR then MAD, but that’s negligible if you’re considering going all the way to HKG to save the miles.

    If DL miles are the only option, then I suggest using the TPE routing trick with China Airlines to get to HKG. I actually just booked a business class ticket ATL-MNL using 85K Skymiles plus 6 dollars taxes/fees. When you search your outbound flight to Asia, use TPE as your destination. You’ll usually see the CAL partner routes available from JFK or SFO. Once you find a route that works, then find a China Airlines flight to HKG (there are plenty). Once you’ve picked out your 2 flights, you’ll need to call Delta to get it connected and booked. The SkyMiles price should still be the same as if your route ended in TPE. Patience may be required for the call. I’ve had to hang-up and call back because the rep I was dealing with was too inexperienced to work thru their system. I’ve used this TPE routing trick two times now with success. CAL has a nice business class product. Reverse hearing bone seats on a newish B777. Going to HKG this way should get you down to 85K SkyMiles per ticket.

  3. If you’re going to go thru HKG, you may can use the SkyMiles routing trick of going thru TPE via CAL. Usually results in only 85K SkyMiles for Business class ticket. I just booked ATL-MNL last week for 85K + 5 dollars and change for taxes/fees.

  4. A “little extra time and distance”?!!!

    I did some math and your outbound is going to be 65 hours of flying and 102(!) hours gate-to-gate. When you add in the lost opportunity costs, it is a bad deal, in my opinion. 17 hours gate-to-gate directly from ATL starts to look very attractive, and even that one is a pretty miserable flight.

    The kicker is that JNB is not that great a destination, especially when you factor the difficulty in getting there. I’ve been twice in the last 10 years on business. Yes, the exchange rate is terrific and the local wines are great, but the high crime spoils it.

  5. I think R was just showing us how insane the sky peso program is, folks.
    No news for those of us stuck with them in ATL.

  6. South Africa, and Johannesburg specifically, have high personal crime per capita rates but taking a closer look it happens in specific areas and often circumstances. I’ve lived in Baltimore and Joburg, both high crime, and it was always about taking the right precautions and you will discover their respective wonders.

    Rene hope this suggestion of going to Joburg the long way around is a joke or more about maximizing the stopovers on the two roundtrips. I’ve been able to redeem single awards from US to Johannesburg via Europe on a combination of DL, VS, KL, AF , or even via Kenya on KQ. Think cost was something around120k or so each way.

  7. @Topgunner – Yes. A joke post. Then again 930,000 SkyMiles for anything is also a joke on it’s own – right?

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