Introduction: Star Alliance To South Africa

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Introduction: Star Alliance To South Africa
Review: Four Points By Sheraton Vancouver Airport
Review: Air Canada Domestic Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Airport
Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 Vancouver To Toronto
Review: Air Canada International Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Airport
Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 Toronto To Frankfurt
Review: South African Airways Business Class A340 Frankfurt To Johannesburg
Review: South African Airways Domestic Lounge Johannesburg Airport
Review: South African Airways Business Class A319 Johannesburg To Cape Town
Review: Westin Cape Town
Review: South African Airways Lounge Cape Town Airport
Review: South African Airways Business Class A340 Cape Town To Johannesburg
Review: South African Airways International Lounge Johannesburg Airport
Review: Mashonzha Lounge Johannesburg Airport
Review: South African Airways Business Class A330 Johannesburg To London
Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Air Canada Business Class 777 London Heathrow To Toronto
Review: Air Canada Domestic Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Airport
Review: Westin Wall Centre Vancouver Airport


Welcome to the trip report for the journey I just finished up, where I traveled on Air Canada and South African Airways, and stayed at three Starwood properties between Vancouver and Cape Town. On top of that, I got to visit a fantastic city for my first time as an adult (the last time I was in Cape Town was about 15 years ago).

Cape-Town

Booking the flights

The planning for this trip started in mid-April, when Star Alliance published some fantastic business class fares between Canada and South Africa. Thanks to the strength of the USD, it was among the best deals I’ve seen for travel to South Africa.

As many of you know, my goal this year is to review as many new business class products as possible, and this seemed like a pretty cool opportunity to check two more airlines off my list. I’ve really been wanting to fly Air Canada and South African Airways business class, and I could knock them both out on one trip with this itinerary.

I was excited about Air Canada because they have a new reverse herringbone business class product on their 777s and 787s, which looks top notch — after all, that’s one of my favorite business class hard products.

Air-Canada-777-Business-Class - 1

I was excited about South African Airways because they’re one of the best ways to get to South Africa, so I was curious how their product was. After all, they’re not an airline which has to be especially competitive, given that they more or less have a monopoly out of South Africa.

South-African-Business-Class-A340 - 4

Before booking I tweaked the routing to get the best planes possible, and ended up ticketing the following:

05/19 AC1176 Vancouver to Toronto departing 11:30AM arriving 6:50PM
05/19 AC858 Toronto to London departing 11:10PM arriving 11:05AM (+1 day)
05/20 SA235 London to Johannesburg departing 7:00PM arriving 7:00AM (+1 day)
05/21 SA317 Johannesburg to Cape Town departing 9:10AM arriving 11:20AM
05/25 SA352 Cape Town to Johannesburg departing 3:50PM arriving 5:45PM
05/25 SA236 Johannesburg to London departing 8:25PM arriving 6:55AM (+1 day)
05/26 AC857 London to Toronto departing 12:05PM arriving 2:45PM
05/26 AC1167 Toronto to Vancouver departing 6:30PM arriving 8:25PM

This gave me a nice variety of flights:

  • The flights between Vancouver and Toronto were on 787s
  • The flights between Toronto and London were on 777s
  • The flights between London and Johannesburg were on an A340 in one direction and A330 in the other direction
  • The flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town were on A319s, featuring South African’s regional business class product

The cost of the ticket was ~2,200USD, which I paid for using the Citi Prestige® Card, so that I’d earn triple points, and would also have great travel coverage. While that’s a lot of money, I consider it a better value than redeeming miles, given that miles have value as well.

I ended up crediting these flights to Aegean’s Miles+Bonus program, and for the ~24,000 flown miles I’d earn ~48,000 redeemable miles, as all these flights credit with a 100% bonus for flying business class.

I was in Los Angeles over the dates around the trip, so for ~200USD roundtrip I booked the following positioning flights:

05/18 AA5986 Los Angeles to Vancouver departing 7:05PM arriving 9:55PM
05/18 AA5987 Vancouver to Los Angeles departing 7:00AM arriving 10:06AM

LAX-CPT-Routing

As you’ll probably know based on my posts the past several days, the flights I actually took ended up being a bit different from what I booked, due to a flight cancelation and a subsequent overbooking, though I’ll cover the details of that in the upcoming trip report installments.

Booking the hotels

For this trip I’d need four hotel nights in Cape Town, and one night in Vancouver near the airport in both directions.

I presently have an offer for double elite qualifying nights with Starwood, so for me it was a no brainer to book the Westin Cape Town.

For my stay in Cape Town I used the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit, given that I was staying for four nights.

The nightly rate was 3,300ZAR per night, which is ~210USD per night. That was before getting the fourth night free, which basically lowered my out of pocket to ~160USD per night.

As a point of comparison, this is a Category 4 Starwood property, meaning a free night redemption would have cost 10,000 Starpoints, or a Cash & Points booking would have cost 5,000 Starpoints plus $75. Given that I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each, paying cash seemed like the best value.

Westin-Cape-Town-1

For my two nights in Vancouver (one in each direction), I figured I’d try two different Starwood airport hotels.

I’ve never stayed at a Four Points by Sheraton before, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do so. Starwood has a promotion this year where you can earn 11,000 bonus points if you stay at 11 Starwood brands, so I booked the Four Points by Sheraton Vancouver Airport to get me one step closer to staying with all 11 brands.

Starwood-Brand-Bonus-2

The Four Points was also the cheapest option, as it cost 160CAD per night (~123USD).

Four-Points-Sheraton-Vancouver-Airport - 17

On the return I wanted to try a different hotel, so I instead opted for the Westin Wall Centre Vancouver Airport, which cost 200CAD (~153USD) per night.

Westin-Vancouver-Airport

Bottom line

While I’m extremely tired from the trip (I’m actually publishing this live from my Vancouver to Los Angeles flight which rounds out the trip), I had a heck of a time. I enjoyed Cape Town immensely, and was also thrilled to experience Air Canada and South African Airways business class. I also enjoyed visiting various lounges enroute, which in some cases greatly exceeded my expectations, and in other cases left me disappointed.

Thanks in advance for reading!

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Comments

  1. 05/18 AA5986 Los Angeles to Vancouver departing 7:05PM arriving 9:55PM
    05/18 AA5987 Vancouver to Los Angeles departing 7:00AM arriving 10:06AM

    how did you manage these flights cuz both are on the same day 🙂

  2. How in all your travels and nights with Starwood have you never stayed at a Four Points before?

  3. You have a dead link that should be no link: “Mashonzha Lounge Johannesburg Airport”

    @lucky @tiffany

  4. You haven’t looked at the route maps if you think that SAA has a monopoly out of South Africa, EVERYONE flies out of there. BA, Virgin, Emirates, Qatar, Turkish, Ethiopian, Kenyan, etc. Etihad, Delta, KLM, Air France, etc. etc. I live in DC and have a dozen different carriers to get be back to DC with only one stop.

    If you meant traveling inside SA then SAA does have the monopoly (Comair operates too but barely), but otherwise South Africa is one of the best covered markets in Africa with carriers.

  5. As far as getting to South Africa, I’m surprised you never mentioned Delta’s flight from ATL-JNB. Seems like a great way to get down there with nicer seats than South African.

  6. @Neil SA is more exotic of an airline and I’d much rather read a review on them instead of Delta.

  7. Can we have a quick post about what you did in Cape Town? Love to know your thoughts on the sites

  8. I hate flying diagonally. What’s the obsession with the herringbone or reverse seats. You can’t really see out the window anyway it’s business class flat beds. It’s private enough. I like QRs 777s

  9. “After all, [South African is] not an airline which has to be especially competitive, given that they more or less have a monopoly out of South Africa.”

    Absolutely false. There are a multitude of airlines that fly international flights out of South Africa.

    This is just a list of international carriers out of Johannesburg:
    Air Austral, Air Botswana, Air China, Airlink, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, Air Namibia, Air Seychelles, Air Zimbabwe, Arik Air, Fastjet, Iberia, Kenya Airways, LATAM (in October), LAM Mozambique Airlines, Malawian Airlines, Mango, RwandAir, Saudia, Swaziland Airlink, Singapore, Swiss, TAAG Angola, Turkish , BA, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay, Qantas, Delta, Emirates, Egyptair, Qatar, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Etihad, South African, Ethiopian,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O._R._Tambo_International_Airport

  10. @ JJ – I think he said those that were based out of South Africa, in which SAA’s really the only “internationally known” airline that does. For example, if people have the choice between Cathay Pacific and South African, they’d probably go with SAA given Cathay Pacific is totally the cheapest airline in the world.

  11. @Alvin

    “I think he said those that were based out of South Africa”

    Where does he write this? I only see the sentence where he talks about SAA having a “monopoly out of South Africa”.

  12. Where did you buy a ticket to get triple points on citi prestige card? Can you buy a ticket throught travelodge or priceline to get a mileage either?

  13. “I was excited about South African Airways because they’re one of the best ways to get to South Africa, so I was curious how their product was. After all, they’re not an airline which has to be especially competitive, given that they more or less have a monopoly out of South Africa.”

    I take issue with this. SAA are nowhere near a monopoly operating in and out of South Africa. There are countless airlines operating in and out of South Africa, across all major alliances, as well as gulf carriers. As you flew via Europe to go to JNB, you could have easily used 15 or more different carriers to get into SA. Not quite the definition of a monopoly.

  14. Hi,
    Really enjoy your blogs and based in Vancouver, I was especially intrigued to read your local and Air Canada reviews. I wanted to ask how you got such a low fare for such a long J itinerary? Did you use a consolidator? Typically, from YVR, lowly premium Economy can cost well above $2,000 YVR-LHR and that’s a sale……….

    Thanks!

  15. Lucky – I think $2,200 USD for the YVR-YYZ-LHR-JNB-CPT and back in J is a steal! I missed out on a similar fare out of SFO earlier this year and regret it. Well done.

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