Part III – Getting To Africa Using Your TYPs

As I mentioned in the Introduction Post, Citi ThankYou Points are great points to stockpile because they are so versatile. Citi TYPs are getting a little more difficult to earn thanks to Citi’s new rules for earning bonuses, but if you already have the points or are new to the credit card game, they can be quite useful for getting you to Africa!

Please note, I do not earn a commission off of any of the credit card links contained herein. I do, however, earn a referral bonus of points from some of the links contained herein. These referral links are currently the highest publicly available offers and I will always link to the highest publicly available offer for your benefit.  As always, your support by signing up via my referral links is greatly appreciated!

Introduction – Getting To Africa Using Your MRs, URs, TYPs or Starpoints
Part I – Getting To Africa Using Your MRs
Part II – Getting To Africa Using Your URs
Part III – Getting To Africa Using Your TYPs
Part IV – Getting To Africa Using Your SPG Starpoints

Citi offers a few cards that earn ThankYou Points, including their ThankYou Premier card (which gets a lot of my daily spend due to the great category bonuses for travel and gas). Citi has really been devaluing the ThankYou Point program lately and has made it more difficult to earn TYPs. Citi offers a few other card options that earn TYPs, so I highly encourage you to head over to Citi’s website and check out the options.

Now that you know how to earn the TYPs, the more complicated process is how to use those hard earned TYPs to get you to Africa! Your TYPs will transfer to 12 different airlines across all 3 major airline alliances. Those airlines include:

AirlineAllianceTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Air France/KLMSkyTeam1:1Up to 2 days
Garuda IndonesiaSkyTeam1:1Up to 2 days
Cathay PacificOneWorld1:1Same day
Malaysia AirlinesOneWorld1:12-14 days+
QantasOneWorld1:1Up to 2 days
QatarOneWorld1:1Up to 2 days
Eva AirStar Alliance1:1Up to 2 days
Singapore AirlinesStar Alliance1:1Up to 2 days
Thai AirwaysStar Alliance1:1Up to 4 days
EtihadN/A1:1Up to 6 days
Virgin AtlanticN/A1:1Up to 2 days
Virgin AmericaN/A1:0.5Up to 2 days

As I said before, the transfer times are just an approximation based upon data points I could find (as well as personal experiences), but it is important to be cognizant of these transfer times when you are planning your award booking(s).

Also keep in mind that you should always be looking at the paid ticket prices for tickets through the Citi TYP portal – especially if you are looking to fly economy class – as your TYPs can be redeemed towards a paid ticket.

Another caveat is that although I will be including general advice for getting to Africa on your TYPs, your home airport will play an important role in finding availability or determining cost. For example, since Cathay Pacific operates under a distance based award chart, the cost for someone traveling from the West Coast is generally going to be higher than the cost for someone traveling from the East Coast. I will also assume for purposes of this post that you would be flying into Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB).

Air France/KLM (FlyingBlue)

Air France and KLM share a frequent flyer program called FlyingBlue. Since FlyingBlue is a SkyTeam alliance member, you can redeem FlyingBlue miles for travel on Delta, Air France, KLM and Kenya Airways flights to Africa. FlyingBlue can be finicky to work with, but they offer some decent value for flights to Africa. FlyingBlue divides Africa into two separate award zones, though the cost is the same for both zones.

For roundtrip award tickets between the CONUS and Africa, you can expect a cost of 80k miles for economy, 100k miles for premium economy (where available), and 200k miles for business class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates. While the economy class rate is one of the absolute best among the TYP transfer partners, the business class rate is not very competitive. Accordingly, I would be looking elsewhere for business class tickets to Africa.

Garuda Indonesia

Garuda Indonesia’s GarudaMiles program uses a distance based award chart, so your redemption cost will depend on your home airport. Garuda Indonesia is part of the SkyTeam alliance which means you can redeem your GarudaMiles miles for travel on Delta, Air France, KLM and Kenya Airways flights to Africa. As Garuda Indonesia does not fly between the U.S. and Africa, you would redeem according to their partner specific charts – which are the same for all of their partners that fly between the U.S. and Africa. Since the charts are distance based, you can expect the following redemption costs:

  • From the Southeast of the U.S. (ATL) to Johannesburg (JNB), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~115k miles for economy and ~200k miles for business class.

One-way tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates.

Adding to the fact that the redemption rates are actually pretty poor, the process for obtaining your award ticket is probably the worst I have ever seen. First you need to call the Garuda Indonesia call center at 021.2351.9999 to place your award ticket on hold. Then you need to download and complete an award ticket application form which you must take to a Garuda Indonesia sales office, in person, and then go back to the ticket office, in person, to claim your award ticket. So how many sales offices does Garuda Indonesia have in the US? Four. Yes, you read that right. Four. Encino, California, Chicago, Houston and New York.

In short, avoid Garuda Indonesia like the plague for award tickets unless you happen to live in or very near Encino, Chicago, Houston or New York, have a glut of GarudaMiles and do not mind doing a ton of legwork.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Cathay Pacific is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Asia Miles to book British Airways and Qatar flights to Africa.

Cathay Pacific utilizes a somewhat unique award chart in that if you are flying solely on one partner airline, you redeem according to the Asia Miles Award Chart, but if you are flying on more than one OneWorld partner that does not include Cathay Pacific or Dragon Air, you redeem according to the OneWorld Multi-Carrier Award Chart.

For a roundtrip award ticket operated by a single partner from the CONUS to London (LHR) or Doha (DOH) and then on to Johannesburg (JNB) you can expect a cost of 110k miles in economy, 132k miles in premium economy, 175k miles in business class and 270k miles in first class. One-way award tickets are allowed at one half of the above quoted rates plus 5k miles (i.e., economy class is 25k miles for a one-way award ticket).

For flights operated by more than one OneWorld partner, here are the roundtrip award ticket costs you can expect for the various most direct routings:

  • British Airways/American – JFK-LHR-JNB – 95k miles in economy, 140k miles in business class and 205k miles in first class.
  • British Airways/American – LAX-LHR-JNB – 110k miles in economy, 160k miles in business class and 235k miles in first class.

It is important to keep in mind that since the Cathay Pacific award chart is distance based, your home airport, destination and routing are going to play a huge part in your redemption cost. What is wild though is the Asia Miles program allows you to make up to 5 stopovers, 2 transfers and 2 open-jaws at either the origin, en-route or at the turnaround point (destination)! That means you could put together an itinerary where you hop all over Europe and Africa or the Middle East and Africa all on one award ticket. Depending on how you routed yourself, that could offer some truly exceptional value.

If you can get the stopovers and open-jaws to work for your itinerary, Asia Miles should be a top contender for you to transfer your TYPs to for your next trip to Africa. If you will not be utilizing the stopovers, then I would say there are better options out there for your TYPs.

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines’ Enrich program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Malaysia Airlines is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Enrich miles to book British Airways and Qatar flights to Africa.

Malaysia Airlines is another airline that uses a separate award chart for redemptions on their own flights and partner redemptions. As there are no Malaysian Airlines flights between the U.S. and Africa, you will redeem according to the partner award chart, which happens to be distance based. For flights operated by partner airlines via either London (LHR) or Doha (DOH), your rountrip award ticket cost would be ~120k miles for economy, ~174k miles for business class and ~264k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates.

It is also important to keep in mind that British Airways flights will incur their ridiculous surcharges in addition to the U.K. Air Passenger Duty tax. That makes the Enrich program one of the least attractive options to get you to Africa.

Keep in mind that there have been a lot of reports of people experiencing issues when transferring their TYPs to the Enrich program so I would generally steer clear of transferring your TYPs to the Enrich program until Malaysia Airlines gets their IT department up to speed and fixes these issues.

Qantas

Qantas’ Frequent Flyer program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Qantas is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Qantas Points to book British Airways and Qatar flights to Africa.

Qantas uses a separate award chart for flights operated by American Airlines/Qantas and all other partner airlines, so which airline you fly is going to make the difference here. Since neither American Airlines nor Qantas fly between the U.S. and Africa, you would redeem according to the partner award chart where you can expect the following redemption costs via London (LHR) or Doha (DOH):

  • From the Northeastern part of the U.S. (JFK) to Johannesburg (JNB), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~130-140k miles for economy, ~195-210k miles for premium economy, ~260-280k miles for business class and ~390-420k miles for first class.
  • From the West Coast of the U.S. (LAX) to Johannesburg (JNB), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~140k miles for economy, ~210k miles for premium economy, ~280k miles for business class and ~420k miles for first class.
  • From the Southeast of the U.S. (MIA) to Johannesburg (JNB), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~140k miles for economy, ~210k miles for premium economy, ~280k miles for business class and ~420k miles for first class.
  • From the Southwest of the U.S. (DFW) to Johannesburg (JNB), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~140k miles for economy, ~210k miles for premium economy, ~280k miles for business class and ~420k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates. Remember that you will be charged for carrier imposed surcharges, which should not be very much on Qatar flights, but will be outrageous on British Airways flights.

Unless you are based out of a southern hub, are looking to fly economy class and can find a direct flight to your desired destination, Qantas’ redemption costs are extremely high – especially for premium cabins. So unless you have a glut of Qantas miles that you want to burn, you are better off transferring your TYPs elsewhere for a redemption to Africa as Qantas offers one of the poorer values out there among TYP transfer partners.

Qatar

Qatar’s Qmiles program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Qatar is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Qmiles to book Qatar and British Airways flights to Africa. Qatar uses a separate calculator for flights operated by Qatar, so if you wanted to route yourself via Doha (DOH), your are better off using Qatar’s award ticket calculator.

For flights operated by partner airlines via London (LHR), your award ticket cost would be ~100k miles for economy, ~150k miles for premium economy, ~200k miles for business class and ~300k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates. It is worth mentioning that flights operated by partner British Airways incur their ridiculous surcharges, as well as the U.K. Air Passenger Duty tax because you would be flying through London (LHR).

Again, and as with Qantas, unless you have a glut of Qmiles you want to burn, you are better off transferring your TYPs elsewhere for a redemption to Africa.

EVA Air

EVA Air is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Infinity miles for Ethiopian, South African Airways and Turkish Airlines flights to Africa. In other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

EVA Air is one of several airlines that utilizes a separate award chart for EVA Air redemptions and for partner awards. As EVA Air does not fly between the U.S. and Africa, you would redeem your miles under the partner award chart, which breaks Africa into two separate award zones:

  • North Africa – Algeria, Canary Islands, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia
  • Central, South Africa – Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Congo, Cote d’Ivorie, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Under the partner award chart, a roundtrip redemption between the CONUS and North Africa will cost you 93k miles for economy, 160k miles for business class and 250k miles for first class.

Under the partner award chart, a roundtrip redemption between the CONUS and Central, South Africa will cost you 100k miles for economy, 185k miles for business class and 290k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are available at half of the above quoted rates. It’s important to keep in mind that EVA Air requires that you make your Star Alliance award ticket booking(s) through their reservation office. Unless you are dead set on flying a Star Alliance carrier to Africa, I would look elsewhere to transfer your TYPs. In the case you are dead set on flying a Star Alliance carrier, Singapore Airlines is your better option for your TYPs.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your KrisFlyer miles for Ethiopian, South African Airways and Turkish Airlines flights to Africa.

Singapore Airlines is one of several airlines that utilizes a separate award chart for partner awards. While you could in theory fly from the CONUS to Africa on all Singapore Airlines metal, the reality is that most will probably not want to fly through Singapore to get to Africa. As such, I will only be focusing on the Star Alliance partner award chart. Under the partner award chart, Africa is broken into two separate zones:

  • North Africa – Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia
  • Central, South Africa – Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Congo, Cote d’Ivorie, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

For roundtrip partner redemptions between the CONUS and North Africa, you can expect a cost of 75k miles for economy, 115k miles for business class and 150k miles for first class.

For roundtrip partner redemptions between the CONUS and Central, South Africa, you can expect a cost of 90k miles for economy, 145k miles for business class and 220k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates.

Overall, Singapore Airlines is surprisingly decently competitive for redemptions to Africa. There are definitely better redemptions to be had elsewhere with your TYPs, but the Star Alliance footprint is greater in Africa, so the KrisFlyer program does present a strong option to consider if award space is hard to find elsewhere.

Thai Airways

Thai Airways is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Royal Orchid Plus miles for Ethiopian, South African Airways and Turkish Airlines flights to Africa. Again, in other words, you are going to have a decent amount of options.

Thai Airways is another airline that uses a separate award chart for redemptions on their own flights and partner redemptions. As there are no Thai Airways flights from the U.S. to Africa, you will redeem according to the partner award chart, which breaks Africa into 2 separate award zones:

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

A roundtrip redemption between the CONUS and North Africa will cost you 70k miles for economy, 125k miles for business class and 160k miles for first class.

A roundtrip redemption between the CONUS and Central, South Africa will cost you 120k miles for economy, 200k miles for business class and 240k miles for first class.

It is worth keeping in mind that Thai Airways levies fuel surcharges on award tickets and from all the reports I have seen, they are crazy high. Considering that EVA Air should have access to most of the same Star Alliance award space that Thai Airways has access to, you are better offer transferring your TYPs to EVA for this redemption unless you have a stash of Royal Orchid Plus miles that you are looking to burn, and/or you do not mind paying exorbitant surcharges.

Etihad

Etihad is a Middle Eastern carrier that is often lauded for their fantastic hard and soft product. They hub location in the Middle East actually makes them a pretty solid option routing and timing wise to get from the CONUS to Africa. Etihad’s award chart is somewhat dynamic in that it changes based upon your origin and destination, though it is not specifically tied to the distance flown.

For flights between New York (JFK) and Johannesburg (JNB), you can expect a roundtrip cost of 164,656 miles in economy, 328,022 miles in business class and 436,269 miles in first class. One-way award tickets are allowed and will cost you 82,328 miles in economy, 164,011 miles in business class and 218,134 miles in first class.

Although Etihad is not a part of any major airline alliance, they do have several strategic partnerships with airlines such as South African Airways. For redemptions on South African Airways flights, the award chart is distance based and stopovers are permitted. From the CONUS, those flight options are going to be from New York (JFK) and Washington-Dulles (IAD) direct to Johannesburg (JNB).

For flights between New York (JFK) and Johannesburg (JNB), you can expect a roundtrip cost of 124,444 miles in economy and 213,333 miles in business class.

For flights between Washington-Dulles (IAD) and Johannesburg (JNB), you can expect a roundtrip cost of 140k miles in economy and 240k miles in business class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at half of the above quoted rates.

Overall, Etihad offers a decent redemption option for a partner booking in economy, though all of the other rates are not really competitive with some of the other TYP transfer partners..

To redeem for any partner awards you have to contact the Etihad service center at 888-8ETIHAD at least 14 days prior to the intended date of travel.

Virgin America

From what I can tell, Virgin America does not offer any partner redemptions between the U.S. and Africa. While you could potentially piece together multiple partner award tickets, it simply is not worth the hassle and frustration given the high taxes and carrier imposed fees that Virgin America passes on. You are better off looking elsewhere for TYP transfer partners that can get you to Africa.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic has been going through some changes to their structure and award program lately, so I would double check the rates before deciding on this option. For a redemption between the CONUS and Africa, you would need to book two award tickets – one between the CONUS and the United Kingdom and one between the United Kingdom and Africa. Virgin Atlantic also breaks up the CONUS into three separate segments, each with a different award ticket rate:

  1. US – Northeast: Boston (BOS), Newark (EWR), New York (JFK) and Washington-Dulles (IAD)
  2. US – Midwest & South: Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Detroit (DTW), Miami (MIA) and Orlando (MCO)
  3. US – West: Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA)

For flights between the US (Northeast) and Africa, you can expect a redemption cost of 45k miles in economy, 80k miles in premium economy and 210k miles in business class.

For flights between the US (Midwest & South) and Africa, you can expect a redemption cost of 50k miles in economy, 90k miles in premium economy and 210k miles in business class.

For flights between the US (West) and Africa, you can expect a redemption cost of 55k miles in economy, 100k miles in premium economy and 250k miles in business class.

One-way award tickets are permitted at half of the above quoted rates.

While these rates may look attractive at first glance, keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic charges absolutely obscene surcharges on their flights and that you would also get hit with the UK Passenger Duty Tax as you would need to route through London. For most roundtrip economy redemptions, you should expect ~$1,000 in taxes, fees and surcharges per person and that number will only increase with higher cabin classes. As such, I would avoid Virgin Atlantic flights at all costs if possible.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the TYP transfer partners offer a lot of options for finding award availability to Africa. Hopefully this guide has helped to shine a little light on how to utilize and maximize your TYPs for a trip to Africa!

What is your favorite way to redeem TYPs to get to Africa?

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