A couple of months ago, Qatar Airways announced new routes to Doha from various US cities, including Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles beginning in 2016. This is great news for anyone with American Airlines miles, since both airlines are partners through the oneworld alliance. Lucky covered that announcement here.
This is particularly good news for people wanting to visit South Africa, since American Airlines now allows you to route from North America to places like Johannesburg and Cape Town via Doha. No longer are you restricted to transiting London and paying hefty fuel surcharges on British Airways.
I even got bored one day last year and showed how you could add regional flights within South Africa to AAdvantage awards.
Even though I don’t live in L.A. anymore, I have a lot of family and friends who are still out there. And apparently, some television personalities who read this blog.
@PointsToPointB been reading your blogs, trying to book on AA points to cape town or Johannesburg March 2016. Would you consider helping?
— Keltie Knight (@KeltieKnight) July 14, 2015
Getting from L.A. to South Africa is a daunting task, since the antipodal point of Los Angeles on the globe is off the coast of South Africa, so it’s almost all the way on the opposite side of the world. Getting from the west coast of the United States to South Africa in 2 flights can be really tough.
It’s good to point out that Qatar Airways has some pretty good availability in business class on their Los Angeles-Doha flight, which begins on January 1, 2016. The flight times are as follows:
- QR 740, Los Angeles to Doha, 3:10pm – 6:10pm (+1 day)
- 4:10pm departure during spring/summer months to account for Daylight Savings in L.A.
- QR 739, Doha to Los Angeles, 7:45am – 1:10pm
- 2:10pm arrival during spring/summer months due to DST in L.A.
Qatar Airways has a couple of flights to Johannesburg as well Cape Town with similar availability, and the connecting times are not bad at all. I don’t run an award booking service, but this request literally took about 5 minutes to research, so I didn’t mind helping out. My only compensation was a shoutout on twitter!
You can’t search for Qatar Airways space on American Airlines’ website, nor can you book it. However, you can easily search for space on British Airways’ website and call in to American Airlines. I found that over the course of a month, more than 2/3 dates had 2 seats available to book.
The Qatar Airways flight to LAX will be operated with a Boeing 777-200LR, which is pretty decent if you’re traveling with a companion, although the window seats don’t have direct aisle access. I flew a similar business class product on the 777-300ER last year on a Bangkok-Doha flight and was fairly impressed, both with the seat and the service. I was seated in the middle section though, so didn’t have to climb over anyone to get out (or have myself climbed over).
For a roundtrip flight between the US and South Africa, you can expect to pay 150,000 American Airlines miles and about $75 in taxes. That’s a great value for a tough award, and much cheaper than paying hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges on British Airways.
It’s also worth noting that these new Qatar Airways flights are also great for getting from the west coast to the Indian subcontinent, as Qatar Airways has decent connections to even smaller cities that aren’t Delhi or Mumbai. You can also use American Airlines miles to book on Etihad Airways to India, and they offer a First Class cabin in addition to Business Class if you’re looking to splurge a bit more. You can’t book Etihad to Africa, though.