Unbreak My Heart: South African Airways Eliminates Sweet Spot to Africa

For those who love finding ways to use the fewest miles to travel between continents, it’s hard to beat a one-way business class ticket to Africa for only 25,000 miles.

Although the route (that I will describe below) is fairly niche, the amount of required miles is unheard of. To put this into perspective, most business class tickets require, in the range of, 50,000 – 70,000 miles one-way.


There are two airlines that I am going to mention in this article. Take note of the airlines or it will be confusing.

First, South African Airways has two destinations in the US…New York (JFK) and Washington D.C. (IAD).

They fly NON-STOP between New York and Johannesburg using an (older) A340 aircraft. Note: They will soon replace the A340 with a brand new A350.

South African Airways also flies between Washington D.C and Johannesburg using an (older) A330. However, 5 days out of the week, they stop in Accra, Ghana (enroute to Johannesburg), and twice a week they stop in Dakar, Senegal (enroute to Johanesburg). 


As of next month, South African Airways will fly daily from Washington D.C to Johannesburg (via Accra). Take note of the word “daily.” In other words, this will come at the expense of the Washington D.C. to Johannesburg (via Dakar) route, which will operate for the last time on 1 September 2019.

THE SWEET SPOT (aka the 2nd Airline)

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is partners with South African Airways and thus you can use Virgin Atlantic miles to fly on South African Airways’ planes. So, let’s take a look at Virgin Atlantic’s award chart..

The rates listed above are for round-trips. As you can see, Virgin Atlantic charges 25,000 miles one-way between Washington D.C. and Senegal in business class while charging 55,000 miles one-way between Washington D.C and Accra in business class.

So we are clear…you would be using Virgin miles to fly on South African Airways’ plane between the US and Africa. However, with the elimination of the Senegal route, this sweet spot is fading into oblivion.

With this change, Delta will be the only airline to fly nonstop between the US and Senegal, as they fly twice (2x) weekly from New York (JFK).


This is unfortunate news because 90% of my bucketlist takes place on the African continent.

This particular route was near the top of my list. As I said above, South African Airways is acquiring a brand new A350 and my hope was that they would put it on this route and I would be able to fly the A350 for minimal miles. That is the only reason I had not booked this flight at this point. However this is how the game works.

Important Note: I still have, approximately, 3 weeks to fly this route for 25,000 miles and I think I’m going to make it happen because I’ve heard amazing things about Senegal and 8 hours in business class for 25,000 miles is a steal!

Is anyone else disappointed in this sweet spot elimination? Anyone else planning on doing this route before it changes? 🙂


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