Best time for ATL-JNB award?

Old Sep 11, 16, 9:40 pm
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Question Best time for ATL-JNB award?

Hey all,

I'll be looking over the next few days and will post my results.I'm asking here because I figure there may be others who have looked. I'm looking to take my wife on Safari in Kenya in June-Aug 2017. I travel about 300k mi/year, so it's possible for me to book something on ST from Europe, but I'm looking for a RT from east coast US to JNB and then ST connection to Kenya or a separate booking if that's better.

Happy to share the results of my searching, just looking for any suggestions from the collective wisdom of the crowd here. I should add that we have a about 150k in SPG points and can transfer to some other line - definitely prefer the front of the bus!

Cheers!
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Old Sep 11, 16, 9:51 pm
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We have done this a few ways. You can fly DL from EWR AMS and then on to Nairobi (we have done EWR AMS JRO but almost ended up with AMS NBO JRO due to a missconnect). You can also do AMS JNB on KLM.
You can take the direct ATL JNB (very high sky miles pricing, I think 180,000 miles or so).

On our first safari, we flew home virgin Atlantic JNB LHR and DL LHR jFK. All with miles in J. The partner legs have been very inexpensive awards. I think we ended up with 65,000 or 70,000 mile awards for all of these. The clubhouse at JNB is fine and the clubhouse at LHR is great!

Last edited by floridagal23; Sep 11, 16 at 10:00 pm
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Old Sep 11, 16, 9:51 pm
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I don't know, but we've never had a problem booking LAX/JFK-LHR-JNB on VS UC for 80k Pesos pp ow - done it for a few years now, much prefer it to the ATL-JNB and much better availability usually.
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Old Sep 11, 16, 9:55 pm
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Look for JFK-JNB. Anything else will normally fail I find especially in J. In fact goto VS website and you can search for VS/DL metal flights between JFK-JNB a lot easier. What VS shows is what DL shows for VS flights.

As for Kenya I'd just book a separate ticket. Kenya airlines is a Skyteam airline, but it can be cheaper on South African on BAs ZA regional version.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 8:50 am
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Thoroughly appreciate all of the suggestions!
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Old Sep 12, 16, 12:31 pm
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If someone else is paying for the flight, DL200 (ATL-JNB) is hard to beat. However, it gets really spendy when it comes to booking Business Class with SkyMiles, and is a miserably long haul if flying it in coach.

Last year, I took my SO for holiday in Cape Town. Business class on Virgin Atlantic with a long layover in London and Virgin's awesome lounge. (Virgin only flies to JNB now. No more CPT).
KLM direct to Nairobi is a decent flight. Been a while since I've taken it. It was a 747 last time I flew that.

I used to warn people flying into NBO to be sure to have brand new $20 bills for the visa on arrival, but Kenya's visa policies have recently changed. You now have to apply for an e-visa before arrival. It takes about a week to process.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 9:32 pm
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Update: so weird, but looking at flexible dates in June, ATL-JNB (DL200) is showing 420k as cheapest in D1, yet if I change to JFK-JNB, the routing is via ATL (DL200) and is 190k.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 10:37 pm
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Originally Posted by webmarks View Post
Update: so weird, but looking at flexible dates in June, ATL-JNB (DL200) is showing 420k as cheapest in D1, yet if I change to JFK-JNB, the routing is via ATL (DL200) and is 190k.
Married segment logic. They know people will pay more for a nonstop then connecting. Also JFK has more competition JFK-JNB then ATL-JNB.

I'd take VS via LHR over DL via ATL. DL ATL-JNB is really long flight and I find the food/service for such a long flight just not up to VS. Plus you get to use the VS Clubhouse and JFK UpperClass checkin.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 10:51 pm
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Originally Posted by flyerCO View Post
Married segment logic. They know people will pay more for a nonstop then connecting. Also JFK has more competition JFK-JNB then ATL-JNB.
I must be mistaken then - I thought that award tickets were priced per segment?

Originally Posted by flyerCO View Post
I'd take VS via LHR over DL via ATL. DL ATL-JNB is really long flight and I find the food/service for such a long flight just not up to VS. Plus you get to use the VS Clubhouse and JFK UpperClass checkin.
Any advice for searching VS inventory? It's not coming up at all. Maybe too early?
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Old Sep 12, 16, 11:31 pm
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Originally Posted by webmarks View Post
I must be mistaken then - I thought that award tickets were priced per segment?



Any advice for searching VS inventory? It's not coming up at all. Maybe too early?
For US carriers it's never been per segment. It used to be based on regions. Now it's based on origin/destination just like a regular ticket.

For the easiest search of VS inventory pull up virginatlatlantic.com. SimplY enter JFK and JNB and the dates you'd like to search for. Then select Miles for how'd you like to pay. It'll give you a nice easy to use calendar that you can scroll. The days with Purple bars on them have J, red I believe is PE (which I don't think DL can do as an award), and then of course (I think) grey is economy. Once you have those days goto DL and plug in those exact dates and it should show the VS flights.

Note if you do a search on delta.com by 5 week or flexible days it'll default to DL and partners for a search. You then click on a day with low cost tickets and bam nothing shows up or not at the low price. What has happened is for some reason delta's website changes the DL and partner to DL only. Click on the advanced search, change the button to DL and partners with the dates loaded and it'll work. DL knows of this issue but seems to do nothing to fix it. This doesn't apply if you simply enter the dates you want. It only does this when using Delta's calendar/5week search function.
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Old Sep 13, 16, 8:09 am
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Brilliant, thanks flyerCO!
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Old Sep 15, 16, 9:50 pm
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Have done both ATL-JNB and ATL-AMS-NBO in the past few years for different safari trips. Looked at ATL-JNB-NBO, but the connections weren't great on the JNB-NBO side since you land at 6pm-ish local time--last year, there was no option to take a SkyTeam flight without spending the night or arriving at NBO at 2am. We opted NOT to do that, and I'm glad we weren't left to traverse the city of Nairobi at that hour of the morning. (It's a ~4 hour flight from JNB to NBO.)

ATL-JNB, as others have said, is loooonnnggg, even up front. But honestly, my memories from that trip have nothing to do with the flight, and everything to do with what we saw on safari. ATL-AMS-NBO involves KLM on the 2nd leg--we flew upstairs on the 747 in Sept 2015 and it was a cool flying experience; glad I got to do it.

In either case, you're in the air and in the connecting airports for a long time--I'd search for the most convenient connections that have the overall shortest transit time and call it good.
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Old Sep 16, 16, 9:51 am
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Did an award trip this May, DAL-ATL-JNB-LHR-ATL-DAL. It was 255k up front, and the RT through ATL was 300k. At the time it was an easy choice, but having flown both of those options, I much preferred the direct on DL. Yes, ATL-JNB is long no matter where you sit, but I found the food to be on par with VS and the service to be far better. I found the seats (DL 77L ATL-JNB, VS 787 JNB-LHR, VS 346 LHR-ATL) to be about the same for sleeping, but for the daytime flight, the VS seats are a pain because you cant switch between lounging/relaxing, napping, and eating without help from a FA. The VS clubhouse in LHR was great for a shower and breakfast, but I think I would have rather had the direct instead of traversing the globe in multiple directions.

I felt the service from some of the VS FAs was great, and from some it was indifferent and lackluster. The DL FAs seemed to be on top of their game, but that comes with the territory of bidding for the longest flight in the network.

I've been on some extensive intercontinental itineraries in the past, and the trip back to the US was the most draining on multiple levels. If its a question of a few (or 50) thousand miles, I'd say go with the ATL-JNB-ATL.
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Old Sep 16, 16, 10:01 am
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Going through LHR is only about 3-4 hours more flight time then going ATL-JNB direct. Yes need to add whatever connection time, but it breaks up a really long flight and I enjoy visiting even if only for a day.

Coming back through LHR is even less time difference in flight. Also offers connections to US that will result in some cases no difference in total travel time.
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Old Sep 16, 16, 10:07 am
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OP, Forgive me in advance as I know this is a bit off-topic but, germane, so I hope it can help others.

so I've be fortunate to go to SA four times. Once was on South African, once on KLM and the other two times on DL. Been very lucky to do J class on each trip. Well I was just fiddling w/ some dates for SA earlier this year and I lucked up a PAID (I know you were asking about award) but a paid J on DL for $3600 r/t from the East Coast (I live in DC) so I grabbed that puppy. I'm going in March when the weather is a bit cooler but it's SA so I don't quite care when I go. I'm in J r/t and on DL 200 and 201 respectively. I've NEVER seen the fare that low so I'm saying, it might not be absurdly high to look at paid J. Of course I don't know of your willingness/desire/ability to do this but perhaps others might be able to? safe travels and hope you have a great time. I've only done safari once and i STILL remember it vividly, even from 17 years later!
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