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Best way of getting SAA Voyager Miles Airlink redemption JNB-TNR

Best way of getting SAA Voyager Miles Airlink redemption JNB-TNR

Old Sep 12, 17, 9:45 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 27
Best way of getting SAA Voyager Miles Airlink redemption JNB-TNR

I have just moved to Antananarivo, Madagascar for work. Since arrival, I have been shocked at the cost of getting off the island. South African Airways offer the only flight to South Africa, and (surprisingly enough) it is very expensive...usually about GBP650 return (USD865) for a 2.5 hour flight on a terrible Avro RJ85 Avroliner.

I am trying to work out a cheaper way of getting off the island, and noticed that their redemption chart for spending SAA Voyager Miles with Airlink doesn't look too bad (Madagascar is in their "Africa 1" category):

SPENDING MILES WITH AIRLINK

Region MileageKeeper Return AnyDay Return
Travel within South Africa 19 000 36 000
Travel between South Africa and Southern Africa 22 500 38 000
Travel between South Africa and Africa 1 37 500 90 000

So basically 37,500 Voyager miles to save myself about USD850. Now, the question is: as a resident of Madagascar, how can I earn SAA Voyager Miles (or transfer in from another program) - without flying on SAA?
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Old Nov 3, 17, 5:49 am
  #2  
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 27
OK so I have partially answered my own question:

I can transfer Amex Reward Points to Starwood at 3:1 ratio, then Starwood to Marriott at 1:3 ratio, then Marriott to SAA Voyager miles at this crazy ratio from the SAA site:

Voyager Miles Marriott Points
1 500 Miles 10 000 Points
3 500 Miles 20 000 Points
7 000 Miles 30 000 Points
17 000 Miles 70 000 Points
35 000 Miles 140 000 Points

At the top conversion, this seems to work out at buying 1 SAA Voyager Mile for 4 Amex Reward Points. Seems kind of expensive, especially as I need 18 750 Voyager Miles for a one way flight from TNR to JNB. I'm giving up 75,000 Amex points to save about 430USD. Not a good exchange rate!

Anyone have any better suggestions for earning SAA Voyager Miles? Maybe a cunning way of earning Marriott Reward Points? Or SPG points?
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Old Nov 6, 17, 8:51 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Cape Town
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Posts: 1,521
Yeah a saving , but nothing to write home about sadly. Unfortunately , you will have to take the price of the flights as part of the island lifestyle. I can only recommend you book in advance and shop around , even look at indirect methods to get to JNB ?
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Old Apr 12, 18, 12:52 pm
  #4  
Used to be highman123
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 2,650
Originally Posted by ozymandias24 View Post
I have just moved to Antananarivo, Madagascar for work. Since arrival, I have been shocked at the cost of getting off the island. South African Airways offer the only flight to South Africa, and (surprisingly enough) it is very expensive...usually about GBP650 return (USD865) for a 2.5 hour flight on a terrible Avro RJ85 Avroliner.

I am trying to work out a cheaper way of getting off the island, and noticed that their redemption chart for spending SAA Voyager Miles with Airlink doesn't look too bad (Madagascar is in their "Africa 1" category):

SPENDING MILES WITH AIRLINK

Region MileageKeeper Return AnyDay Return
Travel within South Africa 19 000 36 000
Travel between South Africa and Southern Africa 22 500 38 000
Travel between South Africa and Africa 1 37 500 90 000

So basically 37,500 Voyager miles to save myself about USD850. Now, the question is: as a resident of Madagascar, how can I earn SAA Voyager Miles (or transfer in from another program) - without flying on SAA?
I have tried to book Airlink using Voyager miles but agents always come back with unavailable for TNR flights. Have you ever booked anything?

Ethiopian is mostly available (via Addis) and it is a good deal - just 17.5k United miles plus $100 departure tax.

Last edited by MightyTravels; May 3, 18 at 9:25 am
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Old Apr 17, 18, 12:24 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by MightyTravels View Post
I have tried to book Airlink using Voyager miles but agents always come back with unavailable for TNR flights. Have you ever booked anything?

Ethiopian is mostly available (via Addis) and it is a good deal - just 15.5k United miles plus $100 departure tax.
No never booked it using Voyager miles. In fact, I had a serious setback on this front recently: this January I converted 20,000 Hilton Honors Points into 3,000 SAA Voyager Miles, to top up my account in order to make the TNR to JNB redemption flight. Long story short: SAA Voyager "took" my Hilton miles, then had no record of my redemption and refused to give me my 3,000 Voyager miles. 3 months later, and a lot of angry emails / calls / Tweets, Hilton finally refunded my 20,000 Hilton Honors Points. SAA Voyager has TERRIBLE customer service. Most of the people I spoke to tried to claim you couldn't even redeem Honors Points for Voyager Miles. Hopeless!
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Old May 3, 18, 9:19 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Originally Posted by ozymandias24 View Post
No never booked it using Voyager miles. In fact, I had a serious setback on this front recently: this January I converted 20,000 Hilton Honors Points into 3,000 SAA Voyager Miles, to top up my account in order to make the TNR to JNB redemption flight. Long story short: SAA Voyager "took" my Hilton miles, then had no record of my redemption and refused to give me my 3,000 Voyager miles. 3 months later, and a lot of angry emails / calls / Tweets, Hilton finally refunded my 20,000 Hilton Honors Points. SAA Voyager has TERRIBLE customer service. Most of the people I spoke to tried to claim you couldn't even redeem Honors Points for Voyager Miles. Hopeless!
Several years ago SAA diddled me out of two Business Class tickets to Asia and also denied any wrong doing. Changed my FF to another airline and killed as many Voyager miles as I could, and even on the last redemption I did with them, it took loads of legwork to get the correct ticket issued.
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Old May 3, 18, 9:25 am
  #7  
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Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
Several years ago SAA diddled me out of two Business Class tickets to Asia and also denied any wrong doing.
Can you elaborate? Sounds bad!
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Old May 4, 18, 7:55 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Angry

Originally Posted by MightyTravels View Post
Can you elaborate? Sounds bad!
I had enough miles for two Business Class tickets to Asia before they expired at the end of that specific year. Redeemed the miles to BKK, so my remaining miles were safe for another year before some were due to expire. During the course of the year, SAA cancelled their BKK route and we were routed via HKG. (Oh yes, no prior notification of this - if I had not inquired who knows what they would have done). No problems I thought, except that the HKG - BKK legs were in economy which impacted on our baggage allowance on the way back - but we dealt with that at BKK.
Came back from our holiday early in January and when the doors opened, my name was called and I was escorted to the Voyager desk where they claimed that certain Taxes where not paid due to the new routing.
Eventually, after much deliberation and being passed from one staff member to the next, equally inept person, they decided to cancel the booking, and redo the booking showing the correct fare class and taxes. But, while doing that, I promptly lost the miles that were originally used, and miles from my remaining pool were used!!!!
They claimed that they could not reinstate the miles since they expired at the end of December and had to use my valid miles. So, instead of just doing a calculation and me paying in a measly US$ 25 - they decided to redo the entire booking for flights that had been taken?????? I still cannot fathom this reasoning out.
Needless to say, I lost it - I nearly attacked someone. I was told to contact someone in Voyager Management that had the Authority to credit the miles back into my account, but since it was a Sunday I had to wait until Monday to get hold of someone.
Well, emails, phone calls went unanswered. And nobody offered to sort out their bungle. So, two return flights in the J cabin cost me FOUR flights.
Since that day, I tried to avoid flying with them where possible and will actively seek alternatives where possible.

So yes, SAA can go and fly a kite as far as I am concerned.
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Old May 9, 18, 5:17 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: LGW / AMS / CPT
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Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
So yes, SAA can go and fly a kite as far as I am concerned.
And even that they will most likely screw up.....
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Old May 10, 18, 3:34 am
  #10  
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Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
I had enough miles for two Business Class tickets to Asia before they expired at the end of that specific year. Redeemed the miles to BKK, so my remaining miles were safe for another year before some were due to expire. During the course of the year, SAA cancelled their BKK route and we were routed via HKG. (Oh yes, no prior notification of this - if I had not inquired who knows what they would have done). No problems I thought, except that the HKG - BKK legs were in economy which impacted on our baggage allowance on the way back - but we dealt with that at BKK.
Came back from our holiday early in January and when the doors opened, my name was called and I was escorted to the Voyager desk where they claimed that certain Taxes where not paid due to the new routing.
Eventually, after much deliberation and being passed from one staff member to the next, equally inept person, they decided to cancel the booking, and redo the booking showing the correct fare class and taxes. But, while doing that, I promptly lost the miles that were originally used, and miles from my remaining pool were used!!!!
They claimed that they could not reinstate the miles since they expired at the end of December and had to use my valid miles. So, instead of just doing a calculation and me paying in a measly US$ 25 - they decided to redo the entire booking for flights that had been taken?????? I still cannot fathom this reasoning out.
Needless to say, I lost it - I nearly attacked someone. I was told to contact someone in Voyager Management that had the Authority to credit the miles back into my account, but since it was a Sunday I had to wait until Monday to get hold of someone.
Well, emails, phone calls went unanswered. And nobody offered to sort out their bungle. So, two return flights in the J cabin cost me FOUR flights.
Since that day, I tried to avoid flying with them where possible and will actively seek alternatives where possible.

So yes, SAA can go and fly a kite as far as I am concerned.
This sounds terrible, but not that surprising. South African Airways have pretty bad customer service, and SAA Voyager are even more incompetent for some reason. However, there are ways of getting them to take your issue seriously. In the end, I managed to sort out my problem - I retrieved the 3,000 missing Voyager miles, and am currently in negotiations with them for compensation for the time they wasted (3 months and counting). Their opening offer was an extra 5,000 Voyager miles, which I will likely reject. But we're getting somewhere, slowly! So anyways, here's how to get it done:

1) Forget the SAA and SAA Voyager customer service phone lines. They are all useless. In the unlikely event that they answer the phone, they will not solve your problem. However, it is worth emailing SAA and SAA Voyager customer service with a specific outline of your problem / complaint, and detailed information about how you expect them to address it (and what timeframe).

2) Once they miss the deadline in your email (which they inevitably will), post your problem on the SAA Voyager and SAA Facebook group page and Twitter account. Make it very clear that you gave them an opportunity to resolve the problem privately, within a reasonable timeframe, and they failed. Again, set a new deadline for sorting it out and explain what the solution should look like. If you can include one of their commercial rivals in the complaint (for example, by tagging them on Facebook or @-ing them on Twitter), all the better! I have done this with British Airways in the past, by tagging Swiss International Airlines and noting that they would never treat their customers like this...

3) Continue to post / Tweet every few days to the same Facebook thread / Twitter feed, highlighting that you are still waiting for a solution. Keep doing this until they sort it out.

This puts a lot of pressure on the social media teams at SAA, as this complaint is immediately public, they can see it will remain public until they resolve it, and it cannot be deleted and forgotten (especially on Twitter), like an email can. They are a lot more responsive than the email team and are far more inclined to sort out your problem. This all takes patience (I spent 3 months hassling them on a weekly basis) but it' the only way of forcing them into providing decent customer service.
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Old May 10, 18, 4:07 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: JNB
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Posts: 1,093
Originally Posted by ozymandias24 View Post
This sounds terrible, but not that surprising. South African Airways have pretty bad customer service, and SAA Voyager are even more incompetent for some reason. However, there are ways of getting them to take your issue seriously. In the end, I managed to sort out my problem - I retrieved the 3,000 missing Voyager miles, and am currently in negotiations with them for compensation for the time they wasted (3 months and counting). Their opening offer was an extra 5,000 Voyager miles, which I will likely reject. But we're getting somewhere, slowly! So anyways, here's how to get it done:

1) Forget the SAA and SAA Voyager customer service phone lines. They are all useless. In the unlikely event that they answer the phone, they will not solve your problem. However, it is worth emailing SAA and SAA Voyager customer service with a specific outline of your problem / complaint, and detailed information about how you expect them to address it (and what timeframe).

2) Once they miss the deadline in your email (which they inevitably will), post your problem on the SAA Voyager and SAA Facebook group page and Twitter account. Make it very clear that you gave them an opportunity to resolve the problem privately, within a reasonable timeframe, and they failed. Again, set a new deadline for sorting it out and explain what the solution should look like. If you can include one of their commercial rivals in the complaint (for example, by tagging them on Facebook or @-ing them on Twitter), all the better! I have done this with British Airways in the past, by tagging Swiss International Airlines and noting that they would never treat their customers like this...

3) Continue to post / Tweet every few days to the same Facebook thread / Twitter feed, highlighting that you are still waiting for a solution. Keep doing this until they sort it out.

This puts a lot of pressure on the social media teams at SAA, as this complaint is immediately public, they can see it will remain public until they resolve it, and it cannot be deleted and forgotten (especially on Twitter), like an email can. They are a lot more responsive than the email team and are far more inclined to sort out your problem. This all takes patience (I spent 3 months hassling them on a weekly basis) but it' the only way of forcing them into providing decent customer service.
Glad you got some response from them. My case was several years ago - before they had any social media presence, so that was more difficult. But it still does not change my attitude to SAA. In contrast, TK, that often gets a bad rap - in part, due to language issues - had no problems in refunding me miles and taxes, and even waived a service fee when my Mom was critical and we had to cancel our trip to Turkey. But then, I made use of of social media, since sitting on a phone to a call centre in Istanbul (probably) from JHB while waiting for more urgent incoming calls was at the time, emotionally draining. So yes, things in terms of Customer Service with regards to the advent of Social Media is really working in our favour.

But I am glad that you are making headway with SAA - good luck and hope that you get an acceptable solution.
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