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Best way to book SFO-JNB to maximize UA mileage?

Best way to book SFO-JNB to maximize UA mileage?

Old May 6, 14, 12:17 pm
  #1  
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Best way to book SFO-JNB to maximize UA mileage?

Hey all -- am planning a trip SFO-JNB-SFO in late August and want to maximize my miles earnings to the greatest extent possible, while minimizing cost.

Both UA.com and Hipmunk give me legs on UA + South African Airways, but the main problem is that some of the discount fares on South African Airways only earn 50% PQM.

Anyone have suggestions on how to make sure I get 100% mileage earning fares without breaking the bank? Routings and carriers are flexible. Thanks in advance!
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Old May 6, 14, 12:27 pm
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You could take UA to FRA, IST & ZRH and then go down on LH, TK or LX. You could also go to LOS and then take SAA which seems like it would get you the closest to JNB on UA. However, you may run into some low fare 0 earnings with the others too?
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Old May 6, 14, 12:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Ryu2 View Post
Hey all -- am planning a trip SFO-JNB-SFO in late August and want to maximize my miles earnings to the greatest extent possible, while minimizing cost.

Both UA.com and Hipmunk give me legs on UA + South African Airways, but the main problem is that some of the discount fares on South African Airways only earn 50% PQM.

Anyone have suggestions on how to make sure I get 100% mileage earning fares without breaking the bank? Routings and carriers are flexible. Thanks in advance!
I would recommend sticking to United and Lufthansa and the fare classes listed on UA.com.

Use http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ and restrict the carrier to your desired ones. I have found LH always posts promptly.

I can see 1 stop routing through FRA or MUC starting at $1400 in L which earn 100% mileage. Once you have found it on ITA try using multi-city search to get it to price on united.com. This way you will earn the PQD if that is important.

Last edited by escapefromphl; May 6, 14 at 12:48 pm
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Old May 6, 14, 12:57 pm
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Originally Posted by escapefromphl View Post
I would recommend sticking to United and Lufthansa and the fare classes listed on UA.com.

Use http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ and restrict the carrier to your desired ones. I have found LH always posts promptly.

I can see 1 stop routing through FRA or MUC starting at $1400 in L which earn 100% mileage. Once you have found it on ITA try using multi-city search to get it to price on united.com. This way you will earn the PQD if that is important.
You can use most of the ITA language on hipmunk, which will generally give you a link to buy on UA.com instead of fighting with UA's search.
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Old May 6, 14, 1:21 pm
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Keep in mind that this is a VERY long flight, especially on the way back. Whilst attempting to maximizing mileage make sense (this is flyertalk after all!), adding in too many connections or routing via an out of the way location will make it even longer.
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Old May 6, 14, 2:04 pm
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Originally Posted by mduell View Post
You can use most of the ITA language on hipmunk, which will generally give you a link to buy on UA.com instead of fighting with UA's search.
Everytime I use Hipmunk I just seem to be given an option to purchase on Priceline.
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Old May 6, 14, 2:14 pm
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Originally Posted by escapefromphl View Post
Everytime I use Hipmunk I just seem to be given an option to purchase on Priceline.
With the first segment on UA?
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Old May 6, 14, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by docbert View Post
Keep in mind that this is a VERY long flight, especially on the way back. Whilst attempting to maximizing mileage make sense (this is flyertalk after all!), adding in too many connections or routing via an out of the way location will make it even longer.
This. I've flown to/from South Africa in a variety of ways on different airlines and I will never again connect in EU unless I honestly have no other choice. And I say that having done it in business class; once was enough.

I'm all for extra miles, but if I were you I would book SFO-JFK-JNB and be done with it. Once SA tickets their portion, check to see what fare class you're booked in and you can still cancel within 24 hours. If necessary, call their US number to help book it.
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Old May 6, 14, 3:09 pm
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Originally Posted by glasnost7 View Post
This. I've flown to/from South Africa in a variety of ways on different airlines and I will never again connect in EU unless I honestly have no other choice. And I say that having done it in business class; once was enough.

I'm all for extra miles, but if I were you I would book SFO-JFK-JNB and be done with it. Once SA tickets their portion, check to see what fare class you're booked in and you can still cancel within 24 hours. If necessary, call their US number to help book it.
That OK for business. But in economy from the west coast you have to do red-eye to SFO-JFK and then 17+ hours in economy to JNB. If I have to fly in economy from SFO I prefer to go via Europe & break it up. In FRA I would take the train into town walk around. You get on the same time zone a bit earlier too.
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Old May 6, 14, 3:45 pm
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Originally Posted by glasnost7 View Post
This. I've flown to/from South Africa in a variety of ways on different airlines and I will never again connect in EU unless I honestly have no other choice. And I say that having done it in business class; once was enough.
I've never found getting to JNB a problem, but getting back is a hard flight. The one time I did JNB-IAD-SFO (with a tech stop in Dakar) is without a doubt the hardest flight I've ever done.

Last time I did it I had a ~23 hour layover in AMS on the way back, which made it a much easier trip, although obviously added a day and an extra nights accommodation. This was on Air France/KLM, but you could easily do the same with FRA on LH/UA.

In this case it turned out to be an especially good move - without the extra stopover I would have been due to land in SFO about an hour after the Asiana crash last year, which would have added another 5+ hours to the trip as the flight diverted to SEA.
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Old May 6, 14, 3:46 pm
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This is a real wildcard option and no idea how the cost would play out (probably quite pricey) but you could go SFO - LAX - NRT - SIN - JNB. SFO - LAX obviously on UA metal and then LAX - NRT - SIN - JNB on SQ metal which all earns 100% on UA if in B, E, M, H, W, U, L, K or higher.

It would maximize the miles but sounds pretty awful if you were stuck in Y for the whole thing (~14500 nm each way per gcmap)
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Old May 6, 14, 4:07 pm
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Originally Posted by escapefromphl View Post
That OK for business. But in economy from the west coast you have to do red-eye to SFO-JFK and then 17+ hours in economy to JNB. If I have to fly in economy from SFO I prefer to go via Europe & break it up. In FRA I would take the train into town walk around. You get on the same time zone a bit earlier too.
You can avoid two consecutive nights of lost sleep by doing SFO-(UA)-IAD-JNB (SA) (brief tech stop at DKR) rather than SFO-JFK-JNB. The timings are such that you leave SFO early morning, the redeye portion is TATL, and you arrive JNB late afternoon tired, but ready to go to sleep.
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