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Wildlife safaris, natural wonders, bustling markets—with 54 countries to choose from, Africa’s got it all. Figuring out which loyalty program to use to fly to the second-most populous continent might be a drag, so we’ve come up with a guide to help you.

Whether you’re looking to fly with Oneworld, SkyTeam or Star Alliance carriers, we’ve got some solid options for mileage redemptions with each alliance.

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue is an interesting option to consider when searching for award space from North America to Africa. The program lumps in certain northern African countries, such as Algeria and Tunisia, into its Europe region, and you can use this quirky grouping to your advantage.

How to Book with Air France-KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue no longer uses award charts and now sets dynamic pricing for its award tickets. However, low-level awards aren’t mythical creatures and exist in the wild.

To set your expectations properly, use the Miles Price Estimator to figure out exactly how many miles you need to redeem from your departure city to your destination. Enter your two airport codes and estimate the mileage required for a one-way trip.

Remember to log in to your Flying Blue account to search for award space. Once logged in, you should be able to find the following rates for a one-way flight from New York City (JFK) to Algiers (ALG):

  • Economy: 22,500 miles
  • Premium economy: 42,500 miles
  • Business: 53,000 miles
  • First: 220,000 miles

Keep in mind that these are the low-level redemption rates, and the actual mileage rates can vary based on demand. If you’re flexible with travel dates, keep searching the calendar to find the dates that have these awards available.

Also, be aware that rates might be different from other departure cities. Keep using the Miles Price Estimator to determine the lowest-level redemption rates for other city pairs.

Here’s Atlanta to Tunisia in business class—it’s available at the same rate of 53,000 miles, but if you book an economy flight, the rate drops to 21,500 Flying Blue miles.

Another important aspect of the Flying Blue program is the significant fees it applies to Air France- and KLM-operated flights. In many cases, the fees will add hundreds of dollars to mileage redemptions, but the relatively low rates can still make the program worth considering for long overseas journeys in a lie-flat seat.

How to Earn Flying Blue Miles

Because Flying Blue partners with all the popular flexible point programs, Flying Blue miles are some of the easiest to earn.

If you hold any cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points, you’re all set. All of these points transfer to Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio, except Venture Miles, which transfer at a lower rate of 2:1.5.

Marriott Bonvoy is also a partner, and you can transfer Marriott points to Flying Blue at a ratio of 3:1. For every 60,000 Marriott points transferred, they’ll throw in another 5,000 miles in your account.

U.S. travelers also can earn Flying Blue miles directly by spending on the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard from Bank of America.

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

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Etihad Guest

This redemption method is a bit more convoluted because you can’t book these awards online, but Etihad Guest miles make for a great way to fly from the United States to the African continent.

How to Book with Etihad Guest

Although Etihad isn’t officially part of any airline alliance, it partners with certain carriers, such as American Airlines and Royal Air Maroc (RAM). In this scenario, RAM is the airline you’ll fly to Africa or more specifically to Casablanca, Morocco.

Etihad’s award chart for its partner Royal Air Maroc is distance-based. To fly between New York City (JFK) and Casablanca (CMN), you’ll need the following number of miles in your Etihad Guest account.

  • Economy: 22,000 miles
  • Business: 44,000 miles

Additionally, you’re able to fly RAM to other African destinations, such as Algiers, Algeria; Cairo; and Dakar, Senegal, to name a few. However, you’ll have to redeem more miles on a multi-segment journey.

“For connecting routes mileage values will be calculated from origin to point of transit/stopover to destination,” as per Etihad. In other words, each segment will be priced out separately based on the distance traveled.

So, if you want to fly to Algiers, you’ll need to redeem 28,000 miles for a one-way flight in economy or 56,000 miles in business class. If you want to continue on to Dakar, your one-way flight from New York City will set you back 32,000 miles in economy or 64,000 miles in business. You get the gist.

Because ExpertFlyer doesn’t display award availability on Royal Air Maroc, you must call Etihad Guest Service Center at 877-690-0767 and ask the agent to look up available dates for you. It might not be an easy process, but it’s worth getting a fairly priced ticket to Africa.

How to Earn Etihad Guest Miles

You can obtain Etihad miles by transferring your flexible American Express Membership Rewards to Etihad Guest at a ratio of 1:1. Transfers are instant, which means you can book the award as soon as you confirm availability.

Citi ThankYou Points are another way to get Etihad miles with instant transfers at a 1:1 ratio.

If you hold the Capital One Venture Card or the Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card, you can transfer your Venture Rewards to Etihad Guest at a less-favorable ratio of 2:1.5. These transfers aren’t instant, but they usually process within a day.

In a pinch, you can convert Marriott Bonvoy points to Etihad miles at a ratio of 3:1. For every 60,000 points transferred, you’ll get 20,000 miles plus a bonus 5,000 miles.

Citi Premier® Card

Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

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American Airlines AAdvantage

Many flyers have found great value in the American Airlines AAdvantage program when looking for award space on flights to Africa.

How to Book with AAdvantage

When searching for award flights with AAdvantage miles, you’ll find plenty of carrier options: British Airways, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian Airlines, among others. Take your pick. However, be mindful of the high fuel surcharges if redeeming American Airlines miles on British Airways.

Because the program uses a region-based chart, the redemption rates will be the same for partner flights. For a one-way flight from North America to any African destination served by a partner airline, you’ll need to redeem miles at the following rates:

  • Economy: 40,000 miles
  • Premium economy: 62,500 miles
  • Business: 75,000 miles
  • First: 115,000 miles

Here’s an example of a flight between Chicago (ORD) and Nairobi (NBO) on Qatar in business class.

You don’t have to be logged in to your AAdvantage account to search for award space, but you do need to be a program member to book, of course.

How to Earn AAdvantage Miles

American AAdvantage doesn’t partner with a transferable points program, unless you count Marriott Bonvoy. You can transfer hotel points to the airline at a 3:1 ratio and receive an additional 5,000 miles for every 60,000 Marriott points converted.

If you don’t have that many Marriott points or prefer to redeem them for hotel stays, then you can earn AAdvantage miles with co-branded credit cards issued by two banks: Barclays and Citi.

Barclays issues two American Airlines credit cards: the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard and the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Business Mastercard.

Citi offers a bit more options when it comes to co-branded AAdvantage credit cards: the AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®.

In the past, Citibank and Bask Bank have offered opportunities to earn AAdvantage miles by opening and funding bank accounts.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska Airlines is about to join Oneworld officially in March, but it’s been a reliable partner of many airlines already in the alliance, including Cathay Pacific.

How to Book with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska has separate award charts for each partner, and here’s a chart for Cathay Pacific-operated flights from contiguous United States and Alaska to Africa. You can fly all the way from the United States to Johannesburg (JNB) or Cape Town, South Africa (CPT), for this many Mileage Plan miles.

  • Economy: 50,000 miles
  • Premium economy: 55,000 miles
  • Business: 62,500 miles
  • First: 70,000 miles

To book a flight at these redemption levels, you must find award availability first. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to find these awards with Alaska’s search tool as they don’t show up online. ExpertFlyer doesn’t display Cathay Pacific availability, either, which means you have to perform a manual search on another partner’s website.

Go to either AA.com or BA.com and search the calendar until you find the dates with open seats. Once you find availability, you’ll have to call Alaska to book these flights.

In some cases, availability released to Alaska isn’t the same as what’s released to American Airlines or British Airways. By calling an agent, you might find something that works.

It helps if you live in a city served by Cathay Pacific, such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco. If not, you can add a domestic Alaska segment to connect to any of these cities, provided there’s an Alaska-operated route between your departure city and one of these gateways. This extra leg will be included in the total mileage cost.

How to Earn Alaska Miles

Except for Marriott Bonvoy, whose points can be converted to Alaska miles at a ratio of 3:1, Alaska’s Mileage Plan doesn’t partner with another transferable currency.

The best way to earn Alaska miles is by using its co-branded credit cards issued by Bank of America: the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card and the Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card.

Avianca LifeMiles

For Star Alliance enthusiasts, Avianca LifeMiles is the answer when searching for award availability from North America to Africa.

How to Book with Avianca LifeMiles

To find availability, you must be logged in to your LifeMiles account. With a region-based award chart, you should be able to find the same redemption rates for all partner carriers.

  • Economy: 40,000 miles
  • Business: 78,000 miles
  • First: 105,000 miles

LifeMiles doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges to its awards, but it does charge a $25 award booking fee for itineraries booked either online or by phone. For example, this Lufthansa itinerary from New York (JFK) to Nairobi (NBO) via Frankfurt (FRA) in business class will set you back 78,000 LifeMiles + $43.

The good news is that you won’t be paying any fees by booking flights close to departure. The bad news is that LifeMiles have a 12-month expiration, so make sure not to transfer any miles unless you’re ready to redeem them.

How to Earn Avianca LifeMiles

LifeMiles partners with a few transferrable point programs, including American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Capital One Venture Miles. Points transfer 1:1 from Amex and Citi, but you’ll find a lower transfer ratio of 2:1.5 from Capital One.

Not to sound like a broken record, but you can use Marriott Bonvoy points as a backup option with a transfer ratio of 3:1, but we don’t recommend this accumulation method for large point transfers.

Additionally, U.S.-based flyers can earn Avianca LifeMiles by using its co-branded credit cards the Avianca Vida Visa Card and the Avianca Vuela Visa Card issued by Banco Popular de Puerto Rico.

Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Also, earn up to $300 in statement credits on eligible U.S. advertising and U.S. shipping purchases. Terms Apply.

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Final Thoughts

The aforementioned ways to book award travel to the African continent aren’t the only options, of course. They’re just ideas to get your wheels spinning. Plan out your travel rewards strategy and go from there. With this many redemption options, you ought to find at least one way to use your miles to fly to Africa.