I can show you the world, shining shimmering splendid. Okay, enough of the Aladdin soundtrack. How can you book 2 tickets to Johannesburg, South Africa from the United states for $70/person? Below I’ll detail exactly how I did it.
First, I could get off of work Wednesday 2/15/16 to Wednesday 3/01/16 without taking vacation time, so I needed somewhere to go for those exacts dates. In North America, the last two weeks of February are still strong winter weeks. As a Floridian, I hate snow, cold, and all things winter.
Since I am terrible with Geography, I pulled up a map and looked for the equator. None of the countries along the equator peaked my interest, but I enjoy Florida’s weather which is, for lack of a better term, one standard deviation above the equator. Therefore, I looked for countries along the 30 degree latitude lines. I realized South Africa is one latitude line below the equator, whereas FL is one latitude line above so theoretically when FL is experiencing winter, South Africa should be experiencing a similar to what FL’s would be.
Yes, I really thought about weather this much because I don’t want to travel anywhere in which I need a coat. Beyond personal comfort, it helps to travel with only a personal item, aka bookbag, if you don’t have to bring winter clothing.
So when I decided on South Africa, I first used Google Flights to check a few sample flights. First the cost in dollars if I left my home airport, or any of the airports I can easily access for cheap. For example, if a flight across the ocean is $400 cheaper if departing from Houston than Tampa, I would gladly buy an additional $35 ticket from Tampa to Houston to save $400. For reward flights, this isn’t as much of an issue, but there may only be award tickets available from certain airports.
Instead of being limited to one airline or one airline alliance, Chase points allow you to transfer to nearly all major airlines. I ended up using United.com to search for star alliance flights. Because the award tickets on United.com were not as desirable flight itineraries as flights I was able to fly on Google Flights, I spent a lot of time looking into different award alliances, but in the end Star Alliance in which United is a member was the best option.
52 open tabs of internet later, I had to realize that I could either choose an award ticket for 80,000 MileagePlus points plus $70 person or I could pay about $1,000 and have the most amazing itinerary including a 20 hour layover in Paris where J’s cousin lives. Unfortunately those amazing flights didn’t allow us to choose award seats. So, we have a few long, but not long enough to leave the airport, layovers in cities that were not on our bucket lists. What we did do is save about $800 per person to use instead of doing really cool things in the country of our choice! The $70 price was from the mandatory fee’s and taxes.
I received 50k mileage plus points from the United MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card, and 100k Chase points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and the rest of the points from actual flying or points earned on credit card purchases.
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