Thursday/ Air France to Cape Town

I am planning a trip to South Africa in April, and so my nightly ‘game’ of scouring the connections to Cape Town on a variety of on-line travel booking sites (Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak) and the airline sites themselves had been going on for a while.  First one has to find an itinerary with decent connections, and then it is a whole new ball of wax to figure out how to pay for it if you are Mr Frequent Flyer with several accounts with air miles in them.

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A romantic picture from the Air France home page.

So last night it was time to buy a ticket. BUY IT RIGHT NOW, I thought.  The Europe connection to Cape Town is the hardest. It’s usually between London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris as a connecting city, to get me to Cape Town, and usually with a stop in Johannesburg.  I found a direct Paris to Cape Town and was about to buy an Air France ticket on Expedia when I thought : let me log on to airfrance.com and see if I can use at least some miles to pay for the ticket. Hmm. A pitiful 3,000 miles on my Flying Blue account. Maybe I can transfer in miles from my American Express Membership Awards account. Yes. 60,000 miles available to transfer. Great.  For a business class seat in, and a premium economy back, I still needed 57,000 more. Man. Let’s see what happens when I try to pay with partly miles, and partly dollars.. voila!  Air France let me buy extra miles at the bargain rate of €1.10/ dollar .. and they have a sale until March 18.  They throw in an extra 50% miles in addition to the ones you buy.  So buying 38,000 got me 19,000 for free. So : all told, an almost business class return fare for US$1,100.  Not bad at all. That kind of fare on the open market goes for at least $6,000 and Nelson Rockefeller I am not! (Of course : it took several years to rack up the American Express miles that I now burnt up in one go.  But hey, that’s what they are there for).

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