South Africa to Miami on British Airways with Avios? A few options

Recently, one of our readers from South Africa contacted us with a question about using British Airways Avios to fly from Johannesburg to Miami in December, and hoped to avoid wintry London in the process.

British Airways Avios is the currency for frequent flier points on British Airways and Iberia; they may also be used to fly on other airlines in the Oneworld alliance, including American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, JAL, Qantas, and more.

The path of least resistance is almost always using the airline of the frequent flier currency you’ve got. In this case, British Airways – and the shortest pathway from South Africa to North America is a westbound route.

With that in mind, Johannesburg-London-Miami is the most logical route – but if our object is to avoid London, that strikes that idea out.

How can we make it happen?

Unfortunately, British Airways is the only airline in the Oneworld alliance that flies westbound from South Africa even somewhat accessible through Avios.

Further complicating the issue, there isn’t any award availability at present from London to Miami on either British Airways or American Airlines during the dates our reader provided, further nullifying that idea. So, what are the options left?


British Airways generally has fairly limited availability long-term. I’ve seen it a lot here in San Diego, and it makes booking flights in advance relatively challenging. However, one of the best uses of BA Avios is on last-minute flights. It’s possible that London-Miami could open up as the dates get near. However, this is a really big bet – one that could easily backfire if you have non-refundable reservations or, for instance, a wedding to attend.

The Long Way

The other way to get to Miami from South Africa is the long way. The long, long way: eastbound.

Remember how Cathay Pacific is a Oneworld partner?

One option is to fly through Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, Johannesburg to Hong Kong (12.5 hours) to Chicago (14+ hours) to Miami (2.5hr).

Another option is Johannesburg-Hong Kong-Shanghai-Chicago (12.5 hours + 2.5 hours + 15 hours), and then on to Miami (2.5hr).

And yet another option might be via Sydney (12 hours), but it’s difficult to find any availability with Avios out of Sydney (ever) to Los Angeles/the US (another 14 hours).

Suffice to say, flying the long way is very, very long, and even worse in economy. But if you can potentially make a stopover in either Hong Kong (great for a 3-day stay) or Chicago, it can help break some of the monotony of sitting on a flying aluminum tube for a solid day.

Other Options, Other Alliances

There are a number of other options available with other airline alliances that might make things more flexible. For instance, with the Star Alliance, one could fly into a number of other European hubs, avoiding notorious London Heathrow. For instance, Lufthansa flies from Frankfurt to Johannesburg on a magnificent A380, and Swiss flies to Zurich. Each of these places can suffer from crummy European winters, making it challenging to travel through these places – but it certainly opens up a lot of options.

Another option is on Delta. They fly direct to Atlanta (nearly a 17 hour flight) from Johannesburg.

Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind where your most likely destinations will be when you stock up on airline miles with a single alliance. Unfortunately for South Africa, British Airways isn’t probably the best way to go since your options are fairly limited to go westbound, even when London isn’t out of the plans. If you’re based in South Africa and want to go eastbound to Asia, it may not be a bad idea – but you may find it best practice to keep your points across a number of airlines and alliances to keep your options open.