Great LATAM Business Class Fares From The US To South Africa

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Premium cabin flights from the US to South Africa are often quite expensive, and award availability can be tough to come by. When most people consider flying to South Africa, they think of either flying direct, flying through another hub in Africa (Addis Ababa, Nairobi, etc.), or connecting in Europe.

So I thought it’s worth highlighting a great fare that has been around for quite a while, which is worth being aware of.

Great LATAM business class fares to Johannesburg

LATAM has roundtrip business class fares from Miami to Johannesburg for ~$2,300.

What’s impressive here is that availability is good throughout the year, so this is valuable even in peak season.

As you can see, this is still a pretty direct routing, and in terms of distance flown, it’s fewer miles flown than going via Europe.

Just connecting through Sao Paulo covers a distance of ~17,500 miles roundtrip, though if you want to get more miles out of the routing, you can double connect, in Santiago and Sao Paulo.

This would increase your flown mileage to ~20,750 miles.

Lastly, note that if you just want to fly between Sao Paulo and Johannesburg, fares are great as well, as you can fly for ~$1,260 roundtrip (in the past I’ve seen even lower fares at times).

To find these fares you can search on ITA Matrix or Google Flights.

Save even more with the Amex International Airline Program

You can potentially save even more by booking through the Amex International Airline Program, which is available to those with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express.

This program offers discounts on LATAM business class tickets, so that fare could be even lower.

There’s a $39 ticketing fee when booking through this program, though the savings should outweigh that. You can also earn 5x Membership Rewards for purchases with the personal card.

Earning miles on this fare

LATAM is in oneworld, and these business class fares book into the “Z” fare class, so you can see how many miles you’d earn for that with various programs using wheretocredit.com. For example:

  • If crediting to American AAdvantage you’d earn 100% redeemable and elite qualifying miles, and elite qualifying dollars for 20% of the distance flown
  • If crediting to Alaska Mileage Plan you’d earn 100% elite qualifying miles and 200% redeemable miles

So while mileage earning through partner programs for LATAM isn’t great in general, the earnings here can still be significant. For example, an Alaska MVP Gold 75K would be earning 325% redeemable miles for these tickets.

LATAM’s business class product

While these are great fares, do note that LATAM offers an inconsistent business class experience.

The 767s you’ll be flying between Sao Paulo and Johannesburg feature flat beds, though they’re quite tight, and in a 2-2-2 configuration.

If you take the Miami to Sao Paulo flight you’ll be on a 777 with angled seats in business class. Meanwhile, if you route via Santiago, you can potentially take a 787 featuring fully flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, which are the best business class seats in LATAM’s fleet.

LATAM does have a new business class product that they’ll start installing this year, though I wouldn’t count on having it on any particular flight as of now. They’ll first install these on the LATAM Peru 767s, and then the LATAM Brazil 777s. So there’s a chance that a Miami to Sao Paulo flight might have them within the next year, though I wouldn’t expect to see them on the LATAM Brazil 767s for a while.

Bottom line

These aren’t the world’s best business class fares, though I do think it’s worth pointing them out, given that they’ve been around for quite a long time. This is a solid deal for scoring a business class ticket to South Africa even in peak season.

Sure, the connection times in some cases aren’t ideal, and LATAM doesn’t have an amazing product. But you won’t otherwise consistently find paid business class fares to South Africa that are this good, especially on an airline where you can credit miles to all kinds of partners (including oneworld airlines and Alaska).

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Comments

  1. Did Alaska finally open up their LATAM mileage earnings so that the pre merger JJ flights (GRU-JNB) quality for mileage earnings?

  2. That’s about the value of LATAM business any day. Truly a third rate product all the way around. I use them from MIA to GRU quite often as they often have cheap fares in business. But you get what you pay for in these cases. Cramped 2-3-2 cabin, poor IFE, worn interiors, horrific food that makes American domestic look top notch, and the list goes on.

    The new update to LATAM business starting this year can’t come soon enough.

  3. @DKB – It’s “only” ~4600 miles.

    Condor flies winter seasonally to Cape Town out of Frankfurt which is ~5800 miles.

    United fly 767s from Dulles and Newark to Honolulu which are both 4750ish.

    Delta flies 767s from Seattle to Beijing and Seoul, both over 5000 miles.

    Its definitely outside the top 5, probably sneaks into the top 10

  4. Credit the flights to British Airways and you’ll get 560 tier points (on the one stop option) or 840 (two stops) which would put you close to silver (oneworld sapphire) or over – 600 tier points. Although you do need 4 segments on BA or Iberia

  5. As another commenter pointed out, I don’t believe the GRU-JNB flight qualifies for Alaska EQM or redeemable miles. Otherwise this would truly be a fantastic deal for Alaska crediting. Lucky – any input on the JJ-operated flight counting for AS?

  6. They had a similar fare last spring which I used to reach CPT/JNB (routed thru SCL).

    Positioning from SFO was a pain but it was a decent EQD return on AA and a fantastic 17 days in SA!

  7. Checked the BA calculator and for some reason it’s not showing either Avios or Tier Points for the SCL-JNB segment. Just shows 0.

  8. Alaska has LA 7500 – LA 8299 on the earnings page eff 6/1/18. I’m assuming these over water flights are LA coded.

  9. As someone else pointed out, these fares have been around for a couple of years as my wife has used them a couple of times to go home to visit family. One thing to point out is that SA requires a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate for anyone that has been in Brazil longer than 12 hours prior to arring in SA. Some of the LATAM connection times can approach 10 hours, so with a minor delay you could easily cross the 12 hour threshold. SA immigration can be very strict about this and we know of people that have been refused entry to SA because of not having a certificate. It’s worth spending the money to get the vaccination just for peace of mind if you decide to travel this route. (https://www.iamat.org/country/south-africa/risk/yellow-fever)

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