Trying (And Failing) To Redeem Miles On Kenya Airways’ New York Flight…

Filed Under: Awards, Other Airlines

I’m trying to plan what I think would be an epic review trip, but unfortunately I seem to be hitting a stumbling block.

Kenya Airways is starting flights to New York next month

At the end of October Kenya Airways will be launching daily flights between Nairobi and New York. I’ve been wanting to review Kenya Airways for a long time and am fascinated by the route (in an Air Belgium kind of way), so naturally I’d like to fly the route as soon as possible.

While we’re talking about it, I might as well call that I think the route will be reduced to non-daily in a matter of months. This route just makes very little sense for an airline losing a ton of money, not to mention that they’re starting off with daily service.

Trying to redeem miles on Kenya Airways

On the surface this flight appears to be wide open when redeeming miles. Almost every flight shows as being “O7,” meaning there are at least seven business class award seats per flight.

So my plan was to book an award ticket from New York to Nairobi on Kenya Airways, and then fly RwandAir from Nairobi to Kigali to Brussels to London.

I was super stoked and after finding the award space phoned up Delta to try and redeem SkyMiles for the New York to Nairobi ticket, at the cost of 95,000 SkyMiles plus roughly $400 in taxes and surcharges. While not exactly a deal, it seemed like the best option.

Unfortunately Kenya Airways awards aren’t bookable on Delta’s website, and the phone agents don’t seem to see any of the space. I called a few times just to be sure it wasn’t agent error.

So after putting some more thought into it I decided to redeem Korean Air SkyPass miles for the ticket, since they showed the space directly on their website. They charge 120,000 miles plus $800 in surcharges for a roundtrip ticket, so I figured I’d just use the return portion of the ticket at some point in the future, since it’s a change that should be easy enough to make.

I went all the way to the ticketing page, and then got an error message after trying to submit payment.

Kenya Airways’ frequent flyer program is Flying Blue, which is the same program that Air France and KLM uses. My guess is that the “O” space I’ve been seeing online is only bookable through Flying Blue. So I imagine I could book this at the cost of 115,000 Flying Blue miles plus $400 (or who knows, maybe it errors out in the same way as with Korean Air, but I have to imagine that the “O” space is accurate for some program).

Maybe this is an arbitrary place to draw the line, but at the cost of 115,000 Flying Blue miles plus $400 I lose interest, so I’d rather find another way to book a seat on this flight.

Reasonable business class fares on Kenya Airways

Kenya Airways has some really reasonable business class fares on their New York flight, though none of the deals are for travel originating in the US.

For example, for just $1,170 you can fly one-way business class from Dubai to New York via Nairobi, which is insanely cheap.

Or for $1,540 you can fly one-way business class from Johannesburg to Nairobi to New York.

I’m tempted by the Dubai fare, but I can’t decide on a fun way to get to Dubai. The thing is that I plan on doing this just shortly after flying from Singapore to Newark on the world’s longest flight, so I don’t want to be too crazy with my routing.

Do I fly Washington to Abu Dhabi on the Etihad 787 in first class, since I haven’t reviewed that before? Do I fly Norwegian to London Gatwick, and then RwandAir from London to Brussels to Kigali to Mombasa to Dubai? That doesn’t seem very direct.

I really, really want to try Kenya Airways’ 787 business class on this 15 hour flight, I just can’t come up with anything I’m all that happy with.

If anyone has any inspiration, I’m all ears!

  1. Finally try KLM 787 across the pond (SFO, SLC, JFK, IAH, IAD, YYC or YYZ) then hop on the Rwandair flight to Kigali, and then catch the Kenya Airways fare 🙂

  2. Do it the other way round; book your flight from Nairobi to JFK and there you get some very good deals. A quick check on Skyscanner shows return fares at around $1900. Kenya Airways is having a sale till the end of this month with really low fares.

    Fly Rwandair from Europe and KQ back to US.

  3. Hey Lucky – is this happening just with business class, or is the economy space unbookable outside of FB also?

  4. You need ask Delta to ‘longsell’ the flight in O Class…you are right they don’t
    see the availability but ask them to long or direct sell it and it’s gets confirmed…..just had to do this for flight SEZ/NBO. The Delta agents should know this but it took me 3 calls and telling them what to d9 to get my seats confirmed!

  5. Emirates ‘new’ business class from FLL to DXB, maybe good enough to post a head to head comparision vs the A380

  6. I’ve flown Kenya Airways 787 Business Class and it’s really nothing to get excited about. I don’t think you’d be overly impressed, Lucky.

  7. Keep it simple after SIN-EWR flight. Rest up in NYC for what time you can. Catch a shuttle from NYC to YYZ. Take the Air Canada nonstop from YYZ to DXB. Currently flying 787 equipment which I believe you last covered more than 2 years back.

  8. You could also go to Gatwick on Norwegian, then Rwand Air from Gatwick to Kigali to Johannesburg (both on the A330 with the nice Business Class) and from there back to NYC with Kenya Airways on the 787. Like this, the Layover in Nairobi would also be a lot less than 17.5h. I also did a 6h connection in Nairobi. The lounge is quite ok. Just dont expect too much nice food…. Overall doable and not with too many connections 🙂

  9. Take advantage of Singapores sponatenous escapes, fly with Krisflyer miles USA to Singapore, use the Singapore to Dubai sweetspot with krisflyer miles also, then do the Kenya airways trip.. Im sure they have cheap fares from BKK down to Cape Town or Jo-Burg on revenue tickets also.

  10. You could buy a super cheap Y fare on SAA from JFK or IAD to JNB. Then do JNB-NBO-JFK all on a Dreamliner in biz.

  11. When KQ first launched JFK nonstop, there was ~$2k roundtrip fare to JNB. Didn’t jump onto that tho b/c of the opportunity cost

  12. Fly delta 757 to Manchester, then Manchester to Dubai on Emirates Biz for the 777 flight since you have not reviewed yet!

  13. You really don’t want to try doing an overnight in Norwegian – although for daytime it is fine.

    Kyall has beaten me to it in suggesting RTW westbound – it’s a lot less tiring.
    And he has some redemption suggestions for how to do it which sound pretty smart to me.
    If those don’t appeal, then how about something with ANZ, E.g. ORD-AKL.

  14. I booked CPT-NBO-JFK in J in January using Flying Blue for 100K miles. Not a great deal, but also not terrible. Difficult to get premium cabin award space out of South Africa around New Years.

  15. Norwegian to London, then Gulf Air to Bahrain (new 787 with Apex seat) and hop to DXB from there. Sam Chui had a blog post about it last week

  16. you could do Washington to Johannesburg on South African A330 business class and then do the Kenya Airways flights from there or an updated Virgin Atlantic upper class review from NYC to London would be cool.

  17. I just booked a flight to NBO too, for March, and was hoping to get on the new Kenya Airways flight from JFK too. But I agree 115,000 + $400 from FlyingBlue is just too steep!

    I also would’ve needed a connecting flight from SFO, and American amazingly had transcon and transatlantic availability in Business with connection in JFK and LHR on BA for 75,000 + $330. So, I’m doing that instead!

  18. Can someone enlighten me on what is so special about Kenyan Airways’ 787 J product? It is a very generic 2x2x2 configuration, nothing remarkable about it.

  19. FB has dynamic awards pricing today. You might be able to find some dates for 85k (which is not too bad for FB, today …)

  20. Did this ever get fixed?
    See availability for my dates but do not want to transfer points into KE unless I know it will ticket.

  21. I have spent countless hours on the phone with delta agents trying to use skymiles to book a KQ flight on mainland Africa (not originating or departing from the states). Expert flyer shows availability and the agent can build the ticket but it does not get accepted by KQ. Is the partnership only for TATL flights?

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