Stellar Deal to South Africa!

As you may recall our family, extended members included, are in the early planning stages for a late 2016 trip to South Africa. South Africa has always resided on the top of our bucket list, but we’ve patiently waited to the point where we think our kids can handle it, especially the safari portion. Like usual, we’ve consulted the Adventures by Disney itinerary to see what they do with kids, but also to see what they consider to be the “minimum age” for such an adventurous trip. That age is 6 and our daughter will be a few months short of her 6th birthday at the end of this year so we’ve decided to give it a go.

We’ve been diligently hoarding miles to get our family of four there and back in business class as that distance exceeds our “travel in coach” threshold. But yesterday, a major wrench was thrown into that plan. We were alerted to a deal on Qatar Airways where it costs only $375 to fly from Boston to Johannesburg and then Cape Town to Istanbul around our travel dates ($334 per child!). Whoa… Super cheap! The catch? It’s in coach. That’s a lot of travel in coach, but still a stellar deal.

So, taking advantage of the DOT 24 hour free cancellation rule (or 24 hour hold) whereby airlines must give you 24 hours to cancel free of charge when traveling from the US, we booked six passengers to South Africa from Boston over our desired dates. We worked in a 15 hour layover in Doha to break up the pain of such long flights. But, from Boston via Doha is about as direct as you can get to South Africa so we’ll grin and bear it. I’ve read that flying in economy on Qatar’s A350 and 787 is not nearly as painful as many long haul economy flights we’ve taken before so who knows, maybe we’ll enjoy it! You may recall a similar deal we jumped on last year to Italy and then Southeast Asia. While not ideal, we survived!

However you cut it, $1,418.64 is a lot of money. It’s a little more than we spent on airfare to go to Belize! Think of that, almost the same cost for our family to go from Boston to Belize as it is to go from Boston to South Africa! Of course will have to connect ourselves from Istanbul to Boston with miles, but still, that’s pretty sweet.

We’ll also be saving 250,000 Alaska Airlines miles for use at a later date (Emirates First Class would be a dream!). The taxes alone on the business class award would have cost us about $150 per person and we would have had to connect ourselves to JFK which would have been an additional headache and out of pocket cost expense. And, we’ll get miles awarded into our American Airlines account for taking the trip with cash instead of miles.

We still haven’t decided what we’re going to do on the return. We are booked from Cape Town to Istanbul and there is a nice direct flight on Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Boston that we could book with miles. But given that the return is the second half of the itinerary, we do have some flexibility in how we choose to get home.

So, for now, we’re stoked with what we have. And surprisingly, this isn’t a mistake fare. Something about the combination of departure and arrival airports, starting in the US to South Africa and returning to Europe is making this fare really cheap (fuel dump?). There are still seats available on our exact routing but there are also deals to be had from other gateways served by Qatar Airways. Those include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, JFK, Philadelphia, and Washington Dulles. Of course the fare is highly variable, depending on your departure airport, dates of travel, and your airports of arrival and departure in South Africa. If you need any direction, let me know!

Spending that much out of pocket for this piece of our South African journey pretty much cements the lid shut on a European vacation this summer and that’s ok with me. Time at the lake is an easy consolation prize. But I don’t like to say never! Who knows what mistake fare might be released in the future. But for now focusing on London to see Adele, Disney World, and South Africa is enough for us!

Let the planning on our new adventure begin!

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