South African Airways has been a stalwart member of Star Alliance for the last eight years and offers an extensive route network within Africa and to key cities around the world from its hub in Johannesburg. Although I would never characterize award space as overly generous, some routes, like São Paulo – Jo’burg, offer excellent award space. But for reasons we have yet to find out, all SA flights are now unbookable using miles, unless you have miles in South African’s own Voyager program.
One week ago today, all South African flights disappeared from StarNet, the system Star Alliance carrier’s use to share award inventory. This was by no means a case of people booking up the space, as every flight on every route showed as unavailable.
There is no way that every single seat between JNB and CPT is booked at the end of next month
I assumed it was a temporary glitch – perhaps a system update on the side of South African since the space was not bookable anywhere except by logging into the South African Voyager website and searching the space. There, it is still bookable.
Yesterday, I noticed the following ad on South African’s website:
A new flyaa.com website that may have been the culprit? Would this problem be solved today? I sure hoped so.
But it has not been – we are now into October in South Africa and all the space remains unbookable. As it happens, I am trying to book a trip with South African Airways, so the matter is all the more urgent!
There are no tips for booking the space at this time – no long sells or need-needs will secure this space unless you have SA miles. We saw American Airlines lose the ability to book Etihad space on a temporary basis a few months back and Aeroplan members lost access to both EVA and Air China earlier this year (though the lost of Air China space was deliberate blocking by Aeroplan).
I have reached out to some contacts to try and find out what is going on and will provide an update as soon as I hear back, hopefully with news that availability has been restored.
In the meantime, remember that Star Alliance members Turkish Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and Egypt Air all have good coverage in Africa and remember that if you are using united.com to search, Brussels Airlines space does not show, many phantom Ethiopian and Egypt Air flights show up, and united.com does not display many Ethiopian and Egypt Air flights that actually are available. Best to use the ANA Tool if you are considering travel to/from/within Africa using your Star Alliance miles.