The 8 Best Ways to Fly Business Class to Africa on Points

Africa is an aspirational destination for many North American travellers. With so much diversity and so many countries over a vast area, there’s surely something for everyone. 

Flying to Africa from North America can be very expensive, especially in premium cabins. However, using points to get there and back can yield excellent value, in addition to making the long trek comfortable.

Let’s take a look at our picks for the eight best ways to get to Africa in business class using points, with options for both direct and indirect routings, listed in alphabetical order.

In This Post

1. Air Canada

First on this list is Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline. From its Montreal hub, the airline flies to three destinations in North Africa: Casablanca, Algiers, and Cairo.

With Aeroplan, pricing for these flights is subject to the distance-based tiers in the “Between North America and Atlantic zones” section of the Aeroplan Flight Reward Chart.

As a reminder, for Aeroplan redemptions, the cost in Aeroplan points depends on the total distance flown.

Direct flights from Montreal to Casablanca or Algiers fall under 4,000 miles, while a direct flight from Montreal to Cairo comes in at 5,436 miles. Adding a connecting flight from elsewhere in Canada or the United States may push you to the next tier, depending on the distance.

In theory, a one-way flight from Montreal to Casablanca would cost 60,000 Aeroplan points at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum with Air Canada. While it’s surely possible to find flights at this price, you might also pay much more due to the effects of dynamic pricing.

Flying Air Canada to Cairo from Montreal costs as few as 70,000 Aeroplan points in business class at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum, although it can also cost significantly more.

Interestingly, Air Canada operates a two-cabin Airbus A330-300 aircraft on the Montreal–Algiers route. So, the best you can do is premium economy, which is something you may want to consider if you’re planning a trip to Algeria.

Both Cairo and Casablanca are served by three-cabin aircraft, and feature Air Canada business class. The flights range in duration from seven to 10 hours, and eastbound, are scheduled overnight. Having a bed to catch some rest on is key to feeling refreshed upon arrival.

Fly Air Canada business class between Montreal and North Africa

As Air Canada flights are subject to dynamic pricing on Aeroplan redemptions, one method to reduce the cost in points is by employing the “Latitude Attitude”, which is only valid if you have Aeroplan Elite Status.

By booking in a cheaper economy fare and using eUpgrades to upgrade to business class, it’s possible to bring the redemption cost back to reality when dynamic pricing is skewed the wrong way.

As an example, booking an Economy (Latitude) fare for 72,000 Aeroplan points and using 13 eUpgrade credits to instantly confirm an upgrade to business class from Cairo to Montreal could save 58,900 points or more, as opposed to booking in business class to begin with.

Of course, if you don’t have Aeroplan Elite Status, you can look for fixed-value award space on other Star Alliance airlines, which we’ll explore below.

2. EgyptAir

An honourable mention on this list goes to Cairo-based EgyptAir. The airline offers ample business class award space and connects its four destinations (Toronto, New York JFK, Newark, and Washington Dulles) in North America to many destinations in Africa.

Compared to most other airlines, though, the ground and in-flight experience can leave a lot to be desired. Only for the convenience of a direct flight, or in the absence of other business class award space, is EgyptAir generally regarded to be a good choice.

From Toronto, a direct flight to Cairo measures 5,746 miles, placing it in the second distance band on the North AmericaAtlantic zone with Aeroplan. In business class, this flight has a fixed cost of 70,000 Aeroplan points. 

Adding a connection to some destinations in Africa would push the distance into the third band, therefore increasing the cost to 90,000 Aeroplan points. Extending to other African destinations, or adding a connecting flight from Western Canada, could even push the distance into the fourth band, which prices at 110,000 points.

If you choose to fly with EgyptAir, be sure to look for its Boeing 787 Dreamliner for your transatlantic flight. The cabin, which features lie-flat seats, is vastly superior to the angle-flat seats on the airline’s older 777 fleet. 

EgyptAir 787 business class – Cabin
Fly EgyptAir from North America to Egypt and beyond using Aeroplan points

3. Ethiopian Airlines

Addis Ababa-based Ethiopian Airlines has a strong worldwide network and also serves many destinations within Africa.

In North America, it flies to Toronto, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington Dulles with direct flights from Addis Ababa.

The airline also runs a number of fifth-freedom routes throughout its worldwide network. Ethiopian Airlines operates a direct flight from both New York JFK, Newark, and Washington Dulles to Lomé, Togo, as well as a flight from New York JFK to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, which can all be booked for only 70,000 Aeroplan points.

Flying from Toronto to Addis Ababa measures 7,154 miles, placing it in the third distance band on Aeroplan’s Flight Reward Chart. A one-way business class flight has a fixed cost of 90,000 Aeroplan points.

Adding a flight to other destinations in Africa will likely raise the cost to 110,000 points, as doing so would increase the distance to the fourth distance band. 

Keep in mind that you can add a stopover of up to 45 days for an additional 5,000 points. This would give you the opportunity to explore Ethiopia, or other destinations to which the airline flies, at a minimal cost. 

On the transatlantic routes, Ethiopian Airlines operates the Boeing 777, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the Airbus A350, with various configurations.

On some routes, you’ll still find the 2-2-2 business class configuration with angle-flat seats that recline to 170 degrees. On others, you’ll find fully lie-flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, or the dated 2-3-2 configuration on some 777 aircraft.

The newest cabins feature a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration with lie-flat seats, so aim for either of these if at all possible for the best experience.

Be sure to check out the seat configuration for your flight, perhaps by using a tool such as ExpertFlyer, to ensure the best flight experience.

Ethiopian Airlines business class – Seat 3L
Fly Ethiopian Airlines from North America to Ethiopia and beyond using points

4. Royal Air Maroc

Royal Air Maroc connects travellers from North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to its hub in Casablanca. Its African network serves destinations in North, West, and Central Africa. 

In North America, the airline flies twice daily to Montreal, with routes to Miami, New York JFK and Washington Dulles, too.

Royal Air Maroc joined Oneworld in 2020, opening up redemption possibilities with airlines in that alliance, including American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

Redemptions on Royal Air Maroc with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan aren’t particularly intriguing, so we recommend focusing on using AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club, and Asia Miles instead.

Avios can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio from both American Express Membership Rewards and RBC Avion. They can also be earned directly with the RBC® British Airways Visa Infinite†.

RBC Credit Cards for Earning Avios
Credit Card Best Offer Value
60,000 Avios† $899 Apply Now
Up to 70,000 RBC Avion points† $821 Apply Now
35,000 RBC Avion points $700 Apply Now
35,000 RBC Avion points†
$120 annual fee
35,000 RBC Avion points† $580 Apply Now
35,000 RBC Avion points
$120 annual fee
35,000 RBC Avion points $580 Apply Now
Up to 35,000 RBC Avion points†
$120 annual fee
Up to 35,000 RBC Avion points† $580 Apply Now

There are also often transfer bonuses to Avios, so keep an eye out for one of those promotions to give your balance an extra boost.

Redeeming Avios for Royal Air Maroc is subject to distance-based pricing. The distance between Montreal and Casablanca is only 3,534 miles, placing the flight in Zone 5 of the British Airways award chart for partners.

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A one-way business class flight from Montreal to Casablanca costs 62,000 Avios. Considering the frequent 30–50% transfer bonuses, the cost can effectively be reduced to 42,000–48,000 points, which is a great deal.

If Avios aren’t your cup of tea, earning Asia Miles is relatively easy, too, as it’s a transfer partner of Amex Memberships Rewards at a transfer ratio of 1:0.75, and RBC Avion points at a 1:1 ratio. Neo also offers the co-branded Cathay World Elite® Mastercard – powered by Neo.

Credit Cards for Earning Asia Miles
Credit Card Best Offer Value
Up to 70,000 RBC Avion points† $821 Apply Now
35,000 RBC Avion points $700 Apply Now
35,000 RBC Avion points†
$120 annual fee
35,000 RBC Avion points† $580 Apply Now
35,000 RBC Avion points
$120 annual fee
35,000 RBC Avion points $580 Apply Now
Up to 35,000 RBC Avion points†
$120 annual fee
Up to 35,000 RBC Avion points† $580 Apply Now
Up to 30,000 Asia Miles $348 Apply Now

Asia Miles redemptions are also subject to a distance-based award chart. A flight from one of the North American gateways to Casablanca would cost a similar level of 63,000 Asia Miles.

Another option would be to use American Airlines AAdvantage miles, which can be earned by transferring RBC Avion points at a 1:0.7 ratio, or by converting Marriott Bonvoy points into AAdvantage miles.

A one-way flight from Montreal to Casablanca prices out at 57,500 AAdvantage miles. Just be mindful of any transfer ratios that you’re subject to, as that will skew the true cost in points.

On the Montreal–Casablanca route, Royal Air Maroc runs both the Boeing Dreamliner 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft. Of these two, the 787-9 is superior, with lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. The 787-8 also features lie-flat seats, but in a less desirable 2-2-2 configuration.

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Fly to Morocco and onward to destinations in Africa with Royal Air Maroc

5. United Airlines

As the sole US-based carrier on this list, United Airlines flies several routes between the continental US and Africa. 

From Washington Dulles, there are direct flights to Accra, Ghana, Lagos, Nigeria, and Cape Town, South Africa. From Newark, there are direct flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Having a direct flight from North America to South Africa, in theory, is a great opportunity. However, business class award space on these flights can be very difficult to come by, especially with partner programs like Aeroplan.

This isn’t necessarily the case with flights from Washington Dulles, though, as there’s decent business class award space to both Accra and Lagos throughout the year. Both destinations fall within the second distance band on the “Between North America and Atlantic zones” chart with Aeroplan, meaning that a one-way flight in business class costs only 70,000 Aeroplan points.

You can also book United flights through United MileagePlus, and the inventory is better than with partner programs. However, it’s difficult to find “Saver”-level award space on the routes to South Africa, so you’ll likely wind up paying more than you should.

Keep an eye out for United Polaris business class on these routes, which you’ll be able to find with a 1-2-1 configuration. It’d be a perfectly comfortable way to get from North America to West or South Africa.

Fly United Polaris business class from North America to West Africa using points

United Polaris lounges offer an excellent pre-flight experience, complete with à la carte dining, showers, premium cocktails, and an overall refined lounge experience. You can Polaris Lounges in Newark and Washington Dulles, amongst other airports.

6. Via Europe

For the rest of the flights on this list, you’ll need to route via another part of the world to get to Africa. While that inevitably means going out of your way to get there, it may prove to be a worthwhile endeavour.

As the continent to the north of Africa happens to be flush with airlines in various alliances, there are a number of interesting options to access Africa from North America via Europe.

Star Alliance Airlines

In fact, there are many Europe-based Star Alliance partners that fly to destinations in Africa. Brussels Airlines, Eurowings Discover, Lufthansa, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, and Turkish Airlines all serve various destinations on the continent. Among them, Turkish Airlines has both the best business class product, serves the most destinations in Africa, and has fairly generous award availability.

Turkish Airlines has direct flights to Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal in Canada, as well as to 12 destinations in the United States. Its network in Africa (and the rest of the world, for that matter) is extensive, covering cities across North, West, East, Central, and South Africa.

On many of the routes to North American cities, the airline flies either the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350. These aircraft feature a newly renovated interior, with a cutting-edge business class product that pairs very well with its outstanding soft product.

Other routes are served by Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft, with less ideal cabin configurations.

Perhaps Vancouver-based travellers are looking for a single connection to Addis Ababa with Turkish Airlines, which prices at 110,000 Aeroplan points in business class.

Or maybe a traveller from Montreal is looking to head to Entebbe, Uganda after stopping in Istanbul for a week or two, which would price at 90,000 points for the flights plus 5,000 points for the stopover.

In either case, you’d be sure to have an excellent stopover in Istanbul at its flagship business class lounge, complete with multiple dining stations, a self-playing piano, ample entertainment, an art gallery, and beverages aplenty.

Turkish Airlines 787 business class – Seat 2K
Fly from North America to Africa via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines

It’s worth noting that Avianca LifeMiles is also an attractive program for booking Star Alliance flights across the Atlantic. For example, you’ll pay 78,000 LifeMiles for a one-way flight between North America and Africa in business class.

However, one of the peculiarities with LifeMiles is that booking itineraries with multiple flight segments can be difficult online, and the contact centre is reported to have some limitations, too.

On the other hand, if you have LifeMiles at your disposal, it’s worth searching for Star Alliance award availability through other programs, and then at least trying to book over the phone with LifeMiles.

SkyTeam Airlines

Meanwhile, for redemptions with SkyTeam members, Air France KLM Flying Blue offers easy access between North America and Africa via Paris or Amsterdam. Both carriers have extensive networks to North America and Africa, making it ideal for points redemptions.

Flying Blue is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards at a sub-optimal ratio of 1:0.75. While the transfer ratio isn’t ideal, the points are relatively easy to come by and it can still offer good value for business class flights, if you can find space at the lower end of the dynamic pricing range.

You can also earn Flying Miles directly on the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard.

Credit Cards for Earning Flying Blue Miles
Credit Card Best Offer Value
70,000 MR points $1,676 Apply Now
120,000 MR points $1,574 Apply Now
75,000 MR points $1,561 Apply Now
Up to 77,000 MR points $1,419 Apply Now
100,000 MR points $1,361 Apply Now
Up to 60,000 miles + 60 XP $768 Apply Now
15,000 MR points $372 Apply Now
10,000 MR points $242 Apply Now

Furthermore, Air France and KLM serve many cities in Canada, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City, as well as a host of cities across the United States. Keep an eye out for Promo Rewards, as they cut the redemption cost by various margins on different routes each month.

How about a one-way booking with KLM in business class from Vancouver to Nairobi via Amsterdam? This costs as few as 95,000 Flying Blue miles. 

If converting from American Express Membership Rewards, this is equivalent to around 127,000 MR points. While the cost in miles and taxes and fees is relatively steep, it could serve as a unique and quick single-connection trip to Africa. Plus, you can add a free stopover of up to a year along the way.

Fly to Africa from North America via Europe with Air France/KLM Flying Blue

If you have your heart set on a trip to Morocco, you’ll be happy to know that Flying Blue prices out award flights to much of North Africa the same as flights to Europe.

This means that you can fly from anywhere in North America to, say, Morocco, for just 50,000 miles in business class. That’s an outstanding deal.

7. Via the Middle East

Many Middle East carriers are known for offering an outstanding premium product. Of these carriers, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Emirates are no exception.

Etihad Airways

Fly to Africa via the Middle East with Etihad Airways

Etihad’s network in Africa is relatively limited compared to other airlines, with flights from Abu Dhabi to Casablanca, Cairo, Mahé (Seychelles), Nairobi, and Johannesburg. In North America, it offers service to Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Washington Dulles, and New York JFK.

Unfortunately, there are some ongoing issues with the best option to book long-haul flights with Etihad Airways. As it stands, long-haul Etihad Airways flights with Aeroplan aren’t available, and it’s not clear when they’ll return, if ever.

However, if booking long-haul premium flights with Etihad Airways ever becomes possible again, keep an eye out for business class awards for 110,000 Aeroplan points per person, per direction.

For example, flying from Toronto to Mahé via New York JFK and Abu Dhabi would cost 110,000 Aeroplan points.

Qatar Airways

If Aeroplan points aren’t in your current portfolio, then perhaps flying with Doha-based Qatar Airways, a Oneworld airline, better suits your style.

Its premium product, Qsuites, is amongst the best business class products in world, and maybe even the best. In addition, it flies to many destinations in Africa (and across the world), so catching a single connection in comfort is very much in the realm of possibility.

Qatar Airways 777 Qsuites business class – Main cabin
Fly Qatar Airways Qsuites from North America to Africa

As a Oneworld airline, flights on Qatar Airways can be booked through British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and American Airlines AAdvantage. You can also book flights through Qatar Airways Privilege Club, which can make for very compelling redemption possibilities.

Of these programs, perhaps the best value comes from redeeming with AAdvantage miles, which doesn’t levy hefty fuel surcharges. The easiest way to obtain these in Canada is to convert RBC Avion points at a ratio of 1:0.7, or to convert Marriott Bonvoy points at a ratio of 3:1. 

Montreal is the only Canadian city served by Qatar Airways, but there are also numerous destinations across the United States that could be accessed with an easy positioning flight. Connecting through Doha, there are a number of destinations scattered across Africa accessible with a single connection.

Flights on partner airlines from Canada or the United States to Africa have a fixed price of 75,000 miles for a one-way flight in business class. With the 1:0.7 transfer ratio from Avion, that totals 107,142 Avion points, which is similar to the cost of other loyalty programs in this guide.

Indeed, we see this cost reflected in flight searches, along with minimal taxes and fees, too.

For our friends on the west coast, how about flying to Cape Town from Seattle, with over 24 hours in the comfort of Qsuites, for only 75,000 miles.

Booking the same above flights using Qatar Airways Avios would result in roughly the same amount of points once you factor in the transfer ratio from RBC Avion to American Airlines AAdvantage, but come with a higher amount of taxes and fees.

For example, flights from Montreal to Mahé price out at 85,000 Avios plus $328.65 (CAD) in taxes and fees.

And the flights from Seattle to Cape Town price out at 95,000 Avios plus $202.90 (USD) in taxes and fees.

Availability on some of these premium routes can sometimes be challenging to come by, but if you plan far enough in advance, you shouldn’t have any issues finding perfect flights to suit your needs.

Keep in mind that booking through Qatar Airways will give you earlier access to award flights, and Avios are much easier to come by than AAdvantage miles.

Qatar Airways 777 Qsuites business class – Seat 10K
Fly Qatar Airways Qsuites from North America to Africa using points

Emirates

Let’s give an honourable mention to Emirates, since it became an Aeroplan redemption partner in late 2022.

While Aeroplan points are indeed quite easy to come by, flights with Emirates are subject to a separate reward chart. This means that while you can fly with Emirates from North America to Africa via Dubai, it’s going to come at quite a premium.

Most flights from North America to Dubai measure at least 7,000 miles in distance. This means that getting to destinations in East Africa can cost as little as 80,000 Aeroplan points, but that price can also rise to as much as 185,000 Aeroplan points for the same flights.

In reality, we’re seeing prices for Emirates flights that are usually in the upper range of prices shown above.

Unless you’re sitting on a large pile of Aeroplan points and have always wanted to fly with Emirates, you’ll likely be better off booking with any of the other airlines described in this guide for a better deal.

However, keep in mind that the availability with Emirates tends to be quite favourable, so if you’re otherwise stuck for options, it may just be a very comfortable, albeit expensive, option to have at your disposal.

Fly Emirates business class from North America to Africa using Aeroplan points

8. Via Asia

Last on this list is taking the long way around to get to Africa. Why not fly with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong to get to Africa?

Vancouver and Toronto are the sole Canadian cities served by the airline. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York JFK, and Boston are the carrier’s US destinations, which see a mixture of Boeing 777s and Airbus A350s.

Johannesburg remains Cathay Pacific’s sole African destination.

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Fly from North America to South Africa via Hong Kong with Alaska miles

Cathay Pacific belongs to the Oneworld alliance, and the best redemptions tend to be with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles these days, since award availability is virtually non-existant with partner programs.

In theory, a one-way business class flight from North America to South Africa via Hong Kong costs 110,000 Asia Miles, plus taxes and fees.

Unfortunately, Cathay Pacific business class award availability continues to be very restricted as compared to pre-pandemic years. This remains the case after Asia Miles underwent a global devaluation in October 2023, and the program promised that award availability would be better.

In general, award availability to cities in the United States tends to be more generous than availability to Canadian destinations, so be sure to check your nearest US hub for your next redemption.

Conclusion

Depending on your ultimate destination in Africa, flying from North America requires anything from a quick seven-hour jaunt to a lengthy journey via another continent. In any case, flying in business class will make the trip much more comfortable, and could even become a key part of the experience.

Luckily, there are many options for North Americans to redeem loyalty points for these flights. There are choices amongst the three major airline alliances, giving you flexibility depending on which program you wish to redeem with.

2 Comments
  1. Wode Koudawo

    Finally an article about flights in Fly Business Class to Africa 🙂 Great article!
    I come from Lome and I regularly travel from Yul to Lome (LFW) in BC with :
    – AC (YUL-BRU-ACC-LFW)
    – AF (YUL-CDG-LFW) in 2022 with 85k (change to 115K)
    Next flight with Ethiopian from YOW via IAD or JFK or EWR to LFW and new flights with AF YOW to LFW via CDG
    Thank you!

  2. Hendrik Basson

    I was trying to book a flight from Winnipeg to Cape Town. The best option is through Washington with United airlines. And start with air Canada. Winning,Toronto then Washington, Cape Town. I have to book through United airlines and then I cannot upgrade to business class with my Aeroplan points. I called aeroplan. They do not offer this option.

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