[United Flights Now For Sale] Delta And United Win New Routes To Cape Town

Haut Bay, Cape Town, October 2021 ©DansDeals
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Update: United is now selling their new year-round nonstop flights between Washington/IAD and Cape Town starting 11/17 on the Boeing 787-9.

Flights to Africa will operate on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, which will fill the gaps in their Newark to Cape Town service which operates on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. United also flies daily year-round between Newark and Johannesburg.

Unfortunately, unlike when they started selling Newark-Cape Town nonstops year-round earlier this year, they don’t have any business class 75K saver awards available. The least expensive business class award on the route will set you back 160K miles each way, unless you can finagle a waitlisted Plan B award for 75K miles.

Bilateral agreements between the US and South Africa allow for airlines from each country to fly 21 weekly flights between the 2 countries.

Pre-COVID those weren’t all utilized. South African Airways flew daily nonstop flights between JFK and Johannesburg and between Washington DC and Johannesburg with a technical stop in Accra or Dakar.

Delta flew daily between Atlanta and Johannesburg and dominated most of the premium traffic between the US and South Africa. They retired their 777 fleet during the pandemic, which was their longest range aircraft as they don’t have any 787s. They wanted to fly a triangle route from Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Atlanta, but the South African government initially denied that request. Instead they have been flying the A350 nonstop between Atlanta to Johannesburg, but they have seen diversions from Johannesburg to Boston, Miami, and San Juan as the plane struggles with operating the route.

In October 2019 United entered the South African market with 3 seasonal weekly nonstop flights between Newark and Cape Town. At the time they said they hoped to see the route succeed and get extended to year-round service.

The route didn’t operate for the 2020-2021 season due to COVID, but returned for the December 2021-March 2022 season.

South African never resumed flying to the US, so United took advantage of that and launched year-round daily nonstop service between Newark and Johannesburg last June.

Earlier this year, United announced that Newark to Cape Town would operate year-round.

That meant 17 of the 21 weekly flights were being operated by US carriers.

Delta and United both put in bids for more flights. United asked for 3 weekly flights between Washington DC and Cape Town and Delta asked for 3 weekly flights between Atlanta and Cape Town.

After wild and contentious DOT filings with Delta and United sparring with each other, they both managed to get their requests. The DOT was able to get South Africa to agree to increase the bilateral rights to 23 weekly flights.

On the record, Delta and United expressed their pleasure in getting their routes, though I’m sure they would have preferred to win it without the added competition. Delta still plans on trying to operate their Johannesburg to Atlanta route via Cape Town as a triangle route due to A350 performance issues, so there’s going to be a ton of extra Cape Town year-round capacity in the market considering that there was no year-round nonstop flights until this summer.

Hopefully that competition brings pricing down and award availability up as Cape Town may very well be the most stunning city in the world. Best of all, your dollar goes very far in South Africa and there are some delicious kosher restaurants to choose from.

From Cape Town you can catch a flight to places like Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls, Namibia, Mauritius, etc. for an extended vacation in Southern Africa. We had a great time doing just that last October.

Read more about travel to Southern Africa on DDF.

Cable Car going up Table Mountain, Cape Town, October 2021 ©DansDeals


Kruger National Park, South Africa, October 2021 ©DansDeals


Will you travel nonstop to South Africa on Delta or United?

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When are the new routes going to start flying?