This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Contrary to what its decor might suggest, this beautiful spot is neither a spiritual sanctuary nor a high-end spa: It’s Skukuza Airport (SZK) in South Africa.

Lobby. (Photo by Teddy Minford/Skukuza Airport)
The lobby (Photo by Teddy Minford/Skukuza Airport)

Skukuza serves as the gateway to a number of national parks and reserves, most notably Kruger National Park. With just a handful of direct flights connecting Skukuza to Johannesburg and Cape Town each day, this quiet airport offers tranquillity in lieu of the usual travel chaos. Most flights are on 12-seat Cessna Caravans, and none are on airplanes larger than 50 seats, so gate agents personally escort travelers to the tarmac. The airport offers free Wi-Fi across the grounds, and the non-traditional experience includes luxurious amenities in the bathrooms, as well as an open-air courtyard with a pond.

Check In. (Photo by Teddy Minford/Skukuza Airport)
Check-in (Photo by Teddy Minford/Skukuza Airport)

 

Check In. (Photo by Teddy Minford/Skukuza Airport)
Lobby (Photo by Teddy Minford/Skukuza Airport)

 

Lounge (Photo by Teddy Minford/Skukuza Airport)


Skukuza is jointly owned by 
Lion Sands Game Reserve; Federal Airlines, a private charter carrier; and Airlink, a subsidiary of Star Alliance member South African Airways. The commercial flights connect passengers between seven cities including Johannesburg and Cape Town, while chartered shuttles ferry guests from the airport to private safari lodges with their own runways.

The airport was established in 1958, named James Stevenson – Hamilton after the first warden of Kruger National Park, and underwent a full revamp in 2014The update seems to have been a success: Mkhuze Airport (MZQ), also located in South Africa, is about to follow suit with an upgrade of its own.

If you’d like to visit Skukuza, tickets begin at just $150 one-way from Johannesburg, but if you’re booking with miles, beware that Star Alliance travelers have reported a mixed-bag experience trying to book Airlink flights using partner miles.

Exterior of airport. (Photo by Teddy Minford/Skukuza Airport)
Exterior of airport (Photo by Teddy Minford/Skukuza Airport)
The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.