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United Airlines continues to boost Africa service, will now fly to Cape Town year-round

Feb. 10, 2022
3 min read
United Airlines continues to boost Africa service, will now fly to Cape Town year-round
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One of United's four Africa routes is moving from seasonal to year-round service.

The airline's flight from Newark (EWR) to Cape Town, South Africa (CPT) will now operate year-round, starting in June. The service will continue to operate three days a week using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. That aircraft features 48 of the airline's Polaris business class lie-flat seats, 21 Premium Plus seats and 39 extra-legroom Economy Plus seats.

The Chicago-based carrier's Cape Town route was originally scheduled seasonally and began service in December 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, service on this route did not return until December 2021. In the meantime, there were three notable developments.

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First, Delta Air Lines, the other U.S. carrier servicing South Africa, dropped its plans to fly to Cape Town via an Atlanta (ATL)-Johannesburg (JNB)-Cape Town-Atlanta triangle route, because the Atlanta-based carrier was unable to get approval from the South African government.

In the meantime, United launched service from Newark to Johannesburg in June 2021. That service is already scheduled year-round.

And finally, South African Airways, one of United's Star Alliance partners, was hit particularly hard by the pandemic. The airline nearly went out of business, and only restarted its flights in September 2021. Its international network is severely limited, with service only as far as Accra, Ghana (ACC), and Lagos, Nigeria (LOS). Prior to the pandemic, South African operated flights from Johannesburg to Washington Dulles (IAD) and New York's John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK), according to Cirium schedule data. United's move could be a sign that it sees the demise of South African's overseas flying as an opportunity.

United's service currently departs Newark as UA1122 at 8:30 p.m. on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays and arrives in Cape Town at 6 p.m. the next day, all times local. The return service departs Cape Town as UA1123 at 8:50 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and arrives at Newark at 5:50 a.m. the next day.

The service will actually end in March, as previously scheduled, but will return for good on June 5 instead of October, subject to government approval.

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More: Nonstop to South Africa: Onboard United’s most exciting inaugural of the year

"United's direct flights from New York/Newark cut the usual travel time to Cape Town by more than five hours, giving visitors extra time to enjoy the beauty and majesty of South Africa," Patrick Quayle, United's senior vice president of international network planning and alliances, said in a statement.

With United also recently launching service from Washington Dulles to Accra and Lagos, Africa has become a key part of its international growth — with Thursday's announcement underscoring that.

The newly extended flights are a sweet spot MileagePlus redemption. Wednesdays in June and July are showing saver availability on the EWR-CPT flight at just 70,000 MileagePlus miles, an incredible value for an over 14-hour flight. This inventory will likely not be available for long, so it's worth booking now and taking advantage of MileagePlus' generous redeposit policy if you choose not to travel.

(Screenshot courtesy of United Airlines)
Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

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  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
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