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WebFlyer Home > Programs > Ratings & Reviews

Ratings & Reviews

(Program Reviews - Side by Side Comparison - Website Reviews)

South African Airways Voyager

(40 ratings)


This program was reviewed and rated by our editors in January 2012. Changes in the program past this date are possible, especially program partner information. We recommend you subscribe to the #1 source of frequent flyer information, Inside Flyer Magazine, to get the most current information possible.

South African Airways began flying Feb. 1, 1934 and Voyager was officially launched in 1994 when the former programs, Frequent Flyer and Prestige Club, were combined to form the current frequent flyer program. South African Airways (SAA) joined the Star Alliance in April 2006.

The airline flies to 21 destinations throughout the African continent and links to all continents from its hub in Johannesburg. Through the Star Alliance, members have access to 21,200 daily flights to 1,185 airports in 185 countries.



Members earn 50 to 150 percent of miles flown on South African Airways flights including a 250-mile minimum. Discount economy fares (T, V, L, W, G) earn 50 percent of the miles flown on most flights (100 percent for T, V and L fares to and from Addis Ababa, Accra, Douala, Lagos and Dakar); other qualifying economy fares earn 100 percent of miles flown, while business class earns 125 percent and first class earns 150 percent.

Members earn similar amounts, including class of service bonuses, when flying Star Alliance carriers. Voyager partners with additional airlines who are not members of the Star Alliance and members can earn Voyager miles with car rentals, hotel stays, credit card spend and more (58 partners in total). Members also receive 2,500 bonus miles after their first activity as a new Voyager member.



In April 2011, Voyager revised their award chart for the first time since April 2006 increasing the mileage required for flight awards by six to 28 percent and increasing upgrade awards by 11 to 28 percent. The program also introduced SuperPlus awards on SAA flights only that give members more access to economy seats at a higher mileage redemption. One-way awards are offered at half the amount of a roundtrip.

There are MileageKeeper awards with capacity controls, SuperPlus, mentioned above, and AnyDay awards with no capacity controls broken down by geographical area. So, for example, if you are traveling in economy within South Africa, you can redeem 19,000 miles for a roundtrip MileageKeeper award, 24,000 miles for a SuperPlus award and 32,000 miles for an AnyDay award. If you fly within South Africa in business class, the mileage amounts are 32,000 miles for a MileageKeeper award and 48,000 miles for an AnyDay award. A roundtrip upgrade within South Africa will set you back 16,000 miles. Upgrades are available from qualifying fares, for example, economy fares (Y, B, M and K) to the next higher class, business class.

Travel between Southern Africa and North America (Washington, New York) ranges from 104,000 and 220,000 miles in economy while business class is 160,000 for a MileageKeeper award or 360,000 miles for an AnyDay award. Upgrades between Southern Africa and North America are 110,000 miles. Roundtrip travel from Dakar to Washington or New York is considerably less at 44,500 for a coach MileageKeeper award, 90,000 for a SuperPlus award and 120,000 for an AnyDay award. Business class from Dakar to the U.S. is 53,000 miles for a MileageKeeper award or 200,000 for an AnyDay award with a roundtrip upgrade going for 50,000 miles.

Most programs charge double miles for "anytime" awards, so SAA gives its members a bit of a break for some of these awards compared to other programs while some AnyDay awards are more than double than a MileageKeeper award.

Along with flight and upgrade awards on SAA and partner airlines, Voyager members can spend their miles on car rentals starting at 6,000 miles, up to 11,350 miles for a BMW or Mercedes Benz; Sabi-Sabi game reserve, starting at 90,000 miles for a two-night stay in low season to 155,000 miles for a two-night stay in high season and Health Spa services can be claimed starting at 7,000 miles, up to 35,000 miles, depending on the package. Currently, the program does not offer a cash plus miles award redemption. Voyager members can donate miles to Reach for a Dream, a South Africa version of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.



SAA is a member of the largest global airline alliance, the Star Alliance. But the program doesn't stop at those airlines. Members can also earn and burn with El Al, Emirates, Jet Airways, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic.

Hotel partners include Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Radisson, Sabi-Sabi, Southern Sun and Global Hotel Alliance. Members earn up to 500 miles per stay with most hotel partners but Sabi-Sabi offers 750 miles per night.

Car rental partners include Avis, Budget and Europcar offering 100-500 miles per rental. The Premium American Express and Premium Visa cards offer one mile for every R6.00 and R10.50 spent, respectively. Other earning opportunities include MSC Starlight Cruises, BIDvest Bank Rennies, Master Currency, SpecSavers, House of Busby, Seeff, Voyager Wine Club and Health Spa's Guide.



Voyager members earn tier miles when flying South African Airways and Star Alliance partners to be welcomed into elite status. Another way to gain elite is through tier sectors, which are earned when flying SAA only in premium economy (Y), business or first class. Elite status is determined within a calendar year and the status is valid for the rest of the year in which it is earned and for the following calendar year.

There are three levels of elite status: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Silver status is granted after earning 25,000 miles or three to 25 segments, depending on the miles flown. For example, you reach Silver by flying three segments of 4,000 miles or more, six segments of between 1,000 and 3,999 miles or 25 segments of up to 999 miles. Silver level benefits include a 25 percent flight bonus, select airport lounge access for Silver member only and business class counter check-in regardless of class of service flown, among other benefits. Silver Voyager members are also welcomed into the Silver Star Alliance level.

Gold status is granted after earning 50,000 miles or six to 50 segments. Gold members receive a 50 percent flight bonus and can take along a companion in airport lounges. Platinum status is granted after earning 100,000 miles or 12 to 100 segments in a calendar year. Platinum members receive a 100 percent flight bonus, can have two companions at SAA airport lounges, award expediting and change fees are waived, flight upgrades are offered and chauffeur service is available when flying SAA internationally. Gold and Platinum Voyager members are welcomed into Gold Star Alliance status.

The top level of the program is Lifetime Platinum, granted when a member earns Platinum elite six years in a row. Lifetime Platinum is earned through flying SAA only. Along with all of the benefits of Platinum status, Lifetime members can nominate a companion to Gold status, as long as the Lifetime member is maintaining the equivalent of Gold status or above.

Every elite level comes with threshold bonus miles for achieving elite: 2,500 bonus miles for Silver, 5,000 bonus miles for Gold, 7,500 for Platinum and 10,000 bonus miles when achieving Lifetime Platinum. And members of every level get 2,000 bonus miles for every 10,000 tier miles flown on SAA as well as an excess baggage allowance, priority check-in and preferential seating when booking qualifying fares.



Voyager miles are valid for three years after the year in which they were earned but will not expire when flying 5,000 tier miles on SAA or when traveling 3,000 SA Express tier miles in the previous calendar year. Retroactive credit is afforded to new members for the preceding 90 days prior to Voyager enrollment and missing miles must be submitted within 90 days of the flight date. Mileage pooling is not allowed. Members may purchase up to half the total miles needed to redeem a flight in increments of 1,000 miles for R250.



Members can call or email for Voyager support. When we called, we were connected quickly to a representative who was informative and professional. When we emailed, our question was answered within two days.



The SAA website has made strides recently to add more functionality. Members can now view their account balance, claim missing SAA flight miles and book flight awards online. Other options, such as purchasing miles, still require members to send in forms.

To get around the limited award capacity issue, SAA introduced SuperPlus awards that allow for 25-30 percent of the airlines' total economy seat capacity. The elite program offers not only flight bonuses and lounge access but also threshold bonuses.

There is no mileage mall for members to earn miles in and the partner list could use a few more options. A miles plus cash option for awards would be good. Miles have a shelf life of three years but members can extend the expiration date by flying on SAA. Only the highest elite-level members receive free flight upgrades.

In South Africa, contact the Voyager Contact Center at:
Tel: 27(11) 978 1234
Fax: 27(11) 978 1551
Email: voyager@flysaa.com
Post: Voyager
Isando 1600
South Africa

In the U.S., call (800) 359-7220.

  Earning Ability Award Choices Partnerships Elite-Level Rules & Conditions Service Support Online Services Overall Rating
7.00 8.00 7.50 7.50 7.70 7.00 7.36 *
4.77 4.55 4.75 4.82 4.07 3.47 4.1 4.36

(40 ratings)


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