Johannesburg’s reputation as the ‘City of Gold’ may have propelled the South African megacity onto the global stage several decades ago. But today there are even more reasons to add Johannesburg to your to-do list. Where else in the world can you find an eclectic mix of art, business and history packaged into a vibrant, metropolitan centre?

But that’s not to say you can’t explore rich, natural wonders too. Woven throughout the skyscrapers and glistening lights of Johannesburg is one of the world’s largest man-made urban forests. A stone’s throw away from the city is the UNESCO-listed Cradle of Humankind, a significant paleoanthropological site. And if you’re looking to start your safari experience, you don’t need to travel far. Everything is at your fingertips once you arrive in Johannesburg – and luckily for Aussies, it’s easy to make your way there to start your adventure.

In our pocket guide to Johannesburg, we highlight how you can travel there from Australia by leveraging points from various frequent flyer programs. We also take a look at what to expect at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport. And finally, we offer our top tips and tricks for earning points on your accommodation and making the most of your trip to Johannesburg.

Flying to Johannesburg on points

Affectionately known as Joburg, the city is a key entry point for international travellers seeking to explore South Africa or venture to neighbouring countries. And did you know that Johannesburg is easily accessible from Australia? Qantas operates direct routes from Sydney and Perth, while Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways also offer routes from various Australian cities.

We’ve highlighted all the options below to fly from Australia to Johannesburg using various frequent flyer programs.

Flying Qantas

Qantas flies direct from Sydney and Perth to Johannesburg, and you can connect via Sydney from several cities across Australia.

using Qantas Airways Logo Qantas Points
EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
Perth to Johannesburg31,500N/A82,000
Sydney to Johannesburg37,60071,10094,900
Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne to Johannesburg (via Sydney)41,90081,300108,400
Qantas Points required are per person, one way. Taxes, fees and charges are also payable and vary by route.

Ways to earn Qantas Points

The Qantas Frequent Flyer program is the largest airline loyalty program in Australia, and there are plenty of ways to earn points without flying.

Signing up for a Qantas Points-earning credit card like the Qantas Premier Platinum is one of the best ways to turn your daily spending into Qantas Points. And when you take advantage of sign-up bonuses, you can earn a healthy stack of points towards your trip to Johannesburg. We’re talking enough to cover a one-way fare, or even return depending on your preference. You’ll just need to pay the fees and taxes.

If you consider yourself a wine enthusiast – or have friends or family that do – then purchases made via Qantas Wine can also earn you bonus points. Eligible cases can net you up to 10,000 Qantas Points, and you can take advantage of offers and promotions throughout the year to give your points balance a boost. And members of Qantas Points Club will even earn triple points on purchases, plus free delivery.

Another way to earn Qantas Points is through Everyday Rewards. By linking your accounts, you can automatically convert your Everyday Rewards points to Qantas Points. Your next milk run could get you one step closer to a trip to Johannesburg – how good is that?

Flying Emirates

Aussies can also redeem Qantas Points to fly to Johannesburg with Emirates, which includes a layover in Dubai. Eligible travellers can access the Emirates lounges when departing from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth. And if you’re flying First Class, you’ll get to experience the ultimate luxury in Emirates’ A380 or Boeing 777 aircraft on selected routes from Dubai to Johannesburg. Plus, you’ll gain access to the lavish Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai Airport, which is certainly one of the highlights of this route.

using Qantas Airways Logo Qantas Points
EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
Perth to Johannesburg (via Dubai)61,500109,000139,200199,300
Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney to Johannesburg (via Dubai)66,200124,800159,000227,500
Qantas Points required are per person, one way. Taxes, fees and charges are also payable and vary by route.

Flying Singapore Airlines

Singapore’s Changi Airport is a destination in itself and you can experience it when flying from Australia to Johannesburg with Singapore Airlines. A transit through Singapore is an ideal opportunity to explore Jewel Changi Airport, while eligible travellers can unwind during their transit at the Singapore Airlines lounges in Changi Airport.

Singapore Airlines flights to Johannesburg can be booked with KrisFlyer miles or Velocity Points.

Using KrisFlyer miles

The number of KrisFlyer miles needed to fly Singapore Airlines is shown below.

Contact us | Singapore Airlines (one-way)
using KrisFlyer miles
EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
Darwin, Perth to Johannesburg (via Singapore)40,50068,00081,500
Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney to Johannesburg (via Singapore)54,50074,00099,000
Points required are per person, one way. Taxes, fees and charges are also payable and vary by route.

Ways to earn KrisFlyer miles

The KrisFlyer program is tied to Singapore’s national carrier, but Australians can still earn KrisFlyer miles on the ground. And given that Singapore Airlines is part of the Star Alliance network, there are plenty of opportunities for redemption with partner airlines.

Credit card sign-up bonuses are one of the best ways to earn KrisFlyer miles. We’ve outlined some of the best credit cards for KrisFlyer miles so you can rack up the points without leaving Australia. Note that many credit cards offer bonus points towards their own flexible reward programs which can be converted to KrisFlyer miles.

You can also convert Velocity Points to KrisFlyer miles, which may provide you with a better chance at redemption as KrisFlyer members have access to greater award availability.

But hold off on converting your points until you’re ready to book your Johannesburg flights. KrisFlyer miles have an expiry of 36 months from when you accrue them.

Using Velocity Points

The number of Velocity Points needed to fly Singapore Airlines is shown below.

Contact us | Singapore Airlines
using Virgin Australia  Velocity Points
EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
Darwin, Perth to Johannesburg (via Singapore)56,00084,000104,000
Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney to Johannesburg (via Singapore)65,00097,500121,000
Velocity Points required are per person, one way. Taxes and fees are also payable and vary by route.

Ways to earn Velocity Points

The Velocity Frequent Flyer program is Virgin Australia’s rewards program. Velocity Points can be earned by signing up for a credit card that offers bonus points, like the American Express Velocity Platinum.

The program also has its own online shopping portal called the Velocity e-Store, where you can earn Velocity Points through online retail partners. You’ll find plenty of major brands across a range of categories, so you can shop for health and beauty products, electronics and even bedding while pocketing Velocity Points. Don’t forget to double-dip by paying for your purchases with a points-earning credit card.

Members of the Flybuys loyalty program can also take advantage of the Flybuys-Velocity partnership to transfer Flybuys points to Velocity Points. This means that your everyday spending at Australian retailers like Coles, Bunnings, Officeworks and Kmart can have you jetting off to Johannesburg sooner.

Flying Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways flies from Australia to Johannesburg via Doha, and both Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer members can redeem points for Qatar Airways flights.

The Doha to Johannesburg route is serviced by a Boeing 777-300ER which is fitted with one of the best Business Class products in the world – Qatar’s Qsuites.

Using Qantas Points

As Qatar Airways is part of the oneworld Alliance, Qantas Points can be redeemed on Qatar Airways flights from Australia to Johannesburg.

The number of Qantas Points needed to fly Qatar Airways is shown below.

using Qantas Airways Logo  Qantas Points
Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney to Johannesburg (via Doha)66,200159,000
Qantas Points required are per person, one way. Taxes and fees are also payable and vary by route.

Using Velocity Points

The recent partnership between Virgin Australia and Qatar Airways means that Velocity Frequent Flyer members can now redeem their points for Qatar Airways flights.

The number of Velocity Points needed to fly Qatar Airways is shown below.

using Virgin Australia  Velocity Points
Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney to Johannesburg (via Doha)75,000139,000
Velocity Points required are per person, one way. Taxes and fees are also payable and vary by route.

Exploring Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport 

Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport is the busiest airport on the African continent, handling upwards of 21 million passengers per year. For comparison, the continent’s second-busiest airport, Cairo International Airport, handles just half that number.

If Johannesburg is your final destination, you’ll be in among the glimmer of the city in moments. Johannesburg Airport is a mere 25 kilometres from the heart of the city. A taxi or rideshare service like Uber will get you there in around 45 minutes – traffic permitting – with prices starting at around $15 for an UberGo, or $40 for a taxi.

If you’d rather experience the local public transport system, you can hop on a train that runs from Johannesburg Airport to the city. The journey takes around 20 minutes and costs around $15 for a one-way ticket – which is already on par with an Uber. And it’s worth noting that the train doesn’t run direct. You’ll have to hop off at Marlboro or Sandton Station to change platforms, which can be tricky if you’ve got luggage in tow.

But if you’re flying onward from Johannesburg, you can indulge in the various amenities on offer across this sprawling airport, including the lounges.

Lounges at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport

Priority Pass lounges in Johannesburg Airport

Members of the Priority Pass lounge program have a few options to choose from at Johannesburg Airport. If you’re flying onward to Cape Town or another South African destination, you can use the two lounges in the Domestic Terminal. And for international travellers, there are a whopping four Priority Pass lounges to cosy up in before your flight.

Aspire Lounge

The Aspire Lounge in Johannesburg Airport can be accessed by international passengers who hold Priority Pass membership. But if you’re travelling on Qatar Airways, you may also be able to gain entry if you hold oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

Eligible passengers on international flights departing from Johannesburg can access the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. As this is a partner lounge, you’ll have to meet certain criteria to enter, and you won’t be able to link a Qantas complimentary lounge pass, either. Here’s who makes the cut.

When flying Qantas:

  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge.
  • Qantas Club members (but not single-use passholders).
  • Qantas Club Annual Guest Card.

When flying Emirates:

  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge.
  • Emirates Gold or Platinum Skywards members.

Earning and using points on hotels in Johannesburg

The vast metropolis of Joburg is a leading destination for business and leisure travellers alike. Accommodation in Johannesburg ranges from budget-friendly lodging to upscale hotels fitted with amenities so you can continue business as usual.

So whether you find yourself in Johannesburg for work or play, here are our best tips for getting rewarded for your accommodation booking.

Book directly with the hotel

Chasing status with your favourite hotel loyalty program? Then booking directly with the hotel is the way to go. This is the best way to reap the benefits that come with your membership tier, including early check-in, complimentary breakfast or a room upgrade. And if you’re not quite at that level just yet, there’s no better time to start counting your stay towards a hotel membership program so you can enjoy the rewards in future.

You’ll find a number of properties in Johannesburg that can help you earn status towards Accor Live Limitless, Marriott Bonvoy or World of Hyatt.

Book through a third-party provider

If you’d rather boost your frequent flyer points balance, you can make your stay count towards your frequent flyer program of choice. Bookings made through a third-party provider often don’t count towards hotel loyalty status, but you can still be rewarded in other ways. And if you’ve got your eye on a hotel in Johannesburg that isn’t affiliated with a loyalty program, this is a great way to still earn rewards on accommodation.

If you want to earn Qantas Points

You can earn Qantas Points when you book a hotel or Airbnb through the Qantas Hotels platform. The earn rate is three points per $1 spent on hotels, or one point per $1 on Airbnb. Plus, you’ll pocket an extra 500 points on your first Airbnb booking through Qantas Hotels. And if you’ve unlocked Qantas Points Club, you can earn up to 50% more points on your booking.

Qantas Points can also be redeemed for stays booked via Qantas Hotels. While this isn’t always the best use of points, if you can nab a Classic Reward hotel booking, you’ll receive far better value compared to the Points Plus Pay option.

If you want to earn Velocity Points

Rocket Travel‘s partnership with Virgin Australia means that you can earn Velocity Points when you book a hotel through the platform, at an earn rate of three points per $1.

If you want to earn KrisFlyer miles

Bookings made through Rocketmiles can earn you Rocketmiles reward points, which can then be converted to a number of frequent flyer programs including KrisFlyer.

If you want to save on the cost of your hotel bill

Some American Express credit cards offer travel credit that can be used towards hotels, flights and car hire bookings made via American Express Travel. The American Express Explorer Card and the American Express Platinum Edge Card both include travel credit that offsets the annual fee, plus you’ll get to enjoy the benefits of American Express Membership Rewards.

Point Hacker’s tips and tricks

To cap off our pocket guide to Johannesburg, here are some extra tips and tricks.

  • When looking for reward seats on Qantas, ensure that you’ve selected ‘Classic Rewards’, not ‘Points Plus Pay’. The latter will return results that require a much higher points outlay. This applies to other airlines, too – you’ll get the best value points redemption from reward seats.
  • It’s a long journey to get to Johannesburg, so make sure you’ve selected your preferred seat. Take a look at how you can choose the best seat on the plane.
  • Singapore Airlines charges less in fees and taxes on its reward seats compared to other carriers. But this only applies when redeeming KrisFlyer miles, as Velocity has introduced carrier charges for Singapore Airlines.
  • Save on foreign exchange fees by using a credit card with no overseas transaction fees. You may even collect some extra points on your spending.

And that’s a wrap for our Point Hacker’s guide to Johannesburg! The City of Gold awaits.

Featured image: Simon Hurry, Unsplash

How to hack your way to Johannesburg with points was last modified: March 15th, 2023 by Victoria Kyriakopoulos