Booking Award Tickets to Seychelles

The Seychelles sit in the Indian ocean between the African mainland and the Maldives. Flights are few, there isn’t even service from any Star Alliance carrier. Kenya Airways represents SkyTeam with several flights a week from Nairobi, while Sri Lankan Airlines of OneWorld has Tue and Sat service from Colombo. Air Seychelles now partners with Etihad instead of Air France, and Emirates flies from Dubai. Snd after that you have a few obscure airlines, like Austral, that ferries French between la Métropole and the Indian Ocean French oveseas departments. Not easy for award tickets.

I will be in India on business and was looking at a birthday weekend to Seychelles, as long as I could get to Zil Elwannyen Sesel (Outer Islands). The only viable option other than chartering a plane or boat is the daily flight operated by the mega-expensive all-inclusive resort on Desroches Island. I had done a lot of work on routings before the resort broke the news that they did not have a single seat on any of my dates, unless I paid 3,000 euro for them to get a bigger plane. No Seychelles for me.

Here’s what I found:

Award region: Seychelles is typically in the Africa region on award charts, whereas Maldives is typically in some version of Asia. That can help or hurt depending where you start flying. Flying out from Mumbai on Keyna Airways crosses Delta regions and jacks up the price. However, those wanting to do a safari stop in Kenya and continue to Seychelles can keep the trip within the Africa zone.

Air France Flying Blue: easy to check Kenya Airways availability online. Massive taxes and surcharges mostly negate any benefit of using miles on award tickets.

Buying a revenue roundtrip economy ticket for Nairobi-Seychelles on Kenya Airways gives a total fare of US$634, of which only $360 is the fare, the rest being $184 in fuel surcharges and $90 in airport taxes.

NBO-SEZ KQ

Pricing the Flying Blue award it is 35,000 miles + $274.

NBO-SEZ Flying Blue

Delta SkyMiles: like Flying Blue, Delta passes on all the surcharges and taxes. So as a standalone award it is not great value. Combined with a stopover in another African destination can make sense since the mileage would stay the same. The Delta website does not show Kenya Airways and finding an agent to know who to book Kenya Airways awards is very difficult. Even with the Diamond Medallion agents, only the 3rd knew how to manually request each segment from Kenya Airways and wait for return confirmation. Even then he could not get one segment I needed that Flying Blue website found easily.

OneWorld awards on Sri Lankan: Sri Lankan is an elusive airline. Many websites, including ITA Matrix do not display their flights so always verify with their own website. Colombo-Seychelles currently operates on Tue and Sat. The most attractive standalone award is with distance-based British Airways Avios. I have not found a way to check availability online. British Airways website does not support Seychelles as a destination and Qantas does not support Colombo. JAL and others do not show Sri Lankan flights.

British Airways Seychelles Error

Readers, help please, any website accurately shows award availability on this route? Maybe Sri Lankan’s own website shows same availability as for partners?

Sri Lankan award availability on other routes is not great, so calling British Airways to hunt for dates is not a fun prospect. Nonetheless, with many onward flight connections in Colombo, and Sri Lanka a great country to visit, this is a good approach for many people.

Etihad Guest: Citi is a new transfer partner of Etihad Guest for Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier cardholders. Starwood is a transfer partner as well. An Abu Dhabi-Seychelles economy roundtrip prices at 36,564, but starting in New York is a whopping 161,271 (228,615 in business).

AUH-SEZ Etihad Guest

 

American Airlines AAdvantage redeeming on Etihad: reader Chris Lowden notes in the comments that I left off American Airlines. Seychelles is in the Africa zone for them. North America to Seychelles roundtrip would be 75,000 economy / 150,000 business.

Emirates Skywards: a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood, Emirates beats Eithad as distance increases. Dubai-Seychelles economy saver is 37,500 round trip. New York-Seychelles is 85,000 economy saver (and  170,000 business saver).

DXB-SEZ Emirates Skywards

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan redeeming on Emirates: redemptions for Emirates from Alaska Airlines can only be made for itineraries originating in North America. New York-Seychelles roundtrip is 95,000 in economy, 155,000 in business. Website shows availability.NYC-SEZ Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Other credit card currencies:

  • cards like Barclaycard Arrival can be used to reimburse revenue tickets
  • Citi ThankYou points can be redeemed 1 cent/point, and at better rates with Citi premium (annual fee) Thank You cards
  • US Bank FlexPerks can be redeemed on participating airlines, however Kenya Airways is missing from the online booking tool. It may be possible to redeem on such airlines by phone, as for instance with the Orbitz-AA dispute at time of writing, FlexPerks is allowing customers to book via phone.

All this research and I won’t get my trip. I hope you do.

Readers, what did I miss? Stopover rules for one, some of these programs I haven’t the faintest idea.

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  • Chris Lowden

    You can also redeem American Airlines awards on their partner Etihad from Abu Dhabi.

  • Joey

    Looks like Ethiopian Airlines (star alliance) will resume flights from ADD to Seychelles on September 28, 2014! There is availability in both economy and business using UA Mileageplus miles (17500 & $30 for economy and 35000 & $30 for business one-way.)

    Sri Lankan just joined oneworld recently so perhaps they’re still updating their IT systems for award availability? Probably best to just call and see if any of your dates work.

    Happy early birthday!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Joey – great news on Ethiopian. For Sri Lankan, British Airways shows other routes like Maldives, this is one of those where the BA website does not have that particular airport code and won’t show. There used to be cases where you could put the unrecognized airport in the “from” but not the “to” to get it to show, but that did not work.

    @Chris – I knew I must have missed some big ones, thanks. And AA even partners with Gulf Air, I guess Qatar doesn’t have much leverage with them.

  • Theweeklyflyer

    Fly to Mauritius on air France. Enjoy along with reunion, then fly a revenue ticket up to Seychelles.

  • The Weekly Flyer

    Fly to Mautitius on Air France, enjoy reunion and then purchase a ticket to the Seychelles.

  • Good to hear that Ethiopian is picking up ADD-SEZ again. Flew SFO-IAD-ADD-SEZ last year, and the 777 from IAD was perfectly fine in business class. Caught the Etihad/Air Seychelles $300 business class back to DUB with a free A8 running us to Dubai and back.

    We didn’t hit the Outers, but I would recommend La Digue if you haven’t been there – all bikes on the island except for a few trucks for supply deliveries, and there is a very remote side to explore that only 3 guides on the island are allowed to lead day trips on. Pretty reasonable and you will find some pristine beaches to yourself. You can fly a quick hop from Victoria to Praslin (wouldn’t recommend staying there, but the coco de mur grove is neat to see), transfer over to the ferry on the far side of the island (or rent a car for the day on Praslin, and then drop it at the ferry – they let you and also will let you pick up a rental coming back) and head over to La Digue. Also day trips there that will take you out to more remote islands as well.

    Cheers and happy BD planning!

  • BTW, if you want to see much more on Seychelles routing and recommendation, look for the $300 Etihad/Air Seychelles thread on FT. Since that was a one way deal, just about every different routing combination was used by someone to get there over the past year those tix were redeemed. Several people posted feedback on places to eat/stay/what to do as well.

  • Varun

    If you’ll be in India, Jet Airways is planning a direct flight BOM- SEZ from December. Introductory fares should be good value.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Theweeklyflyer – I did price that one, the flight is infrequent and very expensive, for my dates $600+. For mutli-island in that area which I have done for most of the others, pretty much any inter+island flight is pricey.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Varun – another reason to get a Dec trip back to BOM!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @A View for the Miles – thanks for the recommendations, I will unearth the FT thread as well.

  • Qatar flies DOH – SEZ several times a week if not daily. Can’t you book them using AA miles? (or am I missing something?) I flew them on a (paid) revenue ticket a couple years ago, and it was delightful.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Andy – I do not believe they still operate that flight.