United’s New Cape Town Service Now On Sale (With No Saver Space)

by Chris Dong

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From shark cage diving to world class wineries to penguins (!) to a thriving metropolis, Cape Town has it all. And United is flying to this picturesque city starting in December 2019. United officially launched ticket sales on its recently announced nonstop service between Newark, NJ (EWR) and Cape Town, South Africa (CPT). It will be the only flight nonstop to Cape Town from the U.S.

The Schedule

Beginning December 15, 2019, the route will operate 3x weekly with the following schedule:

  • Departing Newark (EWR) at 8:30pm and arriving to Cape Town (CPT) at 6:00pm (+1) on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Departing Cape Town (CPT) at 8:50pm and arriving to Newark (EWR) at 5:45am (+1) on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday

Interestingly, the route is still subject to government approval but United is highly confident since they’re giving the green light on tickets.

The Aircraft

United will use a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner featuring 48 seats in United Polaris business class, 88 seats in Economy
Plus and 116 seats in United Economy. However, don’t expect the latest Polaris seats — this will likely have the 2-2-2 B/E Aerospace configuration in business. Similar to leisure-heavy markets like Hawaii, a 2-2-2 set-up here makes sense since there would likely be many traveling couples.

How Does Award Space Look? 

United MileagePlus Saver space is non-existent. Zilch. Nada. Of course, Saver will not even be a thing in a few months when United changes over its award pricing to be dynamic. For a fairly unique, leisure heavy route, I can understand very limited Saver space but there’s none at all — not even in economy.

For giggles, I looked at the number of United miles required for a flight in both business and economy. The lowest business award is 170,000 United miles while the lowest economy award is 70,000 miles each way.

Saver awards are available on Ethiopian though, with stops of course.

The Upshot

This route will be a nice addition for New York area residents looking for a winter escape as well as provide customers from more than 80 U.S. cities one-stop access to Cape Town.

Impressively, this will be United’s 22nd new international route announced in the last two years, which sounds almost unbelievable. United should be commended for experimenting with various international destinations. A southern hemisphere seasonal destination makes so much sense since the peak European season will be long over and there would likely be spare aircraft. In fact, I wish the U.S. airlines would do more of this seasonal flying.

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Gary April 30, 2019 - 11:15 am

Lowest I saw was 207000 miles.

Chris Dong April 30, 2019 - 11:18 am

Flights from CPT to EWR were slightly less at 170k.


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