A couple of months ago, the Avios rewards programme launched in South Africa. I didn’t write anything about it, because it didn’t seen relevant. However, it did give us the Avios / Facebook game a few weeks ago, which was playable by UK residents until Avios restricted it!
The Avios South Africa programme works in the same way as the UK one. There is a petrol partner (BP), a credit card and a supermarket partner (Pick’n’Pay). You can redeem for BA flights, both on BA and BA’s South African franchise partner, Comair, in the usual way.
Here is the key thing to know. As far as the Avios computer is concerned, the UK and South African programmes are the same. There is no restriction on transferring Avios points from Avios South Africa to British Airways, or vice versa.
Why would you sign up for the Avios South Africa programme?
You can book the standard range of British Airways flights via the Avios South Africa website …
Charged in South African Rand …
At a very favourable rate ….!
Take a look at the following screenshot. It shows London to Paris, booked via Avios South Africa.
As you will see, the tax figure is ZAR 440. This is equivalent to £26. It would cost £35 if booked via Avios UK.
If I had run the same search for a business class seat, the tax would have been ZAR 640. This is equivalent to £38, instead of the £50 charged by Avios UK.
This also works with Comair. Comair is a South African airline which operates as a British Airways franchise, flying BA-painted planes with staff who wear BA uniforms. You can book these flights on ba.com and you can earn and redeem Avios on them.
The most common reason for flying Comair is to get from Johannesburg to Cape Town. It is difficult to get Avios redemption seats from London to Cape Town, so you will often find yourself doing London to Johannesburg and then Johannesburg to Cape Town on Comair.
The other route you might book is Johannesburg to Mauritius, if you can’t get a direct BA flight. The full route network is here.
You can book the South African routes using Reward Flight Saver, in the same way as you would book a European redemption. However, the cash payment required is higher. Johannesburg to Cape Town, for example, costs 15,000 Avios return + £56 in economy and 30,000 Avios + £64 in business.
However, if you book via the Avios South Africa programme, the cash price is lower. Avios South Africa charges 15,000 Avios + ZAR 700 (£42) in economy and 30,000 Avios + ZAR 800 (£48) in business.
The two hurdles to jump
Obviously this is not a life-changing saving, but on the other hand there is no point throwing money away!
The first thing to note, though, is that you will need to give a made-up South African street address to open an Avios South Africa account.
The second issue is that, in order to be able to book Reward Flight Saver flights, your account will need to ‘earn’ 1 Avios.
Luckily, Avios has solved this problem for you! About a week after signing up for Avios South Africa, you will receive an email with a short questionnaire attached. Answer the few questions, and you are immediately awarded 150 Avios. This will ‘activate’ your account and make you eligible to book Reward Flight Saver tickets!