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How to save £50 tax on Avios flights to Cape Town

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There is a little-known arbitrage you can use to save £50 of tax when booking British Airways Avios redemption flights to Cape Town.

Whilst Cape Town does have a direct BA service, it is often tricky to find Avios reward seats.  Most people end up travelling via Johannesburg and changing to a Comair connection.  Comair is a BA franchise and its planes have the usual British Airways livery.

This is how it works:

If you book London to Cape Town via a connection in Jo’burg, the cost (economy return) is 45,500 Avios off-peak plus £433 tax

However ….

If you book London to Jo’burg on one ticket and Jo’burg to Cape Town on a separate ticket, the individual costs are 32,500 plus £328 for the long-haul, off-peak, and 13,000 Avios plus £56 for the connection. 

That is a saving of £49.

There is a small trade off, of course.  As you will be on separate tickets, Comair and BA are not technically liable to look after you if you miss one flight because the other is delayed. 

In reality, I would not be at all worried about this as Comair and BA effectively operate as one airline and will ensure you are OK.  It is also likely that you would get your baggage checked through at Heathrow and at Cape Town.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (17)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Gilly says:

    Don’t forget – you have to claim your bag at JNB even if it’s tagged through to CPT and clear customs at JNB.

    • Aeronaut says:

      You might have to claim your bag at JNB but best not to assume you’ll also claim all the items that were hitherto therein…

  • Linda says:

    Currently in South Africa using a 241 and Avios for LBA/LHR/JNB then a paid Comair flight to Cape Town.
    Just to clarify you have to collect checked bags on arrival at JNB then recheck them for the domestic flight.
    Having spent some time in Camps Bay and the Winelands we set off on the Garden Route today flying back PLZ/JNB/LHR/LBA.
    A word of advice for anyone collecting a car from Avis on Strand Street in Cape Town – allocate one and a half hours.
    Cheers from sunny Stellenbosch.

    • Kinkell says:

      You must have been unlucky! We were a lot quicker than that. I love SA, and been twice courtesy of Amex 241. Gofor a wine tour……but I’m sure you’ll have that ticked off!

  • Hayley says:

    You definitely have to reclaim bags at JNB. They appear to be getting the ‘light fingers’ problem under control at that airport but there are now ridiculous regulations in place regarding the weight (circa 7kg) of hand luggage on domestic flights, which have been intiroduced by the SA authorities. You are only likely to be asked about the weight of your hand luggage at check-in if it looks overly large but they can ask you to remove items because the airline could be fined. They never query the weight at the Comair gate however so perhaps a little stealth is called for. Also the SLOW lounge in the domestic terminal at JNB has an impressive food spread and is worth a visit before your flight.

  • C Y S Yuen says:

    This money saving techinque applies to HKG-LHR-DOMESTIC as well. Of booked together you pay £70 and 19500 Avios off peak but if booked seperately it will cost 19500+4000 Avios and £10.60 + £17.50 Tax.

    To interline baggage just tell the agent the onward flight number.

    • Genghis says:

      Good call. Using avios at 1.17ppa is decent value

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        Yeah. That’s why I hate the “free domestic connection with Avios on longhaul” stuff.

        It’s not!

      • C Y S Yuen says:

        As my flight was last minute ajd one way only it costs around £750 for HKG-LHR and around £120 LHR-EDI so if you do the maths it was of extremely good value.

    • John says:

      If you book early enough it may be cheaper to just pay for the domestic.

  • BrianDT says:

    So annoying that Cape Town has always been an expensive run, and as for getting redemptions. ……..

  • Pol says:

    If only I could find 2 reward seats to jo’burg to do this.

    • Rob says:

      Remember Iberia is launching Jo’burg soon

      • Pol says:

        Want to use a 2-4-1 though. To make it even tougher I work as a TA in a primary school so will forever be confined to school holidays, even though my kids are now 23 and 18.

      • barry cutters says:

        Economy on that route is cheap if buying a cash ticket. I paid £350 for November and will get £100 worth of avios back.

        Good times also as the midnight departure means you can catch a flight after work on a Friday . (make sure to go Iberia/Ba incase delays on connecting flight)

        • James says:

          Having a tough time getting a 2017 flight back from JNB booked with Iberia Plus.

          First there was an issue where flights from JNB weren’t bookable due to a technical problem for a few weeks. Now they seem to have fixed that but they haven’t got the 2017 peak calendar put on yet so all pricing as peak.

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