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Bits: avid hotels confirmed as a new IHG brand, how to save £68 tax on Avios flights to Cape Town

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News in brief:

avid hotels confirmed as the new IHG hotel brand

Back in June IHG announced plans for a new midscale brand.  It has now confirmed the name and concept, although it doesn’t seem as if they will be in Europe for a few years.

With the motto ‘Fresh, Frank and Fair’ avid hotels are focusing on ‘the basics done exceptionally well’.

The hotels will offer a free breakfast and free wi-fi with a price tag promised to be $10 – $15 cheaper than a Holiday Inn Express.  My best guess is that this will be something like Marriott’s MOXY concept which is now open at London Excel and Aberdeen.  (Rob will be discussing the MOXY at Vienna Airport tomorrow.)

Like other midscale hotel brands like element, ibis Styles and Hampton by Hilton, avid hotels will have open communal spaces in the lobby area where guests can work, eat and “connect”.

Pleasingly IHG seems to be bucking the “no desk” trend by promising that avid hotels will contain a large desk, as well as an entertainment system which lets guest connect their smartphones and watch content on the TV screen.

The first avid hotels will open in the US in early 2019 which means we won’t be seeing the end product for another year and a half, but looking at the images it promises to be interesting. The avid hotels website is here.

How to save £68 tax on Avios flights to Cape Town

There is a little-known arbitrage you can use to save £68 of tax when booking British Airways Avios redemption flights to Cape Town.  I thought it was worth mentioning this again today.

Whilst Cape Town does have a direct British Airways 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.  They can be booked using Avios via ba.com.

This is how it works, assuming that you can’t find direct flights to Cape Town:

If you book London to Cape Town via a connection in Jo’burg, the cost (economy return) is 45,500 Avios off-peak plus £456 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 £332 for the long-haul, off-peak, and 13,000 Avios plus £56 for the connection. The total is 45,500 Avios plus £388.

That is a saving of £68.

There is a trade off.  Comair and BA are also not technically liable to look after you if you miss one flight because the other is delayed.  In reality, I would not be worried about this as Comair and BA effectively operate as one airline and will ensure you are OK.

As per the comments below (and I have edited the article to reflect this), you need to collect your bags at Johannesburg irrespective of how you book.  Even if both flights are on the same ticket you will still need to clear customs and check them in again.

If you are looking to keep your costs down, it is worth considering.

This trick also works for Club World flights, where the saving is a little smaller – £677 versus £553 + £64, for a saving of £60.

Note that as you cannot use a British Airways American Express voucher on Comair, you may be forced to split your trip into two separate tickets anyway if you have a voucher to use.

Comments (82)

  • Alex says:

    When connecting international > domestic at JNB you need to uplift your bags and drop them off again anyway. The only time saving you would get on a single ticket which you might not get using the trick above is the ability to have the bag tagged to your final destination CPT – which would allow you to use the Fast Bag drop off after clearing customs at JNB, instead of having to queue again at the Comair desks to check in.

    • Chris says:

      Was going to say the same. Since you’d have to pick up and drop off bags either way in JNB the through checking of bags isn’t really an advantage. The obvious advantage is of course being on one ticket in case of missed connection. That way you could pick a shorter connection (maybe 1.5hrs) and be rebooked without fuss if missed, where as if booking separately I’d opt for at least 3hrs (mainly because departures from LHR can so easily be an hour or so late).

    • Rob says:

      Updated, thanks. I have actually done this, albeit 10 years ago, should have remembered ….

  • Shaun says:

    While BA not interlining baggage is a real pain, you always have had to collect your baggage in JNB if connecting to a domestic service in SA.

    Comair on the return will try and put your bags through to the UK, but that is not always possible

    The Comair service is far superior to the BA offering in Europe, no BOB for a start, and they have the brilliant Slow lounges as well

  • Paul says:

    Can you please stop referring to BAs rip off fees as TAX. Tax is something collected by governments and APD is the departure tax from the UK. It makes up a fraction of the total charge and I for one have no issue with paying my taxes.
    If abolished the remaining fees would include airport fees and BA own huge rip fees which they previously called a fuel surcharge. Despite oil prices falling BA fees remained fixed and their name changed. Call these fees what they are.

  • Nick says:

    Still find it unbelievable that Marriott’s marketing department went ahead with a brand that rhymes with “Poxy”. Looking forward to reading Rob Burgess’ piece on the Poxy Moxy Vienna tomorrow and learning if these hotels live up to their name or are rather better than it implies.

  • Andrew Steele says:

    Interesting points on the Avios points for Cape Town. The need to collect bags at Johannesburg may be less of an issue. When changing at JNB all passengers have to collect bags and recheck after customs (like the USA). The separate tickets may mean a walk to the Comair check-in rather than the post-customs desks but there will still be a wait in baggage claim.

  • Vinny M says:

    I have done this very flight a couple of months ago on an Amex 2-4-1 from LHR to JNB, unable to get LHR to CPT availability in CW. Return fares from JNB-CPT are as low as £160 on Comair (rickety aircraft but perfectly serviceable with the old leather seating, wider seats and free snacks/drinks) so that makes it a relatively poor value Avios redemption. I’m sure there are far more clever people than I on this forum to do the maths 🙂

    • 26left says:

      Agreed – I paid c £400 cash for 2 pax JNB-WDH-JNB in Y as there was only Avios availability in Club so would have been £128 + 68,000 Avios. Even if there was Y available it would have been £128 + 34,000 Avios which wouldn’t have been great value.

    • Pierre says:

      +1
      I do this flight at least once a year, and I’ve never been able to get 1p value when looking to do an Avios redemption JHB-CT, so always pay cash for this leg of the journey.

  • Andy says:

    Avid reminds me of Motel One.

  • 26left says:

    Not only CPT – splitting itineraries to save cash applies to other Comair connections too e.g. Windhoek.

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