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BA launches Durban – excellent chance for you to visit South Africa on Avios this Winter

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The two British Airways routes to South Africa are always very tricky if you want Avios availability, especially Cape Town and especially over the peak Winter tourist season.

The exciting news is that British Airways has announced a new route to Durban.  It is not, at the time of writing, bookable via ba.com but I would expect the seats to appear during Wednesday.

There will be the standard two Avios seats available in Club World on all flights once booking opens, even for the peak Christmas and New Year dates.  There will also be the four guaranteed World Traveller / Economy seats.

Whilst Cape Town is probably more attractive than Durban, there are plenty of connecting flights between the two cities – including FIVE flights each day on British Airways, operated by its South African franchise partner Comair.  These can be booked on Avios although you cannot use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

British Airways launches Durban flights

Here are the details of the Durban service.

The first flight is 29th October

It will operate from Heathrow Terminal 5

It will use a Boeing 787-8 (so no First Class)

It will operate three days per week – outbound on Monday, Thursday, Saturday, returning on Tuesday, Friday, Sunday

Flight times are 15.45 outbound (arriving 05.35) and 07.35 inbound (arriving 17.45)

So, if you fancy a South African break this Winter but thought you had missed the boat over Avios availability, you luck is in.  Keep an eye on ba.com and hopefully the flights will become bookable on Wednesday.

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Comments

  1. signol says:

    According to a local SA newspaper, bookings will be open tomorrow (Wednesday): https://www.iol.co.za/mercury/now-you-can-fly-directly-from-durban-to-london-14836369

  2. Justin says:

    Not sure i fancy the day flight on the return

    • That’s the economics of the route though. Keeping a plane on the ground for 12 hours might just make sense on high rolling Jo’burg and Cape Town but not Durban.

      • signol says:

        Indeed, I’d see DUR as primarily a leisure and VFR destination, rather than mostly business.

    • John says:

      You can always do an open jaw and fly back from JNB/CPT

  3. pauldb says:

    Hopefully it will be 75k e/w peak J, but you never know with BA – might default to 90k … in which case home via JNB would definitely be preferably.

    • KevMc says:

      Avios rewards are distance based, so you do know…

      LHR to DUR is 5921.87 miles, so will be band 7 (75k J off peak)

      • KevMc says:

        …and 90k peak

        • pauldb says:

          Thanks … and yet CPT is longer but “forced”, along with JNB, into the lower band: 75k … so you don’t really know.

        • KevMc says:

          Oh really? Sorry, I didn’t realise that was the case. I had always assumed both were 75/90.

      • Mikeact says:

        Not always distance based….Boston as one example.

  4. Caroline says:

    OT: When booking with a 241 voucher, you can use a household account if your companion is in the household, correct? And it will automatically pool from both accounts if I alone am a tad short for the whole lot?

    • pauldb says:

      Yes – your companion must be in your HHA or be on your Friends & Family list. Like any other redemption the avios will be taken from across your HHA, like/need it or not.

      • Currently being priced at 90k peak. Do you think calling up could get them to force it into 75k like CPT & JNB?

  5. MarkH says:

    Flying F in nov to JNB and was planning to connect on to Durban.

    Got excited for a sec but I see there’s no F cabin. Shame…

  6. Radiata says:

    A step in the right direction.

    Clearly the morning slot leased from SA for the next five years not used here.

    As regards AVIOS bands, I thought there was some flexibility with some routes creeping into higher bands occasionally treated as the lower? We shall but see.

    The old (?until the late ’90s) direct flights (viz. LHR>JNB>DUR) with a stop in JNB a little better than this scheme as arrival and departure times convenient. Early outbound flight now will render impossible a full day of work (if in London admittedly) and lack of a Friday outbound a pity.

    Day return flight awful for a 12 hour flight – tried it once inadvertently on Swissair around the time of the bankruptcy and where switched to a day flight and vowed not to repeat if possible.

    A redemption LHR>DUR and return JNB>LHR preferable or a cash open jaw LHR>DUR//JNB>LHR. AVIOS or cash DUR>JNB for the return but BA’s new anti-interline policy for the luggage requires picking up at JNB and checking in again even if both flights are BA but not on the same ticket/PNR.

    BAEC status (silver/gold) allows at least two bags even in Y and the domestic BA (Comair) lounges, the SLOW lounges, reasonable. BA’s local franchise (Comair) however states that in this case 2x23kg allowed although the BA website quite clear that ought to be 2x32kg. I have usually walked up to the Business check in desk before having bags wrapped in plastic to remind of this and seek acknowledgement.

    Plastic wrap as pilfering from bags in JNB said to be somewhat risky. Have had bag locks cut or outer compartment ripped on a couple of occasions but fortunately thus far they had chosen the wrong bag..

    • John says:

      Stay a night in JNB and that solves that problem

    • MarcB says:

      Sorry for the stupid question, what’s the downsides of a 12hr day flight?

      • Anna says:

        The only one I can think of if travelling J or F is that you might be driving home from the airport and thus unable to indulge in much Champagne!

      • Kevin H says:

        I like the daytime flights myself – trying to sleep in a BA Club Class seat is never fun. I just flew back (with BA) form Beijing (not quite 12 hours, but almost) and it was no problem at all.

      • Kevin H says:

        I like the daytime flights myself – trying to sleep in a BA Club Class seat is never fun. I just flew back (with BA) from Beijing on a daytime flight (not quite 12 hours, but almost) and it was no problem at all.

      • It’s boring 🙂

        • John says:

          Especially when BA IFE is such a reliable failure but if this is to be served by a 787 a probable end to that problem for those who wish to risk flying BA

        • Justin says:

          agree

      • That’s got to be subjective – I have no issue with day flights at all. Just did day flight to SFO and last year CX LGW flight to HKG. You just have to keep yourself entertained!

        • Genghis says:

          Surely LGW-HKG is classified as a night flight? Leaving early afternoon and landing in the morning in HKG means you should try at least to have some sleep

        • John says:

          Many people seem unwilling to adjust to destination timezone until 1-2days after arriving. Not helped by enforced mealtimes especially in the less premium classes.

        • No jetlag to South Africa though, only 1 hour time difference.

        • No Genghis I don’t agree – you leave at 12.45pm and it’s a 12 hour flight. That’s a day flight for me and the best I would achieve is a doze.

        • Genghis says:

          Fair enough. As soon as I’m on the plane I’m on destination time so sleep based on that. Eating is more difficult though as you’re generally told when to eat. I get over jet lag fairly quickly.

      • signol says:

        For us, travelling with kids currently 8 and 6, daytime flights are preferable as they’ll entertain themselves quite happily with movies, games etc but struggle to sleep in a seat. I wouldn’t value the cost of J over Y worth it, especially for them. Heck, it’s rarely worth it for just me.

      • Radiata says:

        It is subjective.

        Six hours or so by day, especially in J/F, pleasant enough but I find non-stop flights from the UK/EU to SA for the 11 (to JNB) or 12 (CPT and now DUR) hours tiring. Not to mention the waste of an entire day.

        The night flight usual 1900 to 2100 departure times allow for a day at work if need be, a pleasant interlude in the lounge followed by a movie on the flight perhaps and a decent rest. One awakes to a light breakfast and landing and the full day available.

        The reverse, with the benefit of an arrivals lounge (with BA,VS or SA) at LHR allows for a shower, pressed clothes and straight to work if necessary.

        • Radiata says:

          Remember as SA GMT+2 and so only an hour or two ahead of the UK (depending on the season and so the same time as Paris for half of the year), the 11 or 12 hours overnight more efficient in terms of minimising wasted daylight than a similar journey from the far east.

          When warranted I have flown over and back for a full weekend without missing a day at work.

        • Mark says:

          A lot of people clearly agree, hence the majority of SA services being night flights both ways.

          As Rob says there is a balance to be struck though for the operators, and day flights in one direction or the other are not unprecedented. The 3rd JNB flight that BA operated on some days prior to the introduction of the A380 on the route was a day flight in one direction, as I’m sure some of the CPT flights have been.

          No coincidence that BA has done pilot training in SA for the same reason – it makes use of an aircraft that is otherwise sitting there all day.

  7. Mikeact says:

    This has been a long time coming….great news……and an excellent destination.

  8. Alex W says:

    When does this become bookable? Don’t want to get up at 1am again…

    • Alex W says:

      Ah, I was checking baredemptionfinder which said it wasn’t a valid route yet 🙁

  9. aliks says:

    I’m surprised there are so few comments on this – I would think a new destination in South Africa with great Avios availability would attract a lot of attention and questions.

  10. filipino_chino says:

    Durban is nice city too, i spent some time here for work many moons ago…

    I think i might have to try an openjaw flight with a connecting comair flight 🙂

    Thanks for the info!

  11. Simon says:

    Flights now bookable-pity I don’t have a companion voucher yet. I’m one of the few that actually prefers daytime flights so no problem with this new service.

    • pauldb says:

      Sadly it is 75k/90k offpeak/peak, so definitely third best to CPT & JNB.

  12. Mark Priest says:

    Well the club seats didn’t last long!

  13. Thanks so much for the heads up, I was one of the lucky ones to grab Club redemptions for November this year, out Saturday 17th and back Sunday 2nd December.

    The day return works for me as hard to get a real nights sleep in Club before returning to work!

    • Genghis says:

      I’ve seen it mentioned quite a lot recently but why don’t people sleep well in BA club?

      I’m a big guy but sleep very well and manage to go to work straight from the airport on an early morning arrival into LHR.

      • I think it’s the stress of knowing you NEED to sleep if you have work the next day, coupled with seat dimensions (72″ by 20″) that I’m slightly too big for!

  14. Thanks for the heads up. Managed to get Club World flights over the Christmas period using the 2 for 1 voucher. Just happy I will not need to go through immigration at JHB again!

    • Genghis says:

      That must have been a long queue!

      • I frequently travel to Durban via JHB, and with some flights, you have under 2 hours from landing to the onward flight. There have been a few instances where immigration was quick, but also times when it was not. Additionally, the return flight from Durban you are faced with a similar issue.

  15. Oh my gosh what a stressful time! Managed to get economy redemption with 241 over xmas and new year 🙂 Tried once and got through to payment and then it said the flights had sold out during the booking process, but went back and started again and luckily all still ok. Now all gone. I also had to buy a few thousand avios (which is against my religion) as although we requested a MR transfer yesterday in case it was in the higher band they haven’t appeared yet! Probably worth it to get the peak time seats though!

    • Alex W says:

      Economy cash fares over £1000 so you probably got decent value for your Avios there.

  16. Mark Priest says:

    Was tempted to get 3 x premium but at 360,000 avios thought better of it!

  17. Jean Baird says:

    A million thanks just booked two business class tickets from Jersey to Durban in March 2019 using 2-4-1 comp. ticket and Avios plus taxes as soon as seats became available i.e. today!!

    Just missed out on bonus Avios points if 50% if you buy them boo hoo

    Please let us know if the Avios bonus comes back out …

    Thanks once again for news of this route

  18. aliks says:

    Lots of availability left as of the time of this message, but business class seats are going fast around main holidays.

  19. Availability to Durban is now live on BA Redemption Finder – check it out at https://baredemptionfinder.com. There are plenty of seats available, even in Business!

  20. MudIslandMlungu says:

    Got in at 11am on Wednesday when it went live. Got 17th Dec to Jan 6 in Club on 2-4-1.

    Brilliant…

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