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British Airways increasing RFS fees on short-haul African routes (+ list of where BA flies)

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You may not know that there is a franchised short-haul British Airways network in South Africa and the surrounding region, run by Comair.

Today I wanted to look at how to redeem Avios for British Airways / Comair in South Africa and highlight a forthcoming increase in surcharges.

I have flown it and it is a little surreal to be getting onto a British Airways-branded aircraft with crew wearing British Airways uniforms to fly from, say, Johannesburg to Cape Town.

It uses a small fleet on Boeing 737 aircraft.

As far as I can tell, British Airways (operated by Comair) currently flies from Johannesburg to:

Mauritius – Port Louis

Namibia – Windhoek

South Africa – Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth

Zambia – Livingtone

Zimbabwe – Harare, Victoria Falls

How to redeem Avios on Comair in South Africa

These services can be booked for cash or Avios on ba.com.

Avios redemptions are priced using the standard Avios redemption chart which I show in this article from our Avios Redemption University series.  You can book Traveller (Economy) or Club (Business).

Reward Flight Saver is available when you book these redemptions using Avios, as long as you have earned 1 Avios during the previous 12 months.

But …. there is a small snag

Reward Flight Saver pricing for British Airways short haul flights in Europe is:

£17.50 one-way in Euro Traveller / Economy

£25 one-way in Club Europe / Business

…. with the caveat that you may pay less (but never more) on one-way flights TO the UK.  I think the cheapest route is Luxembourg which has taxes of just £3.30 when booking a one-way TO London. (I will do another article on how this works later in the week.)

Pricing is a lot higher on Comair / British Airways South Africa.  At present, as the Reward Flight Saver page of ba.com shows, you pay:

£28 for UK residents / ZAR 350 one-way in Traveller (Economy)

£32 for UK residents / ZAR 400 one-way in Club (Business)

And it is about to get higher still.

How to redeem Avios on Comair in South Africa

From 14th November, the Reward Flight Saver cost for South African flights is increasing MASSIVELY in local currency.

A one-way in Economy jumps from ZAR 350 to ZAR 500

A one-way in Business jumps from ZAR 400 to ZAR 900

However, if you are based in the UK the hit won’t be so big.  The Rand is not in a good way at the moment and has been losing value sharply, even against the weak Pound.

ZAR 500 is currently £26, so the fee may even drop a little

ZAR 900, on the other hand, is currently £48 so we may see a 50% increase

‘Part Pay With Avios’ coming to Comair flights

From the same day, ‘Part Pay With Avios’ will be extended to Comair bookings.

I am not a fan of ‘Part Pay With Avios’ in general, but in the UK there is often a generous discount if you only use a very small number of Avios.  The Comair rates will be different to those offered for European flights however.

Given these fairly chunky Reward Flight Saver increases, it makes sense to compare both ‘Part Pay With Avios’ and standard Reward Flight Saver redemptions before booking BA / Comair flights in Africa.

Full details of the changes can be found on the Avios South Africa site here.

PS.  There is one other South African Avios quirk worth knowing about.  Comair also owns a budget airline called kulula.com.  You can earn Avios when you fly kulula.com at the rate of 3 Avios per Rand 10 spent and these can be credited to a standard avios.com account.  You can also credit any AerClub, Vueling Club or Flybe Avios account operated at avios.com.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. Ruan Hattingh says:

    Livingstone in Zambia

  2. Tina Hammond says:

    Do you earn TPs and avios on kulula?

  3. I recently flew the JoBurg to Cape Town Route in Business with BA / Comair and it was a delight, great food and wine, big comfy chairs, put our Club Europe to shame.

  4. Vistaro says:

    Worth bearing in mind there’s often SA domestic fares eg JNB CPT available for around R5/600 especially on FlySafAir and reasonably often on Kulula or Mango

  5. Kevin C says:

    We did paid economy JNB to CPT return earlier this year. You still get a free hot meal and a drink. We were in the row behind business and their food looked great. Only got 5 tier points per sector and the seats were pretty old but there was enough room.

  6. Is this another indication that the long trailed devaluation this year will be “slowly slowly” rather than big bang?

    They may have observed Hilton’s relative lack of bad PR and looked to copy the stealth tactics.

  7. For Mauritius, they don’t fly to Port Louis as there is no airport there. The only airport is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport which is almost 50km south of the capital city of Port Louis.

    • Not sure what the services are like now but when we went to Mauritius via Johannesburg in 2014, the Comair connecting flights were only weekly on a Saturday morning, and the departure time meant that it wasn’t possible to connect from our inbound BA flight from London. We ended up flying with South African instead, the return using an Air Mauritius A340 with flat bed business seating.

      • I think they are only still on Saturdays. I wonder what the economy and club cabins are like? Has anyone flown them who can give a quick thumbs up or down?

  8. In the New Year we have JNB-CPT in Economy and PLZ-JNB in Business. Looking forward to the trip in general, just deciding on whether it’s worth the upgrade fee for the first trip?

  9. My husband flew on Kulula but they didn’t credit the Avios. We contacted Avios and they said we should contact Kulula direct which we did via email. No response and no points. Waste of time.

  10. Have got JNB-DUR and DUR-PLZ in business coming up in November – 7750 avios + £32.

    Looking forward to it judging by comments ppl have made comparing it to CE.

  11. Steve R says:

    Worth mentioning that you can access the fantastic SLOW lounges (JNB, CPT and DUR) when flying Comair Business Class domestically and regionally.

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