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British Airways increases Reward Flight Saver fees on short-haul African routes

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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

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.

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.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

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

Nectar American Express

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

We also recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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.

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

Comments (14)

  • Ruan Hattingh says:

    Livingstone in Zambia

  • Tina Hammond says:

    Do you earn TPs and avios on kulula?

    • Rob says:

      Avios yes, TP no – and the Avios only go to Avios.com 3081xxxxxxxxx accounts.

  • Chris says:

    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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Crafty says:

    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.

  • Anon says:

    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.

    • Mark says:

      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.

      • Anon says:

        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?

  • Craig says:

    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?

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