British Airways Pricing Glitch?

Introduction

Early next year, we plan on spending about 2 months in southern Africa. When looking into award flights, I noticed what appears to be a British Airways Avios pricing glitch. The Oneworld alliance does not have great coverage in Africa. In southern Africa, however, they have decent coverage due to Comair, which is a franchisee of British Airways. They have decent coverage with their hub being in Johannesburg.

Comair Route Map (blue routes are bookable with Avios)
Comair Route Map (blue routes are bookable with Avios)

I recently booked 2 of these flights for Brittany and me. I booked Livingstone to Johannesburg and Johannesburg to Mauritius. The cost from Livingstone to Johannesburg was 4,500 Avios and $44 per person. The cost from Johannesburg to Mauritius was 8,500 Avios and $44 per person (we had a 1,500 Avios discount due to off-peak pricing). I checked a few other routes and they all seemed to have a flat fee of $44 per person.

Glitch?

Brittany’s parents will be with us in Livingstone to see Victoria Falls. Additional award space opened up this week to book them on the same flight back to Johannesburg with points! I asked Brittany’s mother to create a British Airways account so I could book two awards using her points. Luckily, I decided to search for the award space using her account before transferring any Chase Ultimate Rewards into her account. What I found surprised me:

4,500 Avios and $132!!!
4,500 Avios and $132!!!

I was shocked at the price difference. At this price, the award ticket would not even be worth it, as the flight costs about $150 if paying cash. I assumed that British Airways must have updated their system and Comair flights now had more fees/taxes added to them. Just for fun, I decided to do the same flight search from my British Airways account.

4,500 Avios and $44
4,500 Avios and $44

I did the same search from Brittany’s account and the $44 price also showed. What was going on? I had no idea what was causing the discrepancy in pricing. The only difference I could tell from our 3 accounts is that both Brittany and I had some Avios in our accounts, whereas her mom did not. I have read that the taxes/fees on these Comair flights are very high, so I assume the pricing from both mine and Brittany’s accounts are a mistake, but hey – I’m not complaining.

End Result

We ended up booking Brittany’s parents on this flight from Brittany’s account and we will book another 4,500 Avios award that Brittany and I still need to book from Brittany’s mom’s account. I am not sure if this pricing oddity extends further from just for Comair flights or not. I also don’t know what caused the pricing oddity and don’t know if I ever will.

Have you seen pricing differences between different British Airways accounts? Do you know what is causing the differences I saw in our accounts? I’d love to know!

1 Comment

  1. Janice THOMPSON says: Reply

    And from Brittany’s parents- a big thank-you for diligently checking into all the details when booking and saving us money 🙂 We are also very thankful for the coordination of our travel plans; we know it is very time consuming and sometimes frustrating, but are looking SO FORWARD to joining on yet another adventure!! To anyone reading, and have visited in Africa (Cape Town or Johannesburg)- please share your suggestions!

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