plane
  • Airline tickets out of Cape Town have nearly doubled in price as foreign visitors scramble to get out of South Africa.
  • Flights are booking out fast, with the remaining tickets going for a premium: the cheapest one-way economy ticket we could find cost R13 005.
  • Airlines have been accused of charging customers “extortionate” fees as tourists try to make their way home at the last minute, reports the Gaurdian.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za. 

Airline tickets out of Cape Town, a hub for foreign tourists, to various foreign destinations have nearly doubled in price as visitors scramble to get out of South Africa.

SA started to implement drastic steps to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday. These will include travel bans to and from high-risk countries like South Korea, Italy, Spain, Germany, the US, UK and China, reports news24. Airlines have also cancelled flights, leaving some visitors concerned about how and when they would be able to return home.

That has meant a mad scramble for tickets, with many frustrated passengers taking to Twitter after being left stranded.

Airlines have also been accused of charging “extortionate” fees to tourists and business travellers, reports the Guardian

Airlines use sophisticated pricing systems to price seats, sometimes in real time, based on demand and other factors. These systems have never been used during such an extensive global disruption in travel, and some prices appear to be glitches.

(Many airlines are playing catch-up as governments implement or harden travel bans. It's important to keep checking their websites for updates on refunds and the reissuing of tickets and policies on cancellations.) 

Read: These airlines, big in SA, now offer free ticket changes due to Covid-19


Tickets are going for a premium with the cheapest one-way economy ticket out of Cape Town we could find coming in at R13 005, from British Airways.

Flights on nearly all international airlines out of Cape Town to London were selling out on Wednesday, with a few seats left between Wednesday and Friday.

These were some of the cheapest flights we could find for Wednesday, or closest available if sold out, on airline websites. Most were economy tickets. 

British Airways R13 005

British Airways economy ticket from Cape Town to L
British Airways economy ticket from Cape Town to London.

Qatar R17 859 

Qatar flights from Cape Town to London.
Qatar flights from Cape Town to London.

Lufthansa R18 999

Lufthansa flights from Cape Town to London.
Lufthansa flights from Cape Town to London.

SAA R21 853

South African Airways flights from Cape Town to Lo
South African Airways flights from Cape Town to London.

Emirates R23 378 (no flights available on Wednesday) 

Emirates flights from Cape Town to London.
Emirates flights from Cape Town to London.

It's difficult to pin down actual prices on the websites, as ticket availability constantly shifts. 

You’ll have better luck comparing flights on Skyscanner, an airline ticket price comparison website, that lists more reasonable prices with one-way tickets selling at the cheapest for R6 331 a ticket. Many of these flights have either a long layover period or perversely very short ones, which leaves little room to get through terminals, be warned. 

Skyscanner air ticket prices from Cape Town to Lon
Skyscanner air ticket prices from Cape Town to London.

We also found that in some cases it would be cheaper to book return tickets and forgo the return to SA. (Or use it, when things calm down.)

For instance, this return flight on Emirates was priced at R11 218. 

Emirates
For instance, this return flight on Emirates was priced at R11 218.

Alternatively fly domestically from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and then fly from OR Tambo International. But don't get caught out, some flights are more expensive than others. These two BA flights are two hours apart on Saturday 21 March, and a non-stop economy ticket is more than three times the price. Or else hold out for a few days time, when the demand has lessened and more flights are available.

BA flight comparison.
BA flight comparison.

If you need a seat, keep visiting airline webpages directly; cancellations are popping up throughout the day, our testing suggests. 

For more information direct from the source, see also:

the National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD)

the latest statements issued by the national government

the Twitter stream of health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize

the World Health Organisation's Covic-19 outbreak page

the NICD hotline for Covid-19 is: 0800-029-999.

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