South Africa

How to get the cheapest flights in South Africa

The cheapest time to fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town or Durban is on Sunday at 05:00, while the best time to fly back to Joburg is late on a Wednesday. 

This was revealed in Discovery Bank’s SpendTrend24 report, compiled in collaboration with Visa. 

The report combined data from Discovery Bank’s clients in South Africa, over 60 million Visa cards worldwide, and over 3 billion transactions. 

Discovery Bank CEO Hylton Kallner told a media briefing that the research was aimed at understanding where South Africans spend their money and how they spend it. 

Despite a challenging macroeconomic environment, South Africans proved to be resilient in 2023 compared to their global peers, with spending growing slightly. 

Apart from groceries and fuel, South Africans spend most of their money on travelling within the country and, in some cases, overseas. 

While travel spending has recovered to pre-Covid levels, the cost of travel has risen markedly across the board following a surge in ‘revenge travel’, forcing most to limit their spending to levels seen in 2019. 

High net worth individuals, according to Visa’s data, were the only South Africans to spend more on travel since Covid than they did before. 

The respective levels of spending on travel are shown in the graph below. 

Discovery Bank took a deep dive into data from their clients who use Vitality Travel to find out which South Africans travel the most and how much these flights cost. 

Their analysis found that South Africans prioritise the cost of travel above all other factors when deciding whether to travel locally or internationally.

The data also showed that Cape Town remains the most popular flight destination in South Africa, followed closely by Joburg, with Durban in a distant third. 

Towns along South Africa’s Garden Route, particularly George, experienced a sharp increase in arrivals in 2023. Flights to George rose by 20% last year, making it the fourth most popular destination in the country. 

Flight prices on popular local routes have steadied and even decreased since 2022, after a notable increase since 2019. However, there have been price hikes on many international routes in 2023 due to rising demand.

Flights from South Africa to the UK rose 26% last year, while flights to Mauritius shot up 70%, and those to Australia a more modest 23%. 

When the cheapest flights are

Discovery Bank’s analysis of local flights revealed the cheapest and most expensive times to fly between the country’s major cities – Joburg, Cape Town, and Durban. 

The varying cost of flights at different times during the weeks is shown in the graphics below, with the cheapest flight time between the cities marked with a star. 

Green blocks indicate the cheapest flights, while red blocks show the most expensive.

Joburg – Cape Town

Joburg – Durban


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