Plan ahead to maximise airline travel in 2022

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With domestic flights at an all-time low, travellers are experiencing a range of difficulties when it comes to affordable flights. Fortunately, South African domestic carriers have come up with a host of conveniences that make booking and planning for flights that much easier.

Advance planning and shopping around have always been the best way to get the most bang for your buck when buying airline tickets. Nowadays, these steps have become vital for finding affordable flights.

A simple “one-stop-shop” option is to use an online travel agency such as Domestic Flights South Africa, Travelstart or SA Airlines. These services give you access to a virtual search engine that trawls the internet for all the available flights for your dates. Then, they present you with the cheapest options.

With these online travel agencies, you can compare, filter your preferences, and book a flight that suits your dates and budget. Alternatively, you can do all the hard slog yourself by comparing what’s on offer from the major domestic airlines. Here’s a snapshot to help you get ahead when planning business or leisure trips.

FlySafair

Online price comparisons are an obvious starting point for finding cheap flights and Flysafair makes it easy with their Low Fare Finder. This convenience works best if you’re able to book flexible flight dates. The Low Fare Finder booking engine finds the best prices for departures within 30 days and updates every thirty seconds.

It’s easy to keep tabs on updated prices with the Flysafair app, too. This convenience makes planning your travels a breeze with the facility to find the best deals, book your tickets, and manage your flights in the palm of your hand.

You can book on the spot using a variety of secure payment methods like:

  • Credit and debit
  • Ozow Instant EFT
  • Zapper
  • RCS cards
  • Secure Instant Deposit (SID) via internet banking
  • Flysafair Wallet credits

If you prefer to do things the old-fashioned way, you can still make reservations via the call centre or pay cash for your tickets.

FlySafair charges extra for checked bags, but tariffs are super low for those travelling without checked baggage.

Airlink innovations

Airlink barely missed a beat during the last two years, and they aren’t about to stop delivering affordable and reliable flights now. This airline offers over 5,000 flights a month, with an average of 160 trips per day. With Airlink, you can travel to over 45 different African countries directly and enjoy a host of seamless connections to international destinations thanks to agreements with 17 major players in the airline industry.

Thanks to this, advance planning is a breeze when you fly with Airlink. You can also earn cash back rewards via Airlink’s affiliation with the Legacy Reward programme.

The Airlink app offers plenty of conveniences for frequent flyers too, including the ability to:

  • Search and book regional and domestic flights
  • Manage travel preferences and payment methods
  • Download digital boarding passes and check in
  • Monitor flight status
  • Receive real-time flight updates
  • Retrieve details from past flights

Airlink also offers free checked bags on all domestic flights up to a maximum of 20kg in economy class and 30kg in business class.

Need a little extra help during your travels? Airlink allows emotional support and service dogs in the aircraft’s cabin free of charge.

SAA

When SAA relaunched its flights in 2021, it had the cheapest airfares on several routes, so don’t assume that you should always look to conventional low-fare airlines when searching for the best deals on tickets.

SAA’s app offers comprehensive conveniences for travellers including:

  • Booking and reviewing flights
  • Flight check-in
  • Flight information and timetables
  • Flight status updates
  • Tracking checked-in baggage and cargo
  • A destination guide
  • Voyager information

Lift

The Lift Wallet offers supreme flexibility when it comes to changing or cancelling your flights with this innovative airline. It’s also linked to the Pick n Pay shopper card loyalty program, so ticket holders earn rewards whenever they book with Lift.

Uniquely, Lift allows small dogs to travel in a special carry bag under the seat in front of their owner on selected flights.

All passengers enjoy premium coffee while on board while those on evening flights get to sample some fine South African wines.

With Lift you can choose between economy-no baggage and economy flights with free baggage up to 23kg. Premium flights offer extra legroom, double the baggage and unlimited flight changes and credits up to one hour before departure.

Your options summarised

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of what’s on offer from domestic airlines to help you plan and manage your travels:

Airline App Free baggage Priority boarding Rewards Extras
FlySafair Yes No Yes No Purchase lounge access,
Airlink Yes Up to 20kg Only bus class Yes Meals & service dogs
SAA Yes Up to 23kg No Yes Step Up programme
Lift Yes No or 23kg Only Lift Premium Yes Lift Wallet, small dogs allowed in cabin

With so many innovative offerings up for grabs from South Africa’s domestic carriers, it pays to start planning your travels early, so you can take advantage of the extras that appeal to you. It’s the only way to achieve real value for money as fuel prices continue to rise.

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