When you finally sit down to begin planning your next holiday, things become pretty exciting. We know it is a tedious task to figure out your flights and decide which airline is best and why.
Fortunately, South Africa has an array of great, local airlines that are sure to provide you with a pleasant flying experience to mark the beginning of a new adventure.
South African Airways is the largest and most frequently used airline in South Africa. It is one of the oldest in existence, celebrating its 83rd birthday in 2017 and has been rated as a 4-star airline by Skytrax.
SAA is also a member of the Star Alliance group, which is the largest network of international airlines. Serving over 9 million people per year and flying to over 90 destinations worldwide, it is easy to see how this is one the best airlines, of which can guarantee a positive travelling experience.
SAA flies to about 56 different local destinations around South Africa. Using this airline may be more expensive than SAA’s subsidiary airlines, but you are definitely paying for the best travel experience.
British Airways has also been rated as a 4-star airline by Skytrax. Although British Airways is a UK based airline, its franchise is operated by Comair, which has introduced a low-cost airline for domestic flights in and around South Africa.
BA South Africa has a decent fleet of aircraft that are well sized and generally comfortable for short duration flights; also providing complimentary beverages and meals, however, there is no in-flight entertainment.
SA Airlink, simply known as Airlink, is a partner airline to South African Airways and serves as a feeder between larger hubs and smaller towns. It carries over 1.5 million passengers and flies over 46 thousand times a year to 19 countries across Southern Africa.
Although there is no in-flight entertainment, Airlink offers decent meals and beverages and it seems there is consistent satisfaction amongst Airlink customers regarding good customer service and comfort.
Customers must be aware that luggage space is minimal with this airline as their aircraft are generally small, with a maximum capacity of 112 passengers, however, this is usually fine for short trips around South Africa.
It is also interesting to know that SA Airlink takes part in various charities such as “Operation Anti-Freeze”, which aims to help the underprivileged and “GiveITback”, focusing on providing schools with IT labs to afford children easy and greater access to education. So if you are big on social responsibility, you might want to support this airline.
SA Express is another partner airline to SAA, providing low-cost domestic flights to 12 different destinations in South Africa. SA Express has become one of the fastest growing domestic airlines and joined SA Airlink and SAA to form an alliance that has created a leading African Aviation Network.
I looked over a few review websites, such as Tripadvisor and Airline Ratings, and it seems that there are many complaints against the poor levels of customer service. So I would suggest using this airline with knowledge of these complaints.
Although their aircraft are relatively small, carrying a maximum of 74 passengers, SA Express offers complimentary food and drinks, comfortable seating and quality aircraft design.
Passengers must also note that luggage space is minimal and you are only allowed to carry on one (1) piece of luggage that cannot weigh more than 7kg’s.
Kulula is yet another partner airline to SAA, being one of the most well known and most frequently used local airlines. It was also named the best overall, low-cost South African airline by Skytrax.
Kulula has some of the most competitive prices against other local airlines, so it makes sense as to why it is such a popular airline. I have read that Kulula flights are somewhat small and uncomfortable, which can often be expected for those shorter distances but they have, however, they added Boeing 737-800’s to their fleet in an effort to better the space and comfortability of their aircraft as well as to reduce the carbon emissions created by aeroplanes.
Food and beverages can be bought separately, so take a look through their onboard menu; and although there are no movies on the flight, I have found Kulula to be one of those airlines that has a different take on “in-flight entertainment”. During takeoff and landing, you are sure to enjoy a comedic take on those safety announcements we have all heard one too many times.
Mango airlines is another subsidiary of SAA, and only after having launched in 2006, has become one of the most popular and convenient low-cost airlines to use in South Africa.
With 9 planes travelling to 7 destinations, Mango has already been awarded the best on-time performance and was the first airline to sell flights through retail stores, such as Shoprite Checkers.
FlySafair officially launched in 2014 and is a subsidiary of Safair, a leading aviation organisation, which has existed in the industry for about 50 years!
FlySafair has become one of the safest South African airlines and has paved the way for others to follow. It is also a low-cost airline that provides customers with some of the most competitive pricing against other local airlines such as those mentioned above.
As a local airline, FlySafair provides basic comfort and decent service. Food and beverages are an additional cost and there is no in-flight entertainment. However, for short flights, this is a perfect choice.