Mango debacle: Should you book your SA flights in advance?
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The South African aviation industry is volatile at the moment, and much has to do with the regular restrictions imposed due to Covid-19.
Mango Airlines, a beloved low-cost carrier, is the latest airline to have its flights suspended. As a result, hundreds of passengers were left stranded at airports and had to make alternative arrangements.
The airline's acting CEO, William Ndlovu, said in a statement on Monday that the reason for the suspension was due to outstanding payments to Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS).
"We can confirm that our services and all flights are temporarily suspended from today, 27 July 2021, until further notice due to outstanding payments to ATNS," Ndlovu said.
Reuters reported on Monday that Mango will enter into a local form of bankruptcy protection known as a business rescue.
Comair also recently suspended their Kulula and British Airways flights due to the Covid-19 restrictions. The airline is set to resume operations in September.
And, despite South African Airways being optimistic about its future, the airline was dealt a bad hand for years, which left many loyal passengers looking for option B.
While the majority of the airlines in South Africa are running promptly and efficiently despite the challenges thrown at them, travellers should be wary when booking their next flight.
As tempting as it sounds to book your flight in advance (it is cheaper due to low demand), playing the waiting game can be beneficial should further restrictions or other airline challenges arise.
If you are booking in advance, ensure that you have the flexibility to cancel or change their bookings.
According to a Flight Centre survey conducted this year by 7 978 respondents, the price has no longer been the most significant factor of consideration for South Africans, it was the flexibility to cancel or change their booking without paying penalties.
Around 31% of respondents reported that they won't book a trip unless they know they can cancel or postpone it easily and get their money back, while 21% said they would like to travel but were hesitant with all the complexities.
Airlines often issue vouchers valid for a certain period of time should they have set back with operations. Refunds are issued in some cases.
If you have booked your trip, call a day or two in advance to confirm the flight. Inform the airline to keep you informed of any new developments and the flight status. While SMSs are sent to travellers informing them of any changes, calling to inquire is just as important.
It also gives you time to think of Plan B if cancelling your flight is non-negotiable.