Flying can be terrifying, especially if it’s your first time. Kirby Gordon, VP Marketing at FlySafair, talks to us about the airline and lets us in on everything we need to know when flying for the first time.
Please tell us more about FlySafair?
FlySafair started selling tickets in July 2014 and took to the skies for the first time in October, so we’re a new airline. That said, we do have a heritage behind us because our parent company, Safair, has been in the aviation game for almost 50 years. Safair’s business has been varied, mostly specialising in cargo work. It also hired out crews and aircraft to many airlines that you know well. However, a few years ago, it expanded into a full-on low cost airline, and so FlySafair was born. We therefore like to call ourselves “the oldest new kid on the block” because while the airline just started operating now, our teams and parent company are seasoned professionals.
We designed our service for South Africans, but we want it to be something accessible to anyone who wants to travel. We have seats with extra legroom if you want to pay a little extra for it; but there’s no business class on our flights. Our service is affordable and we’re all about offering good honest value – so we provide everyday value. We’re proud to say that we’ve been able to transport a good number of people who have never flown before (about 16%), which is awesome; but we’ve also had some local celebs too!
What kind of entertainment do you have on your airline?
The idea behind our airline is to cut the frills to make the tickets as affordable as possible. What you then have to do is pay a bit more for added extras that you’d like to personalise your journey. We currently have a great magazine on board called InFlight – we try to keep the content fresh and edgy, while obviously making sure that it’s locally relevant. We also provide snacks and drinks, and you can talk to the person sitting next to you, too.
Which provinces does FlySafair travel to?
At the moment, we fly to Joburg, PE, Cape Town and George; but we’re working on expanding our routes as fast as we can. Watch this space though, there should be some new route announcements coming soon!
When would be the best time to travel with FlySafair?
The three golden rules for getting the best deal are:
Travel light – You get 7kg carry-on luggage for free and you can buy a 20kg hold bag for R150 – but why not travel light and save if you can?)
Book Ahead – this one is crucial. Airline tickets start out cheap and get more expensive as the flight gets fuller. You’ll get the best deals when you book as early as possible.
Be flexible – with when you travel. Flights on Friday and Sunday evenings tend to fill up fast with business people who are commuting, so even though those start out at the same low fare as all our flights, they tend to look a bit more expensive. So if you can, be flexible and look at flights during the week, especially flights in the afternoon. You can often score a great deal on a midday flight on Tuesday or Thursday, for example.
Please tell us more about your prices; what’s the range?
The first tickets that sell on a flight are the best in terms of price, so booking early is really the key. Our fares start from R499 for a flight from Joburg to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth or George. Flights from Cape Town to George or PE start from R399. That fare includes taxes and a 7kg carry-on suitcase. An extra 20kg suitcase to check into the hold is an extra R150.
Many first time flyers don’t eat before they fly because they believe that they will vomit. How true is this?
People are completely different, but this is not usually an issue, to be honest. The experience of flying or take-off is not that different from being in a car or bus. You’ll go pretty fast on the runway and the plane does tip slightly when you turn around, but it’s not the adrenaline-pumping sort of sensation that people expect it to be at all. People are more likely to be sick as a result of their nerves, if that’s their body’s response to fear – so if you tend to throw up when you’re afraid, and flying does scare you, then maybe it is better to hold back on rich foods, but otherwise you’ll be absolutely fine.
The idea of flying can be frightening, especially if it’s your first time, but it’s quite an incredible experience. Your first take-off and landing can be a little thrilling, but most first time passengers I’ve spoken to found it a little anti-climactic. They expected a huge thrill ride, but it proved to be not so different from being in a vehicle on a Joburg highway!
What advice would you give someone flying for the first time?
Ask questions – things that are unknown are always the scariest, so ask about the experience in order to know what to expect at every step. Speak to a friend, colleague or family member and ask them to tell you about their experiences, or even call our call centre and ask any question you might have. We make sure all our staff have been on a flight so that they can talk to first time fliers from their own experience.
Get to the airport a little early – Check-in counters close 40 minutes before departure, but if it’s your first time flying then plan to get to the airport a little earlier. That way you can get through the security and find your gate without feeling rushed or stressed. There are also big windows at the airport where you can see the planes coming and going and the smooth motion can be quite reassuring. There’s plenty to do at the airport too, so make the most of the experience and take some time to have something to drink at one of the restaurants and just let yourself adjust.
Tell us it’s your first time – At FlySafair, we love first time passengers and our crew are trained to help them by offering good advice and making sure they are comfortable on board. When you board the plane, you’ll be greeted by our cabin crew – let them know you are flying for the first time and they will take great care of you.
Try to relax – it’s such an easy thing to say and such a hard thing to do, but the most painful thing about a flight is likely to be your own nervousness. Try to keep calm and remember that air travel is actually one of the safest forms of transport in the world. Some people relax by breathing deeply; others by counting down from a 100 in their heads. Do whatever works for you.