Recently we started a new project at work which included a couple of domestic flights. Naturally, I was over the moon because I love any form of flying, except sky diving. That’s a solid no from me. It was only then that I realised how little domestic flights I have under my belt! Apparently South Africa is just a very “driveable” country!
With a few domestic flights coming up it got me thinking! We all pretend to know everything about anything but secretly only a few of us really do! I know all the requirements for an international flight. What time to be there, what’s going to get you kicked off the plane or what airline has the best (ish) food! Domestic flights on the other hand, I shamefully had to google a few things just to make 100% sure!
I know there are others, whether you are going to publicly admit it or not! Luckily, you are not alone and I have been taking ample notes! So if it’s your first flight coming up or just your first flight since the spice girls were a thing, I’ve got you covered!
Do pack light
You are allowed 7KG’s as hand luggage plus a laptop bag! This is more than enough for a weekend getaway, a trip home or a mini beach break! You don’t have to stress about checking in a bag and you can head straight for the exit when you arrive. Many domestic airlines are low cost because of this and you will need to pay extra for check-in luggage.
George international that is smaller than most malls
Do check-in online
You can do this 24 hours before your flight! You will normally be notified by the airline (Kulula send an SMS). What exactly is the point of online check-in you ask?? This just means that you can arrive at the airport, go straight to any self-service machine, print your boarding pass and go through to your boarding gate. AKA eliminating unnecessary queues that no one needs in their life!
Do pack liquids
They not nearly as strict as international flights. We flew to Durban for the weekend and the only thing I packed (hand luggage) was toothpaste, as it was the only liquid I had under 100ml! Our accommodation had soap at least, but I now appreciate shampoo and face cream so much more! There are restrictions don’t get me wrong but you wouldn’t be the first person to get liquids over 100ml on a domestic flight. I am definitely not promoting you take all the liquids you own but if you need shampoo, take shampoo!
Do book your trip all together
Normally the airlines have some buddies such as car rentals or accommodation! If you book a flight and use your reference when booking a car or accommodation you will often get around 20% discount!
Do anticipate flight delays
As airlines have a small window to turn planes around they have a bigger window for delays! One small problem and the flight will be delayed. Try not to plan any life changing events around domestic flights and you will be ok.
Don’t expect food on the plane
Your flight is usually no more than 2.5 hours so you can generally survive it without a snack. The only domestic airlines that will give you food is South African Airways (SAA) and it’s only free because you had to sell your kidney to afford a flight with them! All airlines have cool drink, adult beverages and some over-priced snacks they come around selling (cash only). Word on the street is that Kulula will be offering card payments soon. Don’t be shy to bring along your own snacks.
Don’t expect your phone to work during a domestic flight
South Africa is pretty connected but when you’re flying at 39000 feet not much else besides the plane is going to work up there. Your phone will work until just after your flight has taken off. Mango is the only domestic airline promoting in-flight WiFi. The catch is that out of the 8 Boeing aircraft’s they have only 6 have WiFi. They can’t guarantee you will be on the flight that has WiFi. You are also required to buy vouchers beforehand. My trick is that I make sure I have a few pages such as my blog loaded already so that I can type away and then save when we land. Then again it’s barely a 2 hour flight you will survive without your phone.
Airlink flight to Upington
Don’t underestimate domestic flights
The first flight I took for work I was over prepared. I arrived extra early, checked-in online and made enough photo copies to make an environmentalist cry. I soon realised this was all unnecessary. The next flight I didn’t have a care in the world! We just made it to check-in, I couldn’t even check-in my big bag as it was too late. We had to jump the security queues and sprint to the boarding gate where they were only waiting for us. You know you’re late when they dedicate a last boarding call specifically at you. Out of all the flights involved in our project at least 5 were missed because people were late. Things go much quicker with domestic flights as turnaround time is crucial. Flysafair wasn’t voted the most on time domestic airline in the world for nothing!
Don’t forget your I.D/Driver’s license
You won’t need a passport for domestic flights. I appreciate a stamp in my passport as much as the next person but as you not leaving the country it’s not necessary. What you will need is proof of identification such as your I.D or driver’s license. Even if you check-in online you will need it. You will use it all the way through to boarding the plane, so keep it in a handy place.
Badly taken photo before boarding a Kulula flight to Durban
South African domestic airlines
The TravelBug 🙂