FLIGHT REVIEW: FlySafair: Durban - Johannesburg
FlySafair is a South African budget airline based at the O.R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg. This was my second flight with the airline, the first was just three days earlier - from Cape Town to Durban. Both flights had been booked in advance by my host - South African Tourism. So, it probably didn't cost them an arm and a leg.
I had known or, at least, heard that FlySafair was an efficient and a reliable low-cost carrier, having won several awards, including the 'Best Low-Cost Airline in Africa' at the 2022 Skytrax World Airline Awards. So, when opportunities to fly with the airline came, hot on the heels of their latest award, I took them with both hands. And for some reasons, I chose to review my second flight, but that takes nothing away from the first flight, which was also great.
Flight Date: 19 October, 2022
Route: Durban (DUR) - Johannesburg (JNB)
Flight number: FA273
Equipment: Boeing 737-800NG
Scheduled departure time: 13:25
Actual departure time: 13:27
Scheduled arrival time: 14:35
Actual arrival time: 14:16
Flight time: 41 minutes
FlySafair has a user-friendly mobile app which offers easy navigation through the menu. Check-in for FlySafair's flights can be done online 24 hours before the scheduled departure time for your flight. So, the night before my flight, I checked in online in the comfort of my hotel room, and downloaded my boarding pass on my phone. It was very easy and convenient.
I arrived the King Shaka International Airport, Durban at about 11am - more than 2 hours before the scheduled departure time of 1:25pm. And since I had already checked in online and selected my seat in advance, I only needed to check in my bag and collect the paper boarding pass. I was travelling with only one checked in luggage which weighed 17kg, so I was good to go.
One of the most beautiful pecks about flying with FlySafair is that even the airline’s standard fare offers passengers one free hand luggage of up to 7kg and one checked bag weighing up to 20kg. Not many low-cost carriers are that generous. Anyway, bag drop off was fast and without issues. And with that, I was off to security which also turned out to be hassle-free.
FlySafair offers three classes of fares: Light Fare, Standard Fare, and Premium Fare. My ticket was a Standard Fare which offered me a hand luggage of up to 7kg as well as one checked bag of 20kg. If possible, it is recommended you precheck the weights of your hand luggage and your checked bags even before you arrive at the airport. Charges for excess luggage can be very expensive, and you don't want to have to deal with that.
If you are a heavy traveller, you should buy a Premium Fare ticket. In addition to one free carry-on or hand luggage up to 7kg, Premium Fare offers passengers two checked bags of 23kg each. With both Standard Fare and Premium Fare, you are entitled to advanced seat selection as well as priority boarding.
If you are travelling light, you should go for the Light Fare which offers you one free carry-on bag of up to 7kg. One checked bag will cost you up to R250, depending on whether you purchase it online or over the airport counter.
With check-in and security clearance done in a jiffy, I had so much time to while away. And since there was nothing I could do to kill time, the wait for boarding was long and almost boring. But finally, the first boarding announcement was made at about 12:55pm, to my relief. And our boarding gate was A10.
To ensure a quick turnaround time and to minimize contact, FlySafair boards, when possible, via both the front and the rear doors of the aircraft. On this flight, passengers in rows 1 to 16 boarded via the front door while those in rows 17 and above boarded via the rear door. I boarded via the rear door.
On stepping onto the aircraft, a Flight Attendant greeted us with warmth and a friendly smile. And it wasn't difficult to locate my seat. Having stowed my carry-on, I quickly settled in and eagerly awaited push back. The entire boarding process was orderly, well-coordinated, and quick.
Over the aircraft PA came the usual sonorous and reassuring voice from the flight deck. The voice was firm, and the Captain was professional and courteous. He greeted the passengers and announced that the flight was going to be a smooth sale all the way to Johannesburg. That announcement came as a huge relief after a turbulent flight four days earlier.
The Aircraft and the Seat
Our ride was ZS-ZWV, a Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft. The aircraft was seemingly in good shape and spotted a relatively modern interior. As with most budget airlines, FlySafair's Boeing 737-800NGs have an all-economy class configuration with a total of 189 seats. The seats offer 30 inches of pitch and 17 inches of seat width (as per seatguru.com).
My seat was 19F. While checking in online, I had deliberately chosen seat 19F for a special reason. It was a window seat and it was available. As with every seat on the aircraft, my seat was not reclinable (this is now a common practice among low-cost carriers). Although not reclinable, the seat was ergonomic enough to ensure a comfortable flight.
Well, as with almost all domestic low-cost carriers across the world, FlySafair does not offer complementary in-flight meals, neither does it offer in-flight entertainment on individual seatback screens. However, the airline offers snacks and drinks for purchase onboard, and so it was on this flight. But I didn't make any purchases onboard. So, I can't say what the experience is, especially with pricing and menu.
The aircraft that operated our flight had no in-flight-entertainment system, neither did it have inflight wi-fi, nor in-flight magazine. I imagine that this is the case with all FlySafair's operating aircraft. In fairness, I didn't expect the aircraft to have all those amenities, so I wasn't disappointed.
We pushed back at around 1:20pm and made our way to the runway for takeoff. In the absence of an in-flight entertainment system, the window seat came to my rescue. My eyes were practically glued to the aircraft window as I keenly watched from pushback to landing and everything in-between.
I enjoyed watching as the aircraft taxied to the runway, as the engines roared to life, and as it rattled down the runway. I enjoyed watching as, following a beautiful takeoff roll, the metal bird lifted off from the ground at 1:27pm and made a scenic left banking over the Indian Ocean.
I watched as the Boeing 737 broke into the clouds with ease, and as it cruised turbulence-free at 36,000 feet above sea level, and as it decorated the sky with her contrails. And I watched as it began its initial descent and final approach, in preparation for landing.
And finally, I watched, in admiration, as the aircraft gracefully touched down at the O.R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg at exactly 14:16. My eyes must have been glued to the aircraft’s window for the entire duration of the flight. And my neck must have tightened in painful revolt. But it was all worth it.
From takeoff to landing, Flight FA273 went very well. It was everything the captain had said it would be. Deboarding was also via both the front and the rear doors of the aircraft. And it was quick and orderly.
As I mentioned earlier, this was my second time flying with FlySafair, the first was just three days earlier, from Cape Town to Durban. I knew FlySafair was a low-cost carrier, and I knew what to expect. But my expectations were met, some of them were even surpassed by a significant margin.
From check-in to landing, the entire flight was handled professionally, and the flight crew went extra miles to make sure we were comfortable. Among other things, punctuality was very outstanding. Overall, I score the flight 90%. And I will totally fly with FlySafair again.
If you are looking for a pocket-friendly way to fly within South Africa, look no further than FlySafair. The airline perfectly combines affordability, punctuality, and safety. I recommend FlySafair without any reservations.
Check in: 92%
Seat comfort: 85%
Flight Crew: 90%
In-flight service: 80%
The flight: 92%
Cabin cleanliness: 88%