Level three restrictions in the middle of the December holiday season came as an unwelcome, albeit not altogether unexpected, surprise on 28 December. So, what happens to your existing travel plans under level 3?
Revised domestic air travel regulations
On 29 December, the Ministry of Transport announced the latest batch of regulations compliant with level 3 restrictions. These are:
- Flights may only take off and land between 8am and 8pm.
- Airports may open earlier and stay open later to process passengers.
- Travel to areas identified as hotspots is discouraged but not banned.
- South Africa’s international borders remain open.
- Face masks must be worn at all times, everywhere.
- You don’t need a permit for inter-provincial travel.
- Passengers with legitimate and relevant boarding passes or passport stamps won’t be penalised for necessary activities outside of curfew hours.
- No transport of alcohol is allowed.
Due to these regulations, domestic carriers have had to adjust their flight schedules, onboard catering, and inflight services.
It’s important to note that some airlines have cancelled or rescheduled flights in order to comply.
Changes to flight schedules
Across the board, airlines have had to cancel all flights previously scheduled before 8am or after 8pm. Most other flight times remain unchanged.
These are the specifics for each domestic carrier:
Airlink is adjusting its existing schedule to comply with level 3 regulations by rescheduling their flights.
Until 15 January, all flights due to depart before 8am will take off as close to 8am as possible. All flights after 8pm have been moved earlier so they can land as close to 8pm as possible.
These changes will be communicated to the relevant passengers or you can check your tickets online for new departure and arrival times. You can also change your flight manually on the airline’s website with the ‘Manage my Booking’ tab.
FlySafair will inform passengers of any adjustments via email or telephone. They can also check the status of their flights online or keep tabs on the airline’s social media pages if preferred.
FlySafair is also easing penalties and restrictions for customers who change their flight dates or cancel their trips. If changing your dates, you’ll only ned to pay the difference between the two air fares. Customers can also convert existing bookings into a voucher for future use if preferred.
Kulula has adjusted their flight schedule to comply with the new curfew times. Airline booking agents will advise affected customers of their new flight times via telephone or email.
If you’d rather book a new flight, you should contact the airline directly to make the change.
South Africa’s newest domestic carrier, Lift Airlines
, has had a baptism of fire but they’re on board with the new regulations too.
Lift is currently reviewing its schedule to accommodate passengers as closely to their original flight times as possible. If you’ve booked with Lift outside of curfew hours, you’ll receive an SMS with your new flight times.
In addition, all food and beverage services are suspended until further notice.
Hard hit by the move back to level 3, airlines have been scrambling to limit the inconvenience to passengers caused by the rescheduling of domestic flights South Africa. Most local airlines have been quick to communicate these operational changes on various social media platforms and respective mobile apps with affected customers being accommodated on alternative flights.