For most companies, the cost of business-related flight travel is one of their major expenses. To save money on the fees charged by travel agencies, many businesses opt for making their own bookings online.
Flysaa.com is probably the most frequently used airline website in South Africa. With the largest fleet of planes, it is capable of offering numerous flight options at consistently reasonable prices. The online booking procedure has been streamlined and one can search for a flight and complete the booking in around five minutes. The e-mail confirmation is then sent to you almost instantaneously.
The initial airfare excludes taxes which are only calculated once you proceed with the booking. Online fares are constantly changing and a flight that you booked today will almost always be more expensive if booked at a later date or even later the same day.
The site also has additional features such as requesting a computer-generated tax invoice which reflects the VAT number of your company. For most bookings, one can also pre-select a seat online – however, from my own experience, these are not always guaranteed and early check-in is probably a better bet of securing your favourite window seat.
Changes to bookings cannot be made online however, and this entails contacting SAA telephonically. Getting through to their call centre can take a while during busy periods and surviving what I call “the creepy cow giving birth telephone music” is also a test of patience. Changes are not free of charge and will depend on what type of ticket class you originally purchased - sometimes the charge to make an amendment is more than the cost of the original ticket itself! As last minute changes to business trips are a regular occurrence, this is one of the unavoidable aspects of booking online.
Another downside to booking online with flysaa.com is their extremely strict policies regarding sponsored bookings. A sponsored booking is one made on behalf of a traveller who is not the holder of the credit card used for the purchase. Hence, the credit card is not present at the time of check-in. Whilst SAA have obviously implemented such procedures to minimise credit card fraud, it can end up turning into a bit of an administrative nightmare: If any changes are made to a sponsored ticket, the procedure involves the completion of a special form which needs to be faxed to SAA along with the credit card holder’s ID, as well as the back and front of the card in question. Unfortunately one cannot just fax the form to SAA and hope that they will receive it. As many of the faxes go astray, a follow-up call is always necessary to confirm receipt. Under no circumstances will SAA allow such a passenger to check-in if the above requirements have not been met. Our company has learnt the hard way with more than one traveller being refused onto a flight for this reason.
Online tickets can also be moved to a later date completely. This needs to be done prior to when the ticket was originally booked for. Once again, a cost is involved and one would need to contact SAA telephonically to arrange this. Tickets are valid for up to 6 months from the original date of purchase.
For those who do not use flysaa.com regularly, their website links may cause some confusion. One can use any of the following links to book on flysaa.com:
These all take you to an identical online booking system and have clearly been created to ensure that the large volumes of internet traffic can be accommodated at any given time.
The flysaa.com website is very rarely offline and its advanced features and efficient processing make it tops on my list of online travel sites.