When travelling to South Africa or anywhere around world we understand that it can be time consuming looking for flights, trying to find the best and lowest price, the least amount of time waiting in the airport and the most direct flight. Here at Umdende Hunting Safaris we would like to make your planning a bit easier so here are few important tips to know before booking your flight
Booking the best flight at the lowest price
Flight journeys are the fastest and the most convenient means of travelling to any destination across the globe. However, flight journeys are usually an expensive affair and not meant for everyone’s budget. However, with the increase of low cost flight companies online, it is easy to book a cheaper flight at much lower prices than regular flights. Here are a few tips from our Travel agent on how to book the best flight at the lowest price:
- While looking for flights online, you will often find that the prices increase after searching it a few times in your web browser. Most of the time flight prices are deliberately increased on the basis of cookies on your browser. Therefore, it is advisable to book for flights in “private browsing mode” to see the lowest prices.
- Use a flight booking portal, when searching for flights. This saves you a lot of time. What is a booking portal, this is a internet booking engine that allows a customer to specify their travel requirements such as city of departure, destination, departure date, return date and class of travel. Once this information is received, the IBE will offer a list of available air tickets, hotels and excursions which the customer can then book.
|Example of a Booking portal|
- There are many theories regarding booking your flights on specific days, but it is advised to quickly look for the prices of the whole month and see if there are any specific specials for your route.
- As said above there are theories in booking flights on different days. Book on Tuesday, Wednesday or Sunday but make sure you fly on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the best prices and least layovers.
- Low cost airlines make it possible to enjoy flight journeys at cheaper prices than its full-service counterparts. You might have to compromise a little here and there, but your journey will be completed in the same duration at much lower prices.
Tips on Booking flights
There are many factors to consider while booking flight tickets, but the top priority is getting a comfortable seat, without having to pay an arm and a leg for your ticket. If you act smart, this can be done easily! Here are a few tips from us to book yourself the most comfortable seat at the best price:
- Book your flight well in advance, for this will ensure you are the first in line to get a better seat if there are available.
- When checking the air tickets make sure to know all the details about the flight. Some flights have expensive seats that are not luxurious and others will be cheaper and be far more luxurious. Make sure you get what you pay for!
- Looking at reviews of previous clients will make picking the most comfortable seat easier.
- Make sure you check into your flight 24hrs in advance
- Make sure your ticket is flexible
When booking your flights online or through an agent, you have to be very careful! If you purchase separate tickets, you don’t have any protection, as there are two separate contracts, so you have to present yourself on time at check in, bag drop and boarding
for the flight on the other ticket. You are carrying AL the risk of not making those deadlines, and if you do miss them for any reason (including a delay on the inbound flight) you ‘d be classed as a no show, unless you have the most expensive fully flexible ticket, your ticket will be cancelled. Not only will you miss the flight but you would have to buy a new ticket at the walk-up fare, which will likely be much more expensive than the one you just lost. And note that if your ticket is cancelled that applies to all remaining flights on that ticket. If you have a return or multi-city ticket, it's not just the one flight you would lose it's all of them. You can't 'make good' by just buying a single fare and using your return or intermediate portions later, because when you miss the outbound, the return and any other flights are automatically cancelled. In regards to your luggage if booking separate tickets the following will happen
- Your luggage will normally not be checked through, meaning you will have to collect it at the intermediate airport and take it yourself to the other airline’s check in desk (which may be in another terminal).
- If the first ticket is an international flight you would need to clear immigration and customs at the intermediate airport in order to collect your bags.
- You will also need entry clearance for the country where you switch tickets, possibly including a visa. Even if you have carry-on bags only, the first airline will check for entry clearance as that is the final destination on their ticket, and if they’re not satisfied you could be denied boarding for your first flight.
- Finally, if there is a schedule change on either ticket that means you don’t have enough time to change flights, you would be on your own and have to change at least one of the flights yourself.
Visa and Travel Documents
Most Foreigners (USA/Germany/Austria) who wish to visit South Africa DO NOT need a visa, however they must have passports / travel documents valid for thirty (30) more days after the intended return date from South Africa. The passport must contain at least two (2) unused (blank) pages labelled Visa when entering South Africa.
Some Nationalities do need a Visa, which needs to be applied before in the country they reside.
South African Customs regulations allow visitors into the country to bring in certain goods without incurring duties and value added tax (VAT). These are limited in quantity and value. On arrival, you can take the green ‘nothing to declare' channel if you stick to these allowances:
- Personal effects
- New or used goods not exceeding R3 000 (additional goods, new or used, exceeding R12 000 will incur a duty charge of 20%)
- Wine not exceeding 2 litres per person over the age of 18
- Spirits and alcohol not exceeding 1 litre per person over the age of 18
- Cigarettes not exceeding 200 units and cigars not exceeding 20 units per person over the age of 18
- 250g cigarette tobacco or pipe tobacco per person over the age of 18
- Perfume not exceeding 50ml and eau de toilette not exceeding 250ml per person
If you have goods in excess of these allowances, take the red channel and declare your items. Here you will be billed at the applicable rates by representatives of South African Customs. If you are importing for business and commercial intent, you will not qualify for these allowances, other than that relating to personal effects.
Customs in South Africa further stipulates that individual travellers are entitled to a duty-free allowance of R5 000 per person, where no duties or VAT apply. These allowances may not be pooled and only apply on a per person basis.
Airlines of choice
Umdende Hunting Safaris would recommend picking a flight as direct as possible. Delta Airlines flies directly between Johannesburg and Atlanta, New York and Washington DC. This can sometimes mean that it is direct but with a short stop (no change of planes though), for refueling. A security check is done before each departure. Flying direct saves you not only time but also money and you will have a lot more energy left when you fly straight to your destination, than to get off and on to two or three planes from leaving home until you reach your destination. Layovers at each airport can be up to 48hours. Sitting around in the airport, staying awake, spending money, eating… This will work out more expensive than rather to pick the direct flight. If your budget does not allow for a direct flight and you have to have a layover we recommend that you have a look at the layover times, don’t give yourself too little time as you might miss your connecting flight if your flight is delayed for any reason and then you will have to wait even longer and maybe even up to 24hrs for the next flight. So have at least a 3-4hr layover.
Another good airline which Umdende Hunting Safaris recommends is to South African Airlines. SAA serves around 26 locations worldwide from its Johannesburg hub. SAA is our preferred airline as it has the biggest direction network. If you come from Asia, Singapore is the hub of South East Asia and travelers from this vicinity can easily get entry to South Africa via Singapore airways. This airline flies to over 65 destinations in Asia, South Africa and the central east. Coming from Australia or New Zealand, SAA fly from Sydney and Perth to Johannesburg. Even if you come from the South, SAA will be able to fly you from Sao Paulo straight to South Africa. When it comes to making plans for your African Adventure, SAA is the best option!!
Travelling with Children-
Please this is extremely important when travelling with Children under the age of 18. Under the new law, all minors under the age of 18 years are required to produce, in addition to their passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when exiting and entering South African ports of entry. It is the responsibility of passengers to ensure their children have the correct documentation or risk being denied boarding. The new law is being enforced by airlines and immigration officials across the board (land, sea and air). Although airlines and travel agents are doing everything to keep passengers informed, ultimately it is the passengers’ responsibility to know what is required of them. In all cases an Unabridged Birth Certificate is required for minors departing and arriving in South Africa ... they are not allowed to travel without it.
In cases where the Unabridged Birth Certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.
Non-South African Citizens travelling to SA:
Will still be required to submit an original birth certificate and, as necessary, parental consent or certified copies during the visa application process.
For visa-exempt countries a strong advisory has been issued, with travellers advised to have proof of relationship and consent from the absent parent/s or guardian/s, in case they are asked to provide such on arrival. It has been recommended by the US Embassy that US citizens (and other visa-free travellers) should carry an authorisation letter that is notarised. You may not be asked for this but in the meantime it seems like the best possible insurance against complications at the border.
When a child is travelling alone to South Africa the child must carry a letter from the person that will be receiving them in South Africa, containing the person’s address and contact details, as well as a copy of the host’s identity document or passport (in this case it is probable that no birth certificate will be required)
Umdende Hunting Safaris highly recommends Renate Meyer as the best agent to book your tickets with. She will make sure you have a good seat and a ticket worth your money. We make use of her travel services all the time and have become great friends with her. You can contact her via email on Amakhosi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch out for our next blog which goes more into detail about connection times,electricity and what clothes to pack