Xanet Scheepers

By Xanet Scheepers

Digital Lifestyle Editor

Don’t delay Dezemba: Tips to book your year-end holiday flights

With the influx of both local and international travellers gearing up for summer, now is the time to secure your holiday flights for the silly season.

According to data released by Statistics South Africa on Tuesday, there has been a significant increase in both international and domestic tourism numbers.

“Our tourism numbers continue to show a steady upward trajectory. We’re excited to head into summer, which is our peak season,” said Mzilikazi Themba Khumalo, South African Tourism’s Acting Chief Executive Officer in a statement on Wednesday.

Year-to-date, South Africa has received a total of 3.3 million international arrivals. This signals a 165% increase compared to the same period in 2021.   

While this is great for the country’s economy, local travellers could find themselves scrambling for flights as the silly season approaches.

Various airlines were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in planes being grounded and other airlines calling it a day, which means a lot of capacity has been taken out of the air.

South African Airways operates at only about 10% of its routes since it went into business rescue and doesn’t have as many aircraft as before. Comair grounded its British Airways and Kulula flights in May, and Mango is no longer flying. A lot of capacity has been taken out of the air,” said Linden Birns, owner and managing director at Plane Talking.  

Birns said that while remaining airlines FlySafair, Airlink, Cemair and Lift will try to add capacity where they can by using their existing fleets and acquiring additional aircraft where possible, people may still struggle to find tickets – let alone appropriately-priced options.

ALSO SEE: Five camper trips you don’t want to miss this summer

Local travel taking off

Khumalo said more and more South Africans are opting to explore their own country. From January to August 2022, 21.3 million domestic trips were taken. This is a 140% increase compared to the same period in 2021. This is a significant growth of 92% over the 2019 pre-pandemic levels. 

“Domestic spend has seen incredible growth of 190% over 2021 to reach R59.2 billion, with the average domestic tourist spending R2 781 per trip.”

SA still an international traveller’s paradise

While South Africans have started showing their home country some touristy love, international tourists are also still flocking to our sunny country.

International arrivals into South Africa were over half a million, (555 832) in August 2022, a 199% increase when compared to August 2021. Month-to-month, there was a 10% growth in international arrivals, when compared to July 2022.

Khumalo added that Africa and Europe have consistently been the biggest sources of arrivals to South Africa, thus far, 2.5 million arrivals were from the continent, which represents a 75% share. Arrivals from Europe came second with a share of 15%.

ALSO SEE: Zimbali – A ‘Capital’ escape into the tropics

Plan your holiday flights for December

With plane tickets already pretty much costing an arm and a leg, you’ll need every bit of advice you can get to make the most of your December vacay without being broke by 25 December.

9 tips to get the best airline deal for December:

Shafeeka Anthony, Marketing Manager of JustMoney’s first very crucial tip is to calculate what the entire trip will cost you, and check that this falls within your budget, before whipping out your credit card. He cautions travellers to remember that every trip has hidden costs and to always read the fine print.

  • Book your tickets early if you have holiday plans, to avoid capacity constraints.
  • Use flight deal search websites to compare prices and stay incognito while searching. This prevents cookies from accruing, and thus prevents the lowest pricing from being blocked.
  • Be flexible with your travel dates and consider flying during an off-peak day or time.
  • Make the most of rewards programmes and use points built up via your bank or gym membership. Paying with your credit card should ensure you have built-in insurance and can earn more points.
  • Check out budget airlines, but be aware of additional charges for seat selection, meals on board, and luggage. Compare these with a full-service airline.
  • If you plan to travel overseas, check out alternative airports close to your destination. For example, London has not only Heathrow, but also Gatwick, Stansted and London City Airport.
  • Domestic flights tend to be cheaper than international flights that cover the same distance. It could be worthwhile going by rail or bus to cross a border, and from there using a domestic flight.
  • Travel light. Hand luggage is usually free. If you require extra baggage, book online when buying your ticket, as this is cheaper than paying at the airport. Weigh and measure your luggage to ensure it meets airline specifications.
  • Flights with layovers (intermediate stops at airports of up to 23 hours) and stopovers (stops of more than 24 hours between the arrival of one flight and the departure of the next flight) take longer to reach your destination. However, the savings could be worthwhile, and if you extend your stopover by a few days, you can visit an additional country.

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