(Image provided by LIFT)
- LIFT, the South African airline which is not even a year old, has launched its premium offer.
- This version of business class allows passengers to travel with more baggage and benefit from a locked central seat.
- But competition in the domestic market is fierce, as the airline tries to shake off the pandemic blues and strengthen its positions ahead of the national carrier’s return.
- For more stories, visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
South Africa’s newest airline, LIFT, is the latest to introduce a premium section – its versions of a business class – on board its flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
LIFT, which made its maiden flight less than ten months ago, has weathered the turbulence induced by the pandemic. The airline has grounded its planes throughout July due to lockdown restrictions restricting travel in and out of Gauteng.
Prior to the July suspension, LIFT had already carried over 150,000 passengers with a 97% punctuality rate and became the first national airline to introduce pet-friendly flights.
Today, a month after resuming its schedule between OR Tambo in Johannesburg and Cape Town International, the airline launched its premium service to compete with the business class advantages offered by its competitors.
The launch follows FlySafair’s enhanced business class offering – which now automatically comes with an empty central seat – and ahead of the long-awaited return of South African Airways (SAA).
The low cost flights offered by Kulula, which only resumed operations on Wednesday after a three-month standstill, and FlySafair further illustrated the state of competition within the South African airline industry.
Here’s how the benefits and fares of premium or business class offers from domestic airlines compare.
Price comparison: Cheapest one-way flight offered between October 13 and 20, 2021, from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Prices collected on the airlines online booking platform, correct at time of publication (September 2, 2021)
The latest airline to introduce a premium offering, LIFT describes the addition as “ideal for business and frequent flyers.” The first three rows of LIFT’s Airbus A320s have been reconfigured to accommodate this new premium section, which offers more space – described by the airline as “prominent legroom” – and additional luggage.
The middle seat is automatically locked and converted to an additional tray table, with premium travelers having the choice of a reclining aisle or a window seat.
A premium ticket also allows passengers to carry two 7 kg hand bags, two 23 kg checked bags and additional space for “special” baggage, such as sports equipment.
A dedicated check-in area at the gate, lounge access and priority boarding are all included in the premium LIFT offer. Passengers also benefit from unlimited changes to their flights without penalty charges. Onboard refreshments and a voucher for Vida – who handles onboard catering – are also included.
Reservations for LIFT premium are open, but flights with the service will not work until October 11.
FlySafair recently replaced its premium offering with a business class, the main difference being that the latter now includes a central seat blocked in the price. Beyond that, the seating arrangement remains the same, with legroom only being increased by reserving a preselected seat in the row of emergency exits.
The biggest advantage of FlySafair’s business class offering is its additional baggage allowances. Business class passengers can take one 7 kg bag on board as hand luggage, along with two 23 kg checked bags. “Special equipment” up to 32 kg is also included.
Unlimited free flight changes, priority boarding and a pre-booked seat are also part of FlySafair’s business class.
Kulula offers three different fare options – Fly Light, Pack & Go and Fully Loaded – leaving the business class category to its partner Comair, British Airways. The Full Loaded offer is the closest comparable business class fare offered by Kulula and, as the name suggests, focuses exclusively on accommodating additional baggage.
While passengers will still be seated in economy class – with no locked center seat and no additional legroom beyond the emergency exit row – fully loaded tickets allow two checked bags weighing up to 20 kg and one piece of luggage. hand up to 7 kg.
Priority boarding and unlimited flight changes are included.
British Airways, operated nationally by Comair, offers a business class package that includes seating in the slightly larger Club cabin.
Passengers are still limited to one piece of hand baggage weighing up to 7 kg, but can check in two pieces of baggage weighing up to 32 kg. Priority boarding and access to the dedicated business lounge are included. Unlimited free flight changes are also offered, but this is also included in an economy class ticket, so not a big plus for British Airways business class.
South African Airlines
SAA is scheduled to take off on September 23 and has already started taking reservations, despite an unfinished sales agreement which remains critical for the return of the national carrier in difficulty. A lean SAA – operating flights to just seven destinations, including one nationwide between Johannesburg and Cape Town – offers two business class fares, with the premium offering waiving reimbursement fees.
Judging by SAA’s business class offering ahead of its grounding in March 2020, passengers on domestic flights can expect additional legroom with legrests and multiple charging points for laptops and phones. portable.
Priority boarding and check-in is included, with access to the airport lounge. Passengers will be allowed to board with two pieces of hand baggage not exceeding 8 kg each and to check in two pieces of baggage exceeding 32 kg per piece.