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BA Durban flight
29 Mar 2012
We went down on our knees to make sure we didn't pay pay fines for our Comair BA flight to Durban (not to pray or beg, but to repack luggage!).
Sod's law - the day after we booked our Kulula flight to Johannesburg they announced their "here's to 2012" flight special! To ease the pain we used the Kulula special to book a holiday flight with BA to Durban...and we didn't pay anything for either flight anyway, as we'd built up enough moolah on our Kulula credit cards :) We haven't been in Durban for a while, and look forward to doing the travel review (on the 29th March 2012).
The trick to booking British Airways flights on Kulula specials, is to look for the flight codes with 4 numbers in them - these are actually BA Comair flights (e.g. we booked on MN6309, which is the same flight as BA6309) - it's often cheaper to book BA flights on the Kulula website.
Our check-in reminded me of checking in with the Ryanair in the UK, who are notorious for charging extra for everything, and like Comair/BA/Kulula, they have strict luggage restrictions. As we had booked our British Airways flight through the Kulula website, we queued at the Kulula check-in. Happily there wasn't much of a queue, but the Kulula check-in employee told us he couldn't process BA flights, and moved us onward to a different Kulula counter. Happily not much of a queue there either, but that is about where the good news ends.
Regular readers know that we are big Kulula fans, with my partner & I both having Kulula credit cards to collect bounty points. My wife and I had each bought our tickets separately, so that we could each use the Kulula moolah we'd generated on our credit cards (there's no way of doing it otherwise on the Kulula system, and if you don't book flights regularly your moolah expires). The check-in lady was quite surly about the fact that we'd done it like this, and made it clear that it was a mission for her to get us seated together. Lesson learnt is that next time we'll include a note on our booking to seat us together.
In stark contrast to the surly check-in lady working with us, there was a super-friendly Kulula staff member who was entertaining our son. I must also tip my hat to our porter, who entertained our kids whilst all the drama unfolded.
I don't have a problem with BA/Kulula's weight rules, and have written this part not to chew out BA/Kulula, but to inform readers so they can learn from our experience.
You see, there were 4 of us flying, 2 with Kulula credit cards (which gets you extra luggage allowances), and in aggregate we hadn't used up even half our allowable limits, but we hadn't spread it out amongst our suitcases enough, and had made the mistake of concentrating our luggage in one suitcase, and then by checking through the light suitcase first had lost the opportunity to balance the luggage amongst our suitcases.
We had 2 bags, one weighing 10kg and the other 32.8k. The 10kg bag was quickly checked in, but we were told to pay R280 as the 32.8kg bag was over the maximum for one piece of luggage. I opened the bag and removed some luggage & shifted it to my backpack, and it was now under 32kg. Then we were told that actually no single piece could be over 23kg, and we still had to pay a penalty. When I countered that we were 4 people with 40kg of luggage in total and a total luggage allowance of 100kg, we were told we should have spread the weight better amongst our bags. The problem was our light bag had already been checked through, so we couldn't shift luggage into it. I then argued that as Kulula credit card holders we were entitled to extra weight - after some phone calls, our check-in assistant told us that if we reduce the weight to below 28kg they'd let us through. More rearranging, and with stuffed backpacks we eventually got through without paying.
Meals on board were Macoroni & cheese or chicken lasagne, and the tone was set when an announcement was made that there were limited supplies, so they apologise upfront if you couldn't get the meal of your choice. I was sitting 4 rows from the back of the plane (the back gets served last), and was praying that the macoroni & cheese wouldn't run out, as I'm vegetarian...happily, the higher powers were listening & a little while later we were all munching on our mac & cheese. I was surprised to see the Woolworths sign on it, as I'd thought that BA Comair had changed to in-house catering from the 15th March.
kulula.com computer generated copy tax invoice