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Changes & Cancellations

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Travelling During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The South African government has declared it a National Disaster and with almost 5 milion coronavirus cases confirmed world wide, we understand that you are concerned about travelling right now. We hope to offer you reassurance, assistance and useful information regarding your South Africa Travel Online flight bookings below.

If you need further information regarding COVID-19, please visit the government website www.sacoronavirus.co.za.

Lockdown Level 3 and Limited Domestic Travel

We moved down to lockdown level 3 on 1 June 2020 and with it government relaxed regulations for domestic travel and flights. Passengers needing to travel for business can now book a bus or flight to cross province borders.

Domestic flights are only allowed on the so called "golden triangle" route between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

Passengers travelling will need to adhere to new rules, including wearing a mask for the duration of the bus trip or flight. Additionally temperature checks and screening for symptoms will take place and passengers could be denied travel if they don't pass these.

Social distancing will also be adhered to, in the airport only passengers in posession of a valid ticket will be allowed entrance and buses are only operating at 50% capacity to allow for more distance on board. FlySafair is even allowing passengers to pay R750 to book out the middle seat if they are serious about social distancing. The airline said that middle seats will only be booked once all other seats are filled.

All passengers travelling on bus or planes will require a permit in accordance with the Disaster Management Act (s33(4)). This can be acquired by completing the forms or writing an affidavit in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, 2002, as amended, here and here. We have provided the full list of reasons to cross borders as well as the necessary forms required for each.

The alternative to this form is a sworn affidavit which would need to be signed by a magistrates office or a police station. FlySafair's handy tool can help you generate a permit that needs to be signed and stamped by your office. Other airlines also have similar forms that could be completed and signed.

Currently no passenger can be allowed boarding without such a permit.

Please note that government can amend these requirements at any stage and that while we have done our best to ensure that the information provided is accurate, we can't guarantee that we will be able to communicate any possible change to this requirement to you in time. Therefore each passenger has a responsibility to check on requirements with the airline or their travel consultant closer to departure date to ensure that you are meeting the latest requirements. 

Airlines Resuming Operations During Level 3

FlySafairwill resume flights on the 15th of June 2020. SA Airlink plans to launch flights between between Cape Town - Johannesburg and Johannesburg - Durban from the 8th of June 2020. Mango Airlines has announced that they will resume operations between Cape Town - Durban, Johannesburg - Duran and Johannesburg - Cape Town on 15 June 2020.

SAA currently has no plan to resume domestic services in June. Comair, operating British Airways and Kulula flights, will not resume operations at this stage as they have entered business rescue and hope to restart in November.

Buses Resuming Operations During Level 3

Busses are currently only operating at 50% capacity to allow for adequate social distancing, but you can still travel on most domestic routes. Eldo Coaches, APM and Intercape are all operating along with several smaller coach companies. You can find prices and routes available here.

International Travel Slowly Resuming

With the introduction of stringent rules and safety measures, Emirates airlines has re-introduced a limited service to 9 international destinations. These include Sydney, Milan, Franfurt, Chicago, Toronto, Paris among others.

Australia and New Zealand are also talking about a "travel-bubble" that could see travel between the two countries with no 14-day self-quarantine following a flight. Europe is also looking at adopting a similar model, with countries with low infections slowly opening up travel to other EU countries. Strict requirements are in place to ensure that this doesn't result in the spread of the disease though.

Each airline is currently seeking ways to make travel and flights safer for both staff and passengers. While there is currently no uniformity in which measures will apply, it is clear that masks or a face covering that shields both your mouth and nose will be required for the duration of the flight and boarding process.

Slowly Easing Out of Nationwide Lockdown

The government has announced a staged approach to easing out of lockdown. The five level approach could see government slowly easing society back into the new normal. This also allows for more stringent measures to be in place in some areas than in others, depending on how many COVID-19 cases are being recorded.

Unfortunately as we are learning what level 4 starting on 1 May 2020 entails, it has become clear that inter-provincial travel will only be allowed once we reach a lower level.

Current draft regulations suggest that domestic travel might be allowed during level 3 in special circumstances, but unfettered inter-provincial travel will only be allowed during level 2.

FlySafair has said that while they may technically resume domestic flights under the current draft version of level 3, they will wait for demand to pick up and might only consider slowly introcuing a limited schedule during level 2 to meet demand. SAA has said that they are still waiting on clarity from government before making a decision.

International travel will only be allowed once we've eased completely out of lockdown.

And whether you agree with this or not, you have to wear your mask when leaving your house!

Nationwide Shutdown

On the 23rd of March 2020 president Cyril Ramaphosa made the difficult decision to place our country on lockdown, effective from midnight the 26 March 2020. This 21 day period will see South Africans stay at home, work from home where possible and only leave to seek medical help, for social grants and to acquire essential supplies. Some exceptions apply to workers providing essential services. Government will publish a full list of these workers soon.

This Lockdown Rules:

  • No leaving your house - unless for medical assistance, collection of social grants or shopping for essentials.
  • Restrictions on domestic travel - all long-haul bus services and flights are cancelled.
  • No international flights - all international flights are cancelled.
  • South African citizens and residents who arrive from high-risk countries will be placed under quarantine for 14 days.
  • Non-South Africans who arrive on flights from high-risk countries which were prohibited in Ramaphosa’s announcement last week will be turned back.
  • International travellers who arrived in South Africa after March 9 2020 from high-risk countries will be confined to their hotels until they have completed a 14-day period of quarantine.

Most South African domestic airlines have been accommodating and allowing free date changes or travel vouchers, meaning travellers only have to pay the difference in airfare and taxes on a new ticket.

Most international airlines have now adopted a travel voucher system for affected flights that can't be refunded.

Stay safe, stay home and look after yourselves and one another!

Changes & Cancellations

We're here to help you postpone and cancel your flights if you no longer want to travel. We believe holidays are meant to be enjoyed, not stressed about whether you have enough handsanitiser.

Due to the high number of enquiries we're currently dealing with, we have had to prioritise customers travelling within the next 72 hours. Please be sure to contact us telephonically on 087 351 2051 or email us at travel@southafrica.to and follow up with a phone call if you don't hear from us soon enough.

Change and cancellation policies do differ for each booking depending on the airline, travel destination, travel dates and ticket rules. If you want to change or cancel a current booking, please contact your travel consultant to discuss the options currently available. Unfortunately we are restricted to airline policies which most often align with the relevant government policies and travel bans in place at the time.

In most cases the new lenient airline policies are very restrictive, so cancellation and change policies for travel to affected areas generally don't extend to travel beyond the end of the month. You might have to wait a while before postponing or cancelling your holiday in order for the airline to meet you half way.

Travel Insurance

It is times like these where travel insurance is truly proving its worth! If you are purchasing insurance through your travel consultant, please ensure it is a comprehensive policy. If you are relying on the free travel insurance provided by your credit card provider, please contact the insurance company to top-up your policy.

Book Your Next Holiday With Confidence

If you are planning further in advance -hoping to avoid the outbreak - you can purchase yourself peace of mind! Contact our travel consultants to find out about "Voluntary Cancellation Coverage" which would allow you to book with more confidence. This policy needs to be issued immediately after your first payment on the holiday booking, but can provide cover of up to R30 000 for flights and accommodation.

Reliable Resources

The only thing that spreads faster than the virus is the fake news about COVID-19. Please make sure you rely on these official Coronavirus advisory resources for all your coronavirus updates.

Have You Recently Returned from International Travel?

  • Please self-isolate for 14 days if this an option for you, as it stops the spread of the disease in its tracks! This means working from home where possible, online shopping or going to the shops in off-peak periods and as infrequently as possible and rather phoning friends and family than meeting up.
  • If you do show any symptoms (fever, dry cough or difficulty breathing among others) please contact your local health care provider telephonically for further advice on getting tested and treatment if necessary. Do advise them that you have been overseas and provide details, even if it isn't being asked. Don't show up to your GP unannounced and spread the disease to everyone else in the waiting room.
  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol and don't touch your mouth, nose or eyes. You should also wipe down any hard surfaces like phones, laptops and hard case bags as there is no confirmation for how long the virus can survive on hard surfaxes. It is possible to have the disease and spread it without showing any symptoms. However without us spreading the disease, it will have nowhere to go.

What If I Have to Travel Right Now?

Whether it is for work or medical treatment, if you can't cancel or postpone a trip you have to try to see the bright side. Aircrafts have never been this clean and usually crowded spaces like airport and tourist attractions can be enjoyed in relative peace. You can however take the following steps to reduce your risk:

  • Practice good hygiene. This includes the recommended hand washing for at least 20 seconds or use of hand sanitiser. Also try to keep your hands to yourself, don't touch anything unnecessarily. Your aircraft should be cleaner than usual, but it can't hurt to wipe down your screen, tray, belt and armrest with a sanitizing wipe.
  • Avoid crowded places and steer clear of anyone coughing or sneezing as far as possible.
  • Make sure you get enough rest and follow a healthy diet, these form the cornerstone of a healthy immune system.
  • Santise any hard surfaces that might have accidentally come into contact with the virus before touching it again. This includes your phone, laptop and any hardcase luggage and handles.
  • Self-isolate for 14 days on your return as you may carry and spread the disease even if you are asymptomatic.

Disappointed to Have Your Holiday Plans Cancelled?

If the worst you're dealing with at the moment is cancelled holiday plans count yourself lucky and take some inspiration from this creative couple. This is living proof that holiday is just a state of mind!

Plus we'll still be around to help you rebook once it is safe to travel again.

There are so many more things you can do to help reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the disease, but these are a good start. Stay safe and use your time in self isolation wisely.

Category : Flights



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