If you are traveling across South Africa, you could take a road trip. If you don’t have the time (or road trips are not your thing), you may want to fly. If you’re on a budget, you’re likely to look at South Africa’s discount airlines like Kulula, FlySafair, or Mango Airlines.
We booked a return flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg with Mango Airlines.
Mango Air is a no-frills discount airline, (similar to Jet Air in the USA). What that means is that they take you from point A to point B. They may offer snacks and drinks, but these will be at an extra cost.
The flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg is a short 2 hours, so you really don’t need bells and whistles.
Our experience with Mango Airlines
The flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg was easy. We checked in, got on the flight, landed, no problems. In other words, it was a satisfactory experience.
The flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town was a mid-morning flight. By choosing a flying time of around 10 am, we figured we wouldn’t have to get up early and rush through traffic to get to the airport. We’d also have more than enough time to drop off the rental car.
We got to the airport (with time to spare) and went through security. Once on the other side, we discovered that the flight had been delayed for two hours. This was rather inconvenient because we had made plans in Cape Town. We had people to meet and things to do. A two-hour delay was not great, but we accepted it.
Two hours later, the flight was delayed… again. It went like that for the rest of the day, and we ended up getting to Cape Town close to 9 pm. We had also booked accommodation via Airbnb, and this was inconvenient for the host because they were not planning to have to drive out to give us the keys that late in the evening.
By the time we got the keys, we could not find a restaurant that was not about to close. We were desperate for a meal.
You may be thinking that we could have eaten at the airport, but we did not know the flight was delayed until after went through security—there are not a lot of great restaurant options for you after you go through security. So we had been eating snacks all day.
All around, it was a mess. Up to that point, we were having a great vacation but that was undoubtedly the worse day of our vacation. (In fact, I am writing this Mango Airlines review two years later and I still remember everything because it was such a memorable day for all of us).
This is our opinion based on our personal experience. Whether you agree or disagree, please leave your opinions in the comments.
The route from Johannesburg to Cape Town is a busy one, particularly for businesses / working people. It’s only a two-hour flight so if you leave early morning, you can almost get a full day in at the office. And if you are flying for work, you will usually do so before or after normal business hours.
I attribute this fact to our first flight, which was later in the afternoon, to being hassle-free. However, the mid-morning flight was a hassle because I assume they did not have enough people to fill the seats.
Mango Airlines is a discount airline. They are unlikely to fly an aircraft unless it is full (or near full). We spoke to lots of family and friends in South Africa afterward, and they confirmed that Mango Air has a lot of delays.
With that reasoning, delaying a 10 am flight should probably have been expected because not enough people fly at that time of the day. But the delays kept happening throughout the day because, if my reasoning is correct, they could not get enough people on the airplane. They couldn’t put us on a 4, 5, or 6 pm flight either because those flights were likely already full.
- Mango Air (FlySafair and Kulula Air) are discount airlines. If you are on a budget, it makes sense to use them. However, it comes with the risk of flight delays and/or cancellations.
- Our experience with Mango Air is not an outlier, as is evident by their reviews online.
- In our opinion, to avoid delays, book flights before or immediately after working hours. For example, 6 or 7 in the morning, or 4,5, or 6 in the afternoon. I do not want to suggest that flights during the other hours will always be delayed. Neither do I want to suggest that flying during the recommended hours will never be delayed. Rather, I’m considering the odds. If they have a full airplane, they will have no reason (other than technical difficulties) to delay.
- Would we fly Mango Airlines again? I’m tempted to say “no way!” That experience put a big damper on our vacation and I would not knowingly put myself or my family through that again. However, if the deal is truly amazing and we are flying during busy flying hours, I may be persuaded.
- Some friends and family suggested trying the other discount airlines in South Africa, but I reckon that whatever discount airline you choose, it will be hit or miss.
- If you can afford it, fly SAA, Virgin, or British Airways. I’ve flown with these airlines multiple times and I’ve never had an issue. The staff is usually very nice, plus they feed you.