- FlySafair sold 30,000 R8 tickets by 16:00 on Wednesday as part of its 2022 mega sale.
- These tickets, available for selected domestic routes, could only be bought online via FlySafair's website.
- Those looking for the cheapest tickets in South Africa were first placed in a waiting room to limit strain on FlySafair's booking platform.
- And moving from the waiting room to the booking platform was done at random, so "it's literally luck of the draw", the airline told Business Insider South Africa.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
FlySafair offered the cheapest flights in South Africa on Wednesday, with a batch of R8 tickets available to customers who were patient and lucky enough.
South Africa's low-cost carrier FlySafair is well-known for its annual "mega-sale". It started in August 2015, a year after the airline took its first flight, when around 30,000 tickets were sold for R1 each. In 2018, the same number of tickets were offered at R4 each, and the following year, some 45,000 tickets were sold for R5 each.
Update: FlySafair announced shortly before 16:00 on Wednesday that all 30,000 R8 tickets had sold out, an hour before cut-off time, but that it would continue a "15% off sale" with details to follow.
But, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which grounded flights and disrupted travel demand, FlySafair's mega-sale was put on hold in 2020 and 2021.
After a two-year hiatus, FlySafair's 2022 sale – offering 30,000 tickets for R8 each – officially started at 09:00 on Wednesday 4 May.
These online sales – only available through the airline's website – have consistently overwhelmed FlySafair's booking platform, with bargain-hunters rushing to the site en masse to grab the cheapest flights in South Africa. During the last sale, FlySafair's website, which at the time had the capacity to handle 260,000 sessions at once, malfunctioned.
"As ever, we've drawn on our learnings from years before in terms of how to beef up capacity in anticipation of the traffic," FlySafair's Chief Marketing Officer, Kirby Gordon, told Business Insider South Africa.
"There are a great number of things we do to enhance capacity on a server level as well as with all associated services such as payments etc."
FlySafair began marketing the R8 sale towards the end of April, offering three lucky people a "priority pass", which allowed them to jump the queue and have the first pick of massively discounted flights. To enter the lucky draw, hopeful travellers needed to tell FlySafair where they would fly with an R8 ticket.
Those without a "priority pass" needed to rely on patience and luck. To stop the site from crashing, FlySafair's booking platform first held shoppers in a "waiting room". Every few minutes, a certain number of people in this online waiting room were allowed to enter the actual booking platform, where they'd be able to pick up the R8 flights.
The selection process – for who was given access to the booking platform from the waiting room – was done at random and not on a first-come, first-served basis. "It's literally luck of the draw," says Gordon.
Shoppers needed to find these R8 flights, available on selected domestic routes for use up until the end of October 2022, via the platform's low fare finder page.
Only one-way flight tickets, for selected domestic departures between 05 May 2022 and the end of October 2022, were included in the R8 sale, according to the FlySafair’s terms and conditions.
"R8 tickets include all airport taxes and VAT, but exclude any additional services such as, but not limited to, checked luggage, priority boarding, and seat pre-selection," noted FlySafair, adding that these tickets are only for the airline's Lite Fare.
Shoppers released from the waiting room had a limited time to book their flights. And with competition being fierce on the day, FlySafair added that "only the first person who successfully completes payment will get those tickets" in the case of thousands of customers looking at the same flight.