• Kulula says it's sticking to its November deadline for passengers to claim and fly on tickets lost to its grounding last year.
  • This means you have less than two weeks to get through to the call centre and book a flight at last-minute prices.
  • This is despite complaints of lengthy call centre waits and some passengers saying they're yet to receive their credit, despite applying months ago.
  • Kulula is, however, prepared to make some concessions - if you can prove you didn't leave it until the last minute.
  • And with some 6,000 un-flown tickets in Kulula's account, if left unclaimed these could amount to substantial savings for the airline.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

When Kulula grounded its flights due to Covid-19 and business rescue last year, it assured customers with un-flown tickets they would receive credit for use on a later flight, valid for 12 months. Those who fail to use their credit by the end of November will forfeit the amount - a stance Kulula is not willing to move too much from.

The airline says this credit for un-flown tickets has a 12 month validity period, even though it didn't fly for two of these - and that when the airline started flying again in December 2020, "the amount due to the passenger was added to that Travel bank as a credit and passengers had to create that account". 

Complaints on social media, however, suggest that this did not happen for all passengers.

And resolving this via Kulula's call centre has been ineffective for some.

Des O'Connor, Chief Commercial Officer at Kulula, blames the long hold times on a surge of customers leaving their claims to the last minute, which has put "intense pressure" on the call centre.

"Call centre volumes have skyrocketed as the 30 November deadline looms, and we have added capacity, as well as the bank@kulula.com email address to try and deal with this influx," O’Connor told Business Insider South Africa.

This does not take into account the customers who claimed they submitted their credit applications and have not received anything in return. To this, O'Connor has conceded that if customers followed due process to claim their Travel bank credit, the airline would consider this.

"If customers can prove they previously emailed us and kulula.com did not allocate a credit to the account, we will correct the mistake and honour the credit with a suitable time frame based on when they applied," O'Connor said.

How much the un-flown tickets and unclaimed credit is worth is still unclear. O'Connor declined to share this information with Business Insider, but in a recent interview, he confirmed Kulua has issued "between 6,000 and 7,000" un-flown tickets with credits that are due to expire this month.

Assuming each of these tickets is worth R800, currently the cost of Kulula's cheapest flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town, this puts an estimated total value of credits the airline had to pay out at a minimum of roughly R5 million.

The amount that customers will forfeit, and Kulula stands to benefit, depends on how many of these credits remain unclaimed by the end of the month, which O'Connor also declined to comment on. 

"We realise that our affected passengers are eager to get their flights rebooked before the deadline and that any delays they are experiencing right now are incredibly frustrating. We are truly sorry for that. Our team is doing everything they can to deal with the additional last-minute demand through the call centre and email inbox," O'Connor said.

The airline urges customers affected by the July and August grounding to claim and use their credits before the 2022 deadline to avoid a similar occurrence next year. The best way to claim this credit is to email bank@kulula.com.

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