Kulula cancels flights in South Africa
(Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
  • During Covid-19 lockdowns, and while in business rescue last year, Comair said it would provide vouchers to customers with un-flown tickets for use at a later date.
  • These vouchers are only valid for travel until the end of November this year.
  • This gives you just two weeks to book and take a flight.
  • Here’s how to find out if Comair owes you a ticket  and how to claim it for a spontaneous trip before you forfeit the credit.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Customers who booked flights directly with Kulula.com during South Africa’s hard lockdown and Comair’s subsequent business rescue process have just two weeks to claim and use vouchers from the airline or forfeit the money they paid.

All unused tickets booked directly with Kulula.com and British Airways flights operated by Comair between 14 March and 30 November 2020 are eligible for compensation. 

These tickets are identifiable by a number with the prefix 161. And at the start of the process, Comair said there were approximately 2,000 of these “un-flown” tickets. 

At the time, passengers had three options - forfeit the amount paid, request a refund (and end up on Comair’s list of several thousand creditors), or keep the value of the unused booking for a later flight.

For those willing to take the risk, the latter was the most attractive option. Provided Comair emerged from business rescue, customers on this option could rebook a ticket to the same value, rather than receive a refund likely to be a few cents to the rand.

Those customers who didn’t expressly notify Comair of their decision were automatically allocated the option of vouchers - and it appears as if it’s still possible to change back from requesting to become a creditor to receiving a voucher. 

Although the voucher option delivered the highest level of compensation, it comes with some caveats. Rebooked flights are subject to availability, and customers will still have to pay any difference in rates, fares and taxes. Crucially, the vouchers are also subject to a now-rapidly approaching expiration date - inconveniently, set just weeks before the popular end-of-year holidays.

Comair’s deadline to claim and use these vouchers for travel was initially the end of October 2021, but later updated to 30 November 2021. Given that Kulula only returned to the skies on 1 September 2021, this, in effect, gave travellers just two months to book and travel. And Business Insider is aware of at least one instance where a traveller applied for a voucher via correct channels last year and is yet to receive it.

Nevertheless, according to Comair, travellers will only “be able to utilise the unused ticket value for travel before 30 November 2021.” Customers who have unused flight tickets booked outside of South Africa have a bit more reprieve - these will be valid for travel until 30 April 2022.

If you haven’t yet done so, this deadline means you have less than two weeks to claim your funds and take a last-minute flight.

Here’s how to claim your Kulula credit for un-flown tickets last year:

  1. Check if your unused ticket has a ticket number starting with 161.
  2. If so, you should be able to use the value of the unused ticket to pay or part pay for another flight with Kulula.
  3. Contact the Kulula call centre on 0861 KULULA (585852) or +27 11 921 0500 and request confirmation.
  4. The agent should issue you credit to your Kulula travel bank account - but a safer bet is to book a flight immediately with the agent once you receive confirmation of the amount owed.

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