EXCLUSIVE: FlySafair strikes back, says the R4 deal was fair
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CAPE TOWN - Hours after FlySafair put up their R4 flight deal sale offering 30 000 customers the chance to book flights, irate users took to social media to express their dissatisfaction but FlySafair has said that they handled it fairly and 30 000 flights were given away.
Business Report reached out to FlySafair to find out more about the deal and to see if they could prove that 30 000 bookings were made.
We first asked FlySafair, what technology was used to create the waiting room and to ensure that the draw was fair?
READ ALSO: SA not happy with FlySafair, calling R4 deal a scam
"We used our existing website facility, but implemented a waiting room facility. This is something we introduced a few years ago and it’s a facility that allows us to control the number of people on our booking site."
"This is essential because having too many people on the site will lead it to crash so this facility is in place to protect that system. The system uses the IP address of your machine (unique address) and placed users into a pool".
"Every 5min we topped up the number of people on the website to keep it full. The draw from that pool was random", said Kirby Gordon , Head of Sales & Distribution at FlySafair.
When asked if the company could prove that 30 000 tickets were sold, Gordon assured us that they did and sent us proof of the flights book.
"Yes, we sold just over 32 000 tickets at R4. Of course there is record of this as we need to honour all of those flights."
"Attached for your consideration is a sales report. It has been redacted of personal information of passengers as this would be illegal for me to share in terms of the protection of private information act, and I do ask that you obviously not publish it, or any details that you derive from it, but I include it so that you might satisfy yourself before writing a story", said Gordan.
Many people were concerned about how the tickets had sold out so quickly, so we considered the option of limits and how many tickets one person could buy.
"Our system limits each person to booking a maximum of 14 people per booking and a booking can only include 2 flights (an outbound and a return). However if people were looking for 14 seats they would only see R4 flights available were the flight had 14 of more R4 seats on offer during the search process if that makes sense".
"Once a booking was concluded the system would put the person back into the waiting room before they could do another reservation. Some people got lucky and got through the waiting room more than once which was great for them because they could buy more", said Gordon.
Gordan explained that this is the fourth time that the company has given away tickets at such a small price and that they understand some people are unhappy that they were not chosen.
"We sold a large number of tickets to a large number of very happy people, and many people are used to this, as this is the fourth time that we’ve done it"
"Of course there are a number of people who are sad that they didn’t get the chance to purchase tickets and that will always be the case. 30 000 tickets is a big number of tickets to give away at this low price, and it costs us a lot of money, but in the grand scheme of the population, it’s a small number", said Gordon.
"There are 54 million South Africans (56 according to some counts). That means that the odds of anyone South African getting one of those 30 000 tickets is 1 in 1800".
"There are 14 million Facebook users in South Africa that means that anyone Facebook user had a 1 in 467 chance of getting a R4 ticket. At one stage we had over 260 000 people in our waiting room… And keep in mind that at this good price people were often purchasing returns and generally wanted to travel with their families, so most bookings had more than one ticket", said Gordon.
Gordan also explained that the chances are slim to win and that the company anticipated the bad responses from consumers.
"We would love to make 54 million tickets available at R4, but that would obviously not leave us a profitable organisation. We totally understand that there will be people who won’t get tickets and will be disappointed, but we also know that they will come back again next year to try again", concluded Gordon.