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Durban man’s struggle to cancel flight bookings amid Covid-19 panic

Picture: Supplied.

Picture: Supplied.

Published Mar 19, 2020

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Durban - THE worldwide spread of Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on various aspects of modern life and for a Durban man, his plans to travel were derailed with President Cyril Ramaphosa advising the public to restrict unnecessary travel internationally or domestically.

Muhammed Patel, 67, from

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Newlands West had booked on Kulula.com for a trip to Joburg for a religious function and looked to cancel the tickets and receive a refund following Sunday’s announcement.

However, Patel had difficulties with the airline’s website.

“The website didn’t respond when I tried to change flights to a later date, it would just freeze,” Patel complained.

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“I was then referred from the website to phone the call centre, but I wasn’t able to reach them for two days straight and it’s been frustrating because we’re talking about money here.”

The Daily News contacted Kulula.com regarding the issue and senior

consultant William Smook said: “With the coronavirus situation evolving in South Africa, we are experiencing very high call volumes.”

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In an effort to ease congestion of their phone lines, Smook said customers should call their contact centre only 72 hours before their departure date so they could handle their queries.

Smook also said that Kulula.com would waive all charges for changes to flight dates up to March 31 and customers would be issued with a travel bank credit to the value of their flight, which would be valid for 12 months.

Other airlines have experienced similar issues, as Mango Airlines could not be reached on the phone and stated on Twitter that they were experiencing high call volumes and were taking measures to resolve the issue.

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Mango issued a statement on

Facebook announcing a once-off free booking fee waiver for flight date changes for those travelling up until April 30.

Those who were unable to change flight dates would be compensated with vouchers matching the value of their ticket - valid for six months.

The voucher would be issued within five working days and customers should email their booking reference number, their full names, birth date, contact number and e-mail address to [email protected] to receive their vouchers.

Low cost airline FlySafair also reported a high frequency of calls, especially on Monday, saying they would accommodate customers by allowing those who bought “standard” and

“premium” fare tickets to change their dates for free.

Premium fare tickets would be refunded to customers as vouchers.

No refund would be available on their “lite” fare flights and changes to flight dates would incur a penalty fee.

According to FlySafair spokesperson Kirby Gordon, airlines would be key in resuscitating the economy once the coronavirus was under control, but in the interim airlines would bear the brunt of the outbreak.

Daily News

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