Kulula to Mango

Mango Airlines

Yesterday was the first day of our semi-vacation to Bloemfontein, a city in the the Free State province of South Africa. The plan was for us to catch a 06h30 flight to Johannesburg, then hire a car and drive about 400km to Bloemfontein, with three hours to spare before the Spain vs Iraq Confederations Cup football match being held at the Mangaung stadium.

We stopped packing at about 1am yesterday morning... and woke up at 3am to finish packing. (Note to self: don't catch a 06h30 flight, ever). We arrived at the heavily congested Cape Town International airport, where queues were doubling back on themselves and stretching far out of sight.

Through much running and scrambling we managed to board the Kulula plane on time... and then sat patiently for an hour or so, waiting to taxi to the runway. It turned out that the reason for our wait was that a micro-switch controlling the aircraft flaps had malfunctioned. After much investigation the pilot announced that we were to disembark, as it would take some time to repair! Argggghhhh! Not only was this inconvenient, but the three-and-a-half-hour delay would cause us to miss the football match - the whole reason for our trip!

We sat in the airport lounge to drink a depressing cup of coffee, and in the midst of our disappointment and anger at the situation, we hit upon a plan. Kerry-Anne checked online and found that Mango, one of only three operators that fly to Bloemfontein, had an 11h15 flight that would fly directly to Bloemfontein, arriving in time for the match; while I went to find out whether we could get our baggage off the Kulula flight before they started boarding again.

Some quick talking from our side, and quick thinking by Ameen Sabardien (one of the Comair supervisor-type guys), got our baggage removed from the Kulula flight just before it was to depart (in fact, the boarding doors had already closed!).

We purchased new tickets from Mango (at a cost of around R1,100) while Ameen collected and returned our luggage to us and arranged for our car hire to be moved from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein. He was really amazing - when nobody else really wanted to help - he did.

After all the racing we managed to make it to Bloemfontein in time to see Spain and Iraq take to the field. The only challenge that we now face is claiming the R1,100 for our Mango flight back from Kulula!

An interesting piece of trivia is that Mango Airlines brand almost everything in orange - as I guess you're able to see from the photograph. Bloemfontein is a city in the Free State, which use to be called the Orange Free State... which perhaps is why they have Bloemfontein as one of their destinations. :P

15 thoughts on “Kulula to Mango

  1. Gary

    Forget it. You’ll not see any of that money. After all, the flight did happen, and you chose not to be on it.

    I don’t like Mango. In my experience they are equally likely to be late as Kulula, are more cramped. Plus they don’t fly to Lanseria. Which is a big negative for us as the only time we really fly is to Caryn’s folks in Krugersdorp, and OR Tambo is a huge mission relative to Lanseria, for everyone involved!

    PS…thanks for the money you paid Kulula…perhaps that’s why I haven’t paid yet? You paid for me??

  2. virginia

    Hi there,
    You may be able to get your Kulula money back- because they had an obligation to you for the earlier time and they did not fulfill that. But you will not see the extra money for the Mango flight. Make sure you phone customer services asap to lodge your complaint there is a time limit ( been there, done that).
    Good luck and hope you enjoyed the soccer.

  3. mjw

    I, too, have learnt the lesson about the early-morning flights. It always seems to be such a good idea until you find yourself going to bed after 1am and getting up at 4am.

    It’s really cool that you found someone who cared and helped. Dare I say: miracle?!?

  4. Paul

    Post author

    @Gary – Let’s see if Kulula comes to the party… the Comair guy who made the arrangements seemed convinced that they would. Mango was fine actually. The seating was a little more roomy… actually… and they fly to Bloem, which Kulula doesn’t do. :)

    @Virginia – Thanks for the tip. I’ll get on it right away! The plot thickens as the car that we booked through Kulula is now costing us and additional R700 because we picked it up from Bloem and will drop it off in Jozi. So that takes us up to R1800! (Just shy of the original cost of the Kulula tickets!).

    @mjw – You’re not far off. It was indeed 1am that we got to bed… and then woke again at 3am to finish packing! Miracle… I think so. The first lady I spoke to called someone to try and get us onto an SAA flight, but never “took ownership” of the problem. She later said “sorry… no seats available” and that was that. Amien on the other hand took ownership of the problem and sorted it out. :)

  5. Gary

    Paul…you’re in dire need of a holiday my man. Too many buzzwords!! Take ownership of the situation indeed…


  6. Paul

    Post author

    It’s the sad reality Obnoxio… :(

    Gary, I’m buzzword-averse, so it’s worrisome when the words I normally use are classed as buzzwords… oh dear, perhaps I do need a real holiday!

  7. Beverley

    The whole story sounds a nightmare to me Paul, we only do civilized travelling hours now…but I do love the photo, what a super colour for the plane, glad it all worked for you both in the end and I hope you get your refund!!

  8. Guinivea

    Oh my word!!! What a story…I don’t believe it! I must say though…I would not wait on a plane while they fix it before taking off…no ways!!!
    I hope you get your money back and that the game was well worth it!!

  9. Paul

    Post author

    Hey “Kulula.co.za” – did you read the text below the photo? Kulula dropped us and we ended up flying Mango! I’m afraid that I’d have to disagree, I’m glad that it was a Mango plane! (Unfortunately we’re still out of pocket because of the problems with the Kulula flight).

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