Isn’t it great to be enjoying the natural wonders and beauty of South Africa? Sure, many people desire to travel to other countries or go on a holiday, but nothing beats spending your break in your own hometown – and especially if it’s South Africa!
Travelling to and within South Africa has been made convenient with the various airline companies traversing the skies of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and other top South African destinations. Each airline has a specific set of features that bring a unique experience to boarding guests, whether it’s a domestic flight or an international trip.
However, with the variety of airline options for South Africa, there lies the rub: Which South African airline is the best?
We recently asked 22 South African travel bloggers this question: “What is your favorite airline in South Africa and why?”. Here’s a roundup of their responses:
Favorite airline in South Africa (as voted by 22 travel bloggers):
#1: Kulula – 7 votes
#2: British Airways – 4 votes
#3: FlySafair – 3 votes
#4: Mango – 2 votes
(Multiple answers / Depends on price and availability – 3 votes)
Check out what each South African travel blogger has to say about the matter, arranged in order of our receipt of their responses:
Allison Foat – Cape Town Diva
I’m a Cape Town patriot & a world traveller, inspiring you to explore more. Eco and animal conscious.
Heather Mason – 2Summers
To be perfectly honest, my favourite airline is whichever airline is the cheapest on that particular day.
I’m an American blogger/photographer living a quirky life in Johannesburg.
Fiona Rossiter – Inspired Living Magazine
Kulula is my favorite domestic airline in South Africa. Last year they were rated as the “Best South African Low Cost Airline” which I can say from personal experience is well deserved. Not only is the airline affordable but the service on the ground and in the air, which I have experienced, is both friendly and professional! Their service in my opinion has always been consistent, even on my early morning commutes from Cape Town to Johannesburg, which is usually a frenetically busy time to fly.
Hi I am Fiona Rossiter and I live in a beautiful corner of the world called Cape Town! Most days and sometimes nights you will find me taking photographs, writing and editing for my publication Inspired Living SA. Over the past five years I have made it my mission to grow Inspired Living, from a personal blog, into a magazine style website. Travel is always at the top of my agenda and the thought of a life without travel is unthinkable. Then we cannot forget my insatiable love of food & wine.
Colleen Blaine – Travel.Write.Explore
I would say that Kulula is my favourite airline. I have yet to experience a bad flight with them as they are always on time, and the turn around time for boarding and disembarking is generally very smooth. I’m a fairly impatient airline passenger especially when it comes to disembarking. There have also been many instances where the head steward’s humorous quips over the announcer has put a smile on my face.
I am a local travel writer and blogger with a passion for Southern Africa, wine and olives.
Tracey Pictor – Journal of a City Girl
Mango. They are my local budget go-to airline. When a flight is simply a couple hours – up and down – there is no need for onboard drinks, fancy meals and metres of leg room so I don’t splurge on local travel airline tickets. Mango has served me well over the years, they have been reliable, (mostly on time) and usually the cheapest option. And they also fly direct to Zanzibar!
Tracey is the founder of Journal of a City Girl, a travel blog that documents the life of a semi-nomadic South African city girl that married her high school sweetheart, and together they now travelling and working their way around the globe with their cat in tow. Travel tales, expat life and many embarrassing chocoholic confessions.
Portfolio Team – Portfolio
Airlink: Airlink is a regional airline that is essentially a “feeder network”. It links smaller towns and hubs across South Africa, making it simple and easy to travel throughout the country. There’s no other airline that offers this in South Africa, and that’s why I love it. Staff are friendly and the flights have always been enjoyable. It’s amazing how after a few hours you can be far from the city and instead in the middle of the bush (for example) – all thanks to Airlink.
Portfolio is the most trusted name in Southern African travel accommodation, featuring only handpicked, personally selected destinations in South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania and Malawi. Expect the very best when arranging your next getaway with Portfolio, both in terms of the booking experience as well as the establishments themselves.
Anje Rautenbach – Going Somewhere Slowly
When I search for flights I immediately look at FlySafair first and for the routes PE to Johannesburg or PE to Cape Town, I will book 90% of the time with Safair; they are cost-effective, on time and offer everything I want in a low cost courier with the option of adding baggage, a meal, insurance and your preferred seat. Unfortunately there are not a lot of low cost couriers operating the Port Elizabeth route, but I look forward to seeing other airlines expanding their services to the Eastern Cape and cross my fingers that Mango Airlines will bring back their PE to Cape Town route (because not a lot of airlines can beat Mango’s leg space) – one can never have too many options when it comes to choosing a flight.
Anje Rautenbach is an ex-expat and now a reborn South African rediscovering the places that turned her into a travel addict at a young age. She’s got a globetrotting gypsy soul and enjoys off the beaten path destinations, unique cafes, immersing in different cultures and going on slow motion journeys; sometimes from the seat of her bicycle. Caffeine, people, four legged creatures, and a passion for words are her fuel. Her blog, Going Somewhere Slowly, is all about seeking the beauty in the somewhere, the something in the everything and the story in anyone.
Sandile Nene – On Point
I love flying with British airways. It’s great and the service is amazing. I’ve used other airlines but British airways still takes the trophy.
I’m a 23 year old Durban based blogger, content creator and brand influencer. I love traveling, interviewing people and stalking my favourite bloggers and personalities on Instagram.
Verushka – Spicegoddess
My fav South African Airline is SAA. I love their inflight magazines and the fact that I do not need to buy my own refreshments. The other reason is that SAA was the first airline I travelled on as a child and then as an adult alone on my move to the UK. It always gives me goosebumps when we land and the Captain speaks in Afrikaans and Zulu and instantly I know I have arrived home.
I am a 30 something Lifestyle blogger from Durban. My blog is my place where I share my world with the world. My passions include food and travel and that is reflected on my blog. I have a mild addiction to all things British.
Lauren McShane – The Travel Manuel
I love Mango Airlines. I flew alone with my 6 month old on his first flight and they made the entire experience so easy and pleasant. The air hostesses were so eager to assist us- enquiring if I’d flown before, giving me tips to make the flight better for him and allowing me to stand at the back whilst I lulled Caleb to sleep. Plus they are one of the only domestic airlines that allows you to combine infant’s luggage weight with your own meaning I didn’t have to carry a separate bag for him ( which when you’re travelling alone is so helpful.)
Together with my husband Vaughan, we are the travel journalism duo behind thetravelmanuel.com- Voted Africa’s Top Travel Blog in 2015 and 2016. We share tales of outdoor adventures, family and couple’s travel, expat advice and tips for leading a life a little less ordinary. Our writing and photography has been featured in local and print publications. We also run a small digital agency- spleckledeggdigital.com-that runs influencer campaigns and manages social media and content marketing. Follow our adventures as we attempt travel with our seven month old son, Caleb.
Bridget Williamson – The Wandering Bridge
My favourite SA airline is Kulula. They are usually the cheaper option (also because I can use my Vitality discounts!) and I love their character. Their random jokes during the flights are cheesy, and I love them.
Researcher by day, and travel blogger at any spare moment I can grab. Working my way towards living a life with more travel, more adventures and more awesome.
Patrycja Oosthuizen – Travel Opulent Box
Emirates – Always good value for money flight offers. Very officiant from the moment you book (even if you want to change flight details) to after flight follow up. As a Member you will receive constant update on great offerings. Staff is always friendly and helpful. I have been flying with Emirates for years and each experience is a good experience. Highly recommended.
Blogger. Explores. Lover of Travel, People, Food and Sunrises with a Passion for South Africa (my new home) and Poland (my childhood home).
Desiree Haakonsen – EduTours
Kulula.com really stands out as the most reputable low cost carrier in South Africa. We’ve had great experiences with several airlines, but our go to for affordable and convenient bookings for both individual and group flights is Kulula.com. They’ve always had an element of fun, and we enjoy sharing this with our clients.
We at Edutours Africa are experts in facilitating educational travel in Africa for your group, school, university, or college. We are African, and our passion for our people and unique environment becomes visible in each carefully planned tour.
Sara Essop – In Africa and Beyond
My favourite airline in South Africa is Kulula. I love their fun, casual style, their sense of humour (which is much needed in South Africa) and the way they interact with their customers. And of course, the lower prices don’t hurt either. I also love that they have partnerships with other brands, like Discovery Vitality, which helps me to get the most value for my money.
I am a freelance travel blogger and writer based in Johannesburg. My blog focuses on travel, events and experiences around the world. It aims to inspire others to travel and explore. I especially love showcasing my beautiful country.
Lerato Bambo – SimpLee B
British Airways, It’s always a pleasure traveling with BA. I’ve never had any problems, more than 20 flights and I have never experienced a delay, staff is always professional and friendly + you don’t have to pay extra for food.
Freelance Social Media Manager and Travel Writer
Tami, Anton, Zac and Zoë – Tazz Discovers
British Airways is always a pleasure to fly with. They have customer service down to an art and I’ve only ever had good experiences with them. I say “I” because TazzDiscovers actually haven’t flown as a family yet. Air fares are still crazy expensive – especially local flights.
We are a family who have sold our house and started homeschooling the kids so that we can road trip our way around South Africa. We want to create a resource for other families, who are also on a tight budget so that they are encouraged to explore our beautiful, diverse country.
Jacqui Cooks – The Jax Blog
British Airways – their service is friendly, the flights are reliable unlike Mango or Kulula, could use more leg room & update their outdated aircrafts. Otherwise I can’t fault them. Though my fave 2 airlines on the whole is Virgin Atlantic & Emirates – but they don’t fly domestic. 🙁
With over 15 years of International and Domestic experience in the Hospitality Industry, this thirty-something year old global gypsy, travel junkie & foodie, has taken a decidedly different step in the digital direction as a Twitvangelist/Social Media Addict & iPhonographer in the making. This proudly South African chick has an eclectic appetite for the unusual, with her insatiable curiosity & sense of adventure. She loves: chocolate, vino, the beach and meeting new people! She happily shares her stories, photos, videos and reviews of all the places and faces she’s met along the way. #WishYouWereHere
Di Brown – The Roaming Giraffe
SA AIRLINK is great and usually reasonably priced, but Kulula is often cheaper and I do love their humourous approach. I am also a fan of Mango mainly because of the price and the fact that they allowed me on a flight to Indaba using my library card as proof of ID after I realised I had brough my ID which is in my maiden name and flight was booked in my married name. I think the fact that I sobbed loudly helped, but they were very understanding. They did say I would not be able to board the return flight with my library card but did accept a certified copy that was e mailed to me, saving me a fortune in courier costs.
Pint sized travel writer with a camera making a noise on Twitter while exploring South Africa. The beach is my happy place, especially at sunset, and when it’s not too cold I love getting up to take sunrise pics. Useless at anything technical or backend of social media and computers in general, too old to care.
Dawn Jorgensen – The Incidental Tourist
For me there is no such thing as a favourite airline, but rather an airline that best suits a destination. I’ve worked a lot with SWISS International Air Lines and grown to love their personal touches, super efficiency and after dinner chocolates, especially in Business Class, and will always check flights with them when travelling to Europe. But if headed to Thailand or the East, my choice would be Singapore Airlines, who have convenient routes and offer an excellent transit service. Then again, Turkish Airlines, do serve Turkish delight as well as delicious vegetarian food inflight and I’ve also flown through Dubai many times, as Emirates may take longer to get me to my arrival point, but have one of the best connection hubs in the world. For regional flights, South African Airways for Mauritius, Kenya Airlines for Kenya, Air Austral for Reunion Island and Airlink for those lesser serviced quintessential destinations like Madagascar, Muan in Botswana and Pemba in Mozambique. For local flights I shop to price and am always happy on a kulula flight. After all, it’s green, and has a great sense of humour.
Karisa Nicholls – Cape Town My Love
I don’t have one to be honest. I feel SAA is overpriced, and then between Kulula/Mango/Flysafair I choose purely based on which one has the best deal. If I had to pick the best one out of the low fare options based on experience to date, I’d probably choose Flysafair. Mango has been the worst with regards to flight cancellations & delays.
Just a fun loving girl who loves her city & everything it has to offer.
Rose Bilbrough – gotravelbug
Kulula.com, I had to say it that way! I love their fun approach to travel without taking the earnestness of safety out of the equation, from the friendly smiling staff at the check-in counter to the air host and hostess that tuck you in with a khuluma in flight magazine.
A passionate South African that loves the heart beat of my country, I write about it, photograph it and indulge in its food and cultures. I love the natural outdoorsy approach to travel. #HowzitSouthAfrica is my socialmedia tag if you want a sneak peek of my adventures.
Katarina Mancama – My Slow Journey
Kulula. Cheap and cheerful; nice new fleet; and a strong commitment to both people and the environment through their comprehensive CSI initiatives.
Travel is my life! I put together exciting itineraries for European tour operators, and also work as a guide. I write about travel on various platforms, and when I’m not working in travel I go travelling! I’m passionate about slow travel, where you explore deeper, meet people and make choices that benefit the destination.
Thanks to the bloggers who responded to our question! We hope these recommendations will give you a better picture of how to travel in South Africa. If you’re ready to go on your next trip within South Africa, book from any of these domestic airlines now.