Help - Flight to Kruger on Kulula

Aug 17th, 2005, 10:02 PM
Posts: n/a
Help - Flight to Kruger on Kulula

I booked a ticket from Jo'Burg to KMIA on Kulula 2 months ago. Yesterday, when I was surfing the Kulula website, I noticed that my flights were missing from the flight schedule. In fact, all flights Mon-Thur were missing for September.

I called Kulula today, and they said yes, flights have been cancelled but my flights are still set to go (even though they aren't showing up on the schedule). That didn't make sense to me.

I pressed him, and he said if the flight is cancelled they will put me on another flight. I replied, "Kulula only goes once a day!" Then he said they would put me on another carrier.

Well, I'm reluctant to believe him. From prior flying experience, I don't want to get stuck at the airport with no flights available, especially since I've prepaid for my safari.

Any advice? Should I buy a new ticket on SAA and try to get a refund from Kulula?

ArthurSA - could you possibly help? You always seem to get the best answers from the airlines.
Aug 17th, 2005, 11:33 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
Hmm, I don't know about that! But I guess I can sometimes (OK, always!) be a "difficult customer" when I think I'm being given the runaround.

As happened a few minutes ago when I called Kulula in Jo'burg! I got what I call "PR speak", things like "currently looking at our schedules", which actually says nothing. So I started being more insistent, the operator spoke to someone, came back to the phone and more or less said the same thing. So I got a little more vocal and got to speak to the "them" that had been consulted. Started in the same vein, but long story short, I think I finally understood what MIGHT be the real story . . .

Despite part of the website still saying that there are daily flights excepting Saturday ("yes we know that's wrong, it hasn't been updated yet"), there are currently only Friday and Sunday flights, one in each direction.

They claim that it is not because the route is not a good one, but that they need to get different time slots to better connect with Int. flights. They say they are waiting for the airport on this. I don't know when (if?) that will happen, they wouldn't agree that it could happen by September.

Meanwhile, passengers already booked on other days are being accommodated on SA Airlink, and supposedly they are being contacted to advise this.

I suggested that they better brief their first-line operators to give a clearer story, if indeed that is the correct story.

I hope this helps a bit. But if you tell me what day/time you are booked I can get more specific detail if you want.

(BTW, I typed the first para above, with the word "runaround" before I called them. And during the final conversation I was searching for a word to describe what travellers seemed to be getting when they called. The person I was speaking to offered one. Yes, you guessed it!)
ArthurSA is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 02:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501

I booked about 4 months in advance for a flight from Joburg to KMIA in July. When I got to the airport, I was informed that as my flight had been cancelled I had been rebooked on an SAA flight, which left an hour and a half later. Of course, if I had known this I would have slept another hour and a half rather than getting up to catch the Kulula flight...

I'd highly recommend calling the day before your flight to confirm the time and carrier.

jasher is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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Thanks, Arthur SA. You are the best!

Here's my flight info:

15 Sep MN 853 Jo'Burg-KMIA 8:00-8:40

18 Sep MN 858 KMIA-Jo'Burg 15:40-16:20

The return flight is on a Sunday so it should be OK, unless they decide to cancel Sunday flights too!

I'm wondering if I should just buy duplicate tickets on SAA to be safe.

Thanks again,
[email protected]
Aug 18th, 2005, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
Brian, I called Kulula even though it's close to 7pm now (but I'm still at the office!) and higher levels of mgmt are probably not there at that time.

At first I was told that the flight on the 15th had 10 passengers, including a "Brian and Michelle". It that you? (The same two are on the list for the 18th.) Only later did the operator then realise (to his surprise, he even thought that it was a system prob) that the flight didn't exist!

They still haven't made contact with all of the passengers on that flight (10 to go I assume), which is why you haven't heard yet. A possible problem is that the SA Airlink flight options are that aternoon, at either 13h00 or 14h30. Or the previous day, same times. They are mainly using SMS to contact the passengers, but they'll have to call or use e-mail if you didn't give them a cell phone number.

If you want to be proactive, he offered an e-mail address: [email protected]. (Presumably "cr" means Customer Relations. Huh!)

The return flight o the Sunday seems to be OK, as you assumed.

If I need to progress this further in the next 3 days, I'll have to e-mail you. I'm trying to be out of the office all day tomorrow, and in recent months I haven't been able to post from my home dial-up. It's no problem from my office, which has a dedicated connection to a different ISP. I haven't yet done the obvious test of dialing up from the office to see if I have the same prob. (Any ideas, anyone?)

Anyway, provided the new time options is not a problem, I'm sure it will work out fine in the end.
ArthurSA is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 11:44 AM
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ArthurSA, you are amazing! I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help.

Yes, we are "Brian and Michelle". I will try calling Kulula again to resolve the situation - I guess I should ask to speak to a supervisor.

I would prefer to fly out in the morning, as the afternoon SAA flights you mention would mean that we would miss our afternoon game drive. If they can't put us on a morning flight, I think I will ask for a refund.

Thanks again and I will keep you posted on what happens.
Aug 19th, 2005, 02:47 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
Brian, just a quick note to correct the e-mail I sent to your Yahoo address last night, in case you don't read that soon. I had e-mailed because I had my usual problem posting when using dial-up. But I'm briefly back in my office today and using my direct connection.

In the e-mail I repeated that only those two pm flights were mentioned as alternatives, and I assumed they were the only scheduled flights. But I now see from the SA Airlink website that there are many more, including in the morning. I hope that doesn't mean those earlier flights are full. Perhaps more likely is that the operator
ArthurSA is offline  
Aug 19th, 2005, 02:50 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
. . . that the operator got confused about the time of your Kulula flight.

Anyway, my suggestion is that you try that e-mail address, rather than the telephone. Assuming that they reply in good time, there is the possible advantage that you have hardcopy of whatever might be offered or agreed.

Good luck!
ArthurSA is offline  
Aug 19th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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I called Kulula 4 times today. The first 2 times were wasted calls as I couldn’t get a hold of a supervisor (they come on shift at 8 AM).

The 3rd time, I spoke to Kristina, the supervisor. She initially said that alternative flights on SAA have not been arranged for me yet, and they would get back to me “later.” I explained that this was not acceptable, as I wanted to ensure that I would not be stuck at JNB without a flight out. So she was very nice and said she would try to get my flights taken care of today, and I would get a email regarding that, also today.

I also explained to her that I had heard (from Arthur SA, of course) that the alternative flights being offered were in the afternoon (which would cause me to miss the afternoon game drive), and that I needed a morning flight out.

At 5pm, I still had not heard back, and since the weekend is coming up, I called her again. She said she received an email back from someone in “Special Projects” offering me only the afternoon flights, and she knew this was not acceptable to me, so she is waiting to hear back from Special Projects regarding a morning flight. Of course, now that it is after 5 pm South African time, they have all left for the weekend, so I will have to wait until Monday.

I explained to Kristina, who was very cordial, that if I could not get my requested flights, then I would need a refund in order to buy my own tickets directly on SAA. She agreed that would be the case.

On a side note, she wanted to know how I knew my flight was cancelled as they had not notified anyone yet! I didn’t reveal my secret source (Arthur SA at Fodors) but told her I had a “friend” in South Africa who checked up on things after I noticed the flight schedule had changed.

Arthur SA, I’m amazed that you were able to find out so much in a single phone call (it took me 4 times, and I’m no pushover either. Maybe it's my American accent!). But I think I spent more on international phone calls that the cost of my plane ticket! By the way, I didn't receive you email, but I’ll keep you posted...

Thanks a million!
Aug 22nd, 2005, 07:07 PM
Posts: n/a
I called Kulula again. They could not accomodate me so I had to ask for a refund. I just went online and bought tickets on SAA. They cost 60% more but at least now I have peace of mind (unless SAA goes on another strike!)

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