Kulula is a low cost airline rarely known beyond the borders of South Africa. “Kulula” means “easily” in the Zulu language, linguistically almost an African take on easyJet. It was founded in 2001 as the continent’s first low cost carrier (LCC) and has won Airline Ratings award for best low cost carrier Africa three years in a row. Today Kulula is not only the oldest, but also Africa’s biggest LCC. Kulula was long known in South Africa for being a funny airline in a humorous sense, making jokes all along the way. Friends complained to me though that recently, they hadn’t heard many things to make them smile aboard Kulula so I didn’t expect much when boarding the bright green Boeing 737-800 in Cape Town.
Johannesburg to Cape Town and vice versa is one of the densest domestic routes in the world and South Africa’s most competitive, no less then five different airline brands are serving this run which takes slightly less than two hours of flight time. My flight, only booked a little over a week before flying, was 900 Rand (about 65 Euros or US$70). South Africa doesn’t know the bare-bone LCC business Ã¡ la Ryanair, even with this low fare one checked bag of up to 20 kilos is included.
Seat and Amenities
As the online check-in system had randomly issued me a seat in the very last row I asked at the airport counter to get a better one, and they gave me an aisle in the second row. The blue seats are very tight in pitch, kulula says on average they offer a meagre 29 to 30’’, and it shows. The 737-800 seats 186 passengers, with 33’’ offered in a “stretch zone” around the over-wing emergency exits for a fee. But still, all seats do recline slightly.
Customer service on board
Once I have climbed the aircraft’s stairs (walking to the aircraft is common at the airport on domestic services) I know I’ll be in good hands, and that’s due to Kevin, the purser. He is a natural talent in cheering people up in a genuine and funny way. He has a joke for almost anyone entering (“Welcome to 102, no that’s not your age, that’s our flight number” and many more), and it’s a joy to see how this makes people relaxed and smile. The crew is outstandingly friendly which is rare to find especially in the tough LCC business.
Everything Kulula serves is for sale, but for very reasonable prices. Bottled water, coffee or tea are the equivalent of one Euro. Even the favourite South African snack, biltong (sliced dried meat) is on offer for 2,55 Euros.
None, but Kevin’s jokes are unbeatable, and they keep coming before, during and after the flight, like addressing the passengers as “honourable members” over the PA. There is also a fairly substantial and well-done inflight magazine, and free newspapers are available in South African domestic terminals. Even the safety card contains a joke: “We really like these safety cards”¦ they make great fanning devices, so please do not remove”.
Kulula serves two airports in Johannesburg, OR Tambo International, and Lanseria in the north west of the city, often being an easier and quicker alternative.