As South Africa's leading travel retailer for the past 23 years, it’s fitting that Flight Centre is the first company to launch an airline that will be offering stand-up flights (SUFs), a concept tipped to revolutionise domestic airline travel.
“Flight Centre is always on the lookout for innovative ways to add value for our loyal clients, so we are proud to announce the launch of our brand-new SUF offering to the South African public in May 2017. This is a totally new flight experience that comes at a fraction of the cost of conventional airline travel and, as far as we are aware, has not been offered by any other company,” says Jay Oker, marketing manager of Flight Centre Travel Group.
“Ideally suited to short-haul domestic routes, such as those between major South African cities, we anticipate that increased passenger capacity and affordable pricing will triple growth in this sector,” he says.
The brainchild of local design and development consultants Evan Jolly and Kathy Mthombeni of Wacky Concepts, the new “standing room only” approach to travel will cut down dramatically on check-in and boarding times, allowing for additional daily flights to domestic destinations.
No seating means streamlined check-in procedures, with each passenger provided with a plastic barcoded wristband reflecting their flight details. These are self-scanned during boarding.
“By extending our flight schedule and passenger numbers, we anticipate a massive uptake from the public,” says Oker.
Cost-wise it’s a no-brainer, with city-to-city flights priced at a third of what you pay on current low-budget airlines. For example, our launch price for a return flight from Johannesburg to Durban is only R250.
To retain the element of surprise, a total of 10 prototype flights were conducted at night over the past three months from Waterkloof Airforce Base. Test passengers said they enjoyed the rather novel experience, despite initial reservations.
“It was actually quite an interesting experience, although it took a bit of getting used to, being suspended from an overhead system. I can’t wait to book an official flight to visit my grandkids in Cape Town,” says Frank Stir of Centurion.
This new concept in domestic airline travel will see passengers standing on comfortable footpads situated along the length of the cabin. An overhead safety strap clips on to a waistband that keeps each traveller completely secure during the flight.
Although passengers won’t have the comfort of a seat, at no extra cost, shoes can be removed (pouches are provided) and a touch button on the safety strap activated to provide a relaxing 15-minute foot massage en route to the destination.
“With all conventional seating and galleys stripped from the cabin, we are able to accommodate 300 passengers in our 737-800, which is usually only able to seat about 180 passengers in a single-class configuration,” says Oker.
With passengers all upright in a single space, no meal or drink service will be provided on SUFs, which will reduce carbon emissions and contribute to Flight Centre’s green initiatives.
To find out more about SUF, go to www.flightcentre.co.za and click on the “Gotcha!” button.