In a statement on Monday, low-cost airline FlySafair announced it would be adding more seats to its annual sale, set for Tuesday, which has had travellers in an online buying frenzy every years since 2015.
The sale began with R1 tickets, including airport taxes.
“The fifth of these annual FlySafair sales will commence tomorrow at 9am, where the airline will be selling 45,000 tickets on flights departing up until the end of September for just R5.”
Since they had bought new aircraft and grown their business by almost 40% over the past year, they decided to up the number of R5 seats from 30,000 to 45,000, said Kirby Gordon, head of sales and distribution.
To prevent their website going down, the company now uses what it calls an online “Waiting Room”, effectively a holding area that allows a random selection of users on to the site every five minutes to avoid their website from being overwhelmed by the demand.
- At the start of the sale, a number of customers will be randomly selected from the group of online users in the waiting room.
- Selected customers will then be allowed to enter the airline’s website, where they will need to complete their purchase immediately, or their session will expire. Tickets can only be reserved by completing payment.
- If customers haven’t yet been selected, they should remain in FlySafair’s digital waiting room, as a new group will be selected at random to enter the site every five minutes. And different groups will continue to be selected right up until the last ticket is sold.
FlySafair has provided this step-by-step video detailing the random selection process.
“The solution works well, and it adds an element of random selection to the sale, which feels like it makes the sale somehow seem fairer,” said Gordon.
He said consumers had in the past tried to increase their chances of gaining access to the site by using multiple devices to access the site, which he confirmed was a strategy that’s likely to help.
“There were images of entire boardrooms of people basking in the glow of our site, it was awesome,” said Gordon, adding that they wanted to avoid a repeat of 25 August 2015 when their website went down due to all the demand.
“We managed to get the servers up and sell out the tickets in the end,” said Gordon, “but social media was on fire.
“People were going crazy, which wasn’t much fun at the time, but in hindsight we’ve had some awesome laughs because South Africans were so creative in their Twitter responses in particular,” added Gordon, referring to the barrage of memes aimed at the airline.
He said that despite the fact that last year was the fourth time the airline had run this sale, there were several people who claimed the sale was a massive scam.
“We’re not sure if it was just because the sale went off really smoothly last year, or whether this sudden scepticism spoke more to the national psyche at the time.”
One consumer took the airline to the Advertising Standards Authority requesting they investigate.
“It was no surprise to us, because it’s an amazing offer and of course it sounds too good to be true,” Gordon said, “but we shared the sales data with the authority and they obviously ruled in our favour.”
Competitions will be running in the waiting room for those hoping to get a chance to buy tickets.
- The Free2Fly promotion, where they can win a magical card that allows them to fly on any FlySafair flight for free, for 12 whole months.
- The Jive for R5 promotion, where they can submit the best video of them jiving for their R5 tickets. Five winners will then be selected, who will each receive one of five FlySafair return tickets.
- The R5 Madness competition, every year, the airline receives pictures on social media of people with multiple devices lined up waiting to gain access to its sale. Customers can share a picture of them and their colleagues with all their devices for a chance to win an awesome online shopping voucher.
The company also offered the following tips for those hoping to snap up a ticket or two.
- Use multiple devices – it’s true, the more devices you’re using the better your chances of gaining access to the site.
- When you’re in, don’t refresh your page – there’s a chance that you’ll be sent back into the waiting room.
- Use FlySafair’s Low Fare Finder to track down the R5 flights – the airline has a tool on its site allowing you to view the cheapest departures each day for a month. This is the easiest way to find cheap flights.
- Keep your eye on the prize – once you get through to the site there’s a limited period of time before your session will expire due to inactivity, so you need to start booking as soon as possible.