The hunt for cheap tickets to make air travel affordable in the country especially seemed to have opened up when fastjet, the no frills airline finally took to the skies to challenge Air Zimbabwe monopoly in the Harare Bulawayo route.
They promised a lot as all no frills airlines do across the world.
With Air Zimbabwe going at over $100 per ticket, Saturday Lifestyle went quietly under cover to experience the efficiency, pricing, hospitality, and customer friendliness.
The results were mixed.
“fastjet, Africa’s affordable airline for everyone, announced today that it will commence daily flights between Harare and Bulawayo from 20 July 2018.
“Ticket sales are already open on fastjet.com, fastjet shops and all travel agents, with a special launch fare starting at $59, taxes included,” the airline had said in a letter dated July 11 addressed to its customers.
The ticket price was catfish. They were going for $130 a piece one way despite the fact that the first morning flight of day 2 had less than half occupancy.
What pushed the prices in a flight that was as good as a private flight was not clear; perhaps paying for the empty seats so fastjet could have the flight break even? Heaven knows.
Efficiency was impacted negatively by the airport staff but once the flight got off the ground it was a perfect flight. The route was suffering from a lack of reliable flights that religiously adhered to flight times but with the advent of fastjet, that seems to be a thing of the past and flying will finally really mean convenience and time management on the route.
Finally, hospitality was just a notch above perfect. In fact, perhaps it can never get better for a no frills airline.
At the hands of a cabin steward named Emile, the result was probably the best service, decorum, professionalism as well as intimate attention to the flyers need that anyone can ever ask for.
The downside is how they strictly accept cash in flight for purchases. When the Reserve Bank Governor himself is probably making call at the end of every day looking for a few bond notes in order to pay for his kombi, it is preposterous to want to use cash in a cash strained nation and a progressive plastic money trajectory.
Mixed start to the flight and hoping open skies will mean real lower prices.