Nil by Mouth (except water)

Nil by Mouth (except water)

South Africa has returned to level one lockdown, and while some restrictions have been lifted and things have been becoming more relaxed, it seems like one industry has now been hit with new constraints. 

Airplane food

That’s the new rule on South Africa’s domestic flights, and it’s all about the mask, as revealed on this week’s Consumerwatch.

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Airlines are prohibiting travelers from eating or drinking on flights. Does that mean you'll be dehydrating making your way from Durban to Cape Town? Did the airline have any say in this change? Don't stress, because Wendy Knowler will tell you everything you need to know.

Enjoying a coffee and maybe a snack is an integral part of the in-flight experience for many, but for now, that’s forbidden on South African domestic flights.

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That’s thanks to a new onboard food ban imposed by the government in the form of a gazetted restriction, published late on Monday night by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, which reads:

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It may seem odd this tighter restriction was imposed as others were relaxed with the move to Level 1 this week, but I’m reliably informed that the government ministers on recent flights were none too pleased to see many passengers munching away for quite some time with their masks off. 

“It would have been nice if we airlines had been given a heads-up about the new restriction before it happened, “ said Jonathan Ayache, CEO of South Africa’s newest domestic airline, Lift. “But at least this change wasn’t as chaotic as the introduction of stricter curfews back in December.”

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FlySafair, the only domestic airline which had chosen not to sell or provide catering onboard since domestic flights were allowed to resume last June says it’s all about ensuring that passengers don’t have a reason to remove their masks mid-flight for more than a few seconds at a time.

“Several airlines in South Africa reinstated on-board catering, which has offered passengers an opportunity to drop their masks during flight for extended periods of time,” said FlySafair’s chief marketing officer, Kirby Gordon.

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He said air travel and the spread of coronavirus had been “totally conflated” in people’s minds, “but what we forget is that people weren’t necessarily getting ill on aircraft; rather it was the act of infected folks traveling from one community to another that perpetuated the spread of the disease.”

“Several recent studies have confirmed that the sophisticated air filtration and management systems within modern airline cabins actually make them safer environments than most others, so much so that airlines around the world are permitted to full their aircraft up without leaving open seats.”

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He conceded that not having catering during flights “does steal from the experience somewhat”.

“It’s also a revenue stream that we would love during this tough time, but at this stage, not offering catering is just the right thing to do."

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