R1 Mango flight deal – too good to be true?

By Angelique Ruzicka, editor, Moneybags

What does R1 get you these days? Not much you would say. But it could get you a Mango flight if you download and book through the airline’s Mobi-App. But has Mango played fair with its R1 flight campaign, which started on Monday 2 June and ends on the 6 June? Some are of the opinion that it didn’t. I feel they could be onto something and here’s why:

First of all, R1-Mango-flight-deal-hunters have to jump through a couple of ‘hoops’ to get the much coveted bargain. They have to download the airline’s newly launched Mobi-App and while this sounds simple some customers on Mango’s Facebook page and on News24 complained that they experienced some technical difficulty.

Some were further disappointed when they found that their favoured dates and particularly weekend flights were sold out once they had managed to download the app and rifle through the flights that were still available.

I tried downloading it to my Samsung mobile myself but after 20 minutes gave up. I can’t necessarily blame Mango for this problem though. As Hein Kaiser, a spokesperson at Mango, pointed out to me it could very well be my device and network that’s at fault.
Then again Mango’s clever marketing tactic could also be to blame because it has caused a stir. Just like the One Direction fans rushed to buy tickets online, there was an equally mad dash by Mango bargain hunters to download the app, increasing traffic to the Mango website by a massive 800%.

Unfortunately, the deal is not available by any other means – not through the call centre or Mango’s website. Kaiser admits this is part of Mango’s marketing strategy, calling it a ‘channel specific promotion’.

But before you badger them on social media – Mango is not unique in adopting this kind of strategy. In fact many companies, including the likes of Media24, use it to lure customers. While it does cause some frustration for those of us who’s devices and networks aren’t as quick it appears to have worked (for Mango at least). At the time of writing only 750 of the 10,000 R1 deals were still available and they were selling like hot cakes.

The rules stated that you had to book a return flight and only one flight fell under the R1 promotion. This may be sneaky of Mango but, having said that, some claimed on Facebook that they managed to bag return flights for just over R160. This is still a steal, considering the price of a return flight to anywhere in South Africa generally costs thousands of Rands.

Unfortunately, you are also restricted on when you could make your booking. The R1 deal only applies to flights available in June and July – hardly the most convenient time considering its winter. But then again a trip up country to warmer cities such as Durban could appeal to Capetonians that are currently suffering the effects of the stormy weather.

And annoyingly, for those who prefer using the SID online bank transfer service, it’s not active on Mango’s mobile platform yet.
So was Mango’s marketing strategy fair? I suppose it was for those who spotted the deal as it was announced, who owned the latest technology and who had the best connectivity. When it comes to such deals if you are slow off the mark you may not get exactly what you want.

If you try and book now for those last remaining R1 deals you will have to be flexible about when you go and where you go. Chances are the best routes and dates are taken. But a little bird tells me that those wishing to fly from Cape Town to Lanseria may just strike it lucky.

The good news is that if you downloaded the app you now have a better way to book flights if that’s what you do often. Airlines are veering customers towards their online booking systems because it’s cheaper for them. It’s the way of the future. And who knows – you may be the first in line the next time Mango announces a R1 deal. But considering that the last time it did so was in 2007, you may have to wait a while.