Kulula's comedy fuselage has arrows pointing to the 'Nose Cone', 'Engine' and 'Black Box'...

Kulula is a South Africa low cost carrier that wears its sense of humour on its fuselage. On the face of it, jibing about the captain being the 'big cheese', numbering the wings 'wing #1' and 'wing#2', and jokingly showing where the black box is kept (with brackets saying 'which is actually orange'), could be a high risk strategy, given the understandably serious nature of flying. But Kulula's irreverence and jocularity is a long established part of the airline's corporate personality, and as such it gets away with it. There is even a dotted outline of a toilet at the rear of the fuselage with a large arrow saying 'Loo (or mile-high club initiation chamber)'.

The tongue-in-cheek 'Flying 100' concept was dreamt up by the airline's in-house design team; a result of a 2010 initiative to 'demystify air travel for our fans'. The airline has encouraged mirth on board too, with lines uttered by cabin crew that include; "Kulula Airlines is pleased to announced that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"; "People, people, we’re not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it."; and "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted.”

Kulula has an admirable no-nonsense style and uses clear and simple English throughout. The Website for example, has 'Flying 101' sections that explain in splendidly clear and simple terms, issues such as lost luggage, what taxes and fees make up the ticket price, and why never ever - even in jest - to josh about having a bomb in your bag. Trust me, I've worked at enough airports to know that this happens. Kulula gives a recent example at George airport where the check-in agent asked 'Do you have any sharp objects in your possession? 'No, just a bomb.' replied the passenger, which landed him in isolation, questioning and court, all on the same day.

But a decent sense of humour is the company's trademark. It calls its passengers 'fans' throughout its Website, majors on jokes in its advertising campaigns, and encourages its crews to make humorous passenger announcements. Another quirky addition to Kulula's livery line-up is an aircraft with 'THIS WAY UP' in huge letters on the side of the fuselage, complete with arrows as though on a packing crate containing fragile goods.

The regular Kulula livery is predominantly green, with large letter 'K' on the engines and tailplane, and the addition of a blue dot next to the 'K' at the rear of the fuselage.

How can Kulula work for you?

Getting around South Africa: Kulula flies to Cape Town, George, East London and Durban from Johannesburg, and to Nairobi. The airline uses both Jo'Burg's OR Tambo International and Lanseria airports.  

The frequent flyer club: as of March this year, Kulula passengers can earn and spend Avios points, which is the frequent flyer currency of the British Airways Executive Club. 

A few facts: the airline is South Africa's first low cost carrier and was formed in 2001. It's actually part of Comair, which has been flying in and around South Africa as a British Airways franchise carrier - meaning that it offers the BA product from BA liveried aircraft and BA uniformed crews, but is a separate airline from BA. Kulula has a fleet of 10 planes, nine of which are new Boeing 737-100%s and one is a 737-400.

In 2010 Kulula fell foul of FIFA's mighty lack of a sense of humour when it was forced to pull an advertising campaign. At the time the World Cup was being hosted by South Africa, Kulula had described itself as the 'Unofficial National Carrier of the You-Know-What', which takes place 'Not next year, not last year, but somewhere in between'. Of course this was referring to the FIFA Football World Cup. Another advert announced 'affordable flights to everybody except Sepp Blatter' (the then FIFA president), who was offered a free seat 'for the duration of that thing that is happening right now'.

Below is a silly Top Gun spoof Kalula TV ad.