South African Airways
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South African Airways

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Last updated: Dec. 9, 2017

68 South African Airways Consumer Reviews and Complaints

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Dec. 9, 2017

Ms Emma ** was refused boarding at Lusaka Airport on the 25th October on her way to Sydney for the launch of The Global Links Medical Foundation Charity. We called directly from Sydney and spoke with the representative who was quite short and uncooperative, only saying she is not boarding, full stop. It was extremely important to the foundation that Emma, a professor and longtime medical volunteer so We contacted Emirates Airline and purchased a ticket for her to fly to Sydney Return.

Since the 26th October we have sent numerous Emails, contacted Sydney office, (who have said that they could see no reason for her not to board) tried contacting SAA directly only to be left on hold for long periods of time, only standard answers from emails saying they will get back within 10 days, but not. We were told by Sydney office who issued the ticket that only Head Office can deal with this but nobody from head office will contact us. Where to from here, I don't know, it's charity money not ours. Sad, very Sad.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: Sept. 14, 2017

24/07/2017 - Made a ticket purchase for my family at SAA counter in Luanda, Angola (Reserv: **). 03/08/2017 - My family tried to check in but was unable to as my daughter name was spelled incorrectly, a mistake made by an SAA agent because the passport was shown on reservation. So we had to purchase a new ticket for her (Reserv: **). 03/08/2017 - Requested the refund for one of the tickets as it was a mistake from the airline. Still waiting for a response. 18/08/2017 - On our way back to ZA, we even encounter the same problem as the reservation ** also had a spelling mistake and had to wait one hour in line for them to solve the issue. So both reservations were wrong, one issue at SAA in Angola and one issued by SAA in JNB Airport.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: Aug. 4, 2017

Had £107 taken from my bank account for a flight I didn't book. Bank advised me to ring Flysaa to see if they could ascertain who and how someone had managed to use my bank details to book a flight. The chap I spoke to didn't seem to know his arse from his elbow. He didn't sound remotely interested or concerned. About as helpful as chocolate teapot. Not that I have ever booked a flight through Flysaa but I certainly will never be doing in the future.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: June 26, 2017

I bought tickets from JHB - HRE on Wednesday the 21st of June 2017 and returning to JHB on 23/06/2017 @08:50... Flight SA8101. Upon checking in at the Harare International Airport on the morning of 23/06/2017, I was told to buy a return ticket from JHB to HRE as the SAA system did not allow me to check in without the return ticket. I had to scrounge around for $US214.08 to buy a return ticket JHB-HRE in order for me to be allowed onto the Airlink flight on that morning or else risk losing my job in SA, otherwise I do not even have a full explanation as to why I had to buy one yet. Nothing at all was endorsed on the ticket. Told them I had no intention of traveling back home soon but I was told it was mandatory if I wanted to go back to RSA.

Please note that I am Zimbabwean with a valid work permit - allowed to work in RSA. I have been working in RSA since Dec 2008 and I have visited home on several occasions via various modes of transport. Please do explain to me what this means? Is this the new law that one has to buy 3 tickets in order for them to travel with SAA??? What if I want to drive back home on my next visit? Why was this not communicated to me on the day I bought the forward tickets for flight SA28 @ 14:55 on Wednesday the 21st of June 2017?

I am now scared to fly home in case this repeats itself. I was even told that if I were to claim for a refund only the taxes would be refunded and not the full ticket. Furthermore the lady went on to tell me that I had a year to use the ticket and not to worry :(!!! No one has the time to fully explain anything as they are busy chatting away - and preoccupied with other procedures.

Upon my arrival in SA that morning I asked the Immigration Officers to check their system with regards to my permit and all was in order I was advised to proceed to the RSA SAA offices to check my bookings. And explained to them about their check in system in Harare and they knew nothing about that and all my bookings were in order. I am greatly disappointed... Furthermore, no one answers the phones at the SAA Harare office or even at the customer call center on 0119782888.

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: June 10, 2017

I booked a flight through SAA from East London to JHB on the 26 April 2017. SAA had a strike and decided to cancel all flights. When I got to the airport, I was informed to rebook another flight with another company. I rebooked the flight which cost me three times more than what I had paid. I have been struggling to get my refund and have been sent from pillar to post by SAA. I will never book with SAA again.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: April 14, 2017

I flew by SAA last week and again this week although I have, in the past, decided not to fly SAA again since way back when. Having given SAA another chance to put things right, this didn't happen. My husband and I flew from Durban, via Johannesburg to Mauritius on 11th March on SA 528 and SA 180, as did two of our friends, Mr and Mrs M **. The flight to Johannesburg and Mauritius was fine, so far so good. We then returned on 23rd March, on SA 193 and were seated about halfway down the aeroplane. The cabin crew served drinks and then served lunch, starting at the front of the aeroplane and working backwards. They served the people sitting on the opposite side of the plane (we were in seats 21E and F) and then the steward took the remainder of the lunches in a pile to the back of the plane, to do with I know not what.

Half an hour later, we were still waiting for our lunch and when I turned around to see where he had gone, they were serving the passengers behind us. He eventually reached our seats, handed me a tray, my husband a tray and the other passenger a tray, without so much as “I am sorry but this is all we have left” OR “I do hope you eat fish” or any such remark. On opening it, we discovered we all had the same fish meal, which neither my husband nor I eat, and the man in the third seat tried his and after one bite, put it aside, saying it was disgusting. I cut a small piece off the cake pudding which I could not eat and waited for the staff to take it away.

There was a baby nearby crying continuously throughout the journey, which was most off putting, but, as a mother and grandmother myself, I do know it is difficult to stop a baby from crying so tried to ignore it and use the headphones, which didn't work, I tried my husband’s which also didn't work and eventually the other passenger’s which didn't work. I rang for the steward to ask him for more which he eventually brought to me, which did work. My question is, why are these headphones not tested before they are carefully put into plastic bags for the passengers’ satisfaction to be able to watch, AND LISTEN to the film which was being shown. By the time I had working headphones, the film was halfway through and I could not get any music on the other channels.

When we reached Johannesburg, and the plane stopped, we were shepherded down the steps in the pouring rain without being given help with baggage. I had carry on baggage which is quite difficult for a woman of 79 to carry and to hold onto the balustrade to get down the steps, being soaked to the skin by a cloudburst. I would have thought SAA would have prime position at the main airport in South Africa, which obviously is not so. The airport is most confusing and should have more people to help passengers when they get off the bus, or preferably the plane which is obviously another story. We eventually found our way to the domestic departures and were called to go through the gates, where we stood waiting for 20 minutes for them to even open the gate.

On going through the door onto the plane, my small suitcase was taken from me and I was given a sticker with no explanation. When this happened to me years ago, the case was kept at the front of the plane and handed to me on disembarking which I thought would happen, as I had not locked the case, not knowing this was going to happen and which we are all aware could be just an invitation to have the case rifled. People were walking on with MUCH larger cases than mine and when I asked the stewardess where mine could be picked up, she told me the carousel as it was now in the hold. I had used the same suitcase from Durban through Johannesburg, Mauritius, Johannesburg and only then was stopped and had it taken away from me.

The only other article that I was carrying was my handbag and she said I was allowed one item, which is absolute nonsense when people come on board with a couple of items and even with their duty free bags as well as their handbags and suitcases. I had vowed I would not fly SAA many many years ago and wish I had stuck to that instead of doing what I did. My friends, who went to Mauritius on the same plane but came back on the Sunday before we did, 19th March, had more or less the same experience, disgusting fish for lunch, no choice, bus from the plane to the airport, disdain from the cabin crew who looked as though they thought they were doing everyone a favour when it is they who are being done the favour by passengers flying on SAA, other than that they would have no jobs.

We were told ad infinitum that our safety is SAAs concern, but also the comfort of passengers whilst in flight and after the flight should be of great concern as people will only return as passengers if they feel the airline has their best interests at heart and I certainly cannot say that in all honesty about SAA. Either the crew is not trained properly or SAA have no interest in their passengers’ comfort, which I am sure is not the case. SAA has lost a great deal of money in the past and I am sure will do so in the future when people (passengers) revolt and use other airlines which is their prerogative if they feel they are not being treated in any way like a valued passenger.

Just one more point my daughter phoned SAA before we left to advise them that we would be travelling to Mauritius for our 60th wedding anniversary and to ask if they could make it a little special for us. Nothing was done and when she found out, she again wrote to SAA asking that the return trip could be made a little special, perhaps by offering a glass of champagne. Of course, nothing was done on the return journey which she was most disappointed about as the person who answered the phone had assured her that everything would be done to make our flight special. Our special flight made sure we were right in the middle of the wide bodied plane in very crowded conditions.

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Original review: April 4, 2017

I recently flew SAA and can confirm that that is THE last time I ever will. My family and I flew to Port Elizabeth from London. We flew Virgin to JHB then BA to PE, no issues at all, and a very pleasant trip. Coming back was with SAA to JHB then Virgin onwards to London. When we went to check in at the SAA desk in PE I was told that there was an error with my name and they could not allow me onto the flight. Despite me pointing out that I flew all the way from London with nobody objecting to the minor error (there was 1 letter extra in my surname), they insisted they could not allow me to fly to the UK with an 'incorrect' ticket, and there was absolutely NO consideration that I was traveling with my wife, a 3 year old and our baby of 10 months.

In short I was very abruptly told I would have to buy a new ticket for the entire journey. The check in staff seemed completely incapable of making simple decisions without having to constantly go into a back room for advice. This to me implies the staff are very poorly trained. I eventually insisted on speaking to the 'team leader', after explaining the whole thing to her, she also insisted that I could not go to London with my ticket, even though I'd flown from there with exactly the same ticket. After much pleading I managed to thankfully allow her to fly me through to JHB only, and despite her insistence that Virgin would not allow me onto the flight either, I was more than thrilled to be on the flight.

On arriving in JHB, we collected our luggage and went to check in at the Virgin desk for the flight to London... no problem whatsoever. When I told the check in staff about SAA's reaction to the error on the ticket, they laughed, and rightly said... 'mistakes happen, sometimes all it takes is some common senses'. I later found out that this is an SAA policy, nothing to do with the government or aviation authorities, which I find ridiculously inflexible and leaves you at the mercy of the person behind the desk because of a simple mistake. I would recommend anyone thinking of flying with SAA to seriously reconsider, it's not worth it at all and there are cheaper and better local options.

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: March 27, 2017

I flew SAA from Johannesburg to the USA, on the 27 February and back again on the 16 March 2017, both flights were 16 hours and 14 hours respectively. On both flights we were given a meal an hour into the flight and again two hours before we landed. Nothing else in-between!! Not even water was offered!!! I ordered a vegan meal and did not receive it. Apparently no vegan meals were assigned to my seat no. although it was requested. Who is the idiot, that assigns the food orders to the incorrect seats??? When I put the light on for an air-hostess, she casually walked by and put the light off, without even asking I had put the light on. I am annoyed and upset at the lack of service. This not the first time I flew SAA. In the past the service was excellent and now it's almost non-existent. Something is completely amiss, with lack of good customer service, you lose customers... SAA not grasping that concept!

Starving your customers may be one way to save money but in the long run you lose customers. And the air-hostesses are rude; I am not paying to be ignored and endure their bad attitude!! We all have bad days, they should suck it up, smile and be courteous because I am one of the people paying their salaries!! And I did not pay for lack of service and a bad attitude! A complete overhaul of SAA management and staff. Start from scratch. Hire professional people please. Their lack of professionalism shows. Thanks you ruining South Africa's image even further!!

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: March 6, 2017

I was flying with South African Airways from JFK on Saturday, December 17 to Johannesburg and then to Mauritius. My flight SA 0204 from JFK was delayed by about 3 hours due to snow storm (most of it we were sitting inside the plane during this time). I was traveling business class and during time we were sitting on the plane waiting for go ahead, stewardess never offered drinks or snacks to people(!?). Then, when we got in air, stewardess passed menu and I ordered what was on it. However, she brought totally different meal without any explanation why it looks different from what described on the menu.

After a few minutes, I called her and confronted that my food is not what I ordered and I was told that meals they got had different fish instead of salmon. So, why no one even bother telling me that ahead of time?! Maybe I would pick something else from the menu. And if I would not say anything, she would never brought up to me that I am served a wrong meal(!?). Then we got to Johannesburg and because of the delays at JFK we never made to our original connection flight to Mauritius. So our luggage was taken out from the flight and stored in the basement instead of giving it to us with the rest luggage people were getting from our flight. We were told to go and claim our luggage and we had to wait for about 6 hours until they located it in the basement and brought up to the claim office. It was very stressful and exhausting!

When I got to Mauritius eventually and open my luggage and had to smell my perfume all over it! And I found a slip from airline that my luggage was searched. The only reason I can think of why my perfume was spilled all over is that during a search someone opened it and didn't close completely. At the end of the day, I am looking for airlines reimburse the cost of the perfume so I can buy a new one and looking for a partial refund since the service I got wasn't the business class service/treatment.

I submitted my complain back in December and since then I kept following up on the status of it till now - no one responding via email or when I try to reach by phone on their local number, I am on hold for hours. I tried to reach USA customer service but they seem have no access to give me an update (dealed with Kareen ** for the last two months but she gives me the same speech every time!). I am extremely disappointed with service!

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Jan. 11, 2017

I flew form South Africa with SAA and checked in a gun after I paid a $50 special handling fee for the gun. The gun did not arrive with me in Dulles Airport (a direct flight). I reported it and received a File Reference numbers with telephone numbers to call. I called every day for 9 days without once being able to speak to someone. I left numerous messages at their offices in Dulles Airport and Fort Lauderdale FL, but no one ever called me back.

On the tenth day I received a call from a sub-contractor that told me he would ship my gun to a town 1.5 hours drive from me, but I have to pick it up there! I told him that SAA needs to call me; I paid the handling fee, they need to drop it off at my home. It has been 3 days now since this call, I made more calls to SAA and left more messages, still no response. It has been 12 days now that my gun has been delayed and I was still not able to speak to one customer service agent of SAA. I start to believe SAA does not have a customer service department!

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Jan. 4, 2017

At Johannesburg airport, getting to get to the gate was unpleasant. It was in an un-airconditioned section of the airport, there was no seating and all round, I found staff rude and unhelpful. When you ask questions they can't be bothered to reply pleasantly! It feels as if clients are just an annoyance. When we got onto the aeroplane, the air conditioning was not on and it was like an oven. One of my party had a seat that was broken and when we informed the staff we were basically just shouted at, saying they already knew it was a problem. The staff were just sitting in the kitchen area chatting and drinking water while we were boarding. No help was offered.

I have flown many other airlines throughout the world and the staff are always in the aisles assisting with bags and seating and have smiles on their faces. Inflight entertainment was very poor and did not work for some time after take off. When they did get it working, the choice of films was poor. Air conditioning was only turned on after we were in the air for quite some time!!! My daughter had fallen and cut herself just before departure and it was bleeding so we asked staff for a plaster. They would not give us one saying that they had had a lot of injuries so there was nothing in the first aid kit. After asking 5 times they eventually gave her cream and a plaster. All the time the staff attitude is one of irritation and inconvenience. There is NO CUSTOMER CARE. We would definitely not fly SAA again. They need proper training in customer care and good service.

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Original review: Jan. 2, 2017

Be warned!! I was on tarmac at O.R. Tambo and was instructed that my cabin luggage would not fit in overhead compartment (rucksack 50cmx35cmx20 cm). I was not the only one! They sky check it in and load in undercarriage. An hour later land in Bulawayo you handed your luggage directly from plane on tarmac! Lo and behold your items have disappeared!! Inform them then they tell you read small print they are not liable??? They plane cannot carry normal sized cabin luggage in cabin but now it's your fault!!! Rubbish airline SA Airlink/South African Airways.

Original review: Dec. 15, 2016

Received my online confirmation for a Flight from Cape Town 22 Nov 2016 to New York return Cape Town on 22 Dec 2016. Looked only at departure date which was as booked. At airport on departure I discovered SAA booked me NOT for 22nd Dec but for 23 Dec arriving back in SA 2 days later. SAA booked my return flight New York - Washington (via Jet Blue) for 23rd Dec. Waiting to board SAA... 17 hours later (which account for the 2 day flight arriving Cape Town late at night on Christmas day... ALL PROTESTS WERE MET WITH INDIFFERENCE FROM SAA BOTH IN JHB AND FLORIDA. I have traveled many Airlines as I travel twice each year because I live both in SA and USA... I have sworn on everything Holy that I will never ever fly SAA ever again unless I have no other option. This is not my first bad experience with SAA but it will certainly be the last lest I wish to subject myself to further abuse from SAA.

Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Dec. 8, 2016

This is the first time I fly SAA and it is most definitely the last. My work booked a return flight from JHB to Harare. When I left JHB the flight was delayed and now I'm still stilling in the airport and it's 20:30 and we were to board at 18:00. And according to them the delay is another hour! Because the aircraft hasn't arrived yet. I've flown many other airlines and this is certainly the WORST AIRLINE EVER! No wonder they are bankrupt, always in financial distress and the deserve to be liquidated! They really wiped their A** on the customers and have no idea what service is.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: Nov. 16, 2016

"South African Airways strives to inspire our customers with African hospitality in every detail, every time. Commitment to our passengers is key to our brand and we strive to get it right, first time, every time. Contact us should you have any customer care related queries." Above promised commitment a boo ha ha story. And the worst part is the customers can complain because nothing is done about it. IF YOU WANT TO BE TREATED BAD - FLY SAA. Very unfriendly people. South Africa's warmest welcome - what a bull and crap. THIS AIRLINE DESERVES TO BE CLOSED DOWN!

Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Oct. 3, 2016

I have been in contact with Peter ** at SAA Express. I have also gotten case numbers from Mumtaz **. Well contact being getting case numbers - I have more than 5 case numbers. NOBODY seem to care to respond after that. Flysaa say SAA Express is responsible. Although you book by logging into FLYSAA website and THEY take your money...

On 8 February 2016 I booked a flight for Jaco ** on a SAA flight from East London to Johannesburg. Booking Ref: **. 30 April 2016 to depart 9.15am from EL to Jhb. Jaco was suppose to get on a Air Mauritius flight in Johannesburg to fly to Mauritius at 13.35pm for his brother's wedding. He arrived at EL airport 2 hours prior to departure time. They were only told after waiting that the flight has been delayed. So it went on. If someone could have said the flight was delayed and would not be taking off for entire day he could have gone to Kulula to book their next flight. By the time they were told that the flight were not to happen the Air Mauritius flight in Jhb has already left... He was eventually flew to Durban then from there to Jhb.

He only the next day got another flight at 13.35pm from JHB to Mauritius. AT A COST OF A EXTRA R 6100. In total he spend more than a day at the airport. Lost his flight to Mauritius. Lost a day in Mauritius FOR WHICH HE ALSO ALREADY PAID THE ACCOMMODATION AND then extra trip from the airport to North of Island (he was suppose to drive there with group and not pay another R 2100 for the trip up). ONLY TO BE TOLD BY SAA that they only need to get him to his destination of booking, whether on time or not.

Is this the type of customer service you obey by? The flight being delayed indefinite caused him to lose OVER R 12 000. DON'T GET ME WRONG I understand things go wrong but surely SAA could have put him on a SAA flight to Mauritius?? And not have a NO CARE attitude... I am not asking for a refund but a goodwill sort of agreement. Can SAA then at least give him credit of a flight to Mauritius that was lost due to SAA. I hope I will get a reply to this mail as it's really sad what has happened. What if he did not have the R6100 he had to pay in at airport to get to Mauritius? I can email all supporting documents as proof.

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Sept. 19, 2016

My husband boarded a JFK New York bound flight from Gaborone, Botswana on Friday, 16 September 2016, and had a delayed luggage. He was supposed to pick a Calgary bound flight and hence after making the requisite complaint he boarded the flight with only the clothes on his back. I made enquiries on his behalf regarding the fate of the luggage and was told that when the said luggage is found, it would be sent to YYC where he would have to come pick it up. This is very unfair as I don't understand why a traveller has to pay for an airline's inefficiency and Ineptitude.

This same thing happened to me and my kids earlier this year on our way back to Gaborone from Washington Dulles. After waiting for four hours at Gaborone Airport despite having been on a 16 hour flight with two toddlers, I was told I would be informed when my luggage gets to the appropriate destination only for them to call me to come pick it up and I had to make a 2 hour trip back to rectify a problem I didn't create in the first place. And to top it, the desk staff were so unfriendly and cold. Now, same thing again happening to my husband in a country he is not a resident of. I do not think this is the way Star Alliance to which SAA proudly admits to being a member treats its clients. I have called the complaints desk severally and was put on hold for hours unending. This is so upsetting and I wish there was a way I could make them pay. Bottom line, don't fly SAA except your life depends on it.

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Verified Buyer
Original review: Sept. 5, 2016

1st Sep 2016. JNB-LHR. SA234. 7.55 pm. Rescheduled @ 6.30 am 2nd Sep. Late notice cancellation. Reason given: Tech Issues. However one ground worker (not SAA employee) at JNB airport told me they often do this if the flight is not full enough to justify the flight. The delay allows a great number of passengers, who knows? Was told no compensation as it was a tech problem. All a bit convenient don't you think? First time with SAA. Guess I better go back to BA. AP. UK.

Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Aug. 25, 2016

Baggage Damage and Theft - No claim followup. SAX flight SA1348 delayed over 5+ hours. Baggage arrived at Port Elizabeth in tatters with items stolen from CHECK-IN bags. Report filed and claim made WEEKS ago. No response from SAA or SAX - in violation of Montreal Convention. Service sucks. Filing an IATA and FAA complaint and follow up in Small Claims. Service SUCKS. Will not fly South African again.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: July 11, 2016

I booked a two tickets from Jhb to Pietermaritzburg and back from Travelstart. On my ticket my initials showed JMJ. On the arrival at the airport, today 11-07 at 11:15 I showed the lady at ticket counter 90 or 91, she was the only ** lady working there at that moment, my ticket and my ID Book. She said to me "This is not you, so I cannot give you the boarding pass because my ID Book shows the full names." I showed her my driving license which shows JMJ. She said "No that is too late now." So I bought a new ticket.

Coming back to the ticket counter that ** lady left her post and I was helped by a different lady. She took my ticket and booked me in on my original/old ticket, with JMJ, to Pietermaritzburg and back. Now I am trying to get refund for second ticket which I was forced to buy and never used. Airlink says "No it is Travelstart." Travelstart says "No it is Airlink problem." In other words: To MY opinion Airlink made a mistake by not accepting initially my driving license. But the customer is sent from "pillar to post". Can Airlink at least try to correct their mistake made by their employee.

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: May 16, 2016

After dreaming for 10 days holiday with my 1 year old SAA had nothing better to offer than to get our baggage lost. We had to buy new clothing and l was so stressed out. Could not go to my final destination. We had to rent guesthouse with the hope the baggage will be located sooner but no. Their claim form is a joke. 3 months later no reply and no one cares. After tenth phone call each day l start to get tired even. My baby celebration ended in a guesthouse near the airport. I would like a refund. Such a poor service.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: April 21, 2016

My family was travelling from Moscow to Windhoek on the April 5-6th 2016. Moscow-Doha, Doha-Johannesburg were operated by Qatar Airlines. Johannesburg-Windhoek - by South African Airlines. On the arrival to Windhoek all 3 checked-in bags were missing so my parents submitted a claim to SAA. The next day one of the missing bags were delivered. The others remain lost. Qatar Airlines assured me that the luggage was delivered to Johannesburg and then it looks like the bags just vanished. It's been 2.5 weeks already and we are still waiting.

I also received a call from the SAA rep saying that the bags got lost completely. How on earth could it happen? They say it is impossible to steal there as there are cameras everywhere. But the bags couldn't just disappear!!! We even provide them with the photos of the bags to make it easier to look for them... There were a lot of valuable gifts in those bags and personal stuff and it is obvious to me that they just attracted somebody's attention at the airport as we know for a fact that the bags' content gets scanned. I am shocked if not to say more! Terrible customer service. Nobody replies to emails. And they do a huge favor talking to you on the phone. SAA doesn't deserve even a 1 star. I will never ever fly with this ridiculously awful company and will recommend everyone to use something else.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: April 19, 2016

My husband and I flew to ELS from OR Tambo Saturday morning (16/04/2016). We get to ELS and our luggage is missing. We then get told that our luggage was in Joburg. We are livid and beyond disappointed with SAA, the lady (she had nothing to say to us) at baggage claims and Lundi (supposedly manager). Let me tell you both these people were unsympathetic, unprofessional and pathetic. I did not expect to deal with such incompetence from SAA. I feel that we deserve our money back as SAA did not deliver, we had no reasons to be in ELS after what happened. We had no clothes and had no choice but to buy new clothes for the wedding.

I have never been inconvenienced like that in my life, we paid SAA for God sakes. I was in tears, stood there hopeless for 4 hours waiting for Lundi to tell us if we were getting our bags or not. This guy sat in his office the whole time and we had to run after him, in and out of his office and yet he knew where we were sitting. The wedding was at 14h00 and we only arrived there 4 hours later. We deserve more than just a compensation, reimbursed us for the clothes we had to buy. We deserve a good explanation as to why our bag didn't make it to ELS. After reading reviews I have concluded that SAA is not what I thought it was; no wonder they are doing so badly every year and exhausting funds from the government. They desperately need training on customer service.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: April 5, 2016

I have an ongoing problem with SAA, it has been a few years now since I have tried to stop them sending me newsletters. I unsubscribe on every one I receive, I write to the (email@ customer service) regularly and I get a receipt email with a ref no. then a survey request on the performance of my complaint about an hour later, they are pathetic, avoid using them. Their admin is obviously as poor as their flights.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: March 4, 2016

I booked tickets for myself and two little boys on the 30/12/2015 to travel from Sydney to Johannesburg on the 15/09/2016. On the 13/01/2016 (two weeks after tickets were booked) I had to unfortunately cancel my tickets. I did the cancellation online and was prompted that I would incur a $200 cancellation fee and that the refund will take 21 days. 6 weeks later the refund was paid to me less $1350!!! They charged me $450 per ticket to cancel!!! How can that be justified? When I asked them I got told that's the fee on my fare, "get over it, and claim it from your travel insurer." Obviously I didn't get insurance.

$450 is over 40% of a child's fare! $1350 was 38% of the total fare paid. Their terms and conditions are clear as mud. I'm trying to find something on their website of the different charges for different fares, nothing is clear! If I knew they were going to charge me that much I never would have cancelled! Terrible service, terrible company! Don't fly SAA!!!

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Jan. 15, 2016

I booked a family holiday for 3 members on SAA. JHB - Cape Town - JHB, and then on the same booking JHB - Munich - JHB. I did this through the website around August 2015. The evening before departing on the first leg on 18th December 2015, I tried online check in and it said there was a problem. After almost an hour waiting on the phone to the call centre, I was told that the first leg, using Mango as the code share, had been cancelled. No alternative was offered. The call centre was useless. However, finally I got hold of the manageress and she was very helpful and we were placed on SA323 on the same day.

She emailed me a new electronic ticket and we thought all was well. In the event, it was a complete mess. Every leg of the flight was cancelled and no bookings were in place. The return trip to Johannesburg had to be fought for at Cape Town Airport, with Mango and SAA both accusing each other. The Munich-JHB return leg was missing and I had to contact a friend in SA to fight to get it reinstated.

On arrival in Munich we discovered we were one of many who had their bookings either cancelled or shifted. There was a crowd around the check-in counters. The flight was grossly overbooked. The German check-in agents tried their best. In the end a number of people were bumped up into Business Class!! (Not us). What a slap in the face for those passengers who had actually paid the Business Class airfare. The flight itself was good, but the aircraft is tired. The seats are broken, the TV screens poor, the hostesses are surly. I will stay away from SAA wherever possible. It's a bankrupt airline with incompetent management, bailed out constantly by taxpayer's hard-earned money.

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Jan. 4, 2016

On Oct. 27, 2015 - amidst great civil unrest and turmoil in both Pretoria and Johannesburg - my wife and I arrived at the Johannesburg airport at approximately 12:20 for our 1:00 pm departure to Cape Town. This was Day 4 of a long-awaited vacation to South Africa, and our native South African driver took an alternate route from our hotel in Pretoria avoiding most but not all of the unrest. Counter personnel and the SAA supervisor, however, would not consider our extenuating circumstances. We were simply "too late" to board. It should be noted that on our SAA itinerary of 8 total flights every single one departed and arrived late - up to 90 minutes late! Our tickets were electronically cancelled in the SAA system (not just our Johannesburg/Cape Town flight but all 5 remaining tickets on our itinerary, including our flight back to the United States). They were completely voided and worthless.

The SAA supervisor suggested we contact our travel agent in the U.S. We had no working phone or computer and asked if she would please help us. She turned and walked away! We were abruptly left completely on our own 9,000 miles from home, frightened, in a hostile international situation, receiving no customer service - no help of any kind whatsoever - from the airline we had chosen. My wife and I are 70 years old, and after six orthopedic surgeries, she is handicapped. Our advanced age and my wife's handicapped condition were of no importance whatsoever to the SAA staff. We did not let age or infirmity prevent our taking this long-awaited "dream trip" to South Africa. But it instantly had become a nightmare that was about to get much worse.

With great difficulty and expense, we finally contacted our travel agent who said we should simply be put on the next flight to Cape Town. When we convinced her that SAA would not even consider doing that, she investigated further and called us back to say SAA was demanding more money to "restore" our tickets - a lot more money - $699.20 US, 9,800ZAR. A close friend in the U.S. made the necessary phone calls and arrangements, and this exorbitant penalty was paid to SAA through our travel agent. Then, and only then, were our 5 remaining flights restored to us - same times, same flight numbers, same seats, same exact everything. We felt robbed in broad daylight. We felt kidnapped until we could pay the ransom. This penalty completely wiped out our personal expense funds for the remainder of our trip.

I read every word on our original tickets, including the fine print. There's absolutely nothing said about this egregious penalty should we be made late for any reason, let alone when this troubled nation was in the midst of unnerving political turmoil and civil unrest. In my opinion, this is rank corruption. We were "held hostage" by SAA. In Accra, Ghana, we were also forced to remain on the plane while it was being fumigated and made very sick. We've made appeal after appeal to SAA for a full and comprehensive review of this matter, but have heard nothing.

From reading many other reviews, this seems par for the SAA course. This incident has also been reported to the United States Embassy in Pretoria and to a representative of Star Alliance, who assured us this is not the way Star Alliance should ever treat its customers. There was no respect, no human compassion whatsoever, shown to us by SAA. A bankrupt airline cannot gouge customers like this to achieve solvency. We will never fly with SAA again and have written this to warn all others!

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: Jan. 4, 2016

RE: PASSENGERS Anne ** and Paul **. We were scheduled on SAA Flight 336 from Cape Town to Jo'burg departing at 14:00 on Sat, Jan 2. We arrived at the airport over 2 hours before our flight and waited in line for over an hour to find that our flight (the most common flight offered) was delayed. First only an hour which eventually turned into 5 hours, causing us to miss our international connection to Dulles in Washington DC. We asked to be re-booked on to one of the other dozen flights leaving for Jo'burg or coming back the next day to try to leave early in the morning and were told that there were no options other than to wait because the next available flight from Cape Town was on Wednesday. The gate agents in Capetown would only give us boarding passes to Jo'burg because they claimed they couldn't do anything from there regarding the international connections and that it would be taken care of upon arrival.

Our bags were only checked thru to Jo'burg (and we had to collect them upon arrival and needed to get boarding passes for the flight we had been "automatically" re-booked on to Dulles leaving at 20:00 that they were holding for us. An arrangement we were not even informed of until we landed. Upon arrival to Jo'burg going down the slippery jet way steps to the shuttle, Mr. ** slipped and sliced open his right big toe which was profusely bleeding and was immediately reported to SAA agents who didn't even have a first aid kit with a bandage, requiring him to use toilet paper to absorb the bleeding. We collected our bags in Jo'burg and went to the baggage recheck desk and waited in line for 30 minutes for the "supervisor" to tell us we needed to go to another desk to get tickets before she could book our bags.

We wait for another 30 minutes for the people at that desk to tell us that we had to go back to the line we were just in, because in the hour that we had been waiting in line, they couldn't hold the flight any longer and had closed the gate. We were sent back to the original desk with the "supervisor" who told us that there was no flight being held for us, no one ever told us that, and we were being booked into a hotel and being re-booked on a flight 24 hours AFTER the original flight we had missed. As we're walking out of the airport, all of our bags in hand we run into the gate agent for the flight to Dulles, who informed us that, Yes in fact the flight was being held for us but they were told that no one else was coming and to close the gates. Additionally South African Airways refused to book our final leg from Dulles to Tampa saying that we would have to take care of that domestically when we land in Washington, DC.

At this point, we have no idea when we will be returning back to Florida. We are scheduled to work on Monday and won't be arriving back into Dulles until early Monday AM with no connection back to Tampa as of now and Zero options offered by South African Airways. We have people that we are paying to watch our pets that will need additional compensation, we are missing out on a day of work, possibly more. We are stranded in Jo'burg, hoping to get on an international flight to the USA with no guarantees and South African Airways refusing to make any other accommodations or provide any other options on other airlines. We can't even tell our own employers when we'll be back to work, because we don't know which puts our jobs in jeopardy. There is a tremendous breakdown in communication amongst SAA employees, a huge lack of customer service and I am not surprised that this company participates in an annual bail out.

I wish I had done more due diligence when booking our flights, because it seems as though our circumstances are not the exception, but the rule. The way this company does business is shameful, the way they treat their customers is deplorable. I'm apprehensive to even send this now as we are still stuck in SAA purgatory and I fear a complaint lodged prior to our safe return to American soil will strand us even further. At this point I am looking for domestic flights from IAD to TPA and considering just booking one to ensure that I do in fact get home. This experience has been expensive and awful. We had a great vacation, spent a lot of money in this country, we did our part to stimulate the economy but SAA makes me VERY hesitant to ever return here.

Addendum: I'm glad that I didn't send this when I had because our experience has gone from worse to unfathomable. We were booked onto flight 209 out of Jo'burg. While waiting in the gate security line, the searching agent who went thru my bags insisted that I give her one of the packs of cigarettes from the carton I had purchased as a gift before letting me thru. Flight 209 was then an hour delayed, sitting at the gate because there was "no cork screw on board" according to the captain so we waited on the plane for AN HOUR until catering came to bring a cork screw. Because of the delay we missed our connection at Dulles to Tampa which was supposed to depart at 8:30 am.

We have been re-booked a flight at 17:30 pm! After speaking to Krystal at customer service, who has been the ONLY semi helpful person employed by SAA, she managed to have Lilly, supposedly the ONLY representative for SAA in a major International Airport to come to speak with us as we are now stuck here for 10 hours and as an additional slap in the face, she offered us $15 meal vouchers. This alone is shameful and completely unacceptable. The infuriation and disappointment I feel with South African airlines is beyond words. This company has cost us not only valuable time but also several thousand dollars in lost revenue and put our employment and livelihood in jeopardy.

While we understand that there are unforeseeable things that happen, especially with international travel the complete lack of customer service and indifference regarding our loss of time and money, the lack of willingness to do anything to accommodate us at all is what we find unacceptable. We are requesting full reimbursement for the S. AFRICA to USA leg of this trip for passengers ** and **. In addition the monies spent on oodles and beverage while stranded in Dulles Airport over the $15 issued by SAA (receipts will be provided). We do not want a voucher or credit as we Never intended to fly SAA ever again.

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Dec. 21, 2015

I bought a ticket back in June 2015 and later learnt that my daughter that I had intended of visiting was relocated back to US. I sent SAA an email to refund my ticket. I was never contacted for over a month, but when I called them, I was informed that my ticket was refunded on the day my email was received. Only $103 was refunded out of $1500.00. They claimed that the ticket was non-refundable but they could have responded back stating that. Every time I called, I would get contradictory information. Although their site claims to respond to emails within 48 hours, it is not so. This company does not even deserve a star

Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Dec. 20, 2015

I flew from Cape Town to Munich to do some concerts and my luggage did not arrive with me. I had a concert the same evening of my arrival so I had to go out and buy new clothes, new evening gown and shoes. At the Munich airport, Lufthansa deals with SAA lost baggage but they are not authorized to give any answers and they also have very limited access to SAA. So I was given numbers to call in Frankfurt and in Johannesburg because they can't deal with the situation themselves. After 4 days, my luggage was identified through some of the contents. The luggage has obviously been damaged or broken into and all the tags were gone.

Since then, there has been no word form SAA as to when it will be sent to me in Munich. I call Munich, Frankfurt and Johannesburg several times a day and they said that there has been no communication or update on my luggage. All they have to do is just put the suitcase on the next plane to Munich and they just ignore the requests. And judging by all the comments I have heard about theft, I am afraid that anything valuable in my luggage, my evening gowns and jewelry won't make it if or when I ever get the suitcase back.

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South African Airways Company Information

Company Name:
South African Airways