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About South African Airways
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Reviewed Sept. 12, 2019
Over the last few weeks we tried to contact SAA reservation in Australia in order to change our flight from Manu to Capetown. The website of SAA that suppose to enable change does not work and we tried about 12 times to contact SAA offices in Sydney or Perth. We had to wait each time 20-50 minutes with no response.
Reviewed Aug. 12, 2019
The only reason we chose one star was because we couldn’t choose lower. We received absolutely shocking service from the staff at the Port Elizabeth International (not close to being an international airport) airport. They overbooked their flight and although we arrived a whole 2 hrs before boarding they denied our boarding and rebooked us on a flight 3 hrs later which made us miss our connecting flights which they say is not their issue as we didn’t book with them although it’s impossible to book direct from PLZ to NL. We had desk staff (Devon) walking away from us and managers (no name given) going on lunch break in the middle of the issue without any solution leaving us high and dry to deal with everything ourselves.
At the end we were offered a R1000 discount voucher to anywhere in SA (flying with SAA) valid for 1 year, of course as we don’t come from SA their “gesture” is more of a slap in the face than anything else as it’s very unlikely that any international traveler would come to SA in a 12-month turnaround, book a flight with the same disappointing air carrier, and not forgetting that R1000 is not even a quarter of an actual ticket price within SA. As an international traveler to South Africa I can honestly say that we will NEVER book with SAA again and can see why they are indeed bankrupt.
Reviewed June 21, 2019
I had to cancel an upcoming SAA flight for a 14 yo boy from South Africa who’d been living with for 2 years in NYC. His mother died suddenly last week and we needed to get him home to Port Elizabeth ASAP. In this type of case SAA refund policy requires a scanned, legible copy of the death certificate for refund. I email a refund request with details of the circumstances along with a very legible scan of the mom’s death certificate. In their response SAA refund office they insisted that the scan was an illegible photo of the certificate. The straight lines and square corners clearly shows that it is a scan and EVERY word on the scanned copy is legible. I’ve gone back and forth multiple times and get the same frustrating response. The fact that this involved the death of a boy’s mother makes it more heartless and, really, gross.
Reviewed May 24, 2019
The worst online booking system ever! After 6h30 minutes in front of the PC and on the phone for additional 2h I was unable to finish the booking. The price shown is 836 USD, then the payment gives you a mistake, then you call to pay for the booking and suddenly the price is 1,200 USD! CRAZY! Never ever doing this again! VERY frustrated!
Reviewed May 1, 2019
To whom it may concern,
I’m currently writing this review because I have not had any luck/response from emails from my complaints that I had on a flight to Accra. I was a passenger on the South African Airways on a 2/25/19 and I would to make a complaint in requiring a flight attendant name Monday ( Mondae). I felt that he was very rude to me the entire flight. It start off when I asked him for a SWEET bottle of wine. He then stated that he has wine available and he showed me two bottles. I asked him which wine was Sweet he said they were both dry so I decline. He then rude shove the bottles back in the draw and handed me a Coke and a cup of ice.
I don’t appreciate his attitude his job is to serve the passenger. This is just one of my incidents with this particular flight attendant. Hope that his attitude toward passenger will be addressed ASAP. The second incident was when he ask me if I could put my seat up and then without giving me a chance to respond, he rudely pushed my seat up himself.
On the same flight a female flight attendant refused to let me us the rear restroom even though there was a long line at the middle restroom on the plane, I felt discriminated against and treated with ample amount of disrespect, I'm not looking forward to flying with South African Airways in the future unless this issue is acknowledged and resolved.
Reviewed April 2, 2019
I have been trying to amend my Surname on my account. I have sent numerous emails with my passport and etickets to claim miles from last year and this year, till today my issue has not been resolved. I've been given emails upon emails to send and resend but nothing has happened, and now been told I have lost my miles from last year almost 60000 worth and my surname issue is still not resolved. Yesterday was eventually given supervisors email and was told will get a response within an hour, it's been 24 hrs nothing. All I want is to correct my name and claim my miles. It's taken almost 100 calls countless emails, tons of aggravation and still my issue is not resolve. My name hasn't been changed and my miles not applied. Apparently you can't speak to a supervisor or manager. You can only email them and they never respond, no fax number either. I'm at wits end. Someone please help!
Reviewed Feb. 1, 2019
The costs of air tickets are probably the most expensive cost of an overseas holiday. One of the services you pay for is the in flight entertainment. I flew to Australia on 27 December 2018, and the in flight entertainment was not working, and I cannot sleep on an aircraft, so it was an extremely long and uncomfortable flight. I flew back from Perth to Johannesburg on 11 January 2019, and lo and behold, the in flight entertainment was not working AGAIN! All that we get told is sorry, but sometimes sorry is not enough as the air tickets are very expensive and we expect a better service. I did lodge a complaint on the SAA website on 15 January 2019, and was told that my complaint will be answered in a few hours. However, it is now two weeks later, and still no reply. It gives the SAA brand a very bad name, especially to the overseas visitors on the aircraft.
Reviewed Dec. 20, 2018
I am never flying SAA again. They are experts at insensitively bumping passengers from flights when they overbook. I travel to South Africa and Zimbabwe once every 2 years. Because it's an important trip, I make sure to make my travel arrangements well ahead of time, at least 2 months advance. Last time (two years ago) I made this trip from JNB, they tried to put me on a later flight the next day, and I refused as I had nowhere to spend the night and was on a tight schedule. Today they told me I couldn't board because they were overbooked. At first they seemed unapologetic about it stating that they are authorized to overbook. My personal arrangements and the inconvenience to me didn't seem to matter. This only happens to me with SAA. Yes, they provided a meal voucher, and ZAR3000 towards my next flight, but that doesn't match the inconvenience brought about by their actions. I am never flying SAA again, due to their unreliability.
Reviewed Sept. 30, 2018
SAA Customer Care. I have just flown back from New York to Johannesburg on SAA on 28 Sep 2018. My Travelstart booking reference ** Ticket number **. I feel it very necessary to write this mail as I have flown a lot on many different airlines and I have NEVER had such a terrible experience as this flight. Could not check in online - I tried continuously during the 24 hours prior to departure and it always said I am ‘on standby’ and seat can’t be selected - because of this false notification, I did not sleep the entire night worrying. I called SAA South Africa and New York, I called Travelstart, I emailed both of them to sort this out. Finally I was told that I could only sort it when I arrive at JFK.
I managed to check in at JFK but the flight was full and I had to sit in the middle of the row of 4 - had the check-in allowed me to, I would have booked an aisle seat because I have a thrombosis in one leg and I need to walk frequently. The flight departed at 11.15 - after a short while we were served ‘lunch’ which was inedible - I tried the chicken. I tried the beef and finally gave up and just ate two biscuits with cheese. The entertainment centre didn’t work for the first 3 hours. After many requests and finally getting up and speaking to several crew members, they eventually re-booted the system.
By 8.30 PM we still had not been served any dinner - after asking a crew member, I was told ‘you can go and collect a sandwich from the galley’ Seriously?? This cannot even be legal that you don’t feed passengers dinner. Some passengers asked for a sandwich, others received no dinner at all. While I was waiting in the galley, a passenger asked a crew member for a cloth to clean the bathroom before she could use it.
I have not flown SAA very often but this was in a league of its own - I have never been on such a terrible flight in my entire life!! I feel 100% dissatisfied with the flight, I was so uncomfortable that I walked the aisles almost the entire night and I think to be told to get a sandwich for dinner is simply not acceptable. I feel that I wasted my hard-earned money by choosing SAA, and I would appreciate a reply which addresses all the above. I have started reading through your list of complaints and I see that there are MANY complaints of a similar nature!!! Perhaps you disregard all complaints as it appears they are repeated continually!! Have you refunded any passengers for the horrendous conditions?? Perhaps further action is required.
Reviewed Aug. 31, 2018
I had a flight with SAA from OR Thambo to Malawi Blantyre Chileka Airport with my 3 year old daughter on Monday the 27th at 10 am. FLIGHT number OJ7OIB. On our return flight to Blantyre I booked 2 extra suitcases to accommodate for all of this. And placed my one small hand luggage suitcase into one of my big suitcases so that I can take my LED computer monitor with me on board the same way I did going to Johannesburg. On arrival at the SAA counters while standing in the queue at check in (as it appeared that online check were down) I asked the supervisor there if she can arrange assistance for me to walk with my daughter and I from Check In to our gate A27 which I already know is a distance to walk especially with hand luggage and my daughter. Her response to me was that there is no assistance, and that I carry the hand luggage and my daughter carries whatever she can.
At the check in counter everything went smoothly with the luggage and the extra pieces. Again I asked if assistance can be arranged for me to walk to the gates, and again I was told there are no assistance that can be arranged. The check in officer went to the booking center to confirm that we have paid for the extra luggage. Before she left I asked her if everything is in order with the luggage. She came back a few minutes later when she spotted my LED monitor in a carry bag. She asked me what it is and I explained. She called the supervisor who told me it is not allowed on the aircraft. I explained that I flew with it as hand luggage from Blantyre. I said to her there should be no reason why I can't fly with it back. She explained that they don't allow TVs on board. I said I can understand that. But this is not something with coding or plasma. If we can fly with Laptops we can fly with this screen.
I asked her if there is anyone else that I can talk to about this. She said to me there is nobody. She said to me that this monitor will not go on the flight. She will not allow me to board the flight and for me to put the other passengers and SAA at risk. She is not going to take the risk for SAA to receive a fine from the airport. I felt to leave and take the risk to board as I flew with it from Blantyre. And there is no reason why this should be a risk or be a danger. She firmly told me that she will revoke my ticket and that I will not be able to fly. I asked her. "What would you like me to do? I am alone here. I can't phone anybody." She gave me her phone and said, "You can phone from my phone for your uncle to come and fetch it."
I asked again. And she walked off and came back with the floor manager. Who explained the same thing to me. They said I should go down to cargo to send it to Malawi. Paying again the extra fees. And this only minutes before we had to board. She said to me I need to leave the monitor at the check in counter and ask my uncle to come and fetch me. At this point she got busy with another client. I gathered all our hand luggage, handbag, baby bag and blanket to leave and make our way to the gate. I left the monitor there by her. And I said to her. "This is really terrible service from SAA and I will not choose to fly again as you can't even provide assistance for mothers with children."
My uncle fetched the monitor later during the day at which point there was a new supervisor at the section whom told him that they should have allowed us to board with it. I firstly find it very sad that SAA and the airport does not offer extra support to parents or single parents traveling with babies, toddlers or children. Getting everything ready to travel with a child, especially if it is a morning flight is incredibly stressful on parents, never mind a parent traveling alone! Then to get to the airport where there is no extra support makes any flight very hard. I really wish to see them in SA. Where we respect women, and mothers. There is staff available from the airport or the airline. But it seems too much effort to go the extra mile to make a flight a pleasant experience.
Reviewed July 22, 2018
We were scheduled to fly from Tampa, USA to Cape Town on March 21st. I was emailed on the afternoon of the 20th advising me of the cancellation of both our flights (Tampa-New York-Johannesburg) due to the impending storm in New York. Thankfully I noticed this email so I immediately called SAA and after 64 minutes on hold was told by an agent that the first available flight was on March 23rd. We were attending a reunion from the 23rd to 26th in Stellenbosch with accommodation prepaid, and non-refundable. This Reunion was the reason behind the travel to South Africa.
I realized that if we took this flight it would get us to our destination a day late, but we had no other choice than to accept this alternative. The SAA agent then went on to tell me that because I had booked through a third party (Orbitz) and not directly with SAA I would have to contact Orbitz to make these changes. I immediately called Orbitz and waited while Sid, the Orbitz agent, was on hold with SAA customer service line for 90 minutes before actually speaking to an agent at SAA.
Due to all these delays with the SAA customer phone service, or lack thereof, the original flight they had offered was full. The first available flight would be the 25th getting us to Cape Town just as the reunion was ending. Sid was then told that if we cancelled the ticket we would be given a non-transferable voucher for travel on the identical route valid for 12 months from the booking date (Jan 10th). My wife and I both work and would have to take unpaid leave to meet this requirement.
As soon as we returned from South Africa on April 5th I tried calling SAA to claim our ticket refunds and/or vouchers. They were less than obliging on the phone and gave me an email address to have my ticket cancellation resolved. Or so I thought! To this day, nobody has bothered to reach either my wife or myself. Suffice to say we have still not had any communication and or resolve from SAA!
Reviewed April 6, 2018
South African Airways is far worse than incompetent. They seem to have employees that steal from your luggage and will not pay for what disappears from your luggage. After almost a year and several claims including us government agency help, this despicable airline still finds their special nonsense in order not to pay what they obviously owe. Absolutely never fly this airline. I flew to go on a very expensive safari. Only because they were the only airline that would carry firearms.
On the way over I was commanded to give my seat to someone else by the waitress that also claims to be the flight marshal!!! I refused because it was quite likely this person was sick and wanted to be near the bathroom and away from the nasty stinking man she sat next to. After not being allowed to speak to the pilot and not being shown any proof that the waitresses were flight marshals I was told that I would be arrested for not following commands from the waitresses. Upon arrival, the waitresses delayed unloading while they summoned the police to arrest me and another passenger. My crime was not giving up my seat until being arrested by the head waitress!
Another ** citizen was also arrested by the all ** waitress/Air marshall bigots. He was a recent bypass patient and got dizzy and sat in a waitress jump seat while in the restroom line. The arrest caused me to miss my flight. I was forced to buy another ticket. The police immediately released both of us two ** criminals after the waitresses were told we would be jailed for two weeks. I paid a couple guys $200 that seemed to know the routine in the police station. They said we would be released as soon as the waitresses left. I also gave them another $100 for the police. I have not reported this until now to avoid damaging the hunting industry that has to deal with this so called nation. My advice is do not ever fly SAA for any purpose, and also do not take any firearm there, or risk these morons screwing with you.
On my return in June of 2017 my luggage was not at Johannesburg. They DID not even have a lost baggage room. By chance I saw a caring ** employee carrying my $4000 rifle that was not in the firearm location and he took it with me to see it got on board. This lucky encounter likely saved me another $4000. Months later and several claims I got my luggage back that was destroyed and my camera with all my trip pictures, some clothing, and other items obviously stolen. Likely the dishonest employees in the luggage department or the claim personnel. The baggage claim is around $500 and has been refused twice.
Meanwhile they created a new claims dept. Because the other was incompetent beyond imagination. The last time they demanded all original documents and all luggage information be given to them. Of course this is evidence and I will not do this for the obvious. Of course they already have their copy and from my two previous claims that were rejected. I suspect I have had $500 stolen and also my photos of the 9 animals I harvested on my stolen camera.
They finally sent my destroyed bag back to me but made me pay the federal express shipping. They also now say FedEx destroyed the bag!!! Also, their claim people say I DID not pick the bag up. These clever fools have no records. I believe it is a muti million dollar theft scheme openly operating within their employee ranks. Thankfully I DID not have hunt stolen while being locked up for two weeks nor DID the poor ** a citizen, whose crime was setting in a waiters chair while standing in line for the bathroom. He was recovering from bypass surgery.
I hope our government stops this corrupt airline from getting any more chance to rob us citizens and ** people like me and the guy that got dizzy. For those who read this, please, please, please do not consider SAA at any price. For hunters, forget about bring your hunting weapons and fly the super liberal British Airways in the country. They will not allow firearms and ammunition but any decent safari operation can provide good weapons.
Please contact our government and beg them to throw SAA out immediately and request British Airways to serve our hunters by handling our firearms for those who still go after the farm seizure announcement. Altogether the waiter/Air marshal cost me another plane ticket and $300 of bribes. The lost baggage was another $500 unless they pay me! The photos are of course, priceless! Another SAA government and SAA victim. P.S. I lucked into several top ten animals that are now safely out of South Africa. Including a possible new world record common sable and springbuck. Much more enjoyable than two weeks in a jail that is controlled by their racist government.
Reviewed Feb. 14, 2018
Made a number of calls to rectify an issue and it’s been almost a week an still not resolved. I had to get Webjet to assist me. SAA staff do not appear to be competent, committed to customer service and unreliable. I’ll never fly with SAA again.
Reviewed Feb. 6, 2018
VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH South African Airways. I will never book with SAA ever again. I am comfortable with other airlines. They are very cooperative. If you cancel the ticket, the ticket should be valid for a year like other airlines!!! OR if I press "cancellation button" they should inform us that the ticket is nonrefundable and they should NEVER cancel tickets since the ticket is MINE, NOT THEIRS!
Reviewed Jan. 28, 2018
Outbound Flight. Check in. Website errors. Repeated attempts to check-in using FlySAA.com after 10:40 on 24 Dec 2017 (24 hours prior to the flight) failed without adequate explanation. I called your customer service line (800-722-9675) and was told to simply try again in 90 minutes. Another online check-in attempt 90 minutes later resulted in the same error.
Misinformation / lack of communication. In addition to not allowing me to check-in online, your website stated that the departure would be delayed; however, I received no formal notification of such delays via text, phone, or email at this time. Other resources (Google Flight, and FlightAware) stated that my flight had been cancelled. I again called your customer service line at 12:30 on 24 Dec 2017, and was told that I was being switched to another flight, with the same departure date and time, and they would check us in at the airport.
Delayed notification of repeatedly-delayed departure. At 17:43 on 24 Dec (less than 17 hours before departure), I received a text message stating that departure is delayed over 13 hours, to 22:00. This was quite upsetting, since our families had rearranged a significant number of schedules and events based on a morning flight on Christmas Day. At 12:07 on 25 Dec (less than 10 hours before revised departure), I received another text message stating that departure is delayed another 30 minutes, to 22:30. At 21:52 on 25 Dec, I received another text message stating that departure is delayed another 45 minutes, to 23:15.
The gate crew at JFK did not make any announcements of further delays or of expected boarding time. In fact no announcement was made when it commenced; people simply began crowding the gate when they saw boarding passes being scanned. At 23:47 on 25 Dec (over 30 minutes after the last scheduled departure time), I received another text message stating that departure is delayed until 23:48. That statement is accurate: I received a text stating that our flight would be departing in exactly one minute.
After several minutes on board, the captain made an announcement that we would be delayed further until an “unruly passenger” could be removed from the aircraft. No staff members displayed any sense of urgency to remove the passenger, and no security personnel boarded the aircraft to remove the passenger. The boarding door did not close until 00:08 on 26 Dec. We had arrived at JFK to check-in at 18:00 that day, as directed by SAA; these delays caused us to be in the airport terminal for more than six hours.
On-board issues. Equipment. Power. No seatside power outlets (via USB plug or otherwise) were available. We expected a top, global airline to provide power for small electronic devices on a 13-hour flight costing nearly $2,000 per seat; especially since I normal experience such an “amenity” on budget domestic flights of one hour. The recording that plays while “on hold” for your customer service message states that every aircraft has USB ports on-board flights from the US to SA. At the very least, notify your passengers when they purchase the ticket that they are expected to bring backup power sources. If 1.c.1.a is not systematically feasible, passengers should be notified in the gate area that they should utilize in-gate power sources to recharge; especially when many have now been in the airport more than half a day due to your delay.
Seating. No personal ventilation control was offered at the seats. Again, this “amenity” has been on most commercial jets for decades. Providing blankets is not sufficient for those who may not wish to “wear” one for 13 hours, or whom may be allergic to the material, or for any number of other reasons. I was assigned a different seat at check-in than I selected when purchasing my ticket. Upon arrival at my seat, a posted placard notified me that I must place my hand luggage in the overhead bin. I should have been notified of such a restriction upon check-in, as my hand luggage contained valuable and fragile items that were not packed in a suitable manner to be jostled about with other bags in an overhead bin.
Personnel. I asked an SAA flight attendant for a napkin or tissue. His response was a curt and loud, “Bathroom!” while pointing to the lavatory. If SAA was concerned about customer service, a more proper response would have been, “You can find a tissue dispenser in the bathroom,” etc. When flight attendants began serving drinks, the first three commonly-available spirits I requested (rum, then gin, then cranberry juice) were not available. The flight attendant was not even aware of what she did have available, and at this point was pulling random bottles out of the cart and announcing their contents. After we found that the cart did have vodka, I was told that I could not have two bottles.
Consequently, I assumed that spirits would be offered again later during the flight; they were not. We expected a top, global airline to offer more than one drink on a 13-hour flight costing nearly $2,000 per seat; especially when many passengers have now been in the airport more than half a day due to your delay. Upon lowering our tray tables for the meal service, we found both to be covered with crumbs. The trays had not been cleaned after the previous flight. In-Country Issues Caused by Outbound Flight Delays. Time of day. The delays caused us to arrive near midnight local time. There were no restaurants open in the airport, and no alternatives provided by SAA. Though I understand additional meals for all passengers were not onboard the aircraft, it would have been great customer service if SAA even said, “An SAA representative will have additional airline meal dishes on the cart in Baggage Claim.”
We were forced to spend $136.00 USD on a hotel in Johannesburg, since our planning place of lodging was closed for the evening. Lost time and cost. The delays caused us to miss one night of lodging and two safari drives, which resulted in $600.00 lost. Inbound Flight. Check in. Website errors. Repeated attempts to check-in using FlySAA.com 24 hours prior to the flight once again failed without adequate explanation. JNB check-in counter. After arrival at JNB more than two hours prior to the flight, the SAA check-in agent tagged our checked luggage (two suitcases and two large souvenirs packaged in bubble wrap) but informs us that he can’t accept our luggage at this time, and consequently we need to wait “over there for 10 minutes” before dropping our luggage and proceeding through JNB security.
Ten minutes later, the SAA agent tells us we need to wait another 20 minutes while the “captain checks whether there is room for more luggage.” Twenty minutes later, the SAA agent tells us that while there are seats available for us on standby, there is still no room for additional luggage. We were put on “standby” because we were not allowed to check in online. At this point in time, we know that the baggage of family members who took this same JNB-to-JFK flight several days prior, but whose baggage never arrived at JFK with the passengers, is on our flight. This, presumably, is the reason for the lack of cargo capacity for the passengers not yet through security.
Why should our flight be negatively impacted by weather delays or personnel errors days ago? Why is adequate luggage capacity not available for passengers who purchased tickets six months in advance and were never given an opportunity to state how many checked bags we wanted at the time of purchase, and/or at the check-in we were similarly not given an opportunity to do? Ten minutes later, the SAA agent tells us that the issue is now weather-related. The SAA agent finally accepted our checked luggage less than an hour before scheduled departure (21:35) and promises to call the gate and hold our flight. We sprint to security, and again from security to the gate, in hopes of arriving before the boarding door closes (50 minutes prior to departure for international flights, as stated on your website).
Departure issues at JNB. An airport representative stopped us in the jet bridge, saying our hand luggage was too big to carry on. This luggage conformed to the size and weight requirements on your website, and fit in the overhead bin of the exact same plane on our outbound flight. The hand luggage was filled with fragile items, which were then damaged by being tossed about in the cargo hold. Though departure was scheduled for 21:40, the boarding door was not closed until 22:00, and we did not take off until 22:16.
Post-Flight Issues. Delayed disembarkation Upon landing at JFK, the captain informed us we would be waiting on the aircraft 40 more minutes until a gate would be available. After 50-60 minutes, the captain informed us of an additional delay; and repeatedly informed us of further delays, each of a different length. We were kept on the plane on the taxiway for five hours before being allowed to disembark via stairs and be bussed to the terminal. If a gate was never going to be available, why were the stairs and busses not made available sometime during the first four hours? Or at least two hours after landing, at which time the remaining food and water had run out and the bathrooms were beginning to be used for trash storage? Why was the flight even allowed to take off from JNB? Certainly JFK knew prior to our departure that it had, and would continue to have, a large enough backlog of aircraft and a shortage of gates.
Delayed baggage. Checked baggage arrived at the baggage claim carousel in unpredictable tranches, with delays of 20 minutes between each tranche. There were no airline representatives, or even generic airport baggage representatives, present to let passengers know if their bags were going to arrive in minutes, or days. Damage. One of the large souvenirs we checked as baggage was damaged. An airport representative at JFK inspected the damaged parcel and created File Reference, then informed me I needed to contact an SAA representative (either three stories above our current location; or via phone) to complete the claim and obtain reimbursement for the damage.
Inability to file claim for damaged baggage reimbursement. 08 Jan 2018: The next business day, I called 800-722-9675. I was on hold for 30 minutes, before anyone answered. After another five minute hold, I was told that “the Baggage Department” would call me back the same day. I received no callback. 09 Jan 2018 at 12:54 EST: I called 800-722-9675 again to inquire when I should expect the Baggage Department to contact me, and was told, “They usually call back in the same day. Someone should get back to you today.” I received no callback.
12 Jan 2018 at 13:45 EST: I called 800-722-9675. During an 18 minute hold, I noted one message instructing me to call 800-722-3734 or 718-917-6258 “for information about New York flights.” After the 18 minutes, someone answered “Hello?” and hung up. I tried the -3734 and -6258 numbers; both calls went to an answering machine for Harmon Aviation and said nothing about SAA or JFK flights. I called -9675 back, and was on hold another 40 minutes before someone answered. This very helpful representative told me where to download a “Passenger Property Claim” form from the SAA website, and instructed me to fill it out and email it to FLLBAGCLAIMS@FLYSAA.COM for processing.
Why did it take over a week, and speaking to three different SAA employees, before I was directed to this form? Issues with “Passenger Property Claim” Form. At four pages, this form is unnecessarily long. This form is unnecessarily redundant. Flight number twice on Page 1. “From” airport twice on Page 1. “To” airport three times on Page 1. Page 3 identifies a police affidavit as a required document. Why would I file a police report for a damaged bag?
The requirement for signing before a Commissioner of Oaths (called a Notary Public in the United Stated) is unnecessary. We checked our luggage with an SAA representative in JNB, where two separate SAA representatives inspected them and deemed them appropriately packaged (considering the contents and weight) and undamaged. One checked luggage arrived damaged by SAA at JFK, where an airport representative confirmed the damage. Why must I now go to yet another party and pay him/her to confirm that I am signing the claim form for the damage that was verified by an airport representative?
The form does not instruct the user how it should be submitted. Though a Johannesburg address appears on the form, it is not clear whether that is simply for information purposes or if the form and supporting documentation should be submitted to that address. Further, in 2017, posting actual hardcopy documents to a physical address should not be the sole method of communication for an international company. There appears to be no simple way to file a complaint of any kind on flysaa.com.
12 Jan 2018 at 16:22 EST: Note (1) on Page 3 of the “Passenger Property Claim” form states that the complaint must be made within seven days from the date of receipt of the damaged baggage. Considering this, after speaking with the representative noted in paragraph 4.d.iii, I took unpaid time off from work and hurried to find someone to validate my signature on Page 4, and emailed form and required information at 16:22 EST to firstname.lastname@example.org; the email bounced back with the message, “Your message couldn't be delivered to email@example.com. Their inbox is full, or it's getting too much mail right now.”
13 Jan 2018 at 10:03 EST: I again emailed the form and required information to firstname.lastname@example.org; received the same “undeliverable” message. How are passengers supposed to file claims if SAA will not receive the claims? 13 Jan 2018 at 10:05 EST: I called 800-722-9675. The representative forwarded me to an automated message telling me to leave a message or call two other numbers (888-725-3522 or 718-360-8927). I left a message. 13 Jan 2018 at 10:12 EST: I again emailed the form and required information to email@example.com as per your website; received the same “undeliverable” message. How are passengers supposed to file claims if SAA will not receive the claims?
19 Jan 2018 at 09:24 EST: I again emailed the form and required information to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com; received the same “undeliverable” message. 19 Jan 2018 at 09:31 EST: I called 888-725-3522 and 718-360-8927; both numbers were answered by a pre-recorded message saying the “voicemail box is full.” 19 Jan 2018 at 09:33 EST: I called 954-769-5023 (your U.S. Customer Care number). The call was answered by a pre-recorded message saying the “voicemail box is full” and instructing me to call 954-769-5095 “for baggage claims.” I called that number and left a voicemail. I then called the -5023 number again, whereupon another pre-recorded message instructed me to email firstname.lastname@example.org. 19 Jan 2018 at 09:40 EST: I again emailed the form and required information to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org; received the same “undeliverable” message.
25 Jan 2018 at 17:52 EST: I again emailed the form and required information to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org; received the same “undeliverable” message. At this time, we have still received no callback from “the Baggage Department,” and the claim form remains not received by SAA. After the extraordinary and severe issues experienced, and the lack of responsibility assumed for the baggage placed in the care of South African Airways, we did substantially did not receive the services purchased and have requested a refund.
Reviewed Dec. 25, 2017
The most inconsiderate airline on earth, please avoid this airline. No 24 hour customer service to get your questions answered during delays. They think they can delay your trip for a day for a mechanical problem by sending you a text and no one to answer your question. The Customer service not at all helpful and hang up on me. I am deeply sorry I bought a ticket from them. They provide less than third world class service. They do not seem to have a clue what service means.
Reviewed Dec. 20, 2017
They lost one of bags and damaged two of them and are unwilling to help. When my husband and I arrived in Washington Dulles on the 16th of Dec. coming from Johannesburg we found that one of our bags were missing and the other two damaged. There was not a SAA baggage claim representative in sight so we went to UNITED (who we were flying with for second leg of our flight). United representative contacted SAA on our behalf as they also needed to provide us with hotel vouchers as our flight was delayed by a day. When the SAA rep came he gave us our hotel vouchers and said not to worry about our baggage and just to make the claim when we arrived at our final destination.
When we arrived at our final destination via United they said SAA should have put a claim for our missing and damaged baggage as our bags were only checked through to IAD due to the delay. Even though this was the case they opened a claim for us for the missing baggage, however their systems are able to track SAA bag tags so yet to get to get an update.
Since then we have called every customer service phone number for SAA and emailed various email addresses, and all responses have not been helpful. They have just had us running around in circles and no one till this point from SAA has put in a claim for our missing and damaged baggage. On top of that they keep directing us to baggage claim phone numbers which just go to voicemail which the inbox is full so you cant even leave a message. I even tried contacting them via Facebook and they were no help either. This is day 5 now and still no help from SAA to put in a claim for our luggage they lost, and our damaged baggage. On top of all this their customer service has been terrible and rude considering I have been very nice to them in emails and phone.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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 ** 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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!!
Reviewed 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!
Reviewed 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!
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
South African Airways Company Information
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- South African Airways
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