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“Infamously terrible customer service and disdain for customers”
Review of SATA - Azores Airlines


Reviewed 22 February 2018

Azores Airlines is a safe airline where, if all goes to plan and no complication arises, you'll have a good flight with some food and decent, if probably old, seats.

However, the airline is also ranked one of the worst in the world for customer service, largely because of their disdain for customers if anything goes wrong (such as delays or flight cancellations).

My own experience didn't even require anything to go wrong. All it took was a variation from bog standard cases.

As I was moving to the Azores for the medium to long term, I travelled with a lot of luggage. Some time before the flight I looked through the website to work out how much this would cost me, and found that it was actually cheaper to buy a second ticket than to pay for the equivalent extra hold luggage. This was true for both legs of my trip - British Airways to Lisbon and Azores Airlines to Faial. So I bought second tickets for both legs, looking forward to have empty seats next to me, as well as making modest savings on the price of the extra luggage.

BA handled this well. They were obviously a bit surprised by my approach, but check in staff communicated with gate staff and cabin crew to handle passenger counts and even though my solution wasn't what they were used to, it all went well enough.

The next day, at the Azores Airlines check-in desk, things did not go well. Staff were surprised, but refused to accept my solution. Instead, they cancelled my second booking and charged me for the extra luggage. I asked them repeatedly to explain to me why, and show me the terms and conditions (which I had checked prior to booking) to point out which rule I had broken, but they were unable to do so because everything I had done was perfectly legal, within the rules. Not only that, but their cancellation of my second ticket was not justifiable by their own terms. And, as they pointed out very assertively, I had booked a fare that didn't allow for refunds - so they kept the money I had paid and then took even more money off me for the suitcase.

Talking to Azores Airlines staff is a bit like arguing with a brick wall. It doesn't matter if they are in the wrong, or if you have in writing what your rights are: they switch into an authoritarian school teacher mode and will simply not reply to your points or questions. Another example: if you book a Business ("Comfort") Class ticket, you are promised to be able to make "free" changes or cancellations. If, however, you try to do so, you will suddenly find that staff refuse to make any change unless you pay an "admin fee" which isn't mentioned anywhere on their website. Showing them screenshots, booking confirmations, their own website's terms and conditions won't make a difference.

Ultimately, Azores Airlines has a broken internal culture. Whatever internal guidance there is, it is incomplete (not anticipating every scenario), and out of sync with the information presented to passengers when they book their tickets. It may even be out of sync with the law, based on how passengers experiencing delays and cancellations have been treated. However, airline staff will rigidly apply whichever internal processes they deem suitable, whether or not it breaks contracts or the law, and whether or not it shafts customers.

If you travel to the Azores, my recommendation is to use TAP or Ryanair from mainland Portugal and avoid Azores Airlines if you can.

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    • Value for money
    • Check-in and Boarding (e.g. efficiency, service at gate)
5  Thank Federhirn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 20 February 2018

My second time flying/booking with SATA and now I know why the reviews are terrible! I managed to coordinate vacation time with friends to go to Sao Miguel again this year, we booked the hotel and car rental too, only to have SATA change the DATES of the flight...I no choice but to change the hotel dates and car rental dates. This cost an extra $500 because the cheaper automatic car was not longer available and SATA was keeping us in Portugal an extra day so we had to pay an extra day for the hotel. Awesome huh? I contacted SATA and they said that it's pretty much not their problem unless the changes are made 15 days or less from the flight day. So they can basically change the flight again and leave us stranded with no car or hotel up until 15 days prior to leaving. I asked them to compensate the extra charges I uncured and they will not. The only option they gave me was to cancel my flight entirely. I'm still baffled by all this!

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2  Thank Connie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 February 2018

Our flight out of Boston was delayed 16 hours. We were not given an explanation for this.
The only notification I received was a text message I received while on the train,on the way to the Boston airport. I tried to call the airline several times, but they never answered. So we ended up lining up at the SATA desk along with hundreds of others to find out what to do. We talked to others in line, some had been trying to get on a plane for several days, but every time their flight ended up being canceled. When we finally got to the front of the line we were told the flight was delayed until the next day.
Sata did give us a night in a local hotel.
The next day the flight departed at the time they told us it would - 16 hours late.
I will have to say that once we got on board the flight was very nice, I had plenty of legroom.
The return flight went as scheduled.
The delay would not have been so bad if they had only answered the phone, and given me an explanation. The lack of information was extremely stressful.
I understand that Delta will soon be flying to the Azores, that would be a much better choice.

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5  Thank Tomcod
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 February 2018

Didn't meet Dave but his bad experience was ours. Flight from Terceira was delayed for a mysterious, unsettling and undisclosed reason. But herding all 200+ back to the same holding pen (no exit except to smoke) early the next morning without being sure the plane was ready is unforgivable.Staff was nice because everyone in Portugal is
but they were uninformed..The airport snacks were sparse and not provided free until the last hour.
We're sad because great value Azores Getaways uses SATA. The airline's unresponsiveness after ten days just adds to our growing annoyance.

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2  Thank rvig50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 February 2018 via mobile

We were finishing a wonderful holiday in the Azores. We were on our last leg of our outbound journey , when it all went off the tracks. We passed thru security screening and thru passport control and proceeded into what would turn out to be over 24 hours of a most unpleasant experience.
In the terminal holding pen for hours past the schedual daily boarding, we waited with no information as to the cause of the delay. The plane was on the ground, the weather here and there was fine.....so what was going on? Don't know. Finally boarding the plane...we sit for hours more. Finally taken off the plane for a second stay in the holding pen...we're finally told the flight is cancelled. It's now 6 hours past departure time. Taken by bus to a hotel and fed dinner at 9:30 pm, collapsed to sleep. Back up for breakfast and again bussed to the airport, thru the checking and screening process we wait an additional 7 hours , enduring a revolting stale bread sandwich for lunch, courtesy of Sata, we finally boarded . The actual air time was not too bad, other than the blocked head and running out of booze, and warmed up yesterday's food...we gladly left the airline in Boston. Not likely ever to fly it again...

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3  Thank Davefromsaratoga
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC