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“It was fine”
Review of South African Airways


Reviewed 2 April 2018

We had just a short flight (under two hours) so I was surprised when they offered a hot meal. It wasn't very tasty but unlike US airlines at least they made the effort. Staff were friendly with one guy being downright jovial. The flight left on time and arrived early. Seats were OK for such a short flight. Note that you may have to take a bus to the plane so be prepared for inclement weather. It was pouring rain when we were trying to board. Luckily the stairs were covered, but we got pretty wet going from the bus to the plane. Seat comfort was normal.

    • Seat comfort
    • Customer service (e.g. attitude, care, helpfulness)
    • Cleanliness
    • Food and Beverage
    • Legroom
    • Value for money
    • Check-in and Boarding (e.g. efficiency, service at gate)
Thank MandanaJames
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 April 2018

flown with SAA many times. No much problems than their fares.From checking to boarding was smooth and no comments. In flight they served food and drinks which is ok for a short flight.

    • Seat comfort
    • Customer service (e.g. attitude, care, helpfulness)
    • Cleanliness
    • Food and Beverage
    • Legroom
    • In-flight entertainment (WiFi, TV, films)
    • Value for money
    • Check-in and Boarding (e.g. efficiency, service at gate)
Thank sivananthan k
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2018

What's wrong with their cabin crew? The only smile I got when when disembarking. The aircraft was wonderful, food excellent, but served so grudgingly. The announcements say "if we can do anything to make your flight more comfortable..." but when I ask for a plate of cheese (which was on the business class menu) I got a lecture on how he was doing me a favour. The lady who was helping didn't say a single word to me until getting off. I think you need to send your staff on some customer service training. I would have rated this flight as excellent but for this one depressing aspect. Please try and cheer them up! You get happier service in economy on other airlines, and in business class people really try to be nice. SAA has a problem with business class service if last night is anything to go by.

    • Seat comfort
    • Customer service (e.g. attitude, care, helpfulness)
    • Cleanliness
    • Food and Beverage
    • Legroom
    • In-flight entertainment (WiFi, TV, films)
    • Value for money
    • Check-in and Boarding (e.g. efficiency, service at gate)
Thank PKinAfrica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2018 via mobile

I flew with SAA on this domestic route. The flight was on a 340-600. They offered a sandwich and a drink. The staff wasn’t outstanding at all, it was just average.

    • Seat comfort
    • Customer service (e.g. attitude, care, helpfulness)
    • Legroom
    • In-flight entertainment (WiFi, TV, films)
    • Value for money
Thank Zwillingsseele
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2018

If ever there was a stunning customer complaint about a flight that actually arrived, this must be it.
This is the letter I sent to SAA, on March 7. They can't even be bothered to reply. Not a word from them.

1. Where is the money?
I booked the 1st SAA Taipei-Bulaweyo flight through Orbitz, using either of these cards mentioned above.
The Orbitz website tells me that my card was rejected. No reservation was issued.
My bank immediately calls me and tells me that an attempt was made to wire 1500usd to 4 different airway-companies/agents
3 payments of around total 700usd did not make it through, because of an instant error code that was sent to the bank.
But, 1 payment of about 800usd was successfully sent and accepted by SAA.
Nothing was issued or refunded.
Orbitz has no record of anything related to this. No data about my payment or my existence.

I then call Orbitz to explain this to them, and they suggested I try again, this time letting the Orbitz operator do my booking. The exact same thing happened.
The Orbitz person tells me that my card was rejected. No reservation was issued.
My bank immediately calls me and tells me that another attempt was made to wire 1500usd to 4 different airway-companies/agents
3 payments of around total 700usd did not make it through, because of an error code that was sent to the bank.
1 payment of about 800usd was AGAIN successfully sent and accepted by SAA. Nothing was issued or refunded.
Orbitz has no record of anything related to this. No data about my payment or my existence.

SAA customer Service in SA could also not find any records, but had me on long-distance telephone hold for 2.5 hours. More money lost.

By now I have lost 1600+usd, which was my holiday spending money, and no way of getting it back from SAA, in time for my flight and holiday.

A third attempt was made to book this flight, and done successfully through another agent. Data above.
Now I have lost 1600usd and spent another 1600usd with barely any money left for this holiday.
Cancelling the holiday was not an option, due to many factors I will not list here.

2. What about my holiday?
With the very vague phone-promise from SAA to investigate the invisible money transfer, I left for Zimbabwe. In the end, SAA released the 2x 800usd, but 2 weeks later.
I spent half my holiday in Zimbabwe within a compound in Bulaweyo, with little or no money to go anywhere.
This was not the holiday I had in mind.

3. The flight(s) et al.

This next part actually involved my partner as well, with whom I flew together. I pushed him hard, convincing to spend more money on a quality SAA flight, rather than a much cheaper/faster Cathay. After all was done, he had no hope of getting any satisfaction from lodging a complaint with SAA. He has moved on, decided to avoid all SAA flights in the future. I do not share his opinion, and trust that SAA normally maintains better standards, and that this was an unlucky exception.

-Exit seats:
The Orbitz SAA tickets I initially paid for included exit seats all the way. 6 planes, 6 exit seats.
Those were now gone, meaning I would be in the cheapest seats in the 6 planes

Before my actual flight, I went to the EVA desk in Taipei, to ensure exit seats on the long haul once more.
I saw she booked those for me.
When I boarded in Hong Kong, no long haul exit seats were available to me.
The comment from SAA staff on the plane: "Sorry, we changed planes last minute, so all seat numbers have been changed"
Needless to say, I was gutted, and gave up on exit seats altogether for the rest of the flights.

-Special meals:
I booked vegetarian meals all around, and confirmed this every step of the way. Naturally, it's on my ticket.
There was 1 meal outbound, and 1 meal inbound, leaving a veggie dinner and a veggie breakfast missing.
More about that later.

-Blankets in the cold:
On the way back from J-burg to Hong Kong the famously temperature-unstable Airbus dove into the lowest possible temperatures in my section of the plane.
While I was still eating the flight's first meal, watching a movie, the other people on the plane silently went on a blanket-collecting spree and left me none.
When I asked staff about that, they couldn't find any blankets anymore.

I was seated right under the extremely noisy main fan of my cabin section with no place to turn for relief.
Icy winds around 15 degrees blew straight onto me, for the better part of 12 hours. The other cabin sections were more bearable, 18-19 degrees, but even there people had even their heads completely covered by blankets
When I asked cabin staff again in despair, telling them I would file a complaint once back at the terminal in Hong Kong, the stewardess brought me a small plastic bottle with hot water, wrapped in some tissues.
"That should keep you warm" , she said. It definitely did not.

A few hours later, when I became desperate, frozen to the bone, I tried to hide from the cold by fitting my 50yr old body on the floor, curled up under the knees of my 3 neighbor passengers, who had at least 6 blankets among them. They would not share their blankets, but allowed me to hide under their legs to shield me from the icy cold.
Naturally, SAA staff was quick to curse me for breaking the rules, forcing me to retake my icy seat once more.
Still polite, but ever so cold, I asked once more for a solution, leading the stewardess to ask the Captain to raise the temperatures, -something I was told all night by SAA staff was NOT possible on an Airbus.
I found the main cabin fan in my face finally switched off, but only for about 5 minutes, when it came on again and continued to torture me.

Finally, crew found a blanket for me, exactly 7 minutes before the night was over, when the lights went back on, and breakfast was served. That was 10 hours too late.
When I thought that a warm meal would help me defrost, I was in for more disappointment when there was no veggie meal, or otherwise anything warm to eat for me.
Chilled fruit, 2 portions, is what they had to offer! Everyone else had warm food.

4. Where is the nearest doctor?
By now I could not see clearly out of my eyes anymore.
Not only was I broken from lack of sleep, but my eyes were hurting from the many hours of none-stop icy breeze in my face, to a point of worry.
When I left the plane, I was clearly sick, and by the time I got home, I had to seek medical help to address a dual eye infection. More money lost.
Since I suffer from Giant Cell Arteritis, normally in remission, I had to start taking high-dose steroids again to avoid the return of the disease, with my immune system down from an eye infection and a serious cold.
Spent a week at home to recover.

5. Where is the SAA ground staff?

I had been patient and polite, all the way, despite all the discomfort and injustice.
When I got out of the plane in HK, I was frozen, sick, tired, eyes hurting, jet-lagged and very, very angry, as far as I am allowed to get angry without my desease causing me to have a stroke.

When I made my way to the airline terminal counters, there were no SAA staff to be found.
Inquiries led me to understand there were SAA staff, but on the other side of the airport.
With nobody responsible on site, there was nobody to assist, and I walked for 30 minutes to reach the other side, just to hear from other staff there that there are no SAA staff in the airport for another 10 hours.
Disillusioned, I walked back another 30 minutes to make my way to the EVA check-in counter for my last leg to Taiwan.
Then, EVA asked for my working permit for Taiwan, to allow me back into Taiwan without an exit ticket.

6. Where is my luggage?
I traveled very light, with only 1 small suitcase. Where EVA/SAA staff in Taipei had insisted I take my small 9.8KG suitcase with me as hand luggage to Zimbabwe, instead of checking it in, it was different on my return to Asia.
The SAA staff in J-Burg surprisingly forced me to check in that same case, same weight, on my way back to Taiwan. No discussion possible.
This was unexpected, and forced me to quickly remove my laptop while people behind me were pushing the queue at the counter.
Since I had prepared to take this as hand luggage, all my further belongings were in that case, including my work permit.
I now find myself in Hong Kong, trying to get to Taiwan, with my suit case/work permit now already in the cargo space of my EVA flight to Taiwan.
With the help of EVA ground staff now began a lengthy procedure of getting my bag out of cargo, a many step program that included having to leave transit and physically enter Hong Kong through Customs, do all kinds of stuff, pick up my bags from the conveyor belt and go through Customs again to return into transit.
I removed my permit and checked in my bags again.
It is not hard to imagine I did not need all that additional drama in my poor condition, getting worse by the hour.
Again, at no point was I unkind, impatient or otherwise displeasing in my manners, even though the SAA cabin crew was often irritated, impatient and almost unkind to passengers on both SAA long hauls.
---------------------------------
This so-called holiday has been a disaster from beginning to end.
With 1600usd stuck in SAA bank accounts for 2 weeks, I lost half my holidays in Zimbabwe due to a lack of funds.
Could not even bring any decent souvenirs for my family.
The flights, especially the return flight, was as horrible as they come, bar an actual crash in cold waters.

Consider the trouble I went through when I specifically chose SAA, paying 500usd more then Cathay Pacific fees, trusting to enjoy a much better flight.
That turned out to be a horrible miscalculation.

I trust you will fully compensate me for all this mayhem.
Since there is no way to compensate me for the additional loss of quality holiday time, surely this is not too much to expect.

    • Seat comfort
    • Customer service (e.g. attitude, care, helpfulness)
    • Cleanliness
    • Food and Beverage
    • Legroom
    • In-flight entertainment (WiFi, TV, films)
    • Value for money
    • Check-in and Boarding (e.g. efficiency, service at gate)
Thank backupped
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC