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South African Airways


Bad service

Complaint Rating:  100 % with 9 votes
100% 9
Contact information:
South African Airways
We were booked on the SAA 424 flight from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg then on KLM 592 to Amsterdam and Aer Lingus 605 to Dublin.

The thing that wrecked the end of our holiday was the disappearance of our bags. We made the mistake of putting our bags straight through to Dublin rather than take them off in Johannesburg to put them on the KLM flight to Amsterdam ourselves.

One of the bags turned up a week and a half later with things stolen out of it and clothes it it that were not ours and the other one is still lost 2 and a half weeks later as I am writing this. At no point in time was the last carrier, which is made responsible, able to tell us where our bags were. In fact what irony that the system they swear by is the one that had the lady from baggage saying both our bags were still listed as missing and location unknown when the Aer Lingus van turned up outside our house with the first bag.

Three days ago was 2 weeks since we landed and three days after the first bag turned up. I had written to my father, who lives in Pretoria, asking him if he would go to JHB to look for the bag that was still missing and untraceable. It took him 10 minutes to find the bag there amongst of a flood of other bags condemned to the same fate as mine was. It had been opened, things had been stolen, the name tag had been ripped off as well as the label bearing the flights it was supposed to be on, gone. He then proceeded to get the bag put on the next KLM flight to Amsterdam. It has now been 3 days since then and Aer Lingus is still incapable of telling me where my bag is with their system that Ã�¢ï¿½Ã&mac... />
Special thanks would go first and foremost to the South African baggage handlers who helped themselves to Christmas presents in people's bags and then leave the bags to rot. Secondly I would also love to thank the South African airways managers for not having these criminals put in jail never mind fired. And then also special thanks goes out to the airport authorities all over the world, KLM and Aer Lingus in this case, that are incapable of enforcing some kind of retrieval operation when they clearly know where the bags went missing and why.

What I would recommend for anyone flying to South Africa:

1)If you can avoid JHB and fly to CT, do it.

2)If you have to fly through JHB, make sure to take your bag off the flight you are on and see to it personally that it goes on the next flight.

3)If you can survive with a large hand luggage do it even if it means posting stuff yourself you buy on holiday.

4)Attach a name tag containing your phone number with international prefix to your bag that is very difficult to remove.

5)When the person at check-in puts the label on your bag make sure it goes on in such a way that would not be ripped open if someone were to search through your bag for valuables.

6)Don't trust anyone when they say that are doing everything possible to get your bag back because they are doing nothing other than waiting for it to turn up.
Complaint comments Comments (38) Complaint country Zambia Complaint category Airlines


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 28th of Mar, 2010 by    0 Votes
I felt so strongly after my daughters presents were stolen from my moms luggae that i dedciated a site to the south african airways. I know very little about web design and keywords etc, but i regurlaly get 1000 people a month to have a look at my site, and hopefully someone will listen and book with another ailine and fly to the airports recommended by people on blogs and forums like this one. Please have a look at my website http://www.dontflysaa.com and please sign the guestbook if you have something to say. I don't edit comments. lol
 26th of Aug, 2010 by    0 Votes
My wife and I traveled from JFK to Windhoek in July with a transfer in Johannesburg. We went to Namibia because she has family living there. We had two checked in bags that conveniently didn't make the Windhoek flight with us. SAA delivered the bags to us a few hours later and we discovered that the locks protecting our stuff had been picked. The baggage handlers had stolen almost all of the gifts that we bought with us. About $1300 worth of clothing and make up were gone. We complained to the airline the next day and filed a claim.

Long story short about forty days later I get a check in the mail offering me $40 as a final settlement. I couldn't even cash it if I wanted to because they totally butchered my name. I called to complain but the claims specialist handling my case could not care less.

If you ever have to fly to Africa from the U.S. then use an airline that goes to Europe and then transfer from there. It's a little longer but it's better then having your stuff robbed. SAA claims to value integrity and hospitality. If that was true then they wouldn't have this disturbingly common problem.
 10th of Sep, 2010 by    0 Votes
If you had your bags tampered with on a SAA flight and are on facebook then please join my group 'Victims of South African Airways Baggage Handlers'. Publicize how shitty this airline is.

 16th of Sep, 2010 by    0 Votes

SAA - I have SAA with passion
United States

I hate you with a passion. I have spent over 20 hours on the phone trying to organise a flight. You give wrong information, you hang up and never call back, you can't even take down my number incase the line drops (which it does often). Then you transfer me after 30 minutes to someone who doesn't know what we were talking about. HOW FRUSTRATING.

Hate is a strong word but I really do hate you. I will tell everyone how pathetic your service is. I am surprised that anyone flies with you after all I still haven't sorted out my flight.
 15th of Nov, 2010 by    0 Votes

Saa booking - Useless saa
South Africa

My wife is travellinh to Australia in December with my two kids ages 6 and 4 and they don't book her seat with my children meaning she is sitting 2 roes back while my 6 yrs ok'd and 4 yrs old travel alone, now the rude staff at saa don't and won't assist, surely this is unacceptable on any account, how stupid can you be to book the mother and kids two roes apart on a overnight international flight
 12th of Jan, 2011 by    0 Votes

SAA - I am still waiting for a response from their call center since yesterday
United States

I am still waiting for a response from their call center since yesterday!

I have phone 3 times today and each time I have been on hold for over 15 minutes. SAA should be shut down, banned, outlawed.

Even their supervisors are useless. Clinton promised me yesterday he would call me back, he did once and said he was still trying to sort things out and he would call me later. Today he is not there.

Brian tried to convince me that there was not a team leader available and frankly all of the call centre staff should be sent on a customer service course.
 20th of Jan, 2011 by    0 Votes

SAA - First prize for worst call center in SA
United States

I spent 35 minutes today waiting for Kulula's call centre to take my call. this is about the 5th time I have tried. They have this 'suppose to be funny' guy keeping you entertained whilst you wait. My question is, if it was a fast and efficient call centre, why would they need this voice to 'entertain' you? I eventually gave up as before. I sent a mail and I am still waiting their reply to solve my problem.
 20th of Jan, 2011 by    0 Votes
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 25th of Jan, 2011 by    0 Votes

SAA - My money was debit without my authorization
United States

I made a reservation on Saturday for a trip to Lagos from the 24 march to 4th of April, however I tried to make the payment via my credit card be declined and email was send to me from SAA that my card has been declined . I call SAA to extend my reservation but the lady told me reservation will be cancel by 12 on Monday ….. I fix my credit card and make another booking on Monday, for 25 march to 7 of April and pay for it with my credit card, I receive the confirmation that payment did go through … however the reservation that was decline the payment goes though on this daste 16 of march, I want SAA to refund that money because I did not authorize this Ticket No 0832112948806, because I am flying with this ticket no 0832112947576, I was online with them from 9 am to 6:30 they keep transferring my calls … someone later gave a managers no by the name Keith on 0846403430 he was so upset that one of his staff gave me his number ask me not to call him on his private line gave me another number that is not going through.
 25th of Jan, 2011 by    0 Votes

SAA - No answer as soon as miles are due to expire
United States

This is the second year in a row that there is mysteriously no answer at the Voyager call centre when miles are due to expire. I stand to lose another bunch of miles this year as no one answers to take a booking. When I complained last year after the fact, the attitude was 'your loss, nothing we can do'. Surely they should know this will be a very busy time, and up-staff accordingly? Or is it just a massive cost saving not to award those miles? This loyalty programme definitely doesn't work both ways. Very very disappointing.
 8th of Feb, 2011 by    0 Votes

SAA - SAA strands passengers in JoBurg with nothing
United States

My flight was cancelled due to the volcanic cloud - no arguement there, I would rather be safe then dead in the air - however, I was disgusted to be told by Piet Smith, team leader (red jacket!) that the airline catergorically would not be offering any advice or support regarding reasonable costs for accomodation or food. I asked him if he was aware of EU rule 261 & the montreal convention and he responded he had never heard of them. Luckily, as a lawyer, I am aware of them and will be instigating a claim in the civil court immediatley upon my return to the uk - this process has already started.

I am well aware that the airline is not responsible for weather conditions, but to leave its customers (we were a group among many) with no details of local hotels, no contributions to extended stays, poor information and the most poorly educated customer service I have encountered in many transglobal visits is unforgiviable. SAA & star alliance operate heavily in the UK, I have a number of contacts who are global flyers& will be doing my utmost to ensure that my company & all avoid star alliance and SAA in all future flying. well done SAA. you have no idea how much custom you have lost.
 22nd of Mar, 2011 by    0 Votes

SAA - Bad servive
South Africa

My son and I flew from Joburg to Cape Town on Sunday morning. SA327. My son were ill, and I realy did not know what to do, while in the air he had so much pain. NO ONE on that flight offered any help. The passengers around us were more worried about my son than the flight attendants. When we landed no one bothered asking if he was ok, nothing. I was very disapointing. And when I got home, one more suprice, my suitcase have been broken into and all personal belongings like camera were stolen. And I bought a lock which they cut off. Why were my camera in my suitcase, because my son was sick I had to put water bottles and medicine in my bag. No one have the right to open my suitcase and take my belongings! No matter what was in that suitcase! SAA you disapointed me...
 24th of Mar, 2011 by    0 Votes

SAA - Completely useless
South Africa

I booked two return tickets from Washington to Johannesburg in January. When we arrived in SA my mother in law was very ill and we had to postpone our return ticket to April, which I did. I was told it would cost $350... a $250 re-booking fee and $100 class upgrade...and told to only pay before we fly in case we have to change it again. Today when I went to pay, they wanted to charge me $5000! They told me I had missed the cut off date to return! What cut off date? I was never informed of such a date! Due to very poor customer service and no one in the SAA offices having a clue what is going on, I have now lost my return tickets to the US and cannot afford new ones and as such both of us have lost our jobs!! I am a very very very upset customer and will never recommend SAA to anyone I know!
 25th of Mar, 2011 by    0 Votes
We flew on SAA from Hong Kong to South Africa. We were disgusted how we were treated. The air Hostesses sat in the isle talking to some of the passengers ignoring all the others that were calling them. We eventually had to ask them to please be quiet as it was at night and we were trying to sleep, to be given attitude from then onwards. They then served everyone on the plane and left us for last and we were not even at the back of the plane and eventually when they came to give us our food my partner asked if he could please have a coke with the meal to be answered by the air hostess saying - No cant you see im busy...

This was the most disgusting service we have ever had and we will NEVER fly SAA again and i hope SAA shuts down, with service like this what sort of impression are we giving the tourists...

SAA you are a disgrace.

This puts South Africa to shame...
 11th of Apr, 2011 by    0 Votes
I also have to complain about the customer services provided by the SAA staff. I just came back from Kilimanjaro via Nairobi, through Johannesburg, and then connected with SAA to Namibia. My flight tickets were booked by the conference people in Kenya. I had an hour and a half checking in and boarding time between Nairobi (Kenya Airways) and Johannesburg (SAA). Upon my arrival in Johannesburg, I was informed that checking in had just closed and that I had to book another flight to Namibia. As this happens, despite me doing an earlier inquiry as to the two flights and the 2 hour requirement before checking in, I accepted my fate and booked myself on to the next available flight to Namibia which was 5 hours after the initial flight. I was excused to pay the fee of N$ 300 and I recieved my boarding pass. At the time of boarding i resented my pass and was rudely told that i was not registered on their system that I was booked on another persons seat. The team leader asked my where did I get this pass, implying that I could have obtained it fraudulently. She instructed me to go back to interline and buy a new ticket, informing me that the next available flight would only be the next day. After I insisted that she do something in order to ensure my boarding that flight, she accompanied me back to interline. Upon her logging on to the specific ticket number, she turned red with embarrasment as she realised I have infact been booked on that boarding pass. SHe tore up my previous boarding pass and ignored me when I requested the torn pass in order for me to have evidence of her bad behaviour and lack of skills in her profession. she blatantly justified her behaviour on our way back to the boarding area. In plain english she was rude and not competent to be called a team leader. I need your advice as to how I can take this matter further. I am of the opinion that individuals like these are the bad spots contaminating the rest of the staff at SAA.
 20th of Apr, 2011 by    0 Votes

South African Airways Vogayer - Money deducted fraudulently
South Africa

On January 13th, 2011 I booked 2 flights from Cape Town to Durban using SAA Voyager miles. I was quoted an amount of R306 per person for airport taxes. The amount of R482 per person was subsequently deducted from my account. (It would have been cheaper to fly on Kulula!!) I have written SEVEN letters to SAA Voyager - enclosing all the documentation requested - and have not had a single response. This surely amounts to fraud!!
Mrs E. Haines
 15th of Jun, 2011 by    0 Votes

SAA - Loses inside window cover
South Africa

On 5th June 2011 fyling home from UK using SAA the seat i was at had a window (inside) that was loose.. now obviously the inside cover is there for a reason and when i put my head against it the cover gave in and it was attached partially attached at 1 end only. when i called the attendant she politly told me that she is sorry about that and that it is ok for me to still sit there nothing will happen to me. but im sure the cover is there for a reason and i feel that it is really unsafe. the when i wanted to sit back and try to relax and watcha movie to fall asleep, the earphones input was broken so i couldnt even sit back and relax... i was told to move somewhere in the middle wherever i wanted to but who wants to sit in the centre isle i chose to sit at the window which was my preference. then there wasnt any 2 seaters with a window seat open for my partner and i to sit at, but this didnt seem to bother the attendants 1 bit.
 6th of Jul, 2011 by    0 Votes

South African Airways - Inadequate costly Service
SOuth African Airways
South Africa

I booked 2 plane tickets from Durban to East London on the 30/06/2011 for my nieces @ R1080 each. I went to the airport to pay with my cheque card. Much to my horror the amount was deducted FOUR times. Twice as R1080 and again for R2172. This is not the first time it has happened. When I called the call center to discuss this with them on a previous occassion, I was told I would have the money reversed back into my account in 48 hours. Needless to say after 2 weeks no money was in my account. I called my bank and they confirmed that they have many other clients with the same problem and they rectified the error. No follow up from SAA was done. I booked tickets for my Mom and Aunts from East London and PE to Dbn on 24/11/2010 for 15h40. My Mother only arrived on the 25/11/2010 after her flight was delayed for so many hours. They sat at the airport till 02h00 in the morning. For the price of tickets I pay it is ridiculous what appauling service I have received.
 5th of Aug, 2011 by    0 Votes

SAA Flights - Overbooked flights
South Africa

It is the 05-08-2011 and the flight is to East London (SA459) and the departure time is 6:15 am. The service and help from SAA is apauling and disgusting. SAA is suppossed to be a company with a high reputation of service, class and reliability . The bookings were intentionally booked with SAA for this reason. The flights were paid for weeks before hand. On arrival at O.R Tambo we were "3 minutes" too late for check-in. And not to metion the flight was fully booked!!! Before being informed that the flight was full, the check-in assistant has the ordasity to ask for a bribe in order to help us. The flight was still on the ground and people were boarding yet we could not get on. Is this how airport companies work? They take your money. Then the product (the seats of the flight) you purchased is not guaranteed. Not to mentiont still needing to pay a bribe to the SAA assistant. What noncince!!! Why book prior to a trip if you pay for a product which can not be allocated or given to you. Resultant to the issue, the only flights availabe are two business class seats. As young adults today, in a recession money is not easily accessible. So an extra R2100.00 each on a R800.00 flight paid weeks before is not easy to come by.
 26th of Mar, 2012 by    0 Votes

South African Airways - Cancelled flights

We had a flight booked from Frankfurt to Johannesburg on 18 Feb 2012. Flight LH7350 - operated by SA Airways [that was where the problem started!!]

On arrival at Frankfurt, whilst waiting in the book-in counter, we were notified that the flight was postponed till the next morning. Arriving the next morning at 06h00 to book in, notified AGAIN that the flight is not leaving. "Maybe tonight", was the accurate info supplied. We had to book a totally new flight with Air Namibia - reaching our home destination a full day late.

Numerous enquiries to SAA did not produce any answers. Contacting the travel agent - XL Travel in Johannesburg, was as futile.

This is not fair - so beware: Neither SAA or travel agents are there to provide a service. As soon as your ticket is paid, they forgot about you or the so-called excellent service. Find an airline that deliver service, even if it is a bit more expensive.

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