South African Airways / overbooked flights??!!
I do not even feel the need to write the whole story here, so i'll just copy and paste the letter i sent to them.
To Whom It May Concern:
The following letter serves to inform you of the disgraceful service received from a company who prides themselves in being South Africa’s Airline.
On 26/10/2010, after searching every mentionable airline on the internet, I booked a flight on SAA flight SA0343 departing 16 December 2010 at 14:00 from O R Tambo international arriving at Cape Town international at 16:10. I have never flown with SAA, so I thought it might be an experience, flying with this prestigious company.
I had gone to the nuisance of changing so many of my travel plans, seeing as my husband was already in Cape Town, and my children would arrive there shortly from Holland, and had to arrange someone to take me to the airport on the 16th, as I was working the morning. Upon my arrival, I went to the SAA Desk for book-in, where I was informed that my luggage was overweight. This I had expected. I was then sent to another counter, where I had to pay for the excess baggage, which I did.
Upon my return at the Book-in desk, I was informed that the flight was overbooked. OVERBOOKED!! Is it just me, or does the planes just have a certain amount of seats to sell? How is it possible to overbook a flight??? It’s absurd! Where were these people, like me, who have already booked, and paid for their tickets, supposed to sit? On the pilot’s lap? Never in my life have I heard such garbage. The thought is just beyond my understanding!
I was informed that this procedure is quite routine, which again, I cannot comprehend! How can a company, with only a limited amount of products i.e. seats on an airplane, sell more than they have in their possession? Is this how SAA makes their money? Never in the close to 30 years of me flying on domestic as well as international flights, has this ever happened! Not even on the “silly” airlines, such as MANGO or KULULA, has this ever been a problem. But this was the “excellent” service I received from South African Airways.
Not on any of my documentation or correspondence from SAA, was it stipulated that the overbooking of a flight might occur. Not even upon quick inspection of the SAA website, could I read any such notice. That possibility was not communicated to me, which may lead me to think that this might be against the law? Luckily, I am not an expert on that field.
In any event, thereafter I was put on a flight (SA 347) which would depart an hour after my planned and originally booked flight. I had to wait around the airport, during the festive season, for a secondary flight which I had to be on because somebody was not capable of doing their jobs. The other school of thought is that the overbooking of a flight is thanks a company getting greedy, and trying to cash in as much as possible, whatever the case might be.
I was not able to inform my husband, or the person dropping me off at the airport of my later departure, and subsequently my husband had the wonderful task of waiting for me in Cape Town, without any knowledge of what has happened with my flight. Eventually, I got on the second “lifesaver” flight, and this too had a delay of over twenty minutes due to a baggage problem.
I only arrived in Cape Town close to six o’clock that evening. If I had known that this was the case, I would rather have booked with another airline, one that I can place my trust in.
I can say with confidence that this was the worst traveling experience of my life. I am disappointed that this was the case, as I expected more from this company. I am not sure whether I will make use of your services again, but will most probably base that decision depending on the feedback that I am expecting from you.
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