Be very careful before booking a flight with SAA

South African Airways (SAA) took to the skies again on 23 September 2021, promising first-class customer service and reviving the airline to its former glory.

Unfortunately, it did not take long for cracks to start showing. Only days after re-launching, SAA made sweeping changes to its new international schedule.

The changes, first reported by Tourism Update, include:

  • Daily flights to Maputo, which should have begun on 27 September, will only start later this year.
  • SAA promised three flights a week to Kinshasa, but it has removed selected flights during September and October 2021.
  • The promised daily flights to Lusaka has been changed to four flights per week in September and October, with daily flights only resuming from November 2021.

Apart from the sudden change in flight schedules, SAA has another big problem — refunds.

The airline owes money to thousands of travellers who booked tickets for flights that were cancelled in 2020 and 2021.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the airline’s refund department has allegedly been closed.

Thomas Kgokolo
Thomas Kgokolo, SAA acting CEO

MyBroadband tested the SAA’s refund department for a ticket that was booked for a flight that was cancelled, with disappointing results.

We tried to call the SAA Refunds Department using the contact details on the airline’s website without success.

Calling the refunds helpline triggered an automated message, after which the call was disconnected. It was clear the line was not functioning.

We then called the reservations number to try to reach an SAA agent who could assist.

This number was answered, but the agent informed us that the SAA Refunds Department had been closed down. She added that they could not assist with any refunds.

The best we could do, she said, was to email the customer service department and ask them for help.

We duly emailed SAA customer service and received an automated email outlining the options for a refund and a link to an online form.

We completed the online form to receive a refund in the form of SAA vouchers in September, but since then, there has been no communication from the airline.

SAA refunds number on its website which does not get answered.

This is not the first time we tried to get a refund for the cancelled flight. The previous attempts were also futile.

The SAA’s statement that they “have received a large number of refund requests during the lockdown period and are currently working relentlessly to finalise these” seems misguided.

It is not clear whether the SAA is issuing any refunds, and it is also not possible to get comment from the airline about the issue.

MyBroadband contacted SAA’s communications department for comment about refunds, but it is not responding.

The service levels experienced trying to get a refund is a far cry from acting CEO Thomas Kgokolo’s promise of first-class customer service.

It is clear that SAA is still experiencing customer service problems, which include problems getting refunds on cancelled flights.

Now read: New SAA CEO’s plan to save the company

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Be very careful before booking a flight with SAA