Unprofessional service by South African Airways



Dear Editor

Kindly allow me to expose South African Airways unprofessional and substandard service. On 25th January my son travelled with South Africa Airways to Johannesburg and he had a connecting ticket to Port Elizabeth. On the material date the flight my son was could not land at OR Tambo Airport as scheduled due to severe weather. It was diverted to Pretoria and when this flight was eventually allowed to land at OR Tambo Airport my son had missed his connecting flight.

Two things happened to my son ,he was made by South African Airways to buy new ticket to connect to Port Elizabeth the following day. Secondly he had to find some where to stay at his own expense as the airline said it was not responsible for his predicament.

I have since raise a complaint with the airline but other to sympathize with my son the crafty SAA has decided it was not responsible for his suffering that night. I have below my e-mail sent to claim for the expenses incurred by son to the airline and their response to this e-mail through their Customer care person based At Johannesburg Airport.

On 26 January 2015, I wrote to the local airline representative:

Dear Doris,
On the 29th December I booked a ticket for my son Chiza <. Chiza travelled yesterday from Ndola and due to bad weather his flight was diverted to Pretoria where they landed to wait for the weather to clear. The plane only got into Johannesburg after 18:00hrs- thus my son missed his connecting flight to Port Elizabeth. At the check in counter at Jburg Airport my son was made to buy a fresh ticket or to pay more money for a flight the following day. My son was then left to fend for himself as the airline said it was not responsible for the delay to get him to JBURG. My son had to spend R1250 on accommodation at City Lodge WITHIN THE AIRPORT.
I write to lodge a claim a refund of the money my son was made to spend on topping up or buying a fresh ticket from your airline. Secondly to make a claim on the on the money spent on his accommodation.
I shall wait to hear from you regarding my claim,
Yours sincerely
Chriss Banda

Below is the response to my complaint from the airline;

Dear Mr. Banda,

Thank you for your e-mail of 26 January 2015 addressed to Doris. Please pardon our delayed response.
Please note that the delay of SA097/25 January 2015 was directly attributed to the adverse weather conditions. Please accept and convey our sincere apologies to your son for the delay as we realise delayed flights impact hugely on the arrangements of our customers. Weather is an unpredictable factor and South African Airways cannot be held accountable for weather related delays. We apologise that your son was unable to take his connecting flight to Port Elizabeth and we would like to assure you that it was not our intention to inconvenience our valued customer in any way. The safety of our customers, crew and aircraft is an issue on which our airline does not compromise. Regrettably, we cannot accede to any reimbursement requests for weather related delays.
Thank you for taking the time to write to us.
Yours sincerely,
Judith Toorn | Customer Service Executive Office | Premium Customer Service
Phone: +2711-978-2916 | Fax: +2711-978-9567 | E-Mail: [email protected] Room 228, Floor 2, Block A, Airways Park, OR Tambo International- Johannesburg- SOUTH AFRICA

I take this as pure exploitation and shoddy customer service

Chriss Banda

Disappointed Client


  1. That was certainly unprofessional.Airlines all over the world will take responsibility for their clients missing a flight due to adverse weather conditions. I missed my flight due to bad weather in Copenhagen and was put on a flight with another airline at the expense of the first airline I had booked with. So that was a lie by that Judith Toorn.They should refund you or we will all think twice about ever booking with SAA. It’s time for Fast Jet to give SAA competition in the Zambia-south africa route. SAA charges exhorbitant rates especially to Ndola. Fast Jet hope you are listening!!!

    • My cousin had the worst experience on his connection SA flight from Boston. This happened immediately after BA stopped their direct flight from UK to Zambia. He has vowed never to use that Airline ever again. The stories he told me will bring an Airline to its knees here in the USA if reported to the media and the stories aired. Needless to say, when I travel home, I use Emirates. They know better than to mess with American travelers!

    • I also recently had a bad experience with South African Airways and their Airport. Very mediocre, will definitely never use them again!

    • This story is very important so that every traveler knows their rights. My own experience in the 90s, I made the Bus Company Translux pay for my Hotel because the bus I was on from Lusaka to Jo’burg broke in Zimbabwe. Even I had so many Zedians to stay with, arriving in Jo’burg late and late for connection meant they had to be responsible. All I did was explain to them that I know the system of operations and I stayed very tenacious.

    • Mr. Chriss Banda, my prayers are watch this and you will never regret. All the best. Singer gets his revenge on United Airlines and soars to fame
      ****theguardian.com › World › YouTube
      Jul 23, 2009 – United Breaks Guitars has become a YouTube sensation and … his guitar and flight vouchers worth $1,200 (£700) but he told the airline to …

      From your friends in Livingstone 2015

  2. Bull…..crap…kulibonesha….
    Zambians have better things to listen to than these snobbish stories….

    • Foolish Bulldog! Just shut up if u don’t travel! We are not talking about u jumping on a Flush bus to Matero……we are talking about serious business! SAA must refund u Boss…..just take them on…..gud luck

    • It’s a genuine complaint that deserves to be heard and considered seriously because it can happen to all of us. You definately have better things to do also than posting such negative comments.

    • If you don’t have anything to say just shut up, *****….this is a very important issue to us the travelers and a good warning to other customers to watch out for SAA
      SAA will have to refund your son immediately and will stop using this silly SAA

      From your friends in Livingstone 2015

    • May be this discussion is too advanced for you Mr Zambian Watchdog. Leave it to those that travel. Anyone who has worked with South Africans will tell you that they are rarely straight. Bad weather or not, Mr Banda has to be reimbursed because the Airline is responsible for his son’s travel at that point. OR Tambo is a bad airport weatherwise, I don’t know why..

  3. My wife and i had this experience with this Airline when travelling from Ndola to USA , via RSA. We took them on in RSA and they had to pay our 2 nights bills in RSA. Just fight them on, they will refund you. This must be Airline operating under South African Airways.

  4. Foolish Bulldog! Just shut up if u don’t travel! We are not talking about u jumping on a Flush bus to Matero……we are talking about serious business! SAA must refund u Boss…..just take them on…..gud luck

  5. Did you obtain insurance on the tickets? If not, then I am not sure if your claim can be sustained. In a way, yes, South African airways are not responsible for weather patterns and changes and that is why insurance on flights is required. Sorry for what happened to your son but that is just how all air lines world wide operate. You would be very lack if SA airways would refund anything.

    • Once you get on the first flight, the events that follow are the responsibility of the airline. Yours is to be on time.

      I once had the entire airbus wait for me a the airport in Shanghai; got through the wrong door, tulecite cimpwena not knowing ati departure time is up. Waited for a good 12 minutes.

      Now that is customer service.

      In Africa, Zambia in particular, we need to turn the scopes on ourselves. We treat each other like crap. When will we realize that we have no any other home but Zambia?

      Darn it Zambians! This is the independent Zambia we wanted. We got it!

      Where we would be treated with respect and dignity. Ad what do we get?

      It should start with the image you see in the mirror!

      Wake up!

    • @Mutale Mwana Mwaume Chitapankwa What you have said is only correct if you book the two trips separately. If you made the booking at one time then the first airlines has the responsibility to take care of you and arrange for connection; insurance or no insurance. period

  6. Thanks for warning us.

    I had a bad experience with Ethiopian Airlines, I have kept well away from them.

    I have considered SAA in the past, but kept away from them, just as well.

    I hope they can introduce good business custom in their business to keep their place in the market. SAA must remember that numbers matter in a business such as their’s.

  7. South Africans don’t think much of other African countries, the country is still apartheid even though black presidents hold pretend to be leader. The Zambian presidents and stooge officials actually aggravate this situation by shamelessly trooping to SA for their medical ailments undermining their very own institutions they are supposed to promote. Stup!d!. No national airline! Don’t complain!

  8. Hey! Too bad bro. Hope you will get the refund. Publishing personal issues in the press may not solve the problem. Travel there and claim your cash.

    • Iwe Chi Nakuziwa! How do you advise someone to travel to South Africa for such little amount of money. Grow up!

    • How is this personal…this is the selfsame reason we are docile as consumers and are completely and utterly oblivious to our consumer rights.
      Next time it will be your dumb self got up in this situation….you should be thanking the author of this letter and Wake up!!

  9. South Africans are useless at running businesses that are really customer service oriented. These guys only thrive under monopoly markets and you will notice that they only operate in places were they monopolise, no wonder despite all their resources, they have failed to subdue the North , East West African market because North,East and West Africans don’t take B U L L S H I T. Only dwanzi Southern Africans who think South Africa is heaven.

  10. I am really sorry for your experience. I hope you had insurance and if so yes just claim on it as SA had nothing to do with bad weather. All the best

  11. I have personally been compensated and booked into a hotel by SAA before for having my flight overbooked, and rescheduled by 12 hrs. I think the issue of weather is a dicey one. The aspect of insurance is at stake here!

  12. Thank you very much for bringing this to light, next time I will tell my travel agency to avoid SAL from my itinerary and opt for Kenya Airways instead….Zambians need to wake up their consumer rights are being trumped over everyday and they only complain about them indoors or in bars after downing 7 castle lites…the service they get from mobile phone companies is utterly appalling and frankly day light robbery. If this flight was connecting from Europe they wouldn’t have dared ask any passenger to cough up.

    Wake up people from your docility and know your consumer rights!!

  13. I Sympathise with you Mr. Banda but as Mr. Nawakwi points out above, airline companies are legally covered not to compensate passengers in events such as this one with your son, anything to do with weather is not their responsibility. It might not be the news you want to hear but it is true. Having said this, the airline would have acted discretionally and with courtesy to put your son on the next available flight at no extra cost and also cover his accommodation expense. If the inconvenience was due to human or mechanical faults, then SAA would have, without a shadow of any doubt not acted the way they way did. Sadly, you cant even sue them! I feel for you Mr Banda, big corporate companies behave so inhumanely at many times.

    • Frequent Traveller: You are so ignorant and this simply shows your total ignorance about IATA rules!
      Mr Banda will not only get an apology but a full refund from SAA so long he takes this up through IATA!
      Of course SAA was just trying “it” on Mr Banda – may be they (SAA) usually get away with it but not this time! They are such a large operator that they cannot be violating international conventions with impunity. The next thing you MAY NOT hear is someone losing their job in SAA.

  14. You could get help through the south africa consumer protector.lets not judge south african in a racial way.landing in pretoria allows a two way resolve.apart from the extra money u paid, did your son suffer any irreparables consequences,iam sure no.Travelling like any other business has an unforseen factor whose risk fairly writting should be shared by all parties.its good your son arrived

    • Fumbi: How primitive you are! Dont you know that whatever risk you are pontification is covered by and reflected in the ticket price? Whatever village you came from – do they do business?

  15. In Europe, If the delay was caused by technical fault or any other deemed to be the airline’s fault, then it is the responsibility of the airline. If it is the act of God or severe weather or natural occurrence, the airline is not usually held responsible and your insurance covers you. I say this because when it snows heavily either in Europe or the US and Canada, thousands of flights get cancelled and the people are asked to re-book and are not even put up in hotels as passengers spend nights in the departure lounge. If all airlines were made to cough up for natural causes, they would have gone bankrupt years ago. However, if your connection flight is delayed by another flight and you miss your flight, then the airline that caused you to miss your flight should be responsible…

    • I disagree. Airlines make lots of money and have a duty to safeguard their customers. KLM recently reimbursed us for extra charges we incurred due to extra baggage charges incurred on a flight they put us on as a result of one of their cancelled flights.In summary, KLM cancels a flight, they put us on another flight with a different alliance and they covered the cost of extra baggage costs.It depends on that airlines committment to their customers, or if they simply see them as commodities. Let us know how we can support you….SAA must give or they’ll lose more than the cost of that ticket!

    • Refunds and partial refunds – with really bad weather, where flight schedules are affected, airlines may offer to refund your unused ticket and sometimes even the unused portion of your ticket if you have begun travel…Although not obligated, many airlines will take care of passengers who are in transit, particularly if the weather delays/cancellations were not foreseen or advised of when you began your journey.

    • Ruma Moonga: You are telling a pack of lies and bull.shit!!
      Contrary to the rubbish you are pontificating, you can never hear of such problems arising from the weather because IATA rules are effectively enforced. In addition, the Europe Union rules have made it mandatory for the Airline to take responsibility for the “welfare” of passengers in transit i.e. accomodation and “warm” food.
      The EU which even regulates mobile phone roaming charges within the EU can never leave the important issue of welfare of its citizens to greedy and rogue operators SAA. In fact SAA knows that they cannot do that nonsense in London, Paris, Brussels, etc otherwise they would lose the landing rights for the entire EU!!

  16. Don’t just stop there.. Sue the company, you will recover your monies. My experience of such thing was in 2000 Isreal airline. Connecting from SA via Tel Avive to Helsinki. Summer time adjustment of time was to blame. However the airline took responsibility of booking another flight via Sweden and payment of my transport home from airport to my home as the plane booked was arriving at midnight. In addition to lunch at the airport in Tel Avive before departure.

  17. Chriss, you need to escalate this to a higher office. Unfortunately, the answer you were given is a pure indication of how unconcerned they are. I had a similar incident in 2007 and ever since that time, SA airline is my last option whenever I’m traveling out of Zambia.

  18. As much as Mr Banda would appreciate all your comments you’ve all not talked about one important thing ‘disclaimer or terms and conditions of SAA’. Probably Mr Banda needs to read it’s policies when it comes to such cases like his. It’s only from there that he will know exactly what to do next as to whether the airline breached its conditions of service or not.

  19. SAA has been in the red for quite some time and I’m not surprised that they are trying to pass a loss to a poor individual customer at the expense of their own wide customer perception. This is a straight forward customer claim under IATA rules else most of us would have been spending huge amounts of money via delayed connections. As someone hinted above, SAA defense could have stood had the customer booked the two flights separately. Booked at same time means you are now part of their cargo and they assume all risks associated with force majeure

  20. This was unfortunate event. I’ve vowed to use Emirates whenever I’m travelling. I missed my flight in Dubai when I was coming from England. Emirates booked me in a hotel for a night and traveled to Zambia the following day. The delay at Heathrow airport was occasioned by one of the passengers who fell sick and had to be removed from the plane.
    Mr. Banda read the disclaimer on your son ticket before you think of bringing an action before the court. weather is considered as an act of God and it may be trick for to succeed in court. Next time as guided by bloggers buy the travel insurance. See SAA office here in Zambia. They will ably assist you.

  21. We are a nation with no national carrier and at the mercy of South Africa. Let us sue those who liquidated QZ. We have no respect in the region because of greedy leaders. South African airways should have put mr Banda’s son in a hotel and put him on the next plane for free.

  22. I was once delayed by S/African Airways from LSK to Sydney via Jo’burg because they overbooked the LSK-Jo’burg flight. I went back to their office to claim accommodation and food but they refused. I fought hard that day and continued fighting thereafter but it was all in vain… that was in the early 2000’s. Really Shyt company and the problem I travel with them is that there’s no alternative from here unless I want to go via Asia or Dubai which takes more than 30 hrs.

    Read their terms and conditions on the ticket or their website. Granted it’s an act of God, but it was also not the fault of the traveller that he missed his connection flight. The airline may not be obliged but they would show discretion. After all they have insurance to cover losses like these.

    • The people saying the traveller should have had ‘insurance’, well yes. But do you also realise that the airline itself have insurance and are covered for losses incurred due bad weather. I once travelled from Toronto to Ottawa in 2001 and our flight was delayed due to bad snow weather. The airline compensated us with vouchers for food and tax rides and yes it we connected on the same day, albeit late.

      I don’t know whether they should cover bad weather or not but airlines usually show courtesy and cover you appropriately… same even when they misplace your luggage.

      Again if their terms and conditions already state so, there’s no legal basis to sue. Bad publicity like this is perhaps the best the victim could do. We just need competition between Zambia and S/Africa.

  23. Just watch this exciting moment and SAA will dance to the tune, all the best Mr. Banda and your son…………

    “United Breaks Guitars” is a protest song by Canadian musician Dave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell. It chronicles a real-life experience of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines in 2008, and the subsequent reaction from the airline.

    From your friends in Livingstone 2015

  24. Kenya Airways can never give you such rubbish.Our destination had bad wether conditions and KQ put us in a five star hotel in Nairobi.

  25. Sad. If Ruanda, Zimbabwe, Malawi etc. have national airlines, why not Zambia?. I will ask the same question as I have done before. Why do we have to rely on importing every good and service?. Guy Scott at one time talked about the loop sided economic relationship between Zambia and SA. We should not blame them-they always think business and profit while Zambia does not. Lets shrewdly and strategically put our national development interests before politics when ever we engage with foreign entities.

    • Just because you are receiving shambolic customer service from one foreign airline does not mean that circumstances would have been different if you had a national airline; i highly doubt it if a Zambian company would even compensate this individual…and for you information if you do not follow the airline sector Air Malawi,
      Zimbabwe Airlines are both on their knees just because you see a flag on their tail does not equate to success….even your RwandAir has been loss-making for a number of years..detailed accounts do not appear to have been published, with only a few public announcements from senior management or the gov’t giving details of the scale of the operation.
      How can you run an airline in a very competitive sector when you can hardly run a Telecoms company like Zamtel?

  26. If the tickets were bought as a single destination, transiting in Johannesburg, there should be a refund made as well as compensation for the extra expenditure on accommodation and travel. A good will gesture should also be shown for the suffering. SAA is perhaps is not an airline friendly to Africans and should be avoided by those who can. My own view is that, although all customers need to get value for money, we ought to learn that self respect can’t be achieved if we lack alternatives. Zambians are their own worst enemy in their inability to recognise the value of locally owned companies. These companies lose out to foreign ones because we have a serious lack of insight about the future, national pride and security. We would rather go to China to buy a roofing tile than buy from…

  27. As if Zambia has any customer care to talk about.
    In December 1994 my family and I lost more than £2000 on Zambia Airways tickets to London when the airline went into liquidation overnight rendering our tickets useless. That was the beginning of a real nightmare, no one at Zambia airways wanted to talk to us, we were referred from one ***** to another and none seemed to care. We gave up and had to purchase British Airways tickets.
    We had opted to support ZA and do business with them but we were wrong.
    You only get real customer care in western countries, in most African countries, forget. They always think they are doing you a favour.

    • It all depends on what you used to purchase your tickets if you paid cash or debit card and an airline goes under before your flight regardless of whether its western or not you will be at the bottom of the list to receive any refund…this is the reason why people use credit cards even though there is a 2% surcharge.

  28. South Africans do not appreciate what us Zambians did to the liberation struggle.its all funny that they are very myopic.Refund Mr banda otherwise point taken soon will start kneeling for customers,its a world of competètion.Time will tell SAA

    • The most rude are the ones at checkpoint for transit travelers, the moment you show them your Zambian passport you can see them looking you down…surely how can you expect me to spend a single cent in their duty free shops if they can not even smile. I asked one of the officials who were chatting at the desks where I was proceeding to after border check he just pointed, gestured and carried on talking to his colleague. In Nairobi you feel at home in that airport and even tempted to spend in duty free and at the bar to enjoy some Tusker as they know how to treat customers not only white tourists.

  29. A Force Majeure clause (French for “superior force”) is a contract provision that allows a party to suspend or terminate the performance of its obligations when certain circumstances beyond their control arise, making performance inadvisable, commercially impracticable, illegal, or impossible. The provision may state that the contract is temporarily suspended, or that it is terminated if the event of force majeure continues for a prescribed period of time.

    The list of events to be included is a matter of negotiation between the parties. A typical list of force majeure events might include war, riots, fire, flood, hurricane, typhoon, earthquake, lightning, explosion, strikes, lockouts, slowdowns, prolonged shortage of energy supplies, and acts of state or gov and

  30. Force Majeure. A party shall not be liable for any failure of or delay in the performance of this Agreement for the period that such failure or delay is due to causes beyond its reasonable control, including but not limited to acts of God, war, strikes or labor disputes, embargoes, government orders or any other force majeure event.

  31. Bad weather is an act of God. An airline cannot take responsibility over a natural calamity because it is beyond their control. There are liable only for their negligence. So they are not obliged to refund you those expenses. However, they have a moral duty to lodge you and re-direct you on a next available flight.

    • Mr Free at last you are wrong. Whilst you cannot blame them that the flight arrived late in Johannesburg due to bad weather, the airline was supposed to not only accommodate him but get him onto another flight at their expense as well. Was it his fault that the flight was diverted? It was not like he missed the flight due to his own fault

  32. jay jay you are right. A national airline is tricky when you have a government which does not run professionally. It will just be abused by ruling party cadres who will get free rides apart from being run unprofessionally by other ranks of party cadres who will be appointed to run it. Please don’t forget that history repeats itself. In the late eighties I travelled on Zambia Airways (Nkwazi) to Europe and we had difficulties getting bookings as it was “fully booked” but finally with some help managed to get the booking. Alas, when we got on the plane it was half empty. We were told that this was actually caused by the airline employees who had the habit of reserving seats (free) just in case they travelled.

  33. This kind of behaviour is typical of South African companies. They will go to any length to maximise their profits.

    Observe the pricing tags on the South African owned shops. Typical pricing patterns like K99.99, K25.99, 19.99, etc. Criminal characteristics.

    We could launch a #shun SA campaign.

    No more exploitative service

  34. Of course, airlines also have their own insurance, but they are not liable to extend that to their passengers. When airlines book hotels for passengers when weather events cancel their flights, it’s usually discretionary and more for marketing reasons than liability.

  35. take them to task I had a similar experience last month they had to book me at Southern Sun just there at the airport after a 4 hour argument,If you call they put you on hold for a very long time and that’s on your expense!

  36. Sorry guy; spare me the hard comments. I was only protecting my arse. You know jobs are very hard to come by nowadays.

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