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Airline Review: South African Airways

London, United...
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Airline Review: South African Airways

I wonder if you could assist or point me in the right direction to have my complaint sufficiently dealt with.

My flight to South Africa with my 6 month old was fine, in fact quite enjoyable and as this was our first time to be flying, I was very nervous.

Unfortunately our return flight could not have been any worse due to the over booking and the reseating process.

Upon leaving and check in at Cape Town Int.I was told there had been a note on my file that I wanted to express milk and breasfeed so that had been taken into account when allocating my seat. I was just as nervous flying back to the UK so started to relax when I heard we were being taken care of. The flight to Joberg was fine but from Johannesburg to London it was awful. Not only were we tossed from pillar to post as the seat we had been allocated was taken to reseat a mother and daughter. I was then offered another seat which was next to another reseated passenger, obviously put out as he had been downgraded from bussiness due to the plane being overbooked. He made it very clear that he would not be sitting next to a mother and baby as this was why he didn't have children and why he paid for business class. I felt awful and very embarrassed!!

I was then reseated for a final time in between 2 people- after tears and embarrassment. It was certainly not ideal with a 7 month old. Not only could I not breastfeed or express I could not get up easily if I needed to settle my son.

I then returned to the UK and wrote in to SAA. If the plane was overbooked and I'd been given the option to remain in Cape Town for another day that would have been fine- instead I was allocated a seat.

The reply I received only angered me further- instead of an apology which was my desired outcome- I received a very rude, unsympathetic response from an Alfred, saying that it was policy to over book- and he was glad they were able to accommodate me.

I then followed up with my flight centre consultant with whom I'd booked my flight through and he has yet to produce an outcome. I believe he has been chasing this on my behalf and has been advised to wait!

I find this level of service appalling!! It is now almost 4 months since my travel and almost time to be booking the next trip.

I would greatly appreciate somebody with the capacity to deal with this complaint appropriately to get back to me.

West Grey, Ontario
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for Toronto
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1. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

>>"I would greatly appreciate somebody with the capacity to deal with this complaint appropriately to get back to me."<<

Welcome to TripAdvisor, Louise;

First, this forum, the Help Us Make TripAdvisor Better! forum, is for discussions and suggestions on ways to improve the TripAdvisor website, itself.

TripAdvisor is a database website only. TA staff do not mediate disputes of any kind.

Best Regards

London, United...
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2. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

Many thanks for your advise- is there a forum whereby i can write a review on an airline experience at all?!

Fredericia, Denmark
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37,532 posts
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3. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

http://www.airlinequality.com/index.htm

Massachusetts
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4. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

.... moved from Help Us Make TripAdvisor Better forum to the Air Travel forum.

TA_Jane

TripAdvisor Support Team

Portland, Oregon
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for Air Travel
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5. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

Louise,

Sorry to hear you had a less than perfect experience on the return flight. I'm not qualified, nor do I have any experience of needing to nurse a baby on on a flight, so I can't comment on that part and will leave it to others.

As to the issue of an oversold flight -

"If the plane was overbooked and I'd been given the option to remain in Cape Town for another day that would have been fine" ==> It is the normal procedure for airlines to ask for volunteers to take a later flight if there's an oversell, and I would expect SAA to do that too.

BUT, earlier you said -- " I was then offered another seat which was next to another reseated passenger, obviously put out as he had been downgraded from business due to the plane being overbooked."

==> That seems to point to the oversell only being in business class, as there was an available economy seat that he was downgraded to. In that case, I would expect that SAA would have asked for volunteers solely within the oversold business class cabin. As economy wasn't oversold I wouldn't expect SAA to have asked for volunteers from your cabin.

As to your complaint, if you still feel you've been poorly treated (and wait for input on the nursing issue), by all means write (another?) letter to SAA. Try to keep the information >factual< and as unemotional as you can. Date, Flight Number, originally assigned seat(s), moved to other seats; what was in your record and what was neglected. Make sure you know what you're asking from SAA. Don't use the word "appalling", rephrase as something like "I felt the service in this case fell well below the standard I expected and below that which I experienced on the outbound flight", and under no circumstances say you'll never fly them again (which in fairness you haven't said in your above post).

Good luck.

Edited: 06 August 2013, 19:31
Illinois
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6. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

I'm unclear exactly what the problem was. Is it that you were reseated into a middle seat and so were unable to breastfeed due to space constraints?

I've never seen an airline seat that I would want to express breast milk in (not sure if you mean by hand or with a pump, but I don't suppose it matters), and am not sure why you would need to express breast milk during the flight if you had your baby with you.

London, United...
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7. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

USBussiness traveller, you have been most helpful with your constructive feedback, thank you.

I suppose my bad experienced was heightened as i'd rang many times and checked in early to avoid any hiccups as i was a little nervous- and then to be moved so many times eventually to be sat inbetween people was certainly less than ideal.

I have written to them 3 times with not so much as a simple apology.

My son drank breastmilk from a bottle so expressing was something i'd looked into prior to flying.

Bangkok, Thailand
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8. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

Dont bother with writing to SAA. It is gov. owned, plagued by shortage of money, strikes and union interference. The airline is run like the country :-(

Fly with another carrier next time.

My partner uses SAA when there is no option. He had no neg. experience yet but he is a gold card holder within star alliance.

Maryland
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for Las Vegas, Washington DC, County Donegal, Western Ireland
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9. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

"I find this level of service appalling!! It is now almost 4 months since my travel and almost time to be booking the next trip. "

I think it's time to move on. 4 months later and you're still pursuing...what, exactly? Is it just an apology you're after, or do you want reimbursement of the fare paid, or something else?

I can sympathize, it was definitely unsettling and uncomfortable for you, or you wouldn't be still upset about it 4 months later. But in the end, the airline got you to your destination on your scheduled flight. Just not in the seat you wanted. And that's really all they're required to do.

Italy
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10. Re: Airline Review: South African Airways

I would also move on, write your review on the airlinequality website as Hans has suggested so that other people will be able to read about your experience but other than that I don't think you're going to get any apology or explanation from SAA and it's only going to make you more frustrated, you're only payback will be to never fly with them again.