South African Airways

We took South African Airways from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport to Hoedspruit Eastgate Domestic Airport.

To the best of my knowledge, South African Airways is supposed to be an international carrier. However, the standard is far below. It’s even worse than many domestic carriers I’ve flown on.

Let me list its lousy ways.

Firstly, there was no last call at the boarding gate at OR Tambo, even though the system should have clearly indicated to expect us as we had checked in, causing us to miss our original flight.

Secondly, we had to purchase new tickets at full price to board the next flight which was only 2 hours later. I would expect to get it for free, or maybe just pay a small penalty.

Thirdly, there was a last minute (and I mean like 5 min before takeoff) change of boarding gate for the flight we were made to buy a new ticket for. The newly arranged gate was about 10 min walk from the original. Anyway, flight boarding is supposed to be 30 min before take off time. Note that the fact that the airline changed gate 5 min before takeoff means that the boarding time was already delayed for 25 min and then add the time taken for passengers to move, and we were way behind schedule.

Fourthly, the passengers still had to wait while on board the plane, while the crew refueled. Refueling should be done before boarding! How unprofessional. But this was the only way, because of the packed schedule.

11am JNB > HDS

12pm HDS > JNB

1pm JNB > HDS (sure delay)

2pm HDS > JNB (sure delay)

Surely there is a need to refuel for the 1pm flight, which takes minimally 30 min and would pass the delay on to the 2pm flight which we indeed experienced for our flight 2 days later, at the end of the Kruger safari adventure.

The seating is like this. Ok. A single redeeming point to credit South African Airways with. I’ve been on worse ones with narrow seats arranged by 3s. But that’s domestic carrier! South African Airways is an international carrier, isn’t it? Otherwise why is it using the country’s name?

Ah.. That’s because although we buy the flight tickets at the South African Airways website, the operator is actually SA Airlink, which I guess is the little subsidiary of SAA.

Fifth. The inflight meal is really shabby. Regular meal (lunch) is some chicken/beef sandwich that looks like it came from a convenience store rack. The vegan option of a veggie wrap was no less pathetic.

There. Looks like McDonald’s fries packaging. Seriously, just order from subway next time.

Sixth, the staff opened our bags and stole my favourite international adaptor and charging wire.

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