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Flight SA8800 Cape Town to Nelspruit 11 Dec 2005
Posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2005 at 5:02am CST by 3733f25d
It brings me great displeasure to send this email to express my extreme discontentment experienced at the Cape Town International airport and at Johannesburg International this weekend.
I understand that the blame for the fuel problem can not be put on the airport or the airlines itself, but the treatment we received by the airport staff was awful, especially at Johannesburg International airport. The fact that I was supposed to fly directly from Cape Town to Nelspruit but was rerouted to Johannesburg, in itself was dreadful.
I believe my employers went out of their way and paid a substantial amount of money to make my trip to Cape Town as comfortable as possible. This is not what I experienced.
1. We phoned the airlines on Sunday morning, from the Cullinan Hotel in Cape Town to make sure that the flights were on time. We were assured that they were.
2. I was booked on flight SA8800, departure time 11:50am
3. 5 minutes before boarding flight SA8800, the flight was cancelled.
4. We were instructed to go back to the ticket booth and reschedule our flights. We were put on flight SA332, to Johannesburg International Airport.
5. We were to catch the connecting flight from JHB to Nelspruit flight SA1265, departure time from JHB International: 15:30
6. Before flight SA332 from Cape Town to JHB could depart, we had to wait for the refuelling from a bigger jet to our plane.
7. We sat on the plane for another 15 minutes waiting for the staff to sort out double bookings on 2 seats.
8. Our flight arrived at JHB International at 16:00.
9. We all ran like hell, old and young, foreigners and locals included – only to find that the plane had left without us. (I hardly think the plane left empty, and am sure that the plane was filled to the brim with others who were shunted around the airport).
10. We were instructed that there were no more flights out to Nelspruit until the following day.
11. There was no way they could put us on the first flights out to Nelspruit the following day – bar 2 seats.
12. I could only get the 13:00 flight the following day.
13. SAA set us up in the Southern Sun Hotel, where we found other passengers in the same boat – but who were very handsomely compensated for their discomfit. Again, this was something that was not discussed with our group.
14. We arrived at the hotel at 19:00, which meant that from 10:50am to 19:00 – 8 hours later – I was still not home! I should have been home at around 14:20!
15. The next day, I went to the airport at 06:30, hoping to find no shows on the early flights to Nelspruit. I was told there were none.
16. I proceeded to hire a car and drive the 375km to Nelspruit. I was not prepared to sit at the airport until 13:00, taking the chance of that flight also being delayed or cancelled.
During this whole ordeal, not one competent SAA representative bothered to come to our group of 23, and inform us on what was going on. This is all we wanted – especially the foreigners. We were just shunted from one place to another. I phoned the customer care line, but found no joy there. The managers were all off duty and we were told to phone on Monday morning! The worst part of this was the poor tourists who could speak very little English, the Americans and Canadians, who were understandably angry because they lost a lot of money and time at the lodges they were booked into in the Lowveld.
Not one SAA representative came down to apologise (even though the fiasco was not their fault) for the discomfort. No one even bothered to offer us water to quench our thirst while waiting for the baggage that was delayed. We were just instructed to do this and do that. I was so embarrassed and could honestly not say I was proudly South African. I phoned the lodge where the French people were staying to see if they could perhaps send someone out to collect them. When the Canadians said they would not visit this country again, my heart sank. This is the impression foreigners have of our country, and they will tell 10 other people of the unprofessional and unskilled way they were treated. Like sheep without a Shepard, we waited for our luggage (that was almost an hour delayed). What we thought was our Shepard coming to rescue us, turned out to be the Grim Reaper in SAA uniform bib. The passengers were understandably irritated, tired, frustrated and angry. The person who instructed us that we were to proceed to the Hotel, took the emotional venting from the passengers very personally, which did not help situation at all.
SAA should be ashamed of the way they dealt with this debacle. They should have used their initiative and should have sent SAA representatives with people skills to address the people – even if it was a Sunday! Granted, a fuel shortage is not something that often happens – but this would be all the more reason for SAA management to get off their comfortable chairs and head off down to the airport and handle the situation. This would prove our worth as an international competitor. Sadly, they proved that in the face of chaos, SAA management fold their cards and let the little people take the blows. Shame on you SAA!
Mary van Zyl
P O Box 89 Nelspruit 1200
8 Wolfaardt Street
Tel: 013-752 7401 Fax: 013-752 2244
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