South African Airways

Customer Reviews

4 star Skytrax Rating
Food & Beverages 12345
Inflight Entertainment 12345
Seat Comfort 12345
Staff Service 12345
Value for Money 12345
Customer rating from 374 reviews
6/10
4 star Skytrax Rating
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2/10

"complaint remains unanswered"

(South Africa)

Trip Verified | Johannesburg to New York. During flight entertainment system was out of order which made this 15 hours journey extremely unpleasant. In addition air temperature in the cabin was very high and crew were unable to adjust it to the comfortable level. Looks like this aircraft if very old and never was refurbished. One can experience bad service, unpleasant situation, delay or break down during air travels. It happened to me on quite a few occasions but every time carrier involved responded to complain and at least apologised, promising improvements. Unfortunately this is not how SAA works. My complaint remains unanswered for over 2 months.
AircraftA340-600
Type Of TravellerFamily Leisure
Cabin FlownEconomy Class
RouteJohannesburg to New York
Date FlownJune 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Inflight Entertainment 12345
Ground Service 12345
Value For Money 12345
no
6/10

"Cabin crews seemed efficient"

(United Kingdom)

Trip Verified | London to Harare via Johannesburg. Depart Heathrow on time, plane full to Johannesburg no spare seats. Served dinner then breakfast both of which were standard fare. Landed in Johannesburg on time then bussed to remote stand in Joburg - flight to Harare again plane full, served a hot brunch type meal and arrived on time. Cabin crews on both flights seemed efficient. Return flight from Harare to Johannesburg again full - SAA seem to fill their flights and yet manage to serve a meal on the 90 minute hop from Harare to Johannesburg. Johannesburg to London on another totally full flight, despite online booking and seat selection I was allocated a middle seat -complained at check in and ended up in an aisle seat at the back of the plane. Departed on time and evening meal served - a sort of tepid beef stew, after which all the blinds came down and lights turned off - announcement was "so that we can unwind and relax" but on the outward flight same procedure of blinds down "for security reasons" - translated these both mean dont bother the crew. Seats are hard and narrow so sleep is difficult. Breakfast served before arrival. To be fair they provide meals instead of cereal bars etc and this is appreciated .
AircraftA330 / A319
Type Of TravellerBusiness
Cabin FlownEconomy Class
RouteLondon to Harare via Johannesburg
Date FlownAugust 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Inflight Entertainment 12345
Ground Service 12345
Value For Money 12345
yes
3/10

"I regret my choice"

(South Africa)

Trip Verified | New York to Johannesburg. South African Airways was not my first choice for this trip to New York. Based on my previous experiences with them, I had explored other alternatives with a superior product (Qatar, Emirates and several EU carriers), but SAA is the only airline serving JFK non stop out of Johannesburg and I could not afford traveling 1-2 days vs the 15h direct flight. Having flown to and back from New York with them last week, I regret my choice for the following reasons: Airport services: OKish, uneventful check-in and boarding experience. SAA flies their old A340 600 to New York. Even though I purchased an emergency exit seat on both legs (45D, 45F resp) and had a very decent legroom, the experience was not pleasant as the seats were hard as a rock (even with lumbar support and additional pillows) and the aircraft clearly showed its age and it felt like its interior was falling apart. Inflight Entertainment more than half of the passengers travelling on my row complained about technical issues with their IFE system. Some of them simply didn't work, others like mine worked but with lag and poor sound. Not great when you have a 15h flight ahead of you. Cabin crew service: I did see a slight improvement vs. previous flights as crew seemed a bit nicer and more customer oriented. Don't think I would fly them again for such a long route again and will rather increase travel time by flying EU or Middle East carriers.
AircraftA340 600
Type Of TravellerCouple Leisure
Cabin FlownEconomy Class
RouteNew York to Johannesburg
Date FlownSeptember 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Inflight Entertainment 12345
Ground Service 12345
Value For Money 12345
no
3/10

"very unpleasant flight"

(South Africa)

Trip Verified | On flight SA 208 from Washington to Johannesburg we had the situation where the inflight entertainment did not work on my wife's seat (61G) after travelling the week before to JFK without any inflight entertainment for all passengers. The flight was full and the attendants could not move my wife to another seat. They were rude and unhelpful. During the night I only saw the attendant on duty came around with water once. A very unpleasant flight.
Type Of TravellerFamily Leisure
Cabin FlownEconomy Class
RouteWashington to Johannesburg via dakar
Date FlownJuly 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Inflight Entertainment 12345
Ground Service 12345
Wifi & Connectivity 12345
Value For Money 12345
no
3/10

"not even an apology since"

(South Africa)

Trip Verified | On Flight SA203 to JFK New York 21 June 2018 the entertainment etc was not working. Not only our family of five but all the passengers on the flight. The staff did not know how to resolve the problem, served dinner and vanished leaving one staff member in the galley who I did not see once came round to offer water. The staff emerged again for breakfast service and advised us to take the matter further with customer services from SAA. We reported the incident, got a reference number and not even an apology since.
Type Of TravellerFamily Leisure
Cabin FlownEconomy Class
RouteJohannesburg to New York JFK
Date FlownJune 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Inflight Entertainment 12345
Ground Service 12345
Wifi & Connectivity 12345
Value For Money 12345
no
7/10

"nice flight overall"

(United Kingdom)

Trip Verified | London Heathrow to Gaborone via Johannesburg. Outbound A330-200 oldish aircraft with narrow uncomfortable seats - take a cushion - seats are hard. Plane was full. Had an aisle seat. Cabin crew efficient and evening meal was quite good - better than some airlines serving this route. Cabin crew virtually disappeared after evening meal but reappeared with breakfast 2 hours before landing. Again breakfast was good. Plane arrived late due to slightly late departure and traffic control strike over France. On to Gaborone with SA express - short hop and a bouncy landing. Return trip SA express from Gaborone to Johannesburg - Bombardier CJ70. On time. Depart Johannesburg Airbus 330-200, plane nearly full. Pilot announced that this aircraft was brand new - certainly seats were better than the outward flight - seemed more comfortable and a little more room. Had seat 62 C aisle seat. Evening meal did not match the outward flight - hake and rice and quite tepid. Breakfast again served - SAA serve two full meals per long flight, unlike some others where you get an evening meal and a cereal bar in the morning. Some of our local airlines take note! Landed on time and a nice flight overall.
AircraftA330
Type Of TravellerBusiness
Cabin FlownEconomy Class
RouteLondon Heathrow to Gaborone via Johannesburg
Date FlownMarch 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Inflight Entertainment 12345
Ground Service 12345
Value For Money 12345
yes
7/10

"They went out of their way to help"

(United Kingdom)

Trip Verified | Flew Johannesburg to London Heathrow. I have read many bad reviews of South African Airways so I was pleasantly surprised with our experience on board. Economy seats were comfortable, with sufficient legroom and recline. The only issue being the excessively stiff seat pocket. Anything thicker than a magazine is difficult to stow. On the flight to London we were given dinner and breakfast plus a good selection of drinks. Food choices were OK and if your choice was not in their cart the FA's were happy to find the meal in another cart if they could. They went out of their way to help. Service was generally very friendly, polite and efficient. Cabin crew seemed to be enjoying their job too, which makes a change from the sullen service on some European carriers. Inflight entertainment selections were a bit dated but OK. The major problem was sound quality. On this flight the movie voice soundtrack at my seat was completely garbled (though the music track was fine). Perhaps the different language tracks were interfering. As I mainly wanted to sleep on this overnight flight this was not a big loss. Overall I was satisfied by SAA's inflight service, it was way above expectation. Ground service at OR Tambo Airport is shockingly bad but that's another story.
AircraftA330
Type Of TravellerCouple Leisure
Cabin FlownEconomy Class
RouteJohannesburg to London
Date FlownFebruary 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Inflight Entertainment 12345
Ground Service 12345
Value For Money 12345
yes
4/10

"there are no snacks on board"

(United Kingdom)

Trip Verified | Cape Town to London via Johannesburg. I will start with a few positives about the experience: The staff are personable and the meal service is conducted quickly to allow the maximum sleep time on the JNB-LHR route. Access is provided to an arrivals lounge, which is essential as the airlines serves only powdered coffee. Now for the many negatives, these relate primarily to the seat and to the airline's schedule instability. The aircraft was the advertised A330-200. These are widely marketed as lie-flats by the airline and independent websites, however they are angled at about 170 deg and uncomfortable for sleeping. SAA is rare in having a different Business Class seating product on each long-haul aircraft type and also unusual to go from the extremely comfortable and 2-metre long long lie-flats on the A340-600 back to an angled version. The schedule is unstable. I was booked on SA354 at 17.05. SAA did not inform either my travel agent or me of the change in flight plans, it was only by chance that I had wifi access and attempted an online check-in to notice we had been rebooked on SA346 at 15.00. This flight operates 2 hours earlier than our original booking. For much of our trip we were in the bush and off grid so would have missed the flight if we had been coming from elsewhere. This lack of communication of a significant flight change is terrible, as we would have missed the flight had we turned up for a 17.05 departure. On check-in it became apparent that the SA352 at 16.05 was cancelled and passengers being moved from SA352 to SA354. However, a 5-hour wait at JNB was not expected or particularly welcome and no attempt was made to move us to the earlier SA234 from JNB to LHR. Staff professionalism - staff chatted in the galleys throughout the night on both LHR flights, which disrupted sleep despite ear plugs. Furthermore, my request if a snack might be available before the breakfast service commenced, only to be told there are no snacks on board. Other airlines on similar flight lengths would at the very least be able to offer a pack of nuts or crackers.
AircraftA330-200
Type Of TravellerCouple Leisure
Cabin FlownBusiness Class
RouteCape Town to London via Johannesburg
Date FlownMarch 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Inflight Entertainment 12345
Ground Service 12345
Value For Money 12345
no
1/10

"very disappointed"

(Brazil)

Trip Verified | In September, 2017, I bought three tickets from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg for me, my girlfriend and her godson (12 years old). I informed, on the same day that I bought such tickets, that there was a little error in the passenger name, and I asked what would be the procedure in this case. It was a material and irrelevant error, I just had written his middle name with an extra “r”. In the e-mail dated 26 September 2017 sent by the Reservations Service Recovery team as described herein, they confirmed that the error in the name would not be a problem and also informed the occurance of a schedule change on our flight, as transcribed below: “Kindly be advised that we have endorsed on the system for the airport to allow passenger to board. Please note that there has been a schedule change on your flight from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg.” Unfortunately, on flight day when I tried to do the kid's check in at the airport, I was informed that his ticket was cancelled, although his seat was still booked in the system. We know that because I did my check in and my girlfriend's check in online one day before the flight and kid's seat was there. South African employee informed us that his ticket was cancelled, because the name was wrong and the company policy sets forth that the ticket must be automatically cancelled. However, I did not receive any e-mail about such cancellation. And also we confirmed five months ago with the company if the error in kid’s name would represent a problem and the answer was no, as I mentioned above. The employee at the airport said that the ticket was cancelled and refunded and she could not do anything about it. The wrong information of South African Airways employee, and the lack of cancelation notice cost us 3.281,89 Rand, almost four times more than the ticket that I originally paid for the kid to travel with us. I still want to understand why his ticket was cancelled and once cancelled why I did not receive a notice about it. We were on vacations and we booked two days in Sun City Hotel. So I did not have other choice than buy another ticket to the kid by a huge price. I look foward to their return. The ticket was arbitrarily cancelled. We were badlly guided by South African's team regarding the error in the kids name and the cancelation of his ticket. It cost us more 2.465,80 Rand. It is our first flight with SAA and we are very disappointed with the way that we have been treated by their employees since the beginning.
AircraftA319
Type Of TravellerCouple Leisure
Cabin FlownEconomy Class
RoutePort Elizabeth to Johannesburg
Date FlownFebruary 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Ground Service 12345
Value For Money 12345
no
1/10

"horrendous customer service"

(United States)

Trip Verified | George to Johannesburg. I have never encountered such horrendous customer service in my entire life. Our flight was delayed and then our bags “misplaced” for another 45 min, causing us to miss our international flight. South African airways did nothing to compensate us nor helped us rebook. I was directed to speak to a supervisor who then simply told me over and over again that they apparently have no responsibility to get us to our other flights on time. I will never fly this airline again, and I would recommend that they be avoided at all costs. It cost $8000 just to get home.
Type Of TravellerCouple Leisure
Cabin FlownEconomy Class
RouteGeorge to Johannesburg
Date FlownFebruary 2018
Seat Comfort 12345
Cabin Staff Service 12345
Food & Beverages 12345
Ground Service 12345
Value For Money 12345
no