The Running Commentary

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Why SAA will not become a great airline…..do they even care?

I am going to relay a story which will support the rather sweeping statement I have made above. I am a Gold cardholder for SAA, although this now is something that I no longer cherish.

I broke the rules, on my recent trip to JHB, I tried to take a 10kg piece of hand luggage on board with me and rightfully had the piece taken from me at the boarding gate. The ladies doing the duty assured me that this piece would be on the flight and that I could collect it off the carousel when we landed.

Well, needless to say this did not happen.  The luggage was not put on the flight, a relatively simple procedure I would have thought.  Instead I arrived in Johannesburg to the fact that my luggage was booked to arrive on the 12 noon flight, SA 333. I was a little annoyed by this, and really the guy dealing with me simply did not care, he did not even apologise.  I was handed a piece of paper, torn from a printer standing next to him, and told “complete your details”.  I advised him that I needed the bag delivered to the address before 4pm.  This made him quite annoyed and he said: “of course is will be delivered by 4, it is arriving on the 12pm flight”

I went about my day. At 15:00 I called the number they gave and was told “the case has not been closed on the system and therefore I do not know if you bag has arrived”. I was put through to the baggage area, or rather I was left listening to an engaged tone. I called back every few minutes (13 times in total over 20 minutes) not once did the phone even ring. It was permanently engaged. I got in my car and drove to the airport, calling in every few minutes along the way, nothing nada just peep…..peep.

I arrive at the airport……my bag has, at 4:06pm, been sent to the delivery area. It was 4:07pm! I ask the team behind the desk what time did it arrive, “just now” they say. I say “print out the slip”. It was on SA 333, which arrived at 12pm. I point this out…..they look back at me and say “yes”. I say “that was four hours ago”…..they say “yes”…….me “hardly just now then”……them silence! By the way the phone….of the hook!

So simply put they don’t give a damn…when I say this, they all look at me, one even shakes his head in agreement!

Sadly SAA this attitude extends to your check-in staff as well. They very often don’t even greet you. They text each other on their mobile phones while you are checking in. It feels like you are interrupting their day.  I even got to hear about the party the night before and how one colleague had been “so pissed” they could not even walk! In short as long as you treat your customers like this, you will never rise to be a great airline. You will forever remain a state subsidised drain on the economy.

customercustomer serviceSAASouth Africa

Mike • January 25, 2011


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