Shocking service on SAA
Here are the sad facts about a South African, resident in New Zealand, visiting his family in SA, travelling on SAA.
First, it became a laborious process for the visitor to renew his SA passport, so he opted to obtain a travel visa on his New Zealand passport. To do so, he had to forfeit a day’s professional income to travel to Auckland and be interviewed at the appointed time, and lodge the volumes of documentation required. The total cost, including lost income, visa fees (R1,900) and travelling expenses probably exceeded the equivalent of R10,000.
But the most punishing part was still to come: a flight on SAA from Perth to Johannesburg. First, the communication system failed — so the cabin crew had to read out the safety rules.
Then the in-flight entertainment system kept failing. When cabin staff were informed, they said they needed to reboot the system; nothing happened. Because the system was down, no alternative musical entertainment was available. Many hours of nothingness resulted.
Perhaps, if the food had been edible, the entertainment-system collapse would have been forgotten. Breakfast was a leathery omelette that appeared to have been made with egg powder, vienna sausages that had been boiled so long they had turned grey and, to top it all, baked beans. The food in SA prisons is probably better.
How can SAA ever expect to become a successful international airline when it dishes up the above? Does management not know that good entertainment and reasonable food are necessities on long-haul flights? These surely must be the easiest of problems to sort out.
Taxpayers are being asked to cough up R21bn for more of this until 2021. For more than 20 years we have been promised turnaround strategies.
The board and management of SAA will no doubt continue to see blue skies ahead and earn annual salary increases and performance bonuses while prospective passengers rapidly disappear to other, more attractive airlines. When will we learn?