View Full Version : South African Airlines - Very Good - Except For Heathrow, Same Old Problems...

Boss Raptor
19th Jun 2004, 09:24
Just had the pleasure to fly several LHR-JNB round trips with SAA in both economy and business and it was a delight...8 out of 10

Aircraft were very clean and very well presented, staff were very friendly and courteous both at check in, in LHR and JNB, and on the flight...average seat pitch and food comparable to BA or similar but not as good as Iberia or Emirates as example...should add that immigration and customs at JNB also exceptionally friendly, easy and polite :)

All round 8 out of 10 and definately worth a try...

However usual pathetic story at LHR T1, arrived this morning on time at 0630 only to have to wait on a taxiway for 20 mins 'due BMI aircraft still on our parking bay' - after 20 mins we made our way towards the gates only to have to stop just outside and wait further 10 mins 'due having to clear ground equipment from the stand'...we are now on stand and all waiting to disembark with nothing happening...guess what 'awaiting arrival of groundstaff to operate the jetway' further 10 minute delay...finally off at 0710

As I disembark I hear Globe-ground handling company supervisor tell SAA dispatcher that 'Hilo (for the baggage/cargo offload) will not arrive for another 15 mins'...thru immigration no problems...45 minute wait for the baggage finally leaving at 0755...pathetic!

Just a joke and sounding remarkably like other recent stories of the unacceptable service(s) at LHR...the London/UK premier international gateway...I am copying this to the customer comments/complaints address detailed in SAA's inflight magazine supposed to be direct(ish) to their senior exec...

So SAA only get 8 out of 10 for that and unfortunately because of the above continued LHR agro I shall always travel from LGW or any other airport in preference to that dump :*

19th Jun 2004, 19:29
There is little parking flexiblility at LHR at peak times and this will be the case until T5 is open. Your comments/complaints will no doubt be noted but little can be done about it until then.

20th Jun 2004, 09:40

I think many of us are aware of the shortage of stands, but this doesn't excuse when you finally get on stand finding that the ground staff are not on duty (so if direct to stand had been possible the wait would have been even longer), nor that there is a shortage of the key ground equipment and/or its operators.

Almost all other airports in the world manage to get their ground handling staff round the aircraft at moment of arrival, including GlobeGround at other airports (though the problem is not confined to this one agent), so the question is why not at Heathrow. It's especially noticeable if you arrive on stand even slightly before ETA, you get the impression of them purposely not coming out until it's time.

Boss Raptor
20th Jun 2004, 09:52
Quite WHBM...

Well my comments have been sent to the powers that be at SAA by an old school friend who is their solicitor in UK...

That ruined what was about to be a 10/10 score for SAA...and a glowing report...

First flight I have ever been on where we had a medical emergency, guy collapsed right in front of me and the cabin crew (and me) got him back into his seat and put him on oxygen...'is their a doctor or paramedic on board?' - there was and they put him to sleep on a back row under watch...looked like dehydration and/or stress faint to me...

SAA staff were excellent throughout, chatty, friendly and very professional...and the aircraft was immaculate, streaks above Virgin or BA...

Whoever the handling agent was, Globeground I think?, should be taken to task...if they have insufficient staff on for the job and possibly have failed to co-ordinate with stand control then they need a good kick up the backside from SAA :*

20th Jun 2004, 16:12
There is little parking flexiblility at LHR at peak times and this will be the case until T5 is open

"Rumour Control" has it (on quite good authority) that T5 will not be the answer to everyone's prayers. It already seems as though LHR will not be big enough when T5 opens unless BA axe 30% of it's routes!

Bob Upndown
22nd Jun 2004, 12:40
Fly VS JNB-LHR - never had any of the problems mentioned at T3.

Not sure how shiny you want your planes, but again, VS's are pretty presentable (and the cabin crew DEFINITELY are :E :E )

Boss Raptor
22nd Jun 2004, 14:44
T3?! You cant be serious...the worst terminal out of the lot...rubbish departures and rubbish arrivals...

On VS flights into T3 I have regularly been unloaded at a remote stand, had to walk distances due none of the travellators working, had to fight my way into immigration due the crowds, waited an hour+ for my bags...

No thank you...that's exactly now why I dont travel VS :hmm:

22nd Jun 2004, 16:03

I agree that the service at LHR is going from Bad to worse but to be absolutely honest, there is no point complaining to the airline you travelled with, if the service was as excellent as you say then it is merely the LHR side that is unique! You should really be writing to BAA, Globeground and maybe your local MP or something! The airline will simply send an apology with the usual crap on it about following it up but will never happen! Trust me, i worked in customer relations for a major user LHR user and lhr complaints were 10 to the penny with nothing we could do about it!

Of course, if your simply trying to sponge a few vouchers off the airline in this day and age of mass bancrupcy...go for it!!!

p.s....excuse my spelling, just in from a longhaul and couldnt be bothered with a spell check!

Boss Raptor
22nd Jun 2004, 20:11
Yes Paddy you are so right

There can be little doubt that the bulk of the problems/inadeqecies at LHR for both pax, airlines (and staff) alike do revolve around BAA

Same here from years of bitter experience as an airline customer complaining to BAA is almost a waste of time...I have actually praised SAA overall via my senior contacts but have pointed out why the trip was let down at the LHR end which was a great pity...my complaint is more for the record on PAX & SLF in support of all the other recent complaints...and to encourage people to try SAA after a job well done :)

SAA are the customer of both Globeground/BAA and as such protocol dictates they are in a position and have the choice as to whether they pursue the matter against their contractor

I am already on SUB upgrade status so doubt vouchers will be forthcoming :E

Bob Upndown
23rd Jun 2004, 11:52
BR, old chap!

In the words of the song: 'Come fly with me', 'cos clearly VS roll out the red carpet; never had any problems like that in 8 years of to-ing and fro-ing to JNB :ok:

Seriously, sorry to hear of your woes on the ground. The carrier is responsible to their contractor so it's definitely worth a whinge.

It is good news though that SA have finally raised their on-board product game to compete head-to-head with the European carriers.

Islander Jock
25th Jun 2004, 12:00
I'm a regular on Springbok between Perth and Luanda.

Like Boss Raptor, I find their aircraft well presented and the cabin crew excellent.

Still remember fondly my first trip home with them about 3 years ago back in the days when they were operating the SP with those out of date hollow tubes they called earphones. Aircraft was being delayed at the ramp in JNB by a couple of passengers who for whatever reason thought they were entitled to an upgrade to business class. Probably too much booze and dope in their tiny brains. The cabin crew tried everything they possibly could to please this pair of ratbags by offering them all sorts of seating in the economy section. Glad they didn't take it up though as I might have missed out on my 4 centre row seats to myself. :E Captain had the right idea and offloaded their bags and them, in that order. He even made them stand at the door where all the pax could glare at them whilst security arrangements were made to get them off the plane.

Throughout the flight the cabin crew were very apologetic to everyone on board and worked their butts off to try and make up for everyone being delayed into Perth. But the funniest thing I ever heard was on final when the CSD got on the PA and in his finest Afrikaans accent said "Cabin crew SIT..... STAY"

These days I do PER-JNB in the new A340. Guys the seat pitch on these things sucks big time!!!!!

And could someone tell me why a flight would be cancelled 8 days prior. Would it be a maintenance / schedulling issue or just under booked and not worth starting the engines for? Interested to know as I now have to spend another 3 days in Luanda. AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!:* :* :* :*