Friday, 27 January 2017

SOUTH AFRICA: SA Airlink Passengers Spend Night On benches At OR Tambo International Airport

SA Airlink passengers were forced to spend the night on the benches at OR Tambo International Airport after the airline “abandoned” them.

This is after their flight from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday night was rerouted due to weather conditions that were deemed too dangerous for landing.

The flight had left Joburg at 5pm and reached Mthatha at about 8pm when it was forced to turn around. About 40 passengers were on board.

According to several passengers who spoke to The Star, they were told that they would spend the night in Joburg, and shouldn’t panic because the airline would arrange accommodation for them.

After waiting for an hour at OR Tambo, SA Airlink staffers told them that the airline would not provide accommodation.

The flight attendant told them to be ready for the first (Wednesday) morning flight, departing at 6am.

Some of the passengers managed to call relatives or friends to fetch them. However, those who couldn’t make alternative arrangements were forced to sleep on the benches in the waiting areas.

“I am so disgusted with this pathetic service. You would think a company as big as SA Airlink would have a better crisis management mechanism. They do not value customers at all,” said Relebogile Tobia. “Some of us cannot afford to pay accommodation for the night,” she added.

Among the stranded were two pregnant women who were visibly exhausted from walking around the airport.

“SA Airlink is such a useless company. I am so mad at them. I cannot believe I am going to sleep on the chairs when I am this pregnant. I have already spent R3 000 on a ticket,” said Onesimo Maneli.

“I can’t say I will stop using them because they are the only airline doing the Mthatha to Joburg route. We have to fix this.”

Another heavily pregnant woman, Minah Yalezo, said she was so exhausted she could barely stand. “I am just out of words,SA Airlink is so poor, in fact it’s sickening,” she said.

Lucky Magingxa said he had been travelling with SA Express between Joburg and Mthatha for more than 10 years, and that during that time, the airline had provided accommodation when a flight was cancelled due to bad weather.

“They used to book accommodation for us when such situations happened. What is wrong now? We need answers because if we let it go, they get into the habit of taking customers for granted,” he said.