Friday, August 05, 2005

Would you

So it is just after 06h00 in the morning and I am at the airport - again. I was on the 21h00 to Cape Town from Johannesburg last night. I was in the queue at 19h50. The queue was probably about 100 people long as the 3 (THREE) attendants allocated to check in economy passengers tried to cope. At 20h30 the SAA team manager anounced that the flight had been overbooked by about 50 people and they would have to put us on the flight this morning.

Firstly: I understand the computer booking system overbooks based on probability that people will not turn up. DID no one realise that there is a rugby test in Cape Town this weekend, it is a long weekend and there was not one ticket available on ANY flight to Cape Town from about Wednesday? It should also have been a clue that they might have a problem as during the day more and more overbooked passengers were bumped to the next flight.

Secondly: Could SAA not have organised one of there smaller SA Airlink planes for the extra passengers - there were enough, or arrange a bigger plane for the last flight - seeing as it was the last flight of the day availability of a plane should not have been a problem.

Thirdly: these things happen, but handle it better. I was once on a flight to London on BA once, the BA staff saw the mounting overbooking problem and offered people in the queue a 200 pound cheque to travel the next day, thus opening up seats.

Fourthly: Manage the resultant process better. No announcement was made to all 50 overbooked passengers, resulting in everybody crowding up to the counter and delaying the follow on process of issuing us with vouchers for hotels and a complimentary flight. I eventually got to my hotel at 23h00.

The SAA team manager was very nice given a very difficult situation. Other staff were not fantastic however - some downright rude. It does not endear SAA staff to customers when they demand a double inflation increase and then you have these types of experiences.

At 22h00 last night, after more than 2 hours in the queue, those of us still waiting to be booked on this morning's flight


kyknoord said...

I used to travel a fair amount in my previous job and I experienced the same shit every time I went via Joburg on SAA. My company eventually gave up in disgust and switched all our business travel to BA, because it doesn't look like SAA is going to lose that parastatal mindset any time soon.

chitty said...

Customer service has and prolly never will be a strong point of SAA. In order for that to happen there will have to be a complete change of mind-set in management and in the ppl who work there.
Finding practical solutions to problems is not a priority. They are held back and bogged down by their own systems and outdated procedures.
As KN pointed out... perhaps these are remnants from their parastatal days?

It is the question said...

Sadly, I believe it is a poor management issue. I highly recommend reading Dennis Becket's "Jetlag" - a novel about the Coleman Andrews era. The woman he had in charge of service was incredible.

As the management book of the same name says, "The fish rots at the head"