Tuesday, January 12, 2010

South African Airways

It's not just about the running. When you live in Cape Town and are racing in London, there are logistics to take care of too.

South Africa has a national carrier that is everything you might expect of such: inefficient, poorly run, but well equipped, funded as it is by the taxpayer. Unfortunately, I have got myself hooked into their Voyager miles programme, so when it came to book a flight to London for the Marathon, I did it via them.

I need to be in London in time to recover from the flight before the race on the 25th April, so I planned to leave on the 20th to arrive on the 21st, then leave on the 28th coming back to give me a few days of recovery and socialising time. I booked my ticket, then realised that the 21st is son no. 1's birthday. I got back on the phone, and explained my predicament to a guy who was obviously a father, very sympathetic and helpful, and moved my booking. So far so good, so out of character with SAA, but we can all change.

A few weeks later I got an email from SAA advising me of a change to my booking. The JHB-London leg was now 30 minutes later (I have to go via Joburg to be able to leave on the 21st). No problem, just an extra half hour loitering at OR Thambo. A few weeks after that, I got another email, sending me to another schedule on their site which now showed two return flights, one on the 28th as booked, and one on the 27th. I only need to come back once, so I called SAA. They informed me that my booking has been moved forward 24 hours.

"Technical difficulties"
"So you can forecast technical problems 4 months in advance?"

Anyway, I am now coming back earlier than I had hoped, and further changes to my schedule seem to be at the whim of SAA. My guess is that the flight has been over booked, so they are bumping airmiles passengers to accommodate. It's interesting that the customers who have racked up a lot of miles are the ones to suffer, but then we are all self loading cargo.

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