Christopher Knott-Craig makes a tiny mistake when he books his tickets to South Africa — he inadvertently adds an extra letter H to his name. If you are a regular reader of our site, then you know how this story ends — or do you? “Can you persuade South African Airways to fix my name on my ticket?”
Sometimes there’s no easy way to get from point “A” to point “B.” So when Sima Bakalian and her husband needed to fly from Abijan, Côte d’Ivoire, to Durban, South Africa, she had to take the scenic route, with multiple stops on multiple carriers. “Hey South African Airlines, I want $10,000 for my inconvenience!”
All Julie Pavlin wanted was her miles. She’d booked a ticket on South African Airways (SAA) with the understanding that her United Airlines account would be credited through its code share partnership.
“I’m not taking the bait on this South African Airways case (but I’m still hooked)”
Question: I would love to have your help with getting a refund on a one-way ticket I purchased from South African Airlines. This was for a flight from Lusaka to Cape Town, with a connecting stop in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was part of a once-in-a-lifetime trip to visit my sister living in Lusaka.
When my flight from Lusaka arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, I was forced to buy a new ticket to continue on to Cape Town. This was required because I could not provide the credit card I used to purchase the original ticket, which South African Airlines uses for identification. (I always travel with a different card, which has no fee on international transactions.)
The airline would not accept my passport, driver’s license, or other credit card as valid identification. However, they did accept my other credit card to purchase a new ticket.
After two months of emails, meetings and phone calls with customer service and refund departments in Cape Town and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., I received a partial refund of the taxes on the original ticket. I know life isn’t fair, yet I feel I should be refunded one of the two tickets I purchased. I only flew once; I paid twice! — Jennifer Alpaugh, Pacifica, Calif.
Answer: You’re right; life isn’t fair. But you still shouldn’t have to pay twice for the same ticket. The South African Airways site is clear about its policy: If you’re flying with an electronic ticket, “all you have to do is present an I.D. document and credit card (for authentication purposes) to the check-in agent and you will be issued with the normal boarding pass.”
“I flew once; I paid twice”
Walk-up fares are some of the most flexible — and pricey — airline tickets. But corner any airline employee at a party, and they’ll admit these super-high, unrestricted fares, which are purchased at the last minute, are meant to be paid by business travelers on an expense account.
Not passengers like Dina Bennett. And yet South African Airlines charged her $5,900 for a one-way, economy class ticket from Namibia back to San Diego, so she could attend her mother’s funeral recently.
Bennett though she’d get to fly in business class, at that price. But she had to sit in the back of the plane. And that doesn’t sit right with her.
“This case can’t be solved: They charged $5,900 for a one-way ticket in economy class to fly to my mother’s funeral”