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As South Africa’s flagship air carrier, FlySAA, also known as SAA, is the country’s largest airline, with headquarters based on the grounds of OR Tambo Johannesburg International Airport, in Kempton Park.
FlySAA and its affiliated partners, SA Express, SA Airlink and Mango Airlines operate several domestic routes within South Africa, flying from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth. The airline also services a vast international network of destinations, spread across all six inhabited continents.
FlySAA was founded in 1934 after the acquisition of Union Airways by the South African government. During the Apartheid era, SAA developed its international network of flight routes, while also building up its fleet of long-range aircraft. In 1997, SAA dropped its then Afrikaans name, Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens (SAL), updated its image and livery, and adopted the name it operates under today.
Today, FlySAA is state-owned, and is a member of the world-renowned Star Alliance, as well as the official air carrier of the Association of Tennis Professionals. The airline also owns Mango, a popular and low-cost domestic airline.
Apart from the busy domestic schedule FlySAA follows with its affiliates, the airline transports travellers to 38 destinations, in 26 countries across the globe, including Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
December 2010 saw the airline extend its African network of destinations to include: Cotonou, Benin; Abuja, Nigeria; Madagascar; Republic of Congo; Cameroon and Burundi.
The 2017 Fleet
As of December 2016, South African Airways’ fleet consists of:
- 8 x Airbus A319-100
- 12 x Airbus A320-200
- 6 x Airbus A330-200
- 2 x Airbus A330-300
- 8 x Airbus A340-300
- 9 x Airbus A340-600
- 7 x Boeing 737-800
- 2 x Boeing 737-300F
You can check out the business class view of a FlySAA jet landing below:
Flight & Cabin Classes
Passengers are offered modern, comfortable seats with a pitch ranging from 31 – 33 inches, dependent on the aircraft, with ample leg room and personal, touch-screen monitors on the back of each seat. Travellers are provided with a complimentary welcome pack, full size pillow and blanket as well as a three-course meal, snacks and full beverage service on all long haul flights.
Ranging from 73 -74 inch seat pitch per aircraft, business class passengers travel in comfort and style, and are offered a welcome pack, a full size pillow and duvet, personal touch-screen monitor and full access to a large entertainment library. Travellers also have access to fine dining meals and full beverage service on long haul flights.
Each passenger is offered noise-cancelling headsets, personal touch screen monitors and access to a vast array of entertainment options – including up to 100 titles of movies, television series, documentaries, games and music. The SAA entertainment library is updated monthly with the latest in blockbusters and series.
For domestic travellers within South Africa, one piece of checked in luggage, not weighing more than 23kg is permitted for economy class. Business class travellers are allowed one piece of checked in luggage, at a maximum of 32kg.
International travel passengers are permitted two items of checked in luggage, not more than 23kg a bag in economy class, whereas business class passengers are allowed two items of check in luggage at 32kg per bag.
Hand luggage is restricted to one bag, not exceeding 8kg, with a total dimension of 56cm x 36cm x 23cm (115cm) for economy class travellers, while business class passengers are allowed a maximum of two bags, not exceeding 8kg per bag.
As of March 2017, the airline has codeshare agreements in place with the likes of Air Seychelles, Emirates, Etihad Airways, LATAM, Lufthansa, Mango Airlines, RwandAir, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, EgyptAir, Avianca and TAP Portugal, to name but a few.
Frequent Flyer / Rewards Programme
Passengers are invited to sign up to become a Voyager Member of SAA, a tiered rewards system, where Voyager Miles can be accumulated the more a passenger flies with SAA and its affiliated air carriers.
The tiers range from: blue, silver, gold, platinum and lifetime platinum, and offer privileges such as bonus miles, access to private lounges, additional baggage allowances and even a chauffeur service for platinum and lifetime members.
Contact South African Airways
Reservations: 0861 606 606 / 0861 359 722
Customer complaints: 0860 003 146
Official Website: www.flysaa.com – NOT www.saa.co.za. www.sal.co.za or www.saa.com.
South African Airways in the news
SAA warns against ‘free flight’ WhatsApp hoax
South Africa’s flagship air carrier, South African Airways, sent out a public statement on 1st February, warning all customers and potential passengers that a recent survey about the airline, circulated via WhatsApp is a complete hoax and should be avoided. The airline stated that they are not offering free tickets to any domestic or international destinations, and have urged those that have received the hoax message to not forward it on. SAA has said all its promotional material and activities can be found on their website.
No decision has been made by President Zuma on a proposal made by the ANC Women’s League, for a commission of inquiry into SAA to be established. ANCWL alleged, among other accusations, that only a few “white” capitalist companies were benefiting from the state-owned company and that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was responsible for holding up transformation of the airline.
FlySAA Announces codeshare agreement with Seychelles Airlines
During February 2017, SAA announced a new codeshare agreement with Air Seychelles to Durban.
FlySAA Board Gets Grilled in Parliament
Watch the controversy prone Board of the national carrier get grilled in parliament below: