SAA offers flight changes at no charge as coronavirus hits

South African Airways made an offer to customers who have purchased flight tickets on Friday afternoon to change one of each customer’s tickets for free amid the emerging coronavirus pandemic.

According to Worldometer, the novel coronavirus has caused 139 630 cases and 5 120 fatalities. According to the site, 70 773 patients were in recovery by Friday morning.

The pandemic is expected to have a devastating impact on travel and tourism globally, as the markets have already taken a beating in the past week over the novel coronavirus.

The statement said SAA will allow one free change of booking for tickets issued between 13 March to 30 April 2020 for travel on these selected routes and without penalty or change fees. According to the statement, the offer is applicable to all fare types.

"Given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, SAA is offering customers one free change in reservations on selected international routes to be used for travel on or before the 30 September 2020," the statement said.

The statement said the applicable routes include those between Johannesburg and New York, Washington DC, Frankfurt, Munich and London. Itineraries must be re-booked by 30 April and travel completed by 30 September 2020, the statement said.

In the statement SAA chief commercial officer Philip Saunders said the national carrier’s first commitment during the coronavirus pandemic was to ensure the health and safety of customers and staff.

"That is why we are assisting customers with this special re-booking policy. We will be regularly reviewing our policies during this challenging time to ensure that our customers can continue to travel with confidence and added reassurance," said Saunders.

The statement listed the conditions below, among others, for a free ticket change:

  • The travel itinerary must include travel between Johannesburg-New York JFK; Johannesburg-Washington IAD (via Accra, Ghana); Accra-Washington IAD; Johannesburg-Frankfurt; Johannesburg-Munich; and Johannesburg-London LHR.
  • The passenger must re-book and reissue their ticket by 30 April 2020.
  • Passenger travel must be complete by 30 September 2020.
  • Passengers must re-book with the same booking class with no additional collection and change fees will be waived.
  • One free change and ticket reissue only.
  • Change of routing will not be permitted.
  • Previous "no-show" passengers are not eligible.
  • The offer does not apply to Mango, SA Express and Airlink - it is issued on SA ticket stock and not on separate tickets of other airlines. 
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