SAA ordered to pull misleading advert

National carrier South African Airways has been ordered to withdraw a print advertisement because it created unrealistic consumer expectations of seating and flight meals.

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa today found in favour of a frequent flyer who complained that the advertisement, for business class domestic flights, was misleading because it showed passengers being served a full course meal with wine in reclining seats spaced far apart.

He argued that it created the false expectation that these conditions applied on all local business class flights. The only caution in the advertisement was a small-print disclaimer stating that the Airbus A330-200 only serves selected routes.

SAA countered that it could not show every one of the five types of aircraft it used domestically and was free to feature any one it wished.

The directorate accepted in its ruling “that not all planes are ‘equal’ with regards to space, luxury and seating” but said it could not ignore the fact the example depicted created a “mental expectation” that any flight would offer these conditions.

“What the respondent appears to have done is relied on an image of its most spacious aircraft, to create an image and therefore an expectation that ‘what you see is what you would most likely get’.”

It ordered that SAA withdraw the advert immediately on receipt of its ruling.

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