Stranded SA Express passengers could wait more than a month for their refunds

24 May 2018 - 19:30 By Wendy Knowler
SA Express
SA Express
Image: Turners Travel via Twitter

“Hey SA Express‚ flights from OR Tambo are indef delayed & gate staff doesn’t know why. Help?”

Amy Cookson (@AimeeSea) tweeted that at 1.23pm on Thursday afternoon‚ shortly before the news broke of the Civil Aviation Authority grounding all SA Express flights over safety concerns.

“Drive” was the simple advice from @SMSTELLAR.

And given the airline has no competition on many of its 17 local and regional routes‚ including the Jo’burg-Richards Bay route‚ SA Express ticket holders on those routes will have to do just that.

Cookson was later re-booked on an SAA flight to Durban - a 90-minute journey from Richards Bay.

SA Express will “accommodate passengers on other airlines and refund tickets” in line with the airline’s compensation policy‚ SA Express acting chief executive Matsietsi Mokholo was quoted as saying.

It’s an either-or situation‚ SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali clarified - either an alternative flight or a ticket refund‚ not both.

But for those people booked on routes not operated by other airlines - including Cape Town to Bloemfontein‚ Port Elizabeth to Durban and Jo’burg to Walvis Bay - getting another flight home was not an option‚ so they were forced to fund their own “alternative arrangements” to get home.

Asked whether passengers would be compensated‚ should those arrangements cost them more than their unused SA Express ticket‚ spokesman Refilwe Masemola responded: “Yes‚ the passengers will be refunded in line with the airline¹s compensation policy”.

As for how long affected passengers will have to wait for their ticket refunds‚ Masemola said it could be up to “21 working days” - in other words‚ about a month. “But we ask for some patience in this regard as we will be facing a large number of queries‚” she said.

"SA Express promises to communicate regularly and accurately with our passengers.”