DA leader John Steenhuisen blasts local airline after arriving late and being denied boarding

08 June 2023 - 11:36
By Wendy Knowler
John Steenhuisen blasted a local airline after he arrived late for his flight. File image
Image: Freddy Mavunda John Steenhuisen blasted a local airline after he arrived late for his flight. File image

“Lift airline, worst airline in South Africa. Avoid at all cost!!!”

That was the full extent of the comment DA leader John Steenhuisen posted on his Facebook page on Sunday night.

The lack of information about what prompted him to make that damning comment had many of the politician’s Facebook followers speculating his account must have been hacked.

“I don’t believe it — John is far too classy to make a statement about an airline through social media,” Mike Ressel posted. “I may be wrong but I think he’s been set up.”

“Why does this sound like a ‘hacked' comment? asked Raine Fields. “This sounds like a very out of place statement compared to the rest I’ve seen from John.”

“Not hacked,” Steenhuisen shot back that night. “Truth.”

Thapelo Ratsoma was among many who questioned the lack of detail in Steenhuisen’s Facebook rant. “We thought [Lift] is the best because we never had challenges. Please tell us what happened. You can't just say this, you are scaring us. Please back up your statement.”

Three hours later Steenhuisen dropped another post. “I appreciate the call from the CEO of Lift and we are in discussions. It is great that an airline responds quickly to customer concerns and wants to resolve the matter. I commit to a constructive discussion with them about the circumstances surrounding this evening’s [Sunday] matter and resolving them. Thank you [Lift co-founder] Gidon Novick for your constructive response.”

TimesLIVE approached Lift to find out if there had been an incident involving Steenhuisen and the airline at King Shaka airport on Sunday evening.

The airline responded: “Our team was made aware of the incident after a Facebook post by Steenhuisen ... and we reached out directly to get more information so we could investigate accordingly.

“It transpired that he missed his flight.

“All flights close 15 minutes before departure and he was held up passing through airport security and arrived at the boarding gates after the gates had closed and the pushback procedures had started.

“Anyone arriving later than 15 minutes before departure is not able to board as all passengers are affected by that delay: the aircraft misses its departure slot, another departure slot must be allocated.

“We encourage travellers to arrive two hours early to avoid the possibility of unforeseen delays resulting in a late arrival at boarding. Check-in closes 45 minutes before departure for passenger and baggage acceptance and boarding gates close 15 minutes before departure.”

TimesLIVE asked Steenhuisen for his account of the incident and whether he still felt his Facebook post was justified.

Our query read: “Your follow-up post, while crediting Novick for getting in touch with you creates the impression the airline wronged you and had a case to answer and still gives no detail about the nature of your upset.”

Responding on his behalf, his media officer said: “The leader had an unfortunate experience. He has, however, been in discussions with the airline and the matter has been resolved.”

Steenhuisen declined to comment further.


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