South African Airways has said that it has been unable to check in a large number of passengers onto recent flights out of Australia due to non-compliant documentation.
According to Tim Clyde-Smith, SAA’s Country Manager for Australasia, the airline last week was unable to check in passengers at Perth Airport in the high double digits for their flight to South Africa because their travel documents didn’t comply with South African laws.
From 1 June, 2015, South African Government legislation requires additional documentation to be provided at check-in when parents and guardians traveling with children or unaccompanied minors traveling alone or in groups (such as for school or sporting excursions) to and from South Africa. It does not apply to passengers transiting Johannesburg. Although the South African Government is examining the impact of the laws on the travel industry, no changes have been finalised and the current law remains in place.
“Despite an education program and communications through our travel partners and the industry, we are still seeing too many incidents when people arrive at check-in without the correct documents. This is amplified when they have travelled across Australia from the eastern states or New Zealand and are then advised they cannot continue their journey without the correct documentation being provided,’’ Tim said.
“As our Christmas flights are full, we cannot then accommodate people on another flight, meaning many families’ holiday plans are ruined. Such oversights by our travel partners or our customers are not covered by travel insurance,” he said.
“We again call on the travel industry in particular to ensure their customers have all the correct information when traveling to South Africa, and especially so in the forthcoming holiday season of Christmas and New Year. In addition, while travel bookings made since the act came into force might mean compliance, travel agents need to go back through all existing bookings made as far back as 12 months, before the legislation came into force. We have found many examples of people who made bookings through agents earlier this year are simply unaware of the new requirements. It presents the whole industry in a bad light when customers do not have the correct information and are inconvenienced as a result”
“We would urge all travel agents to double check with their clients to ensure they have the correct documentation and people can enjoy their Christmas holidays,” Tim said.