What happens if I miss my SAA flight?

Cape Town – If you miss your first flight, airlines will cancel  your return ticket.

One Kulula passenger found this out the hard way. Sooren Ramdenee booked a return flight from Cape Town to Durban, but had to miss the first flight due to a family emergency. He booked another one-way ticket to Durban, but when trying to check-in for his return flight, Kulula informed him that his return flight was cancelled upon missing his first flight. 

He ended up having to buy a new, full-price ticket to get back to Cape Town, but a simple phone call could have saved him money. 

Although this might seem like the airline is at fault, this is common practice among most airlines in the world. If you you book a return flight or multiple flights on one booking, missing one flight will automatically cancel the rest of your trips.

According to Luane Lavery, communication manager for British Airways and Kulula, this policy is communicated to passengers throughout their booking process, in the terms and conditions that have to be clicked when finalising the booking and when the airline sends them a reminder for their flight. 

The policy is also available on their website.

“Our experience shows that very few customers who do not arrive for their first flight ever utilise their return flight. By cancelling the return flight, airlines are able to manage their inventory and revenue management more efficiently, and to assist in curtailing overselling and overbooking margins, thus resulting in a more cost effective and reliable service for customers,”says Lavery.

Like most airlines, Kulula has a re-booking policy, which states that passengers who will miss their flight need to contact the airline’s call centre ahead of their first flight to ensure their second flight isn’t cancelled. The passenger will be liable to pay re-booking fees (R399 plus R120 Call Centre fee) and any price differences between the old ticket and the new one.

South African Airways and Mango has a similar condition in their terms and conditions, with a R370 rebooking fee through a call centre.

Flysafair notes that if you miss your flight, you need to go to their sales counter immediately and will try to put you on the next available flight and will also only charge an admin fee (R300) and difference in fare price. If you only do this an hour after the flight has departed, then you will forfeit the re-booking option and lose the whole ticket.

So remember: always make sure you know your airline’s ‘missed flight’ policy, and that you always make contact with their call centre as soon as you know you’re going to miss your flight.