SA Express 7-hour delay PLZ to DUR

Old Dec 3, 17, 9:28 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: FRA - SIN - NYC
Programs: SQ Krisflyer; DL Skymiles; Amex PRG; Hertz Gold
Posts: 20
SA Express 7-hour delay PLZ to DUR

Just thought I'd report a ridiculous experience my family and I had yesterday.

We were booked on SA Express from Port Elizabeth to Durban (sold through SAA as SA1341). It was scheduled to depart at 15.35. We were wheels up at 22.35! PLZ is a dinky little airport with few amenities. Luckily my cousin was able to get us into the SAA lounge upstairs by waiving his MasterCard and was friendly with the lady working the desk (his World Elite MC definitely shouldn't have got us in there, but I think she felt bad for the severe delay). The flight kept getting delayed and delayed and I thought it would be cancelled at some point. The aircraft had broken down in DUR and they needed to fly in a replacement aircraft from Joburg. Equipment was a CRJ-200. I was finally able to see the replacement craft on flightradar24 as a 'no call sign' aircraft first on its way to DUR to pick up the delayed pax there trying to get to PLZ. Then it finally came to PLZ to pick us up.

SA Express and SAA were of no help. They provided inaccurate information on the departure board (it would take an hour for it to update after the lounge staff updated us) and they changed the story a couple of times. Thankfully the lounge staff kept us comfortable and were patient with our questions. They normally leave home at 5pm but stayed with us in the lounge until departure after 22.00.

I know SAA has its management and financial problems, but is this normal for SA Express? I know PLZ isn't an important airport, but I found it strange that it took them over 6 hours to realise that they needed to dispatch a replacement aircraft from Joburg to fix the delay. Has anyone else had similar experiences lately? I'll stick to Mango, Kulula or Fly Safair when flying domestic in SA form now on.
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