Swiss South Africa Carry Ban Issue

Old Nov 29, 21, 9:02 am
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Swiss South Africa Carry Ban Issue

After having BA redemption flights to India cancelled 2 years in a row we made the (now fateful) decision to book flights London -> Johannesburg return two weeks ago on a Business Basic fare on Swiss/Lufthansa. The flight departs on the 10th Dec on Swiss returning on the 2nd Jan on Lufthansa. We were willing to pay the very high price for the late ticketing albeit took the Business Basic fare which only allows date changes. This 'basic' ticket appears to only offer the same date change flexibility that is available on any Swiss ticket booked for any class so no real 'business' benefit.

Both the Swiss and German governments have stipulated that only citizens/residents of those countries can currently be carried on flights out of South Africa. Both Swiss and Lufthansa are still operating flights to Johannesburg. As we are neither Swiss nor German citizens/residents we cannot legally be carried by either airline on the route.

We have contacted Swiss via both their Facebook page and their online form and have not had any acknowledgement. We spent over 2 hours on hold to finally get through to the call centre that appears to be in the Philippines. We asked if the flight on the 10th would be cancelled and was told the flight would be going. We then asked whether Swiss or Lufthansa would be able to carry us back given the government restrictions. The agent said no they could not carry us so we asked whether they would cancel our booking and provide a refund. The answer was no. We asked what they expected us to do. We were told to turn up for the flight in Johannesburg and deal with it then. So we are being told to fly out there and have no way of knowing how to get back. We asked politely three times if we could speak to a supervisor. We also asked for the response to be put in writing. The agent said she didn't understand. Two minutes later she hung up.

We do not want to change the dates for the flights. We can potentially claim on our travel insurance but need written evidence from the airline that they will not cancel the tickets and provide a refund. Swiss will not provide anything in writing.

Does anyone know of any redress in this situation if the flights go ahead? If we go we won't be able to get back. If we don't turn up we are no shows and lose the tickets.
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Old Nov 29, 21, 9:30 am
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Originally Posted by Noosa View Post
After having BA redemption flights to India cancelled 2 years in a row we made the (now fateful) decision to book flights London -> Johannesburg return two weeks ago on a Business Basic fare on Swiss/Lufthansa. The flight departs on the 10th Dec on Swiss returning on the 2nd Jan on Lufthansa. We were willing to pay the very high price for the late ticketing albeit took the Business Basic fare which only allows date changes. This 'basic' ticket appears to only offer the same date change flexibility that is available on any Swiss ticket booked for any class so no real 'business' benefit.

Both the Swiss and German governments have stipulated that only citizens/residents of those countries can currently be carried on flights out of South Africa. Both Swiss and Lufthansa are still operating flights to Johannesburg. As we are neither Swiss nor German citizens/residents we cannot legally be carried by either airline on the route.

We have contacted Swiss via both their Facebook page and their online form and have not had any acknowledgement. We spent over 2 hours on hold to finally get through to the call centre that appears to be in the Philippines. We asked if the flight on the 10th would be cancelled and was told the flight would be going. We then asked whether Swiss or Lufthansa would be able to carry us back given the government restrictions. The agent said no they could not carry us so we asked whether they would cancel our booking and provide a refund. The answer was no. We asked what they expected us to do. We were told to turn up for the flight in Johannesburg and deal with it then. So we are being told to fly out there and have no way of knowing how to get back. We asked politely three times if we could speak to a supervisor. We also asked for the response to be put in writing. The agent said she didn't understand. Two minutes later she hung up.

We do not want to change the dates for the flights. We can potentially claim on our travel insurance but need written evidence from the airline that they will not cancel the tickets and provide a refund. Swiss will not provide anything in writing.

Does anyone know of any redress in this situation if the flights go ahead? If we go we won't be able to get back. If we don't turn up we are no shows and lose the tickets.
I recommend you wait a day or two and then call again.

The situation is rather fluid and the various reports are even contradictory. Example: the Swiss authorities sent a press release that they imposed a ban on flights from SA, but the LX flights to & from JNB seem to be operating (which makes sense, if only to repatriate people who are allowed to).

For the other 'variant' countries recently added to the list in Switzerland, there is no travel ban but passengers need a negative PCR test before flight and a quarantine upon arrival. I assume this also applies to passengers arriving in Switzerland from South Africa.

However, you will not have Switzerland as your destination, you will be transiting and that is (still) allowed. For your return, the UK entry rules would apply and - at this stage - those don't prevent you from flying. The UK authorities require testing and self-isolation (as of today).

I expect LX/LH to amend their rebooking policy in the next couple of days, so as to catch up with recent developments.

Edit: the UK now recommends that you don't travel so if LH/LX won't accommodate you, consult your travel insurance.

Last edited by MichielR; Nov 29, 21 at 9:49 am
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Old Nov 29, 21, 9:56 am
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Originally Posted by MichielR View Post

I expect LX/LH to amend their rebooking policy in the next couple of days, so as to catch up with recent developments.
Hope this happens. I am in the complex situation that I didn't board an AMS-ZRH-JNB on Friday because I was worried about not being able to return on the same route late December.
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Old Nov 29, 21, 10:02 am
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Originally Posted by AlienInTheFatherland View Post
Hope this happens. I am in the complex situation that I didn't board an AMS-ZRH-JNB on Friday because I was worried about not being able to return on the same route late December.
It would be more than silly if you'd be worse off having taken the approach that various governments recommended you take, albeit one or two days later...
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Old Nov 29, 21, 2:41 pm
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Colleague (Austrian resident in Austria) was booked on a LH ticket to WDH on Friday. He called in and was offered a full refund or free change to another date. He took the former.
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Old Nov 29, 21, 7:07 pm
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Originally Posted by oliver2002 View Post
Colleague (Austrian resident in Austria) was booked on a LH ticket to WDH on Friday. He called in and was offered a full refund or free change to another date. He took the former.
Do they have any status?
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Old Nov 29, 21, 11:56 pm
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None, took him 30 min to get someone on the general line.
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Old Nov 30, 21, 12:46 am
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I am a non-EU citizen/resident and just flew LH 573 out of SA.
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Old Dec 2, 21, 5:10 am
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Any updates on this? Supposed to do JNB-ZRH-VIE-IAD as a US citizen in 3 weeks.
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Old Dec 2, 21, 5:23 am
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Originally Posted by michaelpowell44 View Post
Any updates on this? Supposed to do JNB-ZRH-VIE-IAD as a US citizen in 3 weeks.
As of today transit in ZRH and VIE is allowed.

But who knows what the rules will be in 3 weeks

Follow travel check.admin.ch and austria.org/current-travel-information.
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Old Dec 2, 21, 5:29 am
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Ok, that makes sense and yes by the hour haha.

To your knowledge connecting INTL-SCHENGEN-INTL isnt a problem either with the rules as they currently stand?
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Old Dec 2, 21, 6:15 am
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Originally Posted by michaelpowell44 View Post
Ok, that makes sense and yes by the hour haha.

To your knowledge connecting INTL-SCHENGEN-INTL isnt a problem either with the rules as they currently stand?
Insofar as I am aware most European countries allow transit based on rules of entry at next/final destination. That said, such transit is always a potential issue in case of IRROPS - more so in your case with two transit points.

As you are in transit you would not enter Schengen.

Last edited by MichielR; Dec 2, 21 at 10:34 am Reason: Correction
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Old Dec 2, 21, 7:20 am
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Originally Posted by MichielR View Post
Insofar as I am aware most European countries allow transit based on rules of entry at next/final destination. That said, such transit is always a potential issue in case of IRROPS - more so in your case with two transit points.

As you are in transit you would not enter Schengen.
I assumed if I was in transit between two schengen countries I have to enter the schengen area.
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Old Dec 2, 21, 8:12 am
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Yes you would have to enter the Schengen area to fly ZRH-VIE. In ZRH, border agents are supposed to check if you are eligible to enter Austria, since you'd enter Austria "domestic" and could just walk out.
I recommend you find a routing that does not involve an intra-Schengen flight.
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Old Dec 2, 21, 8:31 am
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Originally Posted by michaelpowell44 View Post
I assumed if I was in transit between two schengen countries I have to enter the schengen area.
indeed. My mistake.

It would be Intl - Schengen - Schengen - Intl which would require entry into Switzerland and Austria for all intents and purposes.

Last edited by MichielR; Dec 2, 21 at 9:40 am
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