South African Airways

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South African Airways flights and information

South African Airways Check-in | South African Airways baggage allowance | South African Airways legroom

Contact details


Reservations: 0871 722 1111 (9am-5.30pm).
Tickets: 0871 722 1111 between 2pm and 8.30.


South African Airways

South African Airways Check-in

Internet check-in is available between 24 hours and 3 hours before departure. Self check-in via kiosks at the airport is available up to 90 minutes before the flight. Check-in counters are also offered by the airline. Mobile check-in is also available for flights out of Johannesburg.

South African Airways baggage allowance

Hand luggage: Economy Class passengers are allowed one piece of hand luggage with a maximum weight of 8kg (18lbs) and maximum size (height, width and depth added together) of 115cm (45in). Business Class passengers are allowed two items of hand luggage, each of the same maximum weight and size. Hand luggage must be able to fit under the seat in front or in the overhead lockers.

Checked: allowances vary according to route, however on many flights Economy Class passengers are allowed up to 23kg (50lb) of checked luggage, Business Class passengers are allowed up to 30kg (66lb) and First Class passengers are allowed up to 40kg (99lb).

Excess: fees vary according to route, according to either the weight or piece concepts. On most routes, excess baggage is charged at a rate of 1.5 per cent per kg of the highest normal direct one-way adult Economy Class fare. Any one item of baggage that is more than 32kg (70lb) will be classed as cargo and charged at the corresponding rates, and if total excess baggage is more than 100kg (218lb) this will need to be organised at the time the reservation is made or at least 24 hours in advance of departure.

South African Airways legroom

In Economy Class, passengers can expect a seat pitch of 81cm to 86cm (32-34in). In Business Class there is a seat pitch of 198cm (78in), and in First Class there is a seat pitch of 210cm (83in).

Pre-arranged seating

Seats are assigned during the booking process and may be changed during check-in if available.

Passenger change details

Reservations can be changed or cancelled online or by calling Reservations.

Child fares

Infants under two years of age are subject to infant fares, which are around 10 per cent of an adult fare. Children from 2 to 11 years of age, meanwhile, will travel via child fares available at around 75 per cent of an adult fare. Baby meals may be requested at the time of reservation, and cabin crew can heat up milk and food brought onboard for your child. Infants are allowed 10kg (22lbs) of checked baggage as well as one fully collapsible buggy. In terms of hand luggage, infants are allowed one carry-on bag of less than 8kg (17lb) free of charge.

Senior fares

South African Airways does not offer discounts for senior travellers.


Service dogs are the only animals that may travel in the passenger cabin. Pets do not count toward the free baggage allowance and are subject to excess baggage charges. Animals must be properly crated and accompanied by all necessary documentation, including health and vaccination certificates and entry permits.

Carrying musical instruments

A passenger travelling with a large musical instrument may book a seat for the item. Call Reservations to arrange this. Passengers must supply information about the instrument’s size and weight. There is a weight limit of 75kg (165lbs) per seat occupied by the item, and no additional checked baggage allowance is granted for these seats. Smaller instruments may be carried as hand luggage, providing they fit under the seat in front or in the overhead lockers. The instrument (including any carrying case) must not exceed 8kg (17lb), and the sum of its dimensions (height, width and depth) must not exceed 115cm (45in). Instruments may also be carried in the hold. Passengers should contact South African Airways to find out the applicable mode of carriage for their instrument, and they can also find information detailing how certain kinds of instruments are usually transported.

In-flight service

South African Airways offers an Audio Video On Demand entertainment system during flights of more than three hours, with options includes movies, TV programmes, news, music and games.

Air miles

Voyager. South African Airways’ loyalty programme is a five-tiered system, and its levels are Blue, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Lifetime Platinum.

In Economy Class, air miles are earned at a rate of 100 per cent of miles flown, a rate of 125 per cent of miles flown in Business Class and 150 per cent of miles flown in First Class, with a minimum of 250 miles earned for flights of less than that distance.

Certain discounted Economy Class fares are only eligible for 50 per cent mile accrual, and miles can be also be earned from flying via the airline’s partners as well as from using its non-airline partners which include car-rental companies, hotels and credit card companies.

Airline food link

See photographs of South African Airways’ in-flight meals taken by fellow flyers and read reviews at

In-flight magazine

South African Airways’ in-flight magazine is named Sawubona, which is a Zulu greeting. It contains a range of entertaining and informative lifestyle and travel-related content.

Airline alliances

South African Airways is a member of the world’s first and largest airline alliance, Star Alliance. Its partners include Thai Airways, Lufthansa, bmi, Air Canada, United Airlines, SAS Scandinavian Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Airline overview

South African Airways is the national carrier of South Africa and is not only one of the country but the African continent’s most prominent airlines. Founded in 1934, the flag carrier is one of the oldest in the world and offers services to 37 destinations in 26 countries throughout the globe. It also boasts the biggest route network in Africa, offering flights to more than 20 destinations across the continent as well as those within its home nation.

South African Airways’ main hubs are found in the nation’s major cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as its headquarters based at OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, located in the Ekurhuleni municipality of South Africa’s Gauteng province. Within the UK, SAA offers services from cities including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Belfast and Birmingham.

Rebranded in the 90s to reflect the modern, post-Apartheid Rainbow Nation, the airline’s livery sports a red, blue, green, yellow, black and white logo based upon the country’s national flag. The carrier has received a number of awards, which include receiving the title of Best Airline Africa at the 2010 Skytrax World Airline Awards and being named Best International Airline Flying to Africa in the 2011 Safari Awards.

South African Airways was last modified: July 2nd, 2015 by Oonagh Shiel
Author: Oonagh Shiel (3406 posts)

Content Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!