The Traveller

Call centre blues

TURKISH Airlines gave me the first taste of how impossible it is to get through to an airline call centre.

I hung on, literally for hours, listening to voices telling me to be patient, my call is important.

Eventually, I took the Gautrain to ORT International, and went to the Turkish Airlines desk.

Right. Lots of forms and calculations to facilitate a refund, then I waited.

And waited. As if the pain of the rand shrinking was not enough.

About two weeks later, I battled the so-called call centre again, but alas, there was no reply.


I got a brain-wave and phoned the Airports Company South Africa at ORT.

They gave me the airline’s ORT telephone number at their office, but that too did not bring any results.

I called Acsa again.

This time they gave me the mobile number of the airlines’ Operations Manager.

Bingo! This is the way to go.

The Turikish Airlines OpMan in Joburg established that my refund cheque was idling in a staff member’s desk drawer.

Yes. Just chucked there and forgotten. She told me the cash would be in my account in 24 hours.

And it was.

I went back to Air France, for my flight from Johannesburg to Athens; it was the same airline I’d travelled on last year, to Greece.

My June flight was booked, then the date began to stretched too far into the future.

I had to change my R16000 ticket and surprise surprise found that a ticket for May was half that price.

But, when I tried to change the flight online, the fees and the R8000-something ticket price exceeded the total costs of the R16000 one!


I tried the Air France call centre … This couldn’t be fair?

Yes, you guessed it. Hours and hours of hanging on: some times I timed 20-30 minutes before I hung up.

Then I got a lacklustre person called Rae on the Air France call centre line.

She told me hold on, and on, and then she said she could not help me and put down the phone!

I nearly cried.

What to do?

Well, you know, phone Acsa and ask for the Air France OpsMan.


Marice was a star, and again an efficient OpsMan worked magic. Nathaniel and Ranusha flapped their angel wings and nursed me through my smouldering panic.

My R16000 ticket was changed to an R8000-something ticket and I got a voucher for the balance after the cost of the ticket and the changes was deducted. That’s ok. 

Had I not spoken to a real live person, I would have had to spend more money for this new, lower cost ticket, than the original one,.

I think it’s important that these airlines, any airlines, make it easier for clients to get hold of them over the phone.

There are some things a computer cannot do … and now I have the dates of a flight on Aegean Airlines to adjust.

Hold thumbs!



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