SAA flight-mare: How a faulty door sparked panic this week

Around 30 South Africans were left rooted to the tarmac on Friday, after the SAA flight which was meant to take them home from Frankfurt in Germany suffered a significant technical problem.

SAA flight home from Frankfurt – what went wrong?


The cohort was forced to leave the aircraft after a grueling four-hour wait in their seats. A malfunctioning door on the plane wasn't closing properly, making take-off impossible. The repatriation flight was rescheduled for a later date, but that meant most of the party had to sleep in the airport due to extortionate accommodation fees elsewhere. One passenger told the media they had been roughing it in the terminal for two weeks:


"We were escorted out of the airport and now have been waiting for more than an hour to get to hotels because there are not enough buses. Some people, like myself, have been stuck in the terminal since 10 June waiting on this flight, many sleeping on benches as we were not allowed into Germany." SAA passenger Milne Harris. 

"Stranded in Germany": Faulty door scuppers flight plans


The group entered the plane at 13:55 on Friday and were only allowed to disembark just before 18:00. The SAA plane was in no fit state to carry out a cross-hemisphere flight, and the 11-hour trip was deemed too risky by officials on board. This flight is the latest repatriation controversy to hit SAA during the pandemic.


Passengers in Egypt were left fuming earlier this year when they were told to fly to Morocco first if they wanted to come home. In Washington DC, some South Africans arrived for their flight home, only to discover that their tickets were invalid due to a mix-up between SAA and DIRCO. The Frankfurt incident also goes down as an operational own goal for the state carrier.