11 March 2019

Namibia: Airnam Apologises for Ruining Family's Holiday

Air Namibia has apologised for the inconvenience caused when the airline cancelled the flight from Johannesburg to Walvis Bay in December last year.

A Swakopmund resident, Heide Jensen, whose son's family was affected said there were four issues - the cancellation of the flight; the immigration official who denied them entry; the issuance of paper tickets; and their delayed luggage.

Jensen also said Air Namibia issued her son's family paper tickets instead of electronic ones despite the fact that Air Namibia does not have an agreement with the United Airlines used by his son from Johannesburg.

The family comprised Jensen's son, wife and three daughters. They were travelling from the USA via Heathrow in the UK through Johannesburg and then Walvis Bay.

Jensen said the family was informed about the cancellation of flight SW730 that was supposed to leave Johannesburg on 17 December.

According to Jensen, the family had to book with an alternative flight, and it took them three hours.

The delay in booking the family with another flight, Jensen suspects was because Air Namibia uses trainees or inexperienced staff during the busiest time of the year.

When the family arrived at Walvis Bay, Jensen explained, an immigration officer denied them entry, demanding the children's birth certificates.

The family was, however, allowed into the country after a three-hour stand-off.

Jensen claimed that her grandchildren were restless because of the intimidating situation and exhaustion.

Additionally, the family later realised that their luggage was missing when they reached customs.

Air Namibia spokesperson Paul Nakawa confirmed the family's complaint and apologised for the inconvenience they experienced.

Nakwa said the family had been booked on the Johannesburg-Walvis Bay flight when it was cancelled due to technical reasons.

He also said in the event of a delay or cancellation, Air Namibia frequently books the passengers on the next available flight.

"While Johannesburg was trying to assist the passengers, they imported British Airways segments into the original booking, and a new time limit was given.

The original booking got cancelled after the time limit expired, and that is when the problem started," he explained.

Concerning their baggage delay, Nakawa said the bags were checked on the direct flight, and when the flight was cancelled, baggage handling in Johannesburg did not forward the bags as they did not have a trip to transmit the bags on.

"In the event of unforeseen circumstances, such as delays and cancellations, the airline takes the responsibility to ensure that passengers booked with us reach their destinations within the shortest and convenient time possible. However, the airline did not have the passengers' contact details as the booking had been made via a third party," said Nakawa.

Consequently, the airline had to wait for the passengers to arrive before alternative travel arrangements could be made.

Home affairs spokesperson Sacky Kadhikwa last week said the ministry encourages those travelling with children under 18 years to carry full birth certificates in addition to passports to curb child trafficking.

Kadhikwa also said that when travelling with one parent, the other parent should sign a consent letter for the child to travel, or provide a death certificate where applicable.

This is despite a statement from the ministry's director for national registration, Anette Bayer Forsingdal, last year that there was no legal requirement for adults travelling with children to carry the documents.


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