Hats Off to Swiss after being Denied Boarding by South Africa

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  • LuganoPirate

    My daughter was due to fly AMS-ZRH-JNB last week with Swiss. On check-in Swiss could not issue the boarding pass due, as she found out, that South African immigration had blocked her from flying due an overstay 4 years prior, which had expired over 3 years earlier. An overstay caused by a medical emergency.

    Swiss acted brilliantly now. First they gave her a good hotel with breakfast for the night, and told her to come back in the morning to hopefully sort it out.

    Next morning I called the S. African Embassy who were equally helpful and provided an email confirming the overstay had expired. But still Swiss needed confirmation from Home Affairs that she would be allowed in. After several return visits to the desk, a very helpful supervisor intervened and at her risk, they allowed her to board.

    We were all on tenterhooks as her arrival in JNB approached, but she arrived at immigration, showed her passport and the letter showing the ban had expired, passport stamped and she was allowed in without any fuss.

    While many calls and emails took place, and too many to mention here, I’d just like to put on record my (and her) thanks to Swiss for the exemplary way they handled the whole situation. This is just one of the many reasons I fly Swiss and when help was needed, they performed.


    Just to close this one, my daughter left yesterday, and having plenty of time she asked at immigration if she would have trouble next time.
    His answer was, “probably yes”! He then explained, and this is what he told my daughter.

    What has happened is that Home Affairs upgraded their computer systems. In the past if you had been banned for an overstay, the airline would not know and let you board. Arriving back in South Africa the passenger would be allowed entry for 5 days, and then overstay again. If they could show an onward ticket to Namibia or Botswana, then they’d be given 10 days.

    With the new system, DHA computers now “speaks” to the airline, in the same way the US immigration can stop people from boarding. As they are overworked and with a big backlog, it will be some time before the ban is lifted, even though it expired over 3 years ago. His only advice was to show the letter that it has expired, the email from the Embassy, and her Passport that shows she was allowed entry with a 90 day stay allowed.

    I hope this helps anyone who is reading this with a current ban, or even an expired one, be aware you may have problems if you fly to South Africa.

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