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Welcome to FlySAA

Special Travel Needs

Special Travel Needs information

South African Airways (SAA) offers a full range of services for travellers who require special medical assistance. Please read the information below and contact us if you need help with any of the services outlined here.

Frequent Travellers Medical Card

In order to make travelling easier for passengers with a disability, stable medical condition or special needs, we offer the Frequent Travellers Medical Card (FREMEC). This card helps you to avoid the hassle of obtaining medical clearance for each journey, and automatically determines your special requirements. Such cards are usually honoured by other airlines. For card renewal, your doctor needs to complete this application on your behalf.

Fax the completed form to SAA Special bookings: 27 11 978 2764.

For more information, contact 27 11 978 1331

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Reservation requirements

We recommend that you make your travel plans early, so we can better serve you. If you require any medical assistance, please make a request when you make your reservation ( 27 11 978 1111), or at least 48 hours prior to the departure of your flight. It is important that you provide us with detailed information at time of booking. Please let us know if you require the following services:

  • A wheelchair
  • Assistance getting in and out of the aircraft seat
  • Service animal amenities
  • Transfer from wheelchair to aircraft seat and vice versa
  • Aged care
  • Onboard facilities for the use of medical equipment, e.g. battery operated ventilator
  • An adjacent seat for you and your carer

See Medical clearance for more details.

On the day of departure:

We request that you check in early to ensure a smooth flight experience:

  • Domestic flights: arrive at least 90 minutes before flight departure.
  • International flights: arrive at least 2-3 hours before departure time.
  • Earlier arrivals are highly encouraged.

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Medical clearance

Medical clearance is required to assess your fitness to fly; especially if you need special attention or use of any medical equipment onboard. A Medical Information Form (MEDIF) should be completed by you and your doctor, if you have had a recent illness, injury, surgery or hospitalisation. The form may be required of passengers who need special services such as:

  • Oxygen supply
  • Stretcher
  • Medical escort or in-flight medical treatment
  • Carriage of medical equipment or instruments

All medical information is strictly confidential. Once completed, the form must be faxed to SAA Special bookings within 10 days of your proposed flight.

Please note: We must be notified immediately of any change in your condition prior to travel. SAA Special bookings: Fax: 27 11 978 2764 Tel: 2711 978 1331/6219/3184

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Conditions that require medical clearance

Travellers with the conditions listed below require medical clearance from us.

  • Travellers who require us to provide in-flight oxygen.
    • Reduced atmospheric pressure (cabin air pressure changes greatly during 15-30 minutes after take-off and before landing and gas expansion and contraction can cause pain and pressure)
    • Reduction in oxygen tension. (The cabin is at a pressure equivalent to altitude of 6,000 to 8,000 feet and oxygen partial pressure is approximately 20% less than on the ground.)
    • Travellers who require us to provide in-flight oxygen.
    • SAA supplied oxygen concentrator costs 150 US$ per flight
    • Types of equipment available/provided:
    • Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) 
    • Oxygen Cylinder (for regional and domestic flights only)
    • Oxygen equipment used will be subject to aircraft type
    • SAA portable oxygen concentrator (1 to 5 LPM) via nasal cannula and pulse
    • Oxygen cylinder flows between 2LPM and 4 LPM on continuous flow (for regional and domestic flights only)
    • SAA oxygen cylinder costs 150 US$ per flight
    • Passenger can fly with own concentrator but must supply 150% of battery power for the expected duration of the flight
    • These extra batteries must be carried on person and be declared to cabin crew
    • The batteries must be packed in such a way as to prevent damage to battery and the terminals of the battery must be protected from short circuiting against each other or any other metal object in the carryon luggage
    • Only three batteries allowed on-board. One is inside the machine and two are spares and the power of each battery must not exceed 160wh.
    • Passenger who requires continuous flow oxygen must book oxygen cylinder and not a concentrator, subject to operational requirements
    • Oxygen concentrators work on demand therefore passengers are advised that they will receive oxygen flow only on inhalation
    • A Passenger owned Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine is permitted. (Note: This CPAP machine must be battery operated)
    • Passengers are not allowed to plug their own equipment in electrical outlets due to the following:
    • Safety of the passenger/aircraft due to the power being 115 volts AC - 400 cycles and equipment plugged in could be 220 volts 50 cycles or 28 volts DC
    • Safety of the aircraft due to Electro-magnetic Interference(EMI) – especially during the critical phase of the aircraft – take-off and landing and on the ground during alignment of the instrumentation and software loading.
  • Travellers who have a communicable disease or infection.
    • Your doctor must state any precautions necessary to prevent transmission, and whether the condition poses a direct threat to the safety or health of others.
  • Travellers who have been operated on or admitted to hospital within the previous two weeks.
    • Your doctor must state whether you have recovered completely, and if your condition has stabilised.
  • Travellers suffering from an acute or chronic medical condition for which they might need to take medication during the flight.
  • Travellers who suffer from any acute or severe symptoms, such as difficulty in breathing, high fever, severe pain, etc.
  • Travellers who might develop any symptoms or behaviour that could have an adverse effect on the welfare of other passengers.
  • Travellers whose medical condition might be aggravated during or because of the flight.
  • Traveller who is travelling with a premature infant or an infant with medical condition
  • Traveller who is an unaccompanied minor with medical condition unstable mental illness/impairment.
  • Travellers that require any medical equipment, e.g. portable oxygen concentrator, stretcher, etc.
    • All personal medical equipment should have sufficient battery to last the duration of the journey. Only dry cell batteries are permitted onboard for safety reasons.

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Specific cases

Wheelchairs & mobility aids

For travellers with limited mobility, we offer the following assistance:

  • Wheelchairs at the airport: We can arrange for wheelchair transport from check-in to the boarding gate, and from the aircraft to the arrivals hall at your destination.
  • Travelling with your own wheelchair: You are welcome to check in one wheelchair as baggage, free of charge
  • Mobility aids (canes, crutches, walkers, etc.) do not count toward your free baggage allowance. These items must be small enough to be stowed without obstruction.
  • Travellers requiring the use of wheelchairs or mobility aids are advised to make their travel plans in advance.

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Service Dogs

  • A guide dog, accompanying its owner, is accepted in the passenger cabin of any class, free of charge.
  • The dog will not be occupying a seat, and must not be seated in a location that would block escape routes in the event of an emergency.
  • The service dog must be properly harnessed, and remain with the traveller at all times.
  • Travellers with service dogs are advised to contact the Reservations Office in advance to make the necessary arrangements.

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Travelling with medication

Please ensure that you keep your medication in your hand luggage, and have a medical letter on hand outlining your condition and medication, in case you encounter difficulties while travelling.

•    All excess medicines and liquids are to be carried in checked baggage.
•    All prescription medicine, syringes and needles used by diabetics must be sealed and properly labelled.
•    The quantity of syringes and needles is limited to the amount required for the flight.
•    These must be disposed off safely once you’ve reached your destination.
•    For medication requiring refrigeration, make sure you bring a cooler box with ice packs. This medication must be kept with the passenger throughout the duration of the flight.
•    It is good practice to keep a duplicate copy of your prescription with you

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Expectant mothers

  • Medical clearance is only necessary if you are having complications with your pregnancy. See Medical clearance
  • Domestic travel is permitted up to 36 weeks for a routine pregnancy.
  • International travel is permitted up to 35 weeks for a routine pregnancy.

All pregnant women beyond 28 weeks of gestation must provide a letter from their Obstetrician/General Practitioner or Midwife stating the following:

  • Term of pregnancy
  • Fitness of travel
  • Whether it’s a single, multiple or high risk pregnancy
  • Any possible complications, including hypertensive passengers, history of premature labour, etc.

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Colostomy bags

Travellers dependent on colostomy bags must ensure that they use an empty one at the start of the journey. You are responsible for carrying a sufficient number of bags for the duration of the flight, and disposing them, in a responsible manner, upon arrival at destination.

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Nut and other allergies

If you have any allergies, please bring it to the attention of our reservations department. In the event that you suffer from a severe allergy, you are required to bring your own emergency medication, e.g. Epipen.

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Assistance in-flight

Braille safety cards

Braille safety cards are available for travellers who have vision disabilities. These cards may be requested from our cabin crew.

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Captioned safety video

Passengers with hearing disabilities can follow safety briefings with our captioned safety video.

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Individual safety briefings

Individual safety briefings are offered to anyone on request. The briefing includes an explanation of the exit locations, as well as information regarding the most efficient and appropriate way to provide assistance.

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Stowage of carry-on items

Our cabin crew will provide assistance with loading and retrieval of carry-on items and small assistive devices stowed onboard the aircraft.

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Power ports

Travellers need to provide batteries for medical assistive devices during the flight, and should not be dependent upon aircraft power.

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Onboard wheelchair

All our aircrafts are equipped with an onboard wheelchair, allowing passengers to be escorted to and from the toilets. We also have seats with movable armrests that facilitate the transfer of a passenger from the onboard wheelchair to the seat and vice versa.

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Aircraft accessibility

Moveable aisle armrests

Aircraft Type Aircraft Registration Movable Aisle Armrests
Airbus A319-100 ZS-SFD to ZS-SFN 18-29 C
Airbus A340-200 ZS-SLA to ZS-SLF 66 D and G
Airbus A340-300e ZS-SXA to ZS-SXF 55 D and G, 56 D and G
Airbus A340-600 ZS-SNA to ZS-SNI 58 D and G, 59 D and G
Boeing 737-800 ZS-SJA to ZS-SJV 18 to 30 C and 32 C

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Accessible toilets

Aircraft Type Aircraft Registration Toilet Facilities
Airbus A319-100 ZS-SFD to ZS-SFN Yes
Airbus A340-200 ZS-SLA to ZS-SLF Yes
Airbus A340-300e ZS-SXA to ZS-SXF Yes
Airbus A340-600 ZS-SNA to ZS-SNI Yes
Boeing 737-800 ZS-SJA to ZS-SJV Yes

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