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Travelling should always be a pleasure, and we go out of our way to make sure that anybody with special travel needs feels particularly cared for. SAA offers thoughtful services for travellers who require our special assistance. Many of these services need to be booked in advance, so please read the information below.

For further information, details of services offered or any other queries, contact:

SAA Reservations

Tel : +27 11 978 1111 or 0861 606 606 (sharecall in South Africa only)

Email Address:

  • If you have special travel needs, we recommend that you make your travel plans as early as possible, so that we can serve you better. Should you require any medical assistance, please request it when making your reservation or at least 48 hours prior to the departure of your flight, through your local SAA office. It is important that you provide SAA with detailed information at the time of booking. Please let us know if you require the following services:

    • The type of mobility aids you are travelling with
    • Whether your mobility aids are collapsible, electric or non-electric
    • The dimensions, in adjusted or disassembled state, and weight
    • If you require access to a wheelchair in the airport and/or on the aircraft
    • Transfer from wheelchair to aircraft seat and vice versa.
    • Service dog amenities (e.g. emotional support dogs). For conditions pertaining to the transportation of such animals please visit
    • Aged care
    • On-board facilities for the use of medical equipment, e.g. battery-operated C-PAP Machine.
    • An adjacent seat for your carer

    Before the day of departure

    Please ensure the assistance you requested has been confirmed and authorised by SAA before you arrive at the airport. Ensure you have all the relevant documentation, including a FREMEC card and medical clearance, if applicable.

    On the day of departure:

    It is advisable that you check-in early so we have enough time to assist you

    • Flights within South Africa: Arrive at least 90 minutes before flight departure.
    • International flights: Arrive 3 hours before departure time.

    International compliance

    SAA is covered by the United States rule for non-discrimination on the basis of disability. A full copy of the rule is available on request.


  • Mobility aids

    Each traveller is entitled to one mobility aid (eg. wheelchair, cane, crutches, walker etc.) free of charge in addition to their standard baggage allowance. For flights to and from the EU, travellers are entitled to two mobility aids. Small mobility aids (canes, crutches, walkers, etc.) may be brought onboard but these items must be small enough to be stowed in the overhead locker or beneath the seat in front without obstruction. Larger mobility aids, including personal wheelchairs, must be checked into the hold.

    Please ensure you arrive at the gate as early as possible to ensure a member of our team can assist you to your seat ahead of other travellers.

    Wheelchair assistance (Meet and Assist)

    South African Airways offers three levels of wheelchair assistance, otherwise known as Meet and Assist:


    Type of Assistance Description
    Airport only assistance
    • Assistance to and from the aircraft; depending on the airport, this will be either by electric buggy or airport wheelchair and is at the airport’s discretion.
    Airport and aircraft steps assistance
    • Assistance to and from the aircraft; depending on the airport, this will be either by electric buggy or airport wheelchair and is at the airport’s discretion.
    • Help with stairs if the aircraft is parked away from the terminal building.
    Airport, aircraft steps and onboard assistance
    • Assistance to and from the aircraft; depending on the airport, this will be either by electric buggy or airport wheelchair and is at the airport’s discretion.
    • Help with stairs if the aircraft is parked away from the terminal building.
    • Use of the on-board wheelchair to get to/from your seat and to move around the cabin during the flight. Please note, you will need to lift yourself between your seat and the on-board wheelchair. If you are unable to do this, you will need to travel with a safety assistant to help you.

    Meet and Assist requests can be placed on whilst making a booking. After a booking has been made, a request can be placed, no later than 72 hours before departure, using Booking Management.

    Travelling with your own wheelchair

    Each traveller is entitled to one mobility device (eg. wheelchair, cane, crutches, walker etc.) free of charge in addition to their standard baggage allowance. For flights to and from the EU, travellers are entitled to two mobility devices. Wheelchairs must be labelled with your contact details and checked into the hold. At some airports, you can choose whether you'd like to check-in your wheelchair at the departure desks, or use it until you reach the departure gate. Please call your local SAA office no later than 72 hours before departure to determine if you are flying from an airport that authorises the use of personal wheelchairs up to the gate.

    Wheelchairs onboard

    All our aircraft are equipped with an onboard wheelchair, allowing travellers to be escorted to and from the toilets. We also have seats with movable armrests that facilitate the transfer of a traveller from the onboard wheelchair to the seat and vice versa. For a list of aircraft with movable aisle armrests and toilets accessible to wheelchair-bound travellers, click here.

  • A service dog, accompanying its owner, is accepted on most flights 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 required to contact their local SAA Office prior to booking for further information, flight eligibility and to be allocated a suitable seat. Ask our staff at OR Tambo where the local animal relief area is situated.

  • Medical clearance is required to assess your fitness to fly, especially if you need special attention or use any medical equipment onboard.

    Common medical conditions requiring medical clearance

    The following conditions require South African Airways medical clearance. This list is not exhaustive and if you are in any doubt as to whether your condition may require clearance we urge you to contact SAA Special Bookings before flying.

    • Travellers who may be affected by reduced atmospheric pressure (cabin air pressure changes greatly 15-30 minutes after take-off and before landing, and gas expansion and contraction can cause pain and pressure).
    • Travellers who may be affected by reduction in oxygen tension. (The cabin is at a pressure equivalent to an altitude of 6 000-8 000ft and oxygen partial pressure is approximately 20% less than on the ground.) 
    • Travellers who require us to provide inflight supplemental oxygen is dependent on the destination and the medical condition of the traveller. If only an oxygen cylinder is required to an international destination the booking will unfortunately not be granted. (An SAA-supplied oxygen cylinder/concentrator costs US$150 per flight.) To see the types of oxygen provided and requirements for transporting your own, visit
    • Travellers who require any medical equipment e.g. a stretcher.
    • 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 health of others.)
    • Travellers who have been operated on or admitted to hospital within the previous 2 weeks. Your doctor must state whether you have recovered completely and if your condition has stabilised sufficiently to travel by commercial air transport.
    • Travellers suffering from acute or severe symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, high fever or severe pain.
    • Travellers who might develop 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.
    • Travellers who are travelling with a premature infant or an infant with a medical condition.
    • Unaccompanied minors with a medical condition.
    • Travellers with a mental health condition who may require support
    • All personal medical equipment must be cleared by the airline and should have enough battery power to last the duration of the flight. Only dry cell batteries are permitted onboard for safety reasons
    • A traveller who requires a medical escort or in-flight medical treatment

    Obtaining medical clearance

    A Medical Information Form (MEDIF) should be completed by you and your doctor and submitted to SAA for medical clearance before you fly.

    Download MEDIF form.

    Once you and your doctor have completed a Medical Information Form, you must send it by email or fax to SAA Special Bookings 10 days before your proposed flight . All medical information is strictly confidential.

    If after submitting your Medical Information Form, you notice any changes to your condition, please notify SAA Special Bookings immediately.

    SAA Special Bookings

    Tel: +27 11 978 1331 / 6219 / 3184

    Fax: +27 11 978 2764

  • To make travelling easier for customers with disabilities, stable medical conditions or special needs, we offer the Frequent Travellers Medical Card (FREMEC). This card helps you 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 the application on your behalf.

    Download FREMEC form

    For more information contact SAA Special Handling:

    Tel: +27 11 978 1331 / 5716 / 3837

    Fax: +27 11 978 2764

    • Ensure that you keep your medication in your hand luggage and have a doctor’s letter with you outlining your condition, medication and dosage requirements, in case you encounter difficulties while travelling. When taking liquids through security control, please ensure you comply with the airport’s restrictions.
    • 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 of safely once you have reached your destination.
    • For medication requiring refrigeration, ensure you bring a cooler box with ice packs. This medication must be kept with the traveller throughout the duration of the flight.
    • It is good practice to keep a duplicate copy of your prescription with you.
  • Medical clearance is only necessary if you are experiencing complications with your pregnancy.

    • Travel within South Africa 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’ gestation must provide a letter from their obstetrician, general practitioner or midwife stating the following:

    • Term of pregnancy
    • Fitness to travel
    • Whether it is a single, multiple or high-risk pregnancy
    • Any possible complications, including hypertension, history of premature labour, etc.

    Any possible complications, including hypertension, history of premature labour, etc.

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

  • Braille safety cards

    Braille safety cards may be requested from our cabin crew.

    Captioned safety videos

    Travellers with hearing disabilities can follow safety briefings in our captioned safety videos. Individual safety briefings are offered to anyone on request.


    Indications for oxygen cylinder

    • Infants one month and two years, who may not be able to receive oxygen on demand from a portable oxygen concentrator,
    • Medical conditions like terminal illness where passengers require free flowing oxygen.

    Indications for Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC)

    • Passengers who are using portable oxygen concentrator
    • All passengers (international or domestic) who require oxygen but will be able to cope with portable oxygen concentrator and their medical condition permit use of POC.
    • Passenger owned POC must be battery operated with a battery inside the device and two extra batteries not exceeding 160wH. The batteries must be stowed on cabin luggage and safely wrapped to prevent short circuiting.
    • SAA owned POC is at cost and uses medical outlet.

    Current List of FAA approved oxygen concentrators (Please refer to FAA website)

    Please note Inogen One G2 (carrying 24 cell battery pack Model Number BA224) is not allowed on  board SAA flights for safety reasons.