Bonang Matheba, the acclaimed South African media personality, has long held a complex relationship with South African Airways (SAA), the national carrier. She continues to express her opinions on the airline transparently, offering both critiques and commendations, as evidenced by her recent appearance at the SAA CEO’s Breakfast, an event honouring value customers.
From Complaints to Suggestions
The relationship between Matheba and SAA has not always been smooth sailing. Many South Africans will recall that in 2017, Matheba took to social media—then mostly referred to as Twitter—to voice her dissatisfaction with the airline’s food quality. As someone who frequently travels, comfort and quality are non-negotiable for Matheba, whether she’s in the air or on the ground.
Her vocal approach isn’t solely about complaints; it’s about improvement. At the CEO’s Breakfast, Matheba actively contributed to the conversation, sharing her ideas and suggestions for bettering the airline’s services.
A Resilient Carrier Amid Criticism
SAA underwent a restructuring nearly two years ago, reducing its size and cautiously reintegrating into international air travel. While Matheba openly praises the strides the airline has made, public opinion remains divided. Some argue that while SAA has made improvements, it still leaves much to be desired, particularly in terms of its business class offerings.
You may ask, “Are these critiques unfounded?” Not necessarily. Sihle Makhanya, in response to Matheba’s praise for SAA, raised questions about the quality of the planes and described the business class experience as ‘horrid.’ Makhanya even suggested that Matheba might be receiving compensation for her public support of the airline—a claim that Matheba quickly debunked.
Transparency Amid Accusations
Matheba’s direct approach extends to how she deals with public assumptions about her relationship with SAA. When faced with the claim that she might be financially benefitting from her positive remarks, Matheba addressed it head-on. She clarified that her opinions are indeed her own, stating, “To each, their own. Never received a dime either.”
While Matheba’s experiences with the national carrier showcase the airline’s areas for improvement, they also serve as an example of the positive impact a well-known figure can have on a brand. As someone who regularly uses SAA’s services, Matheba’s critiques and commendations hold considerable weight, offering a nuanced look at the complexities involved in meeting customer expectations in the airline industry.
Her interaction with SAA reminds us that even a national airline can benefit from an open dialogue with its passengers. It also underscores that whether an opinion is paid for or unsolicited, what truly counts is the substance behind it—a point Matheba’s transparent approach effectively drives home.