South African Airways takes innovative product offering a step higher

South African Airways (SAA) is taking its product offering, Step-Up, which allows customers to bid for a Business Class upgrade, to greater heights with record sales.

“We are pleased and excited with the enthusiasm our customers are showing for this product, within our bouquet of products offered on, which are aimed to enhance our passengers’ travel needs.  For the month of December, many leisure travellers took advantage of the Step-Up product giving them the opportunity to   experience our Business Class product, which translated into record sales for SAA,” says Kim Thipe, SAA’s Head of Marketing.

In April 2015, Step-Up was introduced to SAA customers and has proved a positive value-add for customers.  The product gives customers the opportunity to bid online for an upgrade from Economy Class to Business Class where Business Class inventory is still available.

Step-Up was launched as the latest of SAA’s product offerings on adding to the existing collections of ancillaries on offer, such as the newly-designed Fly SAA Duty Free online, where customers can shop at leisure with purchases delivered directly to their aircraft seat.  Other products where SAA makes travel easier are Advanced Seat Reservation (ASR), Additional Baggage, Travel Insurance, Car, and Hotel Hire.

“The product has seen such uptake due to marketing efforts and expanding the extent of this product to reach more customers, through messaging across all channels,” says Thipe.

“Besides these initiatives aimed to improve the customer experience, customers can expect more innovative product offerings in the near future in line with our strategic aim of improving customer service,” says Thipe.

How Step-Up works:

Customers will get an email seven days before their scheduled departure informing them of the possibility of available seats in Business Class.  The email contains a link to the Step-Up tool, where the customer will be able to place their bid.

The minimum and maximum bid range is dependent on the original ticket purchased and where the passenger is flying.

All bids stop 36 hours before departure, and customers have the ability to view, modify and cancel their bid before this cut-off.  Nothing is confirmed immediately, the system creates a prioritised list of all the bids.  Hereafter customers are notified 24 hours before departure of the outcome of their bid.

For successful customers, their credit card will be charged with the amount they have bid. For unsuccessful passengers, they retain their original itinerary and pay nothing extra.

If the email in the booking is that of the travel agent’s, the travel agent may follow the link and bid on behalf of their customer.  Alternatively the travel agent may pass the email onto their customer and the customer may bid themselves. The programme is available on all SAA-operated flights and SAA valid 083 ticket stock.

More information on the programme can be found at

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