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What check-in options do I have for South African Airways flights?

South African Airways offers several convenient check-in options to allow you to avoid airport check-in queues and to manage the details of your travel in a way that suits you:

  • Online Check-in.
  • Mobile Check-in.
  • Social Check-in.
  • Self Check-in Kiosks.
  • Curbside Check-in.

Self-service check-in options (online, mobile and kiosk) are not available for travel from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo.

What are the deadlines for checking-in at the South African Airways counter?

For domestic flights, passengers are required to check in at least 90 minutes before flight departure. Counter check-in for domestic flights closes:

  • 40 minutes before departure – domestic flights from Johannesburg.
  • 30 minutes before departure – all other domestic flights.

For international flights, there are different check-in times: 3 hours before flight departure for US flights and 2 and a half hours before flight departure for other international flights. For all classes of travel, check-in for regional and international flights closes 50 minutes prior to departure, with the following exceptions:

  • 1 hour prior to departure – flights departing from Johannesburg to Lagos, Luanda, Kinshasa and Sao Paulo, flights from New York and Washington.
  • 90 minutes prior to departure – flights departing from Luanda.
  • 2 hours prior to departure – flights departing from Lagos.

Online Check-in

For South African Airways flights (including onward/return flights scheduled for departure within 24 hours of the outbound flight), Online Check-in is available between 24 hours and:

  • 90 minutes prior to scheduled departure of domestic flights.
  • 2 hours prior to scheduled departure of international flights.

Online Check-in is available only to passengers holding e-tickets. Online Check-in is not available to the following passenger categories:

  • Groups with more than 9 passengers on the same booking.
  • Unaccompanied children.
  • Passengers with requests for medical and/or special assistance.
  • Passengers on standby and with open or unconfirmed tickets.

Once you have chosen and confirmed your seat using Online Check-in, you will no longer be able to change your seat. For operational reasons, South African Airways may have to change your seat.

South African Airways offers online/mobile boarding passes for departures from most airports. Should an online boarding pass not be available on your route, you must proceed to a self-check-in kiosk or check-in counter. Although Online Check-in is available, home printed boarding passes are not available for SAA operated flights from Dar es Salaam.

Mobile Check-in

Mobile Check-in allows passengers to check in from an internet-enabled phone and save the mobile boarding pass on their phone or receive the online boarding pass by e-mail. Mobile Check-in is available for flights departing from the following airports:



♦ Cape Town ♦ Accra ♦ Kinshasa ♦ Munich
♦ Durban ♦ Dakar ♦ Livingstone ♦ Nairobi
♦ East London ♦ Frankfurt ♦ London ♦ Sao Paulo
Johannesburg ♦ Harare ♦ Maputo ♦ Victoria Falls
♦ Port Elizabeth ♦ Hong Kong

Social Check-in

Social Check-in, SAA’s latest feature, is available when using Online or Mobile Check-in. A Social Seat Selector that uses your Facebook details will help you select next to who you want to sit on your following flight. When checking-in, simply select your Facebook profile details that you want to share, and the seat map will show you other passengers’ profile details and their seats and available seats so that you can select seats next to people going to the same events or with the same interests.

SAA will not share your profile details with any third parties and will not use your profile details for any other purpose than Social Check-in.

Self-Check-in Kiosks

User-friendly touchscreen kiosks allow passengers to select their seat and print the boarding pass within seconds. Up to 90 minutes before flight departure time, self-service kiosks are available to all passengers with confirmed tickets on South African Airways at the following airports:

  • Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo): domestic and international departures.
  • Cape Town, Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth: domestic departures only.
  • Accra, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Lusaka, Mauritius, Nairobi, and Sao Paulo: international departures only.

Curbside Check-in

South African Airways offers Curbside Check-in, the most convenient way to check in for a flight because you don’t have to carry your baggage through the airport, to SAA Voyager Platinum, Platinum Elect and Lifetime Platinum members at O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg).


For all SAA flights, boarding begins at least 45 minutes before the scheduled time of departure. Boarding gates close 20 minutes prior to departure for international flights and 15 minutes for domestic flights. Since boarding times vary across the SAA network, you should check your boarding pass carefully. If you fail to present yourself at the boarding gate before the boarding deadline, you will be denied travel without compensation.

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