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Beware of carry-on weight on SAA at Johannesburg airport

Beware of carry-on weight on SAA at Johannesburg airport

Oct 31st, 2009, 06:16 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 246
Beware of carry-on weight on SAA at Johannesburg airport

On October 5 my sister and I (two middle-aged women) were flying from Johannesburg to Washington Dulles on South African Airways. At the entrance to passport control in Terminal B, our carry-on bags were weighed by a SAA employee, and we were told that they were over the limit of 8 kg. Our bags were within the size limitations and were only overweight by a small amount. We had already missed our flight the previous day because our SAA connecting flight was late, so all we wanted to do was board our flight. We apologized and explained what was in the bags (my camera and telephoto lens, meds, etc.) and why we couldn’t go back to Terminal A and send them as checked bags as he asked us to do. It was only when my sister had an asthmatic attack and a near medical emergency that an ACSA employee interceded on our behalf, and we were allowed to proceed.

It was certainly an unpleasant experience, but what really concerns me is that I have recently spoken with two friends traveling separately who have also experienced the same situation at the Johannesburg airport during October. One of them offered $5 which was readily accepted. My other friend who is South African said that she was told by the attendants to “persuade us.” She was unaware of the connotation and pleaded with them until they finally let her go through even though her bag weighed 14 kg.

Bottom line: If SAA is going to weigh carry-on bags, why don’t they do it at the check-in counter when it would be possible to remove some things from your carry-on and put them in the checked bags. To be sent back to Terminal A and told to check the entire carry-on is unreasonable as carry-ons contain things that SAA recommends that you do not put in your checked luggage. Also, have the attendants who weigh the bags at the passport control location discovered that people might be willing to pay them off in order to take their carry-ons on the plane. Is this the way SAA is gearing up for the World Cup?
safarilover is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 298
Wow, incredible story. The SAA carry-on allowance was precisely why I decided to go on Delta (which allows a 40 lb carry-on) rather than SAA, even though SAA would have been more convenient (nonstop from NYC.) Some on this board told me not to worry about the SAA carry-on weight and that their bags were never actually weighed, but I was afraid to take the chance. Now I'm really glad I made the Delta choice! Sorry about your awful experience though.
jczinn is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 09:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
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I don't think it's restrictied or particular with SAA - it seemingly OR TAMBO causing trouble. To us similar happened when flying EMIRATES. They pout EVERYTHING onto the scale and deducted the "allowances" making us pay 2500ZAR for "overweight".

The traffic (problems caused) during Worldcup will be challenging

spassvogel is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 11:27 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Not weight, but, OR Tambo security is the toughest around. They will not allow carry-on items that are fine with USA TSA. Example - not nail clippers nor tiny scissors nor tiny screw drivers. However, once on the airplane for meals they gave me metal knives, forks, etc. Go figure.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 11:58 AM
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How good is security when airline employees willingly accept bribes?
safarilover is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 01:05 PM
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Apparently they are just tough on me !!

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 07:41 PM
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OK, so what can you do? Refuse to pay and procceed as if you're deaf?
You've been cleared by the airline (whichever one) to take your carry-on with you onboard when you checked in. Can you get a tag like in Amsterdam?

Now you meet up with an official out for a bribe! They obviously know who to target! Duh!!! You're in the right, but this idiot has the power to demand payment (albeit illegally). It's corruption at it's highest ugly self. Then, on top of it, someone else (maybe in co-operation) steals your stuff!!

What do you do?
safarimama is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 10:11 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 641
I guess you can avoid OR Tambo, but not really. It's the gateway to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Vic Falls, Kruger NP, Madikwe, etc. You're stuck! And they know it!

It's all about power.

Power corrupts every single time it's dished out!!!
safarimama is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 07:42 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
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Happened to me too, just recently at OR. And, due to a massive check-in line, we were running very late and I had to hand the man my bag immediately to check it in. I didn't have time to take my blackberry cell phone out of the side pocket. Both my friend and I saw it there earlier in the day - and it couldn't have fallen out in the meantime.

Needless to say, said blackberry didn't make it to the other end of the flight ... Odd that the SAA official insisted that I hand him my supposedly too heavy backpack so quickly ...
evisch is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 02:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 52
I travel with a lot of photo gear, my carry-on is normally around 12-15 kg, and I've never, ever had it weighed. I also travel wearing a photographer's vest - with pockets capable of carrying at least half my gear. If it ever is weighed and deemed to heavy then I'll just transfer stuff to my pockets.

This year I chose to fly BA - because they have no weight limit. As long as you can lift it into the locker it's OK.
fbirder is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 06:35 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
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I have flown several times out of JoBerg on diff airlines and to be perfectly frank it is not worth it to ever argue unless you have lots of time.any one person can really hold you up. Keeping a few extra $5 bills handy will solve most of these types of problems. It is a poor country, you can afford to fly...consider it a donation..
auntm1n1 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 06:39 AM
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IF we face some problems - it's in South Africa!

It happend at SAA and also at Emirates.

It's just cashing in! They don't want you to have the chance to re-arrange your luggage BEFORE check in! They want you to pay!

Maybe some protest mails from loads of pax would make them aware of how tourist unfriendly the system works and that tourists, after a brilliant holiday, leave with a bad taste for the destination.

spassvogel is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 11:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
"Maybe some protest mails from loads of pax would make them aware of how tourist unfriendly the system works . . ."

I wish. Who would you suggest contacting? The USA SA embassy? I know contacting SAA will get you nowhere. When a little camera was stolen from my bag, SAA just said "sorry".

The x-ray used now in the name of terrorism has made it easy for luggage thieves. Bags are x-rayed, likely valuable items seen, location of item marked on bag, bag diverted from destination, bag opened or cut into at marked location and item taken.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 04:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,286
The guy in front of me on SAA at JNB was a lighter salesman - he carried on over 200 butane filled lighters. Go figure.
christabir is offline  
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