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shazip Apr 23rd, 2006 10:35 PM

Safety on South African Airways
I have heard that there is a lot of pilfering on SAA. Is this true? If so, does it hold for international flights or just domestic flights? Do they allow one to lock one's luggage in transit? I personally have had no experience of this on my two last visits to SA within the last 5 years, but a friend in Cape Town is warning me to be vigilant - any comments?

santharamhari Apr 23rd, 2006 10:51 PM

I haven't heard of this one...but, yes you can lock your bags without a problem......


Maurice_M Apr 24th, 2006 03:11 AM

Hi there


This is not specifically a South African Airways problem. I have friends who have been caught by a scam run by the security staff and the baggage handlers at Johannesburg international airport. It works like this; they x-ray your bag so they know just what is inside and remove it without you knowing. They seem to target baggage which is flying out of South Africa, maybe that this also happens on your return flight home, so you can do very little about it from there.
THIS USUALLY HAPPENS TO CASES WITH ZIP FASTENERS. They pick out the last one or two teeth, open the case than then put the zip back covering the teeth they have removed.

This happened to two people I know who flew to Europe on separate occasions, in both instances cameras were removed form their luggage. They reported the incident to SAA on their return to South Africa, and were requested by SAA to follow it through to the bitter end. In both cases, the information about who was on duty on that the time plus the security tapes could not be found, so they both had to give up on it.

The moral of the story is: buy a hard-shell case, or put your very valuable items in your hand luggage.


Celia Apr 24th, 2006 09:11 AM

I once had my baggage pilfered on a flight to South Africa, on SAA. I don't know whether it happened in Miami (which had a reputation for lots of theft from luggage) or in Johannesburg. I got a real runaround, from SAA, from the airport authorities in Jo'burg, and from the airport authorities in Miami. Of course, I've flown SAA many other times with no problems. Even so, since then, I hand carry my valuables.

ShayTay Apr 24th, 2006 10:20 AM

I've seen more pilfering in Amsterdam than anywhere else. Still, it can happen anywhere, including SA. Several years ago, while in Jo'burg, I saw a newspaper article detailing how an entire baggage handling shift was arrested for theft. I had no problems locking my bags in SA earlier this year, either on domestic or international flights.

Every airline strongly suggests that you not check valuables. Why would anyone put a camera in a checked bag?! Put your clothes and toiletries in your checked bag and carry on everything else, no matter what country you're in.

Karen246 Apr 29th, 2006 05:26 AM

We did 6 flights with SAA and had no issues with safety. As with any airline flying ensure your suitcase is locked and easily identifable. Hand luggage should not be left unaccompanied. Must say however that SAA would be the worst airline I have ever flown with. Staff are not that interested and on the international sector from Perth to J.Burg did not see a Flight attendant for 45 minutes after take off.

sandi Apr 29th, 2006 05:50 AM

For the first 20-min the FA are probably in their seats, as you, till they reach altitude. They are then in the galley preparing the beverage carts and the meals to be served. If you need a FA after the first 20-min, you just have to ring for one.

cybor Apr 29th, 2006 08:49 AM

Thanks for the heads up on the zipper trick - I'm always amazed at the ingenious tactics that theifs invent to get their booty. Sounds like if the teeth taken out are close to the lock, they'd still be able to slip their hands into the luggage regardless of the case being locked or not.
I wonder if it's legal to put a mousetrap in my case next to my cashmeres :)

jasher May 1st, 2006 04:15 AM


Fortunately, I have yet to have my bags broken into on any of my trips, to Africa or elsewhere. However, I do know people whose bags have been pilfered, and as a doctor I also know what sort of information is visible on the X-ray and CT scanners.

The key is to avoid putting anything which is small, expensive, and easily resaleable (e.g. anything high-tech) in your luggage. The main targets of luggage theft are cash, cameras/iPods, and jewellery, none of which should end up in a checked bag. This includes costume jewellery - the scanners can't differentiate between costume jewellery and the real thing, so seeing the fake Rolex you bought in Hong Kong in your bag could tempt a thief.

Sherry, I suspect your cashmeres are safe -- fortunately, the scanners cannot differentiate between cashmere and humbler fabrics. :S-


Karen246 May 13th, 2006 04:45 AM


I do a lot of international travel for work and SA airlines would have to be the worst - people were ringing and they still took their time to arrive. Again would be the worst airline ever flown on and hopefully never again.

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