Durban — It’s hard to pack lightly if you're going on holiday, but that extra dress or two, or all those groceries, might cost you more than it's worth.
As airports brace for the expected holiday season rush, the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is tightening its grip on hand baggage regulations, aligning them with aviation safety and compliance standards.
And while nobody wants to dip into the holiday budget and pay for an extra bag, you might be forced to do so if you flout the regulations.
ACSA says the aim is to identify passengers with non-compliant items before they reach the security checkpoint.
“Non-compliant passengers will be directed back to check-in counters to transfer their baggage to check-in baggage.
“The regulations serve as a preemptive measure, flagging potentially illegal or hazardous items in travellers hand baggage,” it said.
While the regulations are not new, the aim is to ensure that it is rigorously enforced from now.
Aaron Munetsi, CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) says safety is at the heart of the issue: “The hand baggage regulations aim to identify overweight luggage that could pose risks to both aircraft and passengers. We strongly encourage compliance with these regulations, as failure to adhere will necessitate redirecting passengers to check-in counters for luggage check-in. Hand luggage weight checks will be conducted at security points before passengers access the boarding gates.”
Experts say the key to a seamless hassle-free trip is to arrive early at the airport and to ensure that you meet the baggage requirements.
If you are travelling economy class then one bag of up to 7kg plus a slimline laptop bag or handbag can be taken on board with you.
First class passengers are entitled to have two bags plus a slimline laptop bag as their hand luggage.
“The reference to a slimline laptop bag means that this bag is of a size and thickness specifically designed to carry a laptop and charger and does not include bags capable of carrying items such as documents, clothes and other items,” says Munetsi.
ACSA’s Group Executive Laurene Less says, “The implementation of these regulations stem from a recognised necessity expressed by domestic airlines to establish consistent controls for the carriage of hand baggage on flights departing from ACSA airports. This initiative is supported by international airlines, emphasising the collective advantage of a standardised policy applicable to all flights.”
ACSA says in an exceptional case where an airline allows a passenger some leeway, an airline member of staff in uniform must accompany the passenger to the security point to confirm and explain the matter to the official manning the hand baggage control point.
Finally as a travel bonus here’s a holiday brain teaser; ACSA says while your hand luggage must be the right weight, the bag must not exceed the total dimensions of 56cm x 36cm x 23cm.