OR Tambo the worst
No airport in the world can guarantee baggage safety. That is fact, but Steve Chart, author of 89 Bags and counting: My Long Haul to OR Tambo International and the Mystery of the Pilfered Baggage, says that the likelihood of your baggage being stolen at this airport is greater.
In 2011 the Minister of Transport declared that during the first 7 months of that year a total of 2999 bags had been broken into and items stolen, affecting some 3000 passengers. Gifts, personal items and other momentous pieces were taken. He highlighted the urgency for pre-emptive steps to address this problem.
Pilfering and baggage safety is one of the most difficult operative problems, faced by any airline. At South African airports where the plague carries on relentlessly, the challenge is even bigger. Chart testifies to regularly seeing ground handlers, quickly and skillfully removing items from baggage. Though it isn’t true of every ground handler, fact is that it happens far too often.
Looking for ways to assure Baggage Safety
Around the world airports are looking for ways to restrict theft and damage of baggage, some of which are: limiting bags per traveller, accelerating urgent pieces, faster conveyer belts, limiting the access of workers, making loading areas to and from the plane more protected.
The SAA initiative at SA airports that was launched in January 2014, was to wrap passenger bags at the check-in counters. The cost is included in the airfare. In the past the responsibility for wrapping was on the passengers.
Airlines responsible for Baggage Safety
SAA took ownership of the process and appointed a Acsa-accredited service provider to do the wrapping. To date the feedback was positive and the on-time performance was not affected.
In spite of this effort to offer baggage safety, SAA receives claims in excess of R18 million for damaged and stolen baggage, every year. A mammoth expense for them. Fact is that money can not always replace valuables and items of sentimental value to customers. Over and above that fact is the utter inconvenience a passenger must endure by the uncalled for experience of being on holiday or a business trip with limited funds perhaps, without his clothes and toiletries.
To be effective all stakeholders must make intensive efforts to prioritise Baggage Safety!