“OR Tambo Airport handles around 35K bags every single day,” says OR Tambo International Airport General Manager, Bongiwe Pity.
Currently, irregular baggage like duffel bags without a flat bottom or big backpacks with long straps only account for about 1% of this amount of baggage. However, as Pity says “…sometimes it’s one bag that causes these jams.”
In March 2019, new rules were put in place as part of a soft launch phase aimed at preventing blockages and breakdowns in the baggage handling system caused by these bags, as per the International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines.
International airports like Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport recently instituted the same kind of baggage rules.
Pity says that the awareness campaign or soft launch around irregular baggage was instated to encourage passengers to wrap their bags, to remove the straps, cellotape the straps flat or to add flat material the surface of their bags to create some structure.
WATCH: The difference between a baggage handler in SA and one in the UK
All to minimise the inconvenience to the customers in terms of avoiding situations where bags are left behind, and eliminating any extra cost to the airline.
The soft launch has now been extended to include June and July. Certainly, a peak travel season as school holidays bring in large numbers of passengers, this will test the campaign significantly. For now, these rules will only apply to passengers departing out of OR Tambo International Airport.
Beyond the month of July, Pity says they will, at an Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) group level review and decide whether to roll this out to the other local airports.
Here is the full list of irregular baggage rules.
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