10 Tips to stay safe and savvy at SA's busiest airports this festive season

2016-12-08 11:38 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) in collaboration with various tourism stakeholders at SA's main airports has started implementing additional security measures for the festive peak travelling season.

According to Acsa, history and statistics show that certain criminal activities increase during the peak season. 

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) agrees, saying it receives numerous complaints during this time of year when prospective travellers are swindled by unscrupulous suppliers promising travel deals that are simply too good to be true, but this is especially the case over the festive season. 

"This festive season, do not be caught by deals that are too good to be true," ASATA CEO Otto de Vries says. "Ask the travel agency you’re working with whether they are an ASATA member. And if they aren’t, why not? Your peace of mind may be more important than an unbelievable deal that is not legitimate," he warns. 

Acsa also says that "security measures at airports are constantly monitored and reviewed to ensure that they meet both local and international legislative requirements and standards". But although they are constantly working to manage and respond to security threats, passengers travelling through the airports should also remain vigilant and alert throughout the festive season, especially. 

Acsa has already beefed up operations at the major holiday-hub airports to ensure a smooth travel experience as far as possible. 

And at SA's OR Tambo International Airport, a new Smart Security checkpoint that will digitise the security check process, speed up passenger progress through security and further enhance security through the use of state-of-the-art scanners, has also been implemented. 

SEE: Everything you need to know about the new Security System at OR Tambo

The pilot implementation of the Smart Security went live during the first week of November at the international departures security point at the airport, and so far, systems are running smoothly. 

Take into consideration these security tips it you're visiting the airport this holidays: 

Unattended items and vehicles - Airport users are reminded to not leave any items unattended. This includes luggage and motor vehicles. Airport security and law enforcement agencies will impound unattended vehicles and confiscate items that are left unattended in the terminal building. 

Porters and trolley operators - Airport users are encouraged to exercise extra vigilance and only use airport accredited porters when they require assistance with baggage and trolleys.  Accredited operators are identifiable with the bright orange uniform that clearly states the porters name and operating number. If a passenger is unsure of a porter’s status or is approached by a porter, they should go to the nearest iHelp desk. 

Airport services - All accredited airport service providers are uniformed, with the company’s name clearly shown. If you are approached by someone not wearing a uniform and who wants to provide a service, please refuse, please inform your nearest helpdesk agent.

Exchanging money - Acsa warned travellers to be vigilant of cash heists following a well-orchestrated robbery of former North West DG Professor Job Mokgoro, when he was exchanging his forex at OR Tambo International.  The robbers allegedly followed him home and took his changed cash, luggage and cellphone.

ALSO SEE: Acsa asks travellers to be vigilant after heist raises OR Tambo security concerns

Meter taxi operators -
Passengers are encouraged to use accredited meter cab operators.

Using an app-based transport services - No matter the pickup point, always make sure you check that the vehicle licence plate number and driver match the information sent to you.

When using a transport service to pick you up - It is not unreasonable to ask the driver to show you paperwork from the driver service company confirm the pickup and drop off details, the driver’s details, and the vehicle’s details.

If you are being followed - Pay attention while driving. If you feel you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station. Alternatively, drive to the nearest public facility, where there are many people and vehicles, and phone the police.

Car jamming - Please double check that your car is properly locked. Test all your doors before leaving your car.

Be wary of scams - Double check sources when purchasing travel 'deals'. ASATA members comply with a strict code of conduct that ensures they follow sound business practices, and travel agencies who are ASATA members have further signed a Charter promising the travelling public that they will benefit from professional service, ethical conduct and trustworthy behaviour when working with an ASATA-accredited travel agent. Be sure to book with accredited, trusted sources. 

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