Airports clarify ‘new’ hand luggage rules South Africa

 ·5 Dec 2023

Airport Company South Africa (ACSA) created a stir this week by announcing that “strengthened” hand luggage restrictions would be put in place for travellers in the coming festive season – but it has clarified that these limitations are not new.

These regulations, applicable throughout ACSA’s entire airport network, aim to manage the carriage of hand baggage onto aircraft and identify passengers with non-compliant items before reaching the security checkpoint.

Non-compliant passengers will be directed back to check-in counters to transfer their baggage to check-in baggage.

As the festive season approaches, which brings with it a substantial increase in passenger traffic, ACSA said the objective of the changes is not only to efficiently manage the surge in travellers but also to bolster ACSA’s efforts in combating criminal activities.

“The regulations serve as a pre-emptive measure, flagging potentially illegal or hazardous items in travellers hand baggage,” it said.

ACSA said that the regulations are not new – but are standing rules that will be “rigorously enforced“.

“The safety of our passengers is of utmost importance to ACSA. As such, the hand baggage regulations are in place to ensure that we can provide the safest possible environment for our visitors and to ensure that they have a seamless experience at our airports.”

“The implementation of these regulations stems 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, emphasizing the collective advantage of a standardised policy applicable to all flights. This approach ensures a uniform and fair application of policies for all passengers.”

These procedures are applicable to all flights operating at ACSA airports within South Africa, as well as regional and international flights departing from South Africa.

“These regulations are considered essential, not only to uphold hand baggage policies but also to prioritise cabin and flight safety and are in alignment with global best practices,” ACSA said.

From a passenger safety perspective, the hand baggage regulations aim to identify overweight luggage that could pose risks to both aircraft and passengers.

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.

Due to the regulations, ACSA said passengers should arrive at the airport early to allow for sufficient time to check in their baggage and ensure a seamless travel experience.

Should passengers miss their flights as a result of delays, they are requested to immediately alert their airlines.

According to the regulations, the hand baggage allowance is as follows:

  • Economy class passengers: one bag plus one slimline laptop bag or handbag,
  • First class or Business class passengers: two bags plus a slimline laptop bag,
  • Bags may not exceed the total dimensions of 56cm x 36cm x 23cm,
  • Weight limit per bag: 7kg,
  • Passengers who exceed the hand luggage limit will be subject to the specific airline’s excess baggage rules.

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.

“Where an exception to the stated rules is granted by an airline to the passenger, the passenger will be accompanied to the security point by uniformed airline staff who shall confirm such exception to the security officer or official manning the hand baggage control point,” it said.

“In line with ACSA’s zero-tolerance approach to criminality, we are confident that our hand baggage regulations will result in the reduction of criminal activities and increase passenger safety during the festive season, while at the same time also ensuring that passengers have a seamless and satisfying experience at our airports.”

Read: Why flight prices are getting more expensive in South Africa

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