53% of South African travellers
would rather deal with the possibility of contracting swine flu than run the
risk of losing their luggage. These are the findings of an online survey
conducted by Travelstart.co.za, the global online travel booking service. Only
5% of travellers polled thought contracting swine flu the biggest fear when
Although ACSA and the airlines
have worked hard over the last year to curb theft and misplaced luggage, it is
clear that this is still a big fear for both South African and global
travellers, says Stephan Ekbergh, CEO and founder of Travelstart.
In 2007 about 40 million items of
luggage were reported lost globally. This figure decreased to 32 million
In South Africa around 10 000
personal items were reported lost or stolen in 2008, and this does not include
damaged and stolen luggage. Few passengers seem to know that if their luggage
is lost, damaged or merely delayed for more than four hours, they are entitled
to compensation, says Ekbergh.
Airlines offer compensation in
the region of 20 USD per kilogram for lost or delayed luggage. Although this
amount is the industry standard, some airlines compensate well above this rate
an example of this is Air Botswana that compensates at a rate of 42USD per
Protecting your valuables is
especially important with personal items that are impossible to replace, like
the photographs of your holiday should you lose your camera, jewellery and
valuable company and personal information in the event of a lost laptop, says
Although it is important to
understand what compensation you are entitled to as a passenger, it may also be
prudent to ensure that you have adequate travel insurance to protect your
valuables. With travel insurance, you can claim up to R25 000 for theft or
damage to your baggage, depending on the amount of cover you opted for.
In addition to the standard safety measures travellers should
undertake, SITA the organisation
specialising in air transport communication and information technology solutions
has recently announced that radiofrequency identification (RFID) could
potentially save the airline industry $750 million annually by ensuring
origin-to-destination tracking of baggage.
30% of the travellers polled in
the survey thought that missing a flight is the major concern. Although there
are about 1000 South Africans in jails globally convicted for crimes relating
to drug trafficking, a mere 13% said they would be terrified of being mistaken
for a drug mule and given a full body search.
Swine flu has accounted for 5558
known deaths globally and 91 deaths in South Africa.
While swine flu is
undoubtedly a serious disease that made headlines around the world and rattled
the global airline industry, it was interesting to see that while 53% of
travellers feared losing their luggage, only 5% are more concerned about
contracting swine flu while travelling, concludes Ekbergh.
Tips for travellers:
– Where possible, travel only with carry-on luggage and take
a spare set of clothing in case your check-in luggage is lost.
– Place your contact information inside and on the outside of
- Customise the look of your bag to make it easy to identify.
– Keep valuable items with you,
preferably under the seat in front of you.
– Make sure that you keep the luggage stub from your checked
it is a critical pi.jpgece of information to prove ownership should your luggage
get lost or stolen.
– Always report the loss of checked luggage immediately.
– Don't pack hazardous goods. If
uncertain, check with your travel agent, airline or airport officials.
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Picture by Geishaboy500