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Baggage Theft on South African Airways

North Carolina
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17 posts
42 reviews
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Baggage Theft on South African Airways

I had read in TA before we left for Africa that baggage theft was a problem at the Joberg airport. Two weeks ago we flew from Cape Town to Lusaka and changed planes in Joberg. When we arrived in Lusaka the lock had been cut off my bag and it had been gone through thoroughly. Nothing was stolen. All our valuables were in our backpacks which we carried on. I told the SA rep in Lusaka and she shrugged and said that they were looking for laptops etc .(to steal), they knew theft was a problem and they were working on it.

Be careful. I know theft is a problem everywhere, but this is my first in 30 years of flying. I'd even go so far as to split up any nice shoes/boots with your traveling companion.

Naracoorte
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1. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

As in a reply to your other post, we have been lucky and not had this happen to us but statistically we are probably going to see it at some point. You did the right thing to keep all valuables with you. We never pack flash stuff in the way of clothing so I go with the mindset that anything checked is expendable.

Also we cart our bags around the terminal with us during longer lay overs rather than check them in early - the least amount of time the bags are 'out the back' at Johannesburg the better.

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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2. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

>I go with the mindset that anything checked is expendable.

Me too. It shouldn't be that way, but it is. I don't even pack chargers in my checked bag- you never know what someone might nick because they think it might have some value, and which could really ruin your trip if it did go missing. Same with medication, especially anti-malarials.

Also, when connecting through Jo'burg outbound I always collect my bag and recheck it in, even though the option of having it checked through and using the transit lanes is there. That's partly because bags are known to go astray at JNB, but also because of the theft issue.

Harare, Zimbabwe
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809 posts
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3. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

Yes, theft is a problem.

I always heat shrink my bags when I leave JHB. I think thats when the problem occur. Flying into OR Tamabo, so far I have not had a problem.

Italy
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39,487 posts
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4. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

Thanks for the warning, I'll get that plastic suitcase wrap when we're there on sunday.

Berkeley, California
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5. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

In the fall of 2005, I flew Atlanta-Cape Town connecting via Joburg without a problem. During my stay I flew on South African Airways Cape Town to Joburg. My suitcase went "missing" for several days, causing me to miss the first day of my group tour. Upon about my 4th visit to the lost luggage window, they still said they were looking for my bag. On my side of the window there was a big luggage cart with 20 or so suitcases. I glanced at it, and there was my bag in plane view with the luggage tags all intact. They expressed surprise, then gave me the bag. Some one had gotten into it, but nothing valuable was stolen.

I am going back in 2014, and again will need to do 1 or two Cape Town to Joburg flights, probably on South African Airways. I hear the advice about carrying all your valuables, but if one is flying with 12-16 kgs of camera gear worth $$$ and the carry-on limit is 8 kg.... any suggestions?

London, United...
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6. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

I often have my bags broken into and nothing stolen here in Europe. I complained about it a few years back and was told that if something looks dodgy on the scanner before it goes off to the hold, they have to manually look inside the bag..

Atlanta
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895 posts
26 reviews
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7. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

Question: is the luggage security issue only with SAA or with any bag going through JNB (from for ex, Air France flight). And does the concern extend beyond connections? We arrive in JNB from Paris and wonder if plastic wrap is necessary. Can you do this yourself with a roll of the right plastic or is it something only done by kiosk at airport?

North Carolina
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17 posts
42 reviews
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8. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

I don't KNOW, but I suspect the problem is mainly with connecting flights when bags sit around.

Also, I forgot to put in my original post that this baggage invasion was definitely not an official action. My zippered duffel arrived with every zipper and strap open and my clothes in a big pile on top of the bag.

Brisbane, Australia
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450 posts
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9. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

This happens everywhere. The baggage handlers are usually independent of the airline, but contracted to them. There was a big issue around this in Australia a few years ago. The fact that the original post issue happened in Zambia not South Africa. A lot of work has been done by Airport Company South Africa to improve the situation and have had success.

Dallas, TX
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10. Re: Baggage Theft on South African Airways

The problem is at the airport itself and applies to any airline. I don't think it's quite as bad on arriving at JNB, as the bags are loaded into the cart from the aircraft and then driven directly to the carousel. I feel that bags are more likely to be pilfered when checking them in for departure from JNB, as they are sometimes in the bag room for hours. I usually get mine shrink-wrapped before departure from Jo'burg. I would also get them shrink wrapped if you're checking in at Cape Town, or elsewhere, with a connecting flight in JNB which is several hours later.