Travel Alert  

A Heads-Up About South African Airways

If you are holding a South African Airways ticket to South Africa, you need to know that a lot of travelers are reporting delayed luggage on flights from the US this summer, particularly from Dulles International Airport in Washington. Steve Turner of Gracy Travel International (800-299-8558) tells us he is receiving calls on an almost daily basis from clients whose bags have been left in Washington. Turner says the problem is that SAA is flying nonstop flights this summer using an Airbus that cannot carry all of the necessary fuel, plus all of the passengers' baggage. The weight problem is so bad this summer Turner says SAA is flying the route with 30 to 40 empty seats.

We called SAA's headquarters in South Africa yesterday and spoke to a Customer Care representative, who admitted that weight is an issue this summer, but she said the company was dealing with it by leaving seats empty. She denied that baggage is being regularly left behind. "Occasionally, weight and balance issues are requiring that some baggage be delayed, but this is not a regular occurrence," she said.

That song and dance aside, the bottom line is, SAA is at it again, creating problems for its passengers. If you are booked on the airline, be aware that there is a real chance that one or more of your bags will be delayed, perhaps your gun case. That being the case, it may be particularly important to use a gun-clearing service this summer such as that provided by Air 2000's Hunters' Support ( PHASA (Professional Hunters Association of South Africa - also helps hunters clear their guns. These services may be able to get your gun to you even if it arrives after you have flown on to your final destination. Another thing you may want to do is think through more carefully than usual what kind of items to pack in your carry-on bag.

We plan to bring this problem to the attention of SAA higher-ups and help them understand the severe complications it creates for hunters. If your hunt is affected by a luggage delay with SAA, drop us a note and we'll forward your complaint on to the airline. E-mail your complaint to: - Barbara Crown.