SAA charges hidden bag wrapping fee

By Staff Writer
Nicolette Dirk, finance writer, Justmoney.co.za
 
Earlier this month, City Press revealed that South African Airways (SAA) was charging customers for a new bag-wrapping service at OR Tambo International Airport. 
 
According to the report, the airline charged flyers a R50 fee whether they used the service or not.
During a radio interview, SAA CEO, Monwabisi Kalawe, confirmed the charge of R50, which is added into ticket prices, irrespective of whether flyers make use of the service or not.
 
Why are SAA flyers paying for a service they may not use?
 
During the interview Kalawe said that that the current security system at the airport had failed and this is why they had resorted to bag-wrapping. He added that SAA was ¬conducting the R26 million, three-month trial of the ¬service, given to Bagport Africa through a partnership deal with Airports Company SA (Acsa). 
 
However, it’s not clear whether Acsa is in agreement or even on board with this bag wrapping deal because according to recent reports, Andre Vermeulen, Acsa’s acting group executive for airport operations, wrote to SAA in January asking it to ¬refrain from using the services of Bagport.  Acsa also claimed that only its three licensed ground-handling contractors were qualified to ¬provide the service to airlines.
 
Are there alternatives to having your luggage wrapped?
 
During a radio interview Kalawe compared the bag wrapping service to on-board meals for which all passengers pay whether they eat or not. He also said that the R50 was a once off charge, and was added regardless of how many bags customers brought on board.
 
But not all airlines consider bag wrapping a filtered in cost you have to pay for.
 
Shaun Pozyn, marketing manager of Kulula told Justmoney that customers, who wish to wrap their baggage, have the option of doing so at the various airports via the companies who provide this service. But bag-wrapping is not however a separate service offered by Kulula to their customers. 
 
Hein Kaiser, spokesperson for Mango Airlines, said their airline does not offer compulsory baggage wrapping services at this time, nor have they in the past. 
 
Justmoney contacted SAA on several occasions to confirm the R50 charge and to find out what made Bagport Africa the best tender for this operation but we have received no response to date.

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