TOURISM: We Fear Lost Luggage More Than Swine Flu
Recent Western Cape Business News
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 Cape Town-based Travelstart.co.za, the online travel booking service. Only 5% of travellers polled thought contracting swine flu the biggest fear when travelling.
“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 2008.
“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 kilogram.
“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 Ekbergh.
“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 radio–frequency 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 every bag.
· 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 luggage as it is a critical piece 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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