Airline baggage allowances and Policies are confusing.
Airline baggage allowances is a hot topic of conversation and often passengers are left in the dark. The reason being that many Airlines are not transparent. Let’s take my flight from Argentina to South Africa for example. My ticket was booked directly to Johannesburg but I had two coach-sharing flights. Each Airline has it’s own baggage regulations and restrictions. I was very confused because my ticket stated 1 bag of 23 kg and 1 piece of hand luggage. Yet, the South African Airways website stated 2 bags of 32 kg and 1 piece of hand luggage. Did the 20 kg luggage restriction that was imposed by Aerolineas Argentinas, apply to me?
Checking in my luggage at Cordoba Airport for the first leg of my flight to South Africa.
I arrived at the check-in counter of Aerolineas Argentinas in Cordoba to commence my journey to South Africa. Still confused about the different restrictions, I checked in a 23 kg bag and as carry-on luggage, a small bag and my laptop bag. When I checked my luggage in, I asked the lady to please send my luggage directly to Johannesburg. This is very important because that means once my luggage is checked in, I don’t have to worry about other Airline Restrictions. She told me that it might not be possible, which means that my luggage will be restricted to 20 kg and I had to pay a fine for excess luggage. Luckily, it was possible and I could breath a sigh of relief. Wrong.
Flight complications and new baggage restrictions applicable.
My flight was cancelled and I missed my connection flight to Brazil and ultimately my flight to Johannesburg. This meant that I had to collect my luggage in Buenos Aires and have them checked-in once more. Unfortunately I was dealing with a not-so-pleasant employee of Aerolineas Argentinas and she was adamant to charge me the fine for the excess luggage. It took a lot of fighting to persuade her that the cancelled flight was not my fault and that Brazil was not my final destination. To be honest, I think this is a money making scheme as many people were directed to the office to pay their fines.
My luggage was finally checked-in but not booked directly to Johannesburg. I had to check my luggage out in Sao Paulo and check them in again. Reason being that I was not allowed to stay in the transit area for more than 12 hours. I was preparing for my 3rd battle of the day. Who says travelling is always fun and games. Let me tell you it can be very stressful at times!
Luckily I managed to discuss the situation with an Airport Official in Sao Paulo and my luggage was queued to go onto the next flight to South Africa. I was also allowed to stay in the transit area for more than 12 hours.
Trying to get clarity from South African Airways before my departure for Argentina.
When I flew back to Johannesburg from Cape Town, I went to the South African Airways counter and asked them to please confirm the baggage allowance. My ticket said 23 kg, was checked and she confirmed that I could take 2 bags x 32 Kg, plus a laptop bag and small bag. She gave me the measurements. This totally contradicts the information on my ticket but does correspond to the information on the South African Airways website.
To be honest I am still confused. When you fly with coach-sharing then the Airline baggage allowances of the final destination airline applies. It makes sense because the other airlines has an arrangement with the “final destination” airline. Be aware because if flights are cancelled or if you miss a flight you might be subject to new regulations. This was the case with me. If your luggage are booked in directly to your final destination then you don’t have to worry about being subject to other Airline baggage allowances and restrictions.
Let’s take another example. You are flying to Buenos Aires but want to spend one night in the city. The following day you have another flight to Cordoba. What baggage allowances will be applicable? You will be subject to two different Airline baggage allowances. It all depends on the Airline that you have used and if it is an International or Domestic flight. Remember that Airlines have different allowances and policies for International and Domestic flights as well as the class that you travel.
Speaking from experience it is better to phone the airline and confirm. Better still, to have a printout or proof that can be presented should you find yourself in a pickle. Be warned that many planes may not accommodate carry-on luggage. I noticed signs in many airports that informed passengers before check-in to make sure they comply with regulations.