Oh Lanseria – airport of milk and honey. Literally. Free coffee for all waiting passengers, short queues, easy boarding procedures…it’s like heaven in a terminal. Until you fly with more than one piece of luggage.
My, oh my. Last week our office received a call at 17h00 on Monday afternoon, letting us know that our mid morning flight on Tuesday had been cancelled. Only other available flight that day? 06h00. So all tickets were duly changed, all travellers notified and a very early start commenced for my team – which involved collecting 12 pieces of oversize events gear from the office, getting everything and a half asleep team in to the shuttle, then offloading on to 5 of the kiddie sized trolleys Lanseria has to offer and the intricate cling wrapping of each item like a sandwich to protect it, I am not sure whether this is to protect from damage or thieves or both, but a rather time consuming exercise considering Lanseria’s shrink wrapping machines are about the size of the one I have on my kitchen counter.
We arrive at Kulula check in counter, bleary eyed and yawning. Our check in agent gives us a look that could turn a plum in to a prune in 2 seconds. “You have too much luggage”. No, bright spark, we actually checked these in as extra pieces.
“Well, I need to see inside each piece”. Uh, no, we just paid R 500 to wrap this lot, we are not unpacking it. An argument ensues. Finally she consents to let us weigh each piece and not have to cut it open with the scissors she is waving frantically in my face as if to warn me back. I consider asking if she thinks I am a vampire, and if I can offer her a stake as well, but decide to hold my tongue. I am not the most cheerful creature at 04h38.
We proceed to check in our personal luggage – one by one we are 0.8 kg’s overweight, 0.6 kgs overweight. “ You will need to unpack those” We acquiesce. On our hands and knees, moving clothes from one team members suitcase to the next. People behind us are commenting , muttering and I swore I heard heavy breathing at one point.
Then she spots the bundles of 4 banners cling wrapped together. Her eyes light up like a kid at Christmas time. “Those will need to be checked individually, you cannot tie them together”. My colleague steps in. We have flown over 160 flights with your airline in the last year – we have NEVER had to fly our events banners individually at R 275 per piece. “Well, you do now” and that’s were we went postal. Managers were called, airline and airport regardless. I have to say I left my colleagues to deal with this – I fear that I may have just about lost the plot where I to be involved.
No other airport has ever given us so much drama, Cape Town, Durban, OR Tambo – none, only Lanseria. Now why is that? Anyone care to hazard a guess?
If you book your tickets, declare every piece, pay for it, and wrap it neatly so it doesn’t fall apart – and it’s all within standard height, width and weight requirements, why is there only one airport that has an issue with that? Or is it the airline? But if it’s the airline, then why does that particular airline give you grief only in one airport and not in others? Please do feel free to help me clear up the mystery.