South Africa's IT community knows all about travel but, interestingly, a new survey has revealed that 53% of us would rather deal with the possibility of contracting swine flu than run the risk of losing our luggage.
The online survey, conducted by the global online travel booking service Travelstart.co.za, revealed that 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 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 $42 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.
Thirty percent of the travellers polled in the survey thought that missing a flight is the major concern. Although there are about 1 000 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 5 558 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,” says Ekbergh.