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  • South African Airways operations to Blantyre, Malawi, remains affected by maintenance work at airport

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  • South African Airways Updates Firearm Handling Policy | Special Baggage Policy

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Baggage - Special Baggage

Fragile, valuable or items with sentimental value should not be checked-in. These items, including identification documents and passports, should be placed in your hand baggage and kept safely.

  • SAA is unfortunately unable to provide our musicians with a special free baggage allowance for the carriage of musical instruments. Musical instruments must be handled as normal checked-in or hand baggage or be transported on a paid-for seat in the passenger cabin.

    If you check-in your instrument, it will be subject to normal excess baggage charges if it exceeds your free baggage allowance.

    Please note that certain conditions and limitations may apply when transporting musical instruments. To review these conditions, or if you have any questions regarding our musical instrument transportation, please get in touch with us.

    Travelling with musical instruments as hand baggage

    • The total dimension of the instrument or its carrying case must not exceed 115cms (calculated as length + width + height). If the instrument or case has an irregular shape, the largest dimension must be taken to arrive at the overall total.
    • The shape and size should fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment. The total weight must not exceed 8kg.
    • Instruments that conform to the size and weight limits are considered 1 item of hand baggage. Customers in Business Class may carry 1 more item of hand baggage and those in Economy Class will not be allowed any other hand baggage.
    • It is highly recommended that the instrument be carried or packed in a custom-built case to protect it. If it is not in a carrying case, the instrument must not have any sharp corners that might damage other hand baggages.

    Travelling with musical instruments as an extra seat(s) in the cabin

    • To transport your musical instrument on a seat your booking must be made via the SAA Call Centre and they must be notified that you intend to carry a musical instrument on an extra seat.
    • Information regarding size and weight of your instrument must be provided and the extra seat must be booked and paid for. The seat will be charged at a discounted rate (base fare, excluding taxes). It is not acceptable for the instrument to occupy an empty seat, which has not been paid for.
    • No more than 75kg per seat may be carried under this arrangement. Travellers will not receive any additional free checked baggage allowance for the purchase of the extra seat.

    Instruments and methods of carriage

    Instrument Method of Carriage
    Bass tuba Checked/additional baggage
    Bassoon (small) Checked/additional baggage
    Banjo Checked/additional baggage or extra seat
    Bass trombone Checked/additional baggage
    Cello Checked/additional baggage or extra seat
    Contrabassoon Checked/additional baggage or extra seat
    Clarinet Hand baggage
    Double bass Checked/additional baggage
    Flute Hand baggage
    French horn Checked/additional baggage or extra seat
    Guitar Checked/additional baggage or extra seat
    Oboe Hand baggage
    Saxophone Checked/additional baggage or extra seat
    Trumpet Hand baggage
    Viola (rectangular) Checked/additional baggage or extra seat
    Violin (shaped) Hand baggage
    Violin (rectangular) Checked/additional baggage or extra seat
  • We understand that your pets are part of your family so we try to accommodate their needs as best as we can. Pets are not permitted in the cabin, with the exception of service dogs. Depending on the individual circumstances, pets must be carried either as cargo, or as checked baggage in the hold.

    If your pet is travelling as checked baggage, the weight of the animal and its container will be charged as excess baggage and will not count towards your free baggage allowance.

    Please contact the SAA Call Centre well before your flight to confirm any required procedures (such as permits, microchips, tests, vaccinations) to allow your pet to travel – you must complete these before SAA can make final arrangements for your pet. Note that this process can take a long time, especially in complex cases. Once complete, please allow 1 week to submit your paperwork to SAA ahead of your flight.

    For travel within South Africa, pets must be within a secure container of not more than 1x1m in size and not weighing more than 23kg. Your pet’s original vaccination and rabies certificate must be present at the time of pet check-in.

    For international travel, please contact SAA Cargo for more information.

  • 1.5 litre bottle of Zam Zam or sea water can travel as part of your free baggage allowance otherwise applicable excess baggage fees will be charged. The bottles must be properly packed in a plastic covering to avoid leakage.

  • Firearms will be charged at the following rates per sector.

    Shooting / Hunting (Firearms & Ammunition – subject to correct transportation / safety procedure being followed).

    Within South Africa USD 30
    Within Africa USD 60
    International USD 100

    Ammunition: up to 5kg per passenger, will be accepted free of charge when packed separately due to regulations and the correct transportation / safety procedure being followed.

    Flights within South Africa

    Firearms may not travel as checked baggage but must be checked-in at the Firearm Desk. Ammunition must be packed separately from firearms in an appropriate, secure and lockable case and although it is possible for it to travel as part of your checked baggage allowance, we strongly recommend that it be checked-in as a separate piece of baggage or checked-in at the Firearm desk.

    All firearms and ammunition must be declared at the time of check-in. Firearms and ammunition in your checked baggage will result in your baggage being rejected.

    Our check-in staff will issue the relevant baggage tags then direct you to the Firearm Desk for inspection and processing of firearms and ammunition for secure handling to the aircraft.

    The Firearm Desk requirements

    • The owner of the firearm will be required to produce a valid license or temporary import permit for the firearm(s) and ammunition.
    • The owner will be required to make and declare the firearm(s) safe for carriage.
    • Security staff will request the owner to open his/her checked baggage to verify that ammunition is securely packed and that the total weight of ammunition per license holder does not exceed 5kg in weight.
    • The owner will be required to complete a firearm register for handover to security staff, who will ensure the secure loading of such items.
    • The staff at the Firearm Desk will send a message to the receiving airport, advising them of details and loading positions of firearms.
    • Checked baggage containing ammunition will be affixed with a special tag, indicating that the bag has been inspected, to avoid delays or confiscation of the baggage at further security controls.


    Rifles must be processed via the Firearm desk and may not form part of your free baggage allowance.


    A maximum of 5kg of securely packed ammunition per traveller is permitted for carriage as a separate piece of baggage. Screening authorities may delay baggage containing ammunition, if it is not declared at check-in and marked with an appropriate tag indicating it has already been inspected.

    On Arrival

    Upon arrival customers can proceed to the Firearm Desk to collect firearms. Checked baggage containing ammunition may be collected at the normal baggage carousel. Ammunition handed in separately may be collected at the Firearm Desk.

    Flights outside South Africa

    It is the responsibility of each traveller to comply with local laws on the carriage of weapons in every destination they travel to. It is up to each individual customer to be fully aware of legislation covering firearms and ammunition. Passengers with any onward connections within South Africa or transiting through South Africa must note the provisions for flights within South Africa, despite allowances abroad to prevent baggage from being delayed or rejected for travel.


    Travellers should not pack any firearms within checked baggage. Firearms must be packed in suitable lockable firearm cases or bags.

    Always declare your firearm and request a firearm identification tag to be placed on your firearm case or bag, as this will assist in the correct loading and delivery handling on SAA flights arriving in South Africa.

    Where travellers originate their journey on South African Airways, we request that you declare the firearms and any checked baggage containing ammunition to our check-in staff for appropriate handling and labelling.

    Ammunition may be carried within checked baggage, provided that it is securely packed in a lockable or secure container, and that the total weight does not exceed 5kgs of ammunition per traveller carrying a firearm. (In general, most airlines allow the carriage of ammunition in terms of the dictums of ICAO Dangerous Goods Standards and associated airline processes followed in terms of IATA requirements/guidance). Please do not pack ammunition loosely in checked baggage.

    Arriving in South Africa

    • All declared or identified firearms may be collected from the Firearm Desk just after immigration. Firearms not declared at departure, or not identified by an appropriate label will be delivered to the normal baggage carousal for collection. After collection of checked baggage containing ammunition, you are required to proceed to the SA Police Firearm Office, where all necessary import permits and other documentation will be finalised.
    • Customers with onward domestic flights must clear firearms and ammunition at the SA Police Firearm Office before proceeding through customs. They will then be required to follow the process as described for domestic flights for onward and return journeys.
    • Customers with onward international flights may have their firearms and ammunition checked through to the final destination. Do note however that such firearms and ammunition may be blocked by airport baggage screening staff for inspection, which will require the airline to page the traveller to proceed to a baggage reconciliation area, where you will be required to open any bags containing ammunition for inspection.

    We urge customers to declare baggage containing ammunition to the SAA handling agents at the point where you originally join SAA flights to avoid delays during the transfer process.

    Travellers with onward international flights who have not checked firearms and ammunition through to their final destination will be required to visit the SA Police Firearm Office, before proceeding to international check-in.

    General information and assistance

    Strict legislation on the carriage or importation of hand-held firearms exist in almost all countries and heavy fines could be imposed on the traveller and the airline should such items arrive without the necessary documentation (e.g. import permits and licenses.) It is the responsibility of the traveller to consult the local consulate of the destination country (including transit and stopovers where applicable) to establish and comply with all entry requirements.

    Visitors require a Temporary Import Permit. Temporary Import Permits will only be issued for foreign hunters and participants in an organised sport shooting event. Temporary Import Permits can be obtained on arrival at the SA Police Firearm Office situated after immigration.


    • Passport
    • Return airline ticket
    • Firearm license (or proof of ownership) from country of residence
    • Invitation letter from Outfitter or Sport shooting event organiser (on official letterhead)
    • Letter from owner of the firearm stating the reasons why the firearm is needed in South Africa
    • Address where traveller will stay
    • Export permit from country of residence


    • No automatic, semi-automatic firearms or military weapons are allowed
    • No firearms for self-defense allowed
    • Only 1 firearm per calibre allowed
    • Under South African Firearms and Ammunition laws a maximum of only 200 rounds of ammunition will be allowed per firearm calibre
    • No handguns may be imported without the necessary permits, and they need to be obtained before arrival
    • Person must be 21 years or older to enable them to import a firearm to South Africa

    Flights to and from Australia

    Please note that all firearms are to be declared at Customs at Perth International Airport. Firearms cannot be through checked and you are advised to allow sufficient time for your connecting flights.

  • While we go out of our way to encourage your healthy lifestyle and sporting adventures, charges on sports equipment may apply on both international and domestic flights.

    Sports equipment which can travel free of charge is listed below as long as the additional piece of baggage weighs no more than 23kg with a maximum dimension of 200cm. Sporting equipment larger than 200 cm, canoes, windsurfers, hang-gliders and kayaks will be accepted strictly as cargo and the relevant Cargo rates will apply.

    The sporting equipment allowance is available on all SAA operated flights. It excludes our codeshare partners and the following flight series 1000-2999 and 7000-8999. Excess baggage rates may be charged during special events.

    Angling Football/Soccer Rock Climbing: Helmets, rope bags, climbing harnesses and crash pads/ bouldering mats
    Archery Golf Rugby
    Athletics/Track and Field Ice and Field Hockey Sailing equipment: Wet/dry sailing suits, life jackets, water boots, ropes, blocks, pulleys, water bottle (empty), sails and paddles
    Baseball/Softball Horse Riding: Saddle, helmet and stirrups Snow/Water ski equipment
    Basketball Lacrosse Surfboards/kite surfing/paragliding
    Bowls Netball Swimming
    Cricket Motor-Sport: Protective riding gear & helmet Tennis/Squash
    Cycling Motor-Cycle gear: Protective riding gear and helmet Ten pin bowling
    Diving/Scuba Equipment: Scuba tank must be empty Parachute Equipment Volleyball
    Fencing Polo Cross: Riding helmet, stick and balls  

    Sports equipment not specified above can be included in the free baggage allowance and any excess weight will be charged accordingly. Wheelchairs are permitted as a free additional piece of baggage, as long as they are used as sports equipment. Do take note that all sporting equipment balls must be deflated.

    A handling fee for shooting/hunting (firearms) will be raised for tickets issued as from 15 May 2019.