Surfers around the country were up in arms when SAA announced it's new one piece baggage policy which started on the 5th Sept. Gone was the option of taking what you wanted provided it met the 23kg weight restriction. Now it was one piece, whether it was 5kg's or 23kg's.
And from the contents of the brochure they were handing out at the airports, it looked like the free piece of sports equipment was down the tubes too. Interesting, but academic - that is until we decided last week to bail to the Maldives for some R&R. Suddenly I became pretty concerned as to the implications of not being able to travel with a bag and a board.
Trying to decipher the contradictory SAA brochure (the tender for which no doubt went to someone for whom English wasn't a first language), and the opposite info provided by their website, I was at wit's end.
So when all else fails - call the experts! And the expert in question is Lorrin Jarvis from All Aboard Travel. Lorrin's been in the surf travel game for yonks and knows her stuff. Despite me not even having booked through Lorrin (cos the boat we use in Maldives isn't a surf charter boat) she was more than happy to help. Going way beyond the call of duty she missioned on the phone to SAA - now anyone ever having tried to speak to a human instead of a recorded message at SAA knows that watching paint dry is more fun, and takes quicker.
After over an hour on hold Lorrin finally succeeded in getting through to someone. Here's what she gleaned. Turns out you can still carry your board as an freebie - as long as it weighs less than 20kg's, and is under 1.8m. So basically, as long as it ain't a longboard you good to go.
The only hiccup is that this only applies to flights with a 3 digit SAA flight number - eg SA 408 or whatever, vs SA 4784. The 4 digit flight code is for SAA Express/Airlink flights - which is PE to Durbs or Cape Town. So - bad luck to those hoping to nip off to those 2 spots for a surf - you're gonna be paying for your board. So if you plan on flying international with your board - make sure it's outta Joburg.
Thanks again to Lorrin for making such an effort to get me the info. If she treats non-clients this way, imagine how she'd look after you if you booked a trip through her. So, for all your surf travel arrangements give All Aboard a shout, cos amazingly - good service does still exist!