Feature Opinion

A Retarded Baggage Policy?

Dear Kulula,

Yesterday I returned, via your airline, to Cape Town after a lovely weekend away in Joburg.

Whenever I travel with you the service is normally impeccable (except for a once-off 4 hour delay) and I’ve had very little to complain about and trust me, I’ve been known to do my fair share of whining.

Simply put, I am a fervent supporter of your airline.

However as of late I’ve noticed that you’ve come under fire from some of my industry compatriots, namely Jon Savage from the band Kite Rider. And so, because of the recent Twitter banter between the two of you, I decided to have a little look at the new baggage allowance policy that you implemented last year November 15th. I normally travel super light and therefore have never felt the need to familiarise myself with this policy before.

Firstly, I take my hat off to you putting these changes into effect before the start of the summer/festive season – very smart. I’m sure you’re well aware of the increased amount of travelling musos, as well as general South Africans, do around this time.

Secondly, I know that you’re a really busy airline because you’re technically still the cheapest, or so that’s what we’ve all been led to believe. You do a flawless job posing as the cheaper option. I do understand that this baggage policy “is in line with British Airways” your partner in his whole shebang, but I wholeheartedly believe that these “hidden costs” do not constitute to you being a low-cost airline anymore. And I think it’s time you stop masquerading as one. In the long run we’ll respect you more for it.

If a suitcase weighs over 20kg you charge R250 for it and if patrons want to check-in a second bag you charge them R300 for that. Jon Savage’s tweet however stipulated that it was R350 to take his guitar on board. Other tweets I came across sited R700 re: guitar on-board. Low cost? Yeah… not so much.

Perhaps the most disturbing piece of information I came across though was Louwtjie Rothman’s (guitarist for Jack Parow) tweet where he announced that travelling with an electric and an acoustic guitar amounts to R1400. That’s almost the cost of your cheapest return ticket from Cape Town to Joburg. Are you insane?? And why do bands have to join your corporate division in order for allowances to be made. Why can’t you just let them bring their guitars on-board? I know that baggage space on-board is limited but I highly doubt that the entire musical population of South Africa will descend upon one of your aeroplanes simultaneously.

You tweeted a while ago that you wanted to invite bands to tell you “what they need” and you would “try help”.

Well it’s quite simple really: local musicians would like you to be more accommodating. Your baggage policy prices are putting a severe damper on the pockets of musicians who frequently use your airline and in addition, you’re doing next to nothing to contribute to the infrastructure our music industry so desperately needs in order to grow.

I will give credit where it’s due though and say well done on being a main sponsor for the Heineken Symphonic Rocks and transporting an aeroplane of musicians safely from Cape Town to Joburg and back to put on a top class performance.

But when musicians like Jon Savage, Francois Van Coke and Karen Zoid (who aren’t exactly small fries) take the time to kick up a fuss about your baggage policy, how about you take a second and spare a thought for those who are trying to break into this music business and extend their reach nationwide. It’s a near-on impossible feat if they want to fly with you. I am sure that there are other patrons, those who aren’t musicians, that have been financially inconvenienced by your baggage policy but the predicament of the local musician is what my focus here is.

It’s time for you to face facts – confront this issue head-on or deal with the possibility of losing the support of our local music industry completely.

Yours sincerely,

Tecla Ciolfi

P.S: #SupportSAMusos