When heading off on a vacation, there is always the temptation to pack that extra outfit or two for a ‘just in case’ or ‘we could need it if…” type situation. Most of us succumb to that temptation, thereby setting off a chain of unpleasant events. After battling to close the suitcase at home, braving hernias and hip dislocation whilst descending stairs, and negotiating limited trunk space en route to the airport we then have to deal with the dreaded airline scale.

“You’re 4 kilograms over”, says the surly airline employee. Now what!? Most airlines make allowances for extra weight, but charge you a premium to use it. Others, like those found in remote destinations in the African bush, simply won’t allow it on board. Two weeks in Botswana loses it’s lustre with only one outfit and no toothbrush.

Okavango Delta Airstrip

To avoid the difficult situations as described above,  we’ve put together these handy guidelines to ensure you comply with various airlines luggage policies, and won’t be caught feeling foolish come check-in time.

There are strict weight restrictions in place on any African itinerary, which includes light aircraft transfers, for the following reasons:

• The aircraft are designed with a maximum bodyweight and luggage weight allowance.

• Most airfields are over 1000 metres above sea level and are located in the tropics, and therefore the permissible aircraft carrying capacity is reduced.

• The aircraft have physical space restrictions.

• Luggage on light aircraft transfers in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe is restricted to 20kg (44lbs) per person – in a soft bag/s – no wheels, frames or rigid structures can be transported as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft – and includes camera equipment and carry-on luggage.

Luggage Guidelines
Luggage Guidelines

• The maximum dimensions of the soft bags which can be accommodated are as follows: 25cm (10 inches) wide x 30cm (12 inches) high and 62cm (24 inches) long. Keep in mind that the baggage compartments on the light aircraft are only 25cm high (10 inches), so the pilots must have the ability to manipulate the bag into the compartment.

• A collapsible wheeled luggage frame/trolley (separate to the bag) is allowed, as long as basic dimensions are similar to that of the bag.

• Please inform us in advance if guests weigh more than 100kg (220lbs), as additional weight allowance [to the value of an additional seat on the aircraft which is calculated at 70kg (154lbs)], must be purchased for safety and comfort

• Please advise us before you travel if you are likely to have excess luggage, and we will make the necessary arrangements, which may be at additional cost.

• These limits are applicable to guests travelling on a seat rate basis so may differ if guests have booked on a sole use or private charter option in which case the maximum’s depend on the type of aircraft and the number of passengers booked.

• The luggage weight restriction in Malawi is 15kg (33lbs) in soft sided bags.

• The luggage weight restriction in Zambia with Proflight is 15kg (33lbs) in soft sided bags.

• The luggage weight restriction in Kenya and Uganda is 20kg (44lbs) in soft-sided bags.

The preferred bag size and type

If guests are unable to avoid travelling with excess luggage, arrangements can be made with ease if African Safari Consultants, as the tour operator, and the charter company are contacted in advance.  For example, should guests be travelling with larger bags and require assistance, they can leave their luggage in storage in Maun at no additional cost.  Alternatively, guests can purchase an extra seat in the aircraft.