Baggage Allowance

  • Permitted baggage allowance:

    • Economy: 1 piece maximum weight 23Kg

    • Business: 2 pieces maximum weight 32Kg each

  • Maximum dimensions are 45 cm x 72 cm x 90 cm

  • Maximum weight per piece is 32 Kg.

  • Excess baggage rate between UK and South Africa is GBP35.00 Economy class, GBP75.00 Business class, per additional bag, per bag that exceeds the maximum dimensions and per bag that exceeds the checked baggage allowance. If the checked baggage falls into more than one of the above categories passengers will be charged for each one.

  • From the 4th January 2017, the excess baggage rate from the UK to South Africa will increase to GBP50.00 Economy class and GBP90.00 Business class. From the UK to Africa (excluding South Africa) excess baggage will be GBP60.00 Economy Class.

  • EMDs issued before 4th January 2017 will be honoured as ticketed and the new rates will not apply to these EMDs. However, any voluntary changes (re-routing or upgrading) to the ticket, will be subject to the new rates outlined above. New transactions on or after the 4th January 2017, will be at the new increased rates outlined above. 

  • In the case of a journey including multiple airlines, the excess baggage charges from the most significant carrier of that journey will apply.

Important Note:
Tickets issued on or after 21st February 2013 will be limited to 3 pieces of excess baggage in addition to their free check-in allowance. Any pieces in addition to the 3 will need to be sent via cargo at the applicable cargo rates.

Voyager Baggage

Silver tier - 1 additional piece, weight depending on cabin class booked, (ie: 23kgs Economy, 32kgs Business), dimensions 158cms. N/A on Star carriers flights.

Gold tier - 1 additional piece, weight depending on cabin class booked, (ie: 23kgs Economy, 32kgs Business), dimensions 158cms. Also applies to Star carriers flights.

Platinum tier - 1 additional piece at 32kgs, dimensions 158cms. Allowed additional bag on Star carriers, weight depending on cabin class booked, (as above).

Lifetime Plat - 1 additional piece at 32kgs, dimensions 158cms. Allowed additional bag on Star carriers, weight depending on cabin class booked, (as above).

Cabin Baggage

The general rule for cabin baggage is one piece for Economy and two pieces for Business Class. A handbag, a slim line laptop bag or camera bag can be taken onboard in addition.

  • Maximum weight of any one piece of hand baggage is 8Kgs on all SAA flights.

  • Maximum dimensions for any one piece of hand baggage is 52 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm (L x W x H). Total dimensions 115cms.

  • Allowance for Business Class passengers: 2 bags at 8kgs each, the total combined weight of all articles must not exceed 16kgs

  • Allowance for Economy Class passengers: 1 bag which must not exceed 8kgs in weight

  • Bags exceeding these limits cannot be carried on board aircraft exiting the United Kingdom and must be checked in; where baggage exceeds the limits, passengers will be asked to return to check-in to have these bags placed in the hold.

The restrictions, for liquids and/or gel, whereby liquid items may only be carried in containers holding up to 100mls and in a single, transparent, re-sealable plastic bag continue to apply.

Carriage of Laptops:
Please note that a laptop NOT the laptop bag is the additional free article which may be carried on board.

As few passengers travel without a bag to protect their laptops, it is acceptable to allow a laptop in a laptop bag onboard. However, the size of the bag is determined by the size of the laptop. Bags that contain large amounts of documentation and personal items are not acceptable as a laptop bag and as such they will be asked to check it in.

Musical Instruments

We are unable to provide a special free baggage allowance for the carriage of these goods.

As cabin baggage:
Portable musical instruments may be carried in the cabin of the aircraft as approved cabin baggage under the following conditions.

Please note that guitars cannot be carried as cabin baggage they must be checked in.

These apply to all classes except where specified:

  • The total of the three outside dimensions (L plus B plus H) of the instrument must not exceed 115cms. When a carrying case is used, the dimensions of the carrying case are to be considered. If the instrument or the 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 the passenger or in the overhead lockers. The weight of the instrument inclusive of the carrying case must not exceed 8kgs.

  • Musical instruments, which conform to the above size and weight limitations, will be considered as one item of cabin baggage. Therefore, passengers travelling in Business Class may carry only one more item of cabin baggage with dimensions not exceeding 52 x 40 x 23cms. Passengers travelling in Economy Class will not be allowed to carry any other cabin bag.

  • It is highly recommended that the musical instrument be carried or packed in a custom built carrying case to protect it from damage. If it is not carried in a carrying case, the instrument must not have any sharp corners, which might damage other cabin bags or the aircraft panels.

On extra seat(s) in the cabin:

  • Passengers may carry musical instruments in the cabin of the aircraft on a seat(s). They should notify SAA of their intention to carry a musical instrument on an extra seat at the time of reservation. The cost of the additional seat will then be calculated.

  • Information regarding size/weight must be provided and the extra seat must be booked and paid for. It is not acceptable for the instrument to occupy an empty seat, which has not been paid for.

  • No more than 75kgs may be carried under this arrangement per seat blocked. The passenger will not receive any additional free checked baggage allowance for the purchase of the extra seat.

  • If the customer does not wish to carry the musical instrument in the cabin, it can travel in the hold as checked baggage. Any additional weight will be charged at the normal excess baggage rate.

Instruments & methods of carriage:
The following guideline indicates how certain musical instruments can be transported. The final decision depends on the overall size and weight of the instrument.


Method of Carriage

Bass tuba

Hold stowage

Bassoon (small)

Cabin baggage


Hold stowage or extra seat

Bass trombone

Hold stowage


Hold stowage or extra seat


Hold stowage or extra seat


Cabin baggage

Double bass

Hold stowage


Cabin baggage

French horn

Hold stowage or extra seat


Hold stowage or extra seat


Cabin baggage


Hold stowage or extra seat


Cabin baggage

Viola (rectangular)

Hold stowage or extra seat

Violin (shaped)

Cabin baggage

Violin (rectangular)

Hold stowage or extra seat

Prohibited and permitted items

Dangerous Goods:
Dangerous goods are articles and substances that may be a risk to health, safety and/or property when transported by air.

Dangerous Goods may be divided in two categories:

  • Dangerous goods that may not be carried as cabin or checked baggage

  • Dangerous goods that may be carried under certain conditions

Items that may NOT be carried as cabin or checked Baggage:
Items which are likely to endanger the aircraft or persons or property on board the aircraft, such as those specified in the ICAO or IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations which are available from us on request.

Especially the following items cannot be accepted:

  • briefcases and security type attaché cases, cash boxes / bags with installed alarm devises; or incorporative lithium batteries and or pyrotechnic material

  • disabling devices such as mace, pepper spray etc.

  • explosive munitions, fireworks and flares

  • gases, such as camping gas and aerosols

  • flammable liquids, such as lighter fuels, paints and thinners

  • flammable solids, such as matches and articles which are easily ignited, substances liable to spontaneous combustion, substances which on contact with water emit flammable gases

  • oxidizing substances

  • poisonous (toxic) and infectious substances

  • radioactive materials

  • corrosives (thermometers; acids; alkalies and wet cell batteries)

  • magnetized materials and miscellaneous dangerous goods as listed in the “IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations”

  • Car Parts, at no time may be accepted as part of the Passengers Free Baggage allowance. To be accepted strictly as Cargo.

Items that may be carried under certain conditions:

  • medicinal or toilet articles (not more than 2kgs / 5lbs)

  • alcoholic beverage, perfumes (not more than 5 litres)

  • radio isotopic cardiac pacemakers or other devices, including those powered by lithium batteries, implanted into a person, or radio-pharmaceuticals contained within the body of a person as the result of medical treatment

  • personal smoking materials

Allowed with the approval of the carrier only:

  • ammunition (5kgs / 11lbs per person) only as checked baggage and if for sporting purposes

  • avalanche rescue backpack: only one per passenger

  • batteries, non-spillable: only as checked baggage

  • barometer or thermometer, containing mercury: only as cabin baggage if securely packed and leak-proofed

  • camping stoves: only as checked baggage, if completely drained of any liquid and fuel

  • carbon dioxide cylinder (two), fitted into a self-inflating life jacket, plus two spare cartridges

  • dry ice (not more than 2 kg / 5lb)

  • heat producing articles, e.g. diving lamps, underwater torches: as cabin baggage only, if switched off and battery is removed

  • refrigerated liquid nitrogen (dry shipper), if fully absorbed

  • small gaseous oxygen cylinders (only accepted if empty), or air cylinders for medical use. Exception: to/from/via USA forbidden

Strollers / Pushchairs / Buggies

Infants travelling when not occupying a seat, shall only be permitted one piece of checked baggage at a maximum weight of 23kgs. The accompanying adult will be allowed one stroller or pram for the infant.

At Heathrow, providing the stroller weighs less than 5kgs the passenger can use the stroller as far as the boarding gate, it will be tagged at check-in and then taken off them at the boarding gate to be put into the hold. Any stroller over 5kgs will have to be checked in with the suitcases. There will be no charge for the stroller.


Any enquiries about the carriage of pets, from the UK to South Africa, must be referred to our handling agent called Ladyhaye.

Their details are:

Hare Lane
Bindley Heath

Tel: 01342 832 161

Unaccompanied Baggage

Passengers wishing to send unaccompanied baggage (departing from LHR), will need to contact the South African Airways Cargo office to make the arrangements. Baggage must be taken to the cargo area at Heathrow and collected from the customs shed and not the arrivals baggage reclaim area in South Africa. There is no guarantee that unaccompanied bags will be on the same flight.

SAA Cargo Office: 01784 266 300

Alternatively there is a company based at Heathrow Terminal 1 called The Excess Baggage Company:

Heathrow Airport Terminal Offices Tel. 020 8759 3344 Email.

London Heathrow Terminal 1 Departures/Arrivals (0600hrs - 2300hrs) - Mezzanine floor between departures/arrivals

Sporting Equipment

In addition to the free baggage allowance, SAA will accept an extra sports bag to check in of up to 23 kgs free of charge.

Eligible sporting equipment includes:

  • Angling
  • Archery
  • Athletic: Track and Field
  • Baseball/ Softball
  • Basketball
  • Bowls
  • Cricket
  • Cycling: 200cm – 100cm – 75cm (excluding 1st - 8th March 2014)
  • Diving: scuba equipment (please note that the tank must be empty)
  • Fencing (bag not exceeding 200cm)
  • Football/Soccer
  • Golf
  • Hockey: Field and Ice
  • Horse riding (saddle must be wrapped & stirrups must be tied)
  • Lacrosse
  • Netball
  • Motor-cycle gear (protective riding gear and helmet; motor-cycle to be sent as cargo)
  • Parachuting: equipment, including helmet
  • Polo Cross: riding helmet, stick and balls
  • Rock Climbing: equipment including helmets, rope bags, climbing harnesses  and crash pads / bouldering mats if not exceeding 200 cm  in length
  • Rugby
  • Sailing: equipment including – wet/dry sailing suits, life jackets, water boots, ropes, blocks, pulleys, selected tools, water bottle (empty), sails (folded or rolled - tube must not be longer than 200cm
  • Shooting/hunting
    -  Firearms and ammunition – subject to correct transport and safety procedures being followed
    -  Ammunition – up to 5kg when packed separately due to regulations will be accepted free of charge.
  • Snow/water ski equipment
  • Surfboards/kite surfing/paragliding: smaller than 200cm
  • Swimming
  • Tennis/squash
  • Ten pin bowling
  • Volleyball

Customers must declare their sporting goods on arrival at the SAA check-in desks.


Bicycles (up to 23kg) will be accepted free of charge as part of the free sporting equipment allowance. Please note this offer is exempt for travel around the Cape Town Cycle Tour (4th- 12th March 2017).

Bicycles must be securely packed. Special boxes and bags are obtainable from bicycle outlets and associations. It is the passenger’s responsibility to make sure the cycle is securely packed to prevent damage, South African Airways accepts no responsibility for the damage of bicycles if they are not securely packed in the special boxes or bags. The box/bag must be clearly marked with the passengers contact details.

Handlebars must be turned parallel with the frame, pedals removed or turned inward, tyres deflated and the seat must be lowered. All electronic equipment must be removed and transported separately. Please note the carriage of bicycle tyres in the overhead lockers on board the aircraft is not permitted.

All Carbon Dioxide cylinders used to inflate bicycle tyres will be treated as Dangerous Goods and must be shipped as Cargo.

The opening of bicycle boxes / bags may be conducted as a security measure.

Firearms Policy

In addition to the free baggage allowance shown on the passenger’s ticket, up to 20kgs of shooting/hunting equipment, (Firearms and ammunition) is permitted at no additional charge, subject to the correct transportation/safety procedures being followed.

  • Firearms and/or ammunition must not be packed in checked luggage, it must be declared at check-in and taken through by security to the secure hold on the aircraft.

  • Guns and ammunition must be packed separately, in individual boxes.

  • The boxes used must be secure and locked throughout the journey. It is preferable for items to be packed in their original manufacturer’s box.

  • Passengers may carry up to 5kg ammunition. The weight restriction applies to the ammunition only – the container is not counted toward the 5kg, however both the ammunition and its container ARE counted toward the passenger’s free baggage allowance.

  • There is no charge for firearms/ammunition when travelling out of the United Kingdom. However, if the passenger exceeds their free baggage allowance, normal excess baggage rates will apply. Within South Africa, ZAR100 is levied on handguns per sector on all flights.

  • Additional ammunition may be transported. Allways Freight are a specialist in this type of cargo. Their contact details are:

Allways Freight
Building 34, East Midlands Airport
Castle Donington, Derby, DE74 2SA

Tel. 01332 850 110 – Fax 01332 850 545

Email: (Contacts: Peter Higham, John Scarr)

  • Passengers must be in possession of a valid United Kingdom Firearms Certificate, and it must be available for inspection at all times during the trip. The Department of Trade and Industry have advised that if the passenger has a valid UK Firearms Certificate, an export license is not required. If the passenger does not have the Certificate, they must contact their local police authority for advice.

  • Passengers should be advised to check with the South African Authorities whether an import permit will be necessary.

  • An import permit to bring the firearms/ammunition back into the United Kingdom may be needed. Passengers should check with the Import Licensing Department.

  • Contact Information:

Department of Trade and Industry
Tel. 020 7215 5000 (main switchboard) – 020 7215 8070 (export control)
Fax 020 7215 0558

Import Licensing Department: Tel (01642) 364-333

  • Queries about the carriage of firearms to Countries other than South Africa must be referred to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Firearms - Through Check and Clearing Customs:

When passengers are connecting on to either a regional or domestic flight the firearms must be checked before going on to the next destination.

E.G. Flying LHR - JNB- DUR

As JNB is the first point of entry going into South Africa, all bags must be collected there to pass through customs, this includes firearms. Passengers will have to collect their bags at JNB baggage claim, sign for their firearms at the International firearms arrivals desk and then clear customs. The firearms will be taken by a RAPS security officer to the SAPS firearms desk. When the passenger clears customs they will go to the SAPS firearms desk where a verification process will take place. Once all documents and firearms have been verified the passengers will take their firearms to the domestic check-in counters to check-in for the JNB-DUR flight where they will be issued with their boarding passes. They will then proceed to the Domestic firearms desk and check-in the firearms themselves. RAPS will then accept the firearms and load it onto the aircraft.

The same procedure applies for transfers on regional and international flights. It appears that the firearms must be cleared at each point before being loaded onto the aircraft.

For this reason it is advisable to allow extra time on the minimum connecting times for transfers.

Firearms into Zimbabwe:

Important Note: Currently there is a block on all firearms going into Zimbabwe, SAA will not carry any guns from Johannesburg to a destination in Zimbabwe. (Updated 4 Sep 07)