My experience of flying with movie equipment

On the 31st of May 2013 I was on a SAA flight from Entebe to Johannesburg. I had an airline approved bag as hand luggage with my Blackmagic camera, several lenses, the solid state drives form a week shoot in Uganda and various other expensive and sensitive equipment. As I boarded the aircraft I was told by the cabin controller not to waste my time as there was no space in the overhead stowage. He advised me to take out any valuables and hand my bag to to the ground staff standing at the door. I explained that this was not possible as everything in the bag was valuable and opened the bag to show him the contents.

His attitude was “not my problem” and he made no effort to find a reasonable solution. I indicated that it would be fine as long as I could get to the bag on the apron upon arrival in Johannesburg and was sarcastically told that I would receive my bag with the other luggage on the carousal just like the other passengers.

When I buy a ticket from an airline we enter into a contract. I expect to have a seat, to have my luggage in the hold and to have space for my one piece of hand luggage in the overhead stowage. If the airline cannot comply they are in fact in breach of that contract. What would my recourse have been if that equipment had got stolen? The insurance company will not pay as you willingly handed your possessions to a third party. The airline would certainly not pay as they will put the blame on the baggage handling company.

The fact is that I have a deal with the airline, not the baggage company, it IS the airline’s responsibility! Come on airlines, make an effort, you have gotten away with this for too long!