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We Are Overwhelmed With Passenger Baggage - Uganda Airlines

Each passenger is allowed to carry a piece of hand luggage weighing a maximum of 7 kilograms and two pieces of check-in baggage weighing a total of 23 kilograms. However one is also allowed to have two extra pieces of baggage at a total cost of 125 US Dollars. Those with only one extra piece of baggage are paying 50 US Dollars.
Uganda Airlines on issue

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Uganda Airlines says it's is currently overwhelmed and having challenges in carrying passenger baggage from Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Airline says as a result, there have been delays in delivering check-in baggage for all passengers on board. 

In a press statement issued on December 6, the airline says there is a "temporary delay of passenger baggage"  because most travelers are returning for the festive season and have a lot of luggage.


The statement stems from passengers complaining about the airline mishandling their baggage in the past weeks. "That is not our intention and we regret the inconvenience caused," part of the statement reads.

It explains that there is increased demand for travel out of South Africa due to the coming holidays and had resulted in "overcapacity on the route."

Management however says it is "working round the clock to mitigate the effects with the support of our partners in the industry to alleviate this challenge."

Im the meantime, the airline says "all affected passengers will be contacted as soon as their baggage arrives in the country."

Each passenger is allowed to carry a piece of hand luggage weighing a maximum of 7 kilograms and two pieces of check-in baggage weighing a total of 23 kilograms. However one is also allowed to have two extra pieces of baggage at a total cost of 125 US Dollars. Those with only one extra piece of baggage are paying 50 US Dollars.


The hand luggage is placed in the overhead bin inside the aircraft while check-in baggage of passengers on board is expected to be  loaded in the underbelly of the aircraft.

However, Uganda Airlines has been struggling to load all check-in baggage for passengers on board because  it has to  also carry baggage left behind on  previous flights. 

When our reporter visited the airline's offices in Kampala on Monday morning, there were ten people waiting to be attended to.  Of these,  five  people  had come to pick their baggage while the rest had flight related issues such inquiries, bookings, payment and rescheduling.

Two of the people who picked their baggage say they had waited for a week to receive the bags. 

One said he arrived on November 26  but was disappointed after learning that three of his bags had not been brought to Entebbe International Airport.

"The airline called me on Saturday saying my bags have been brought and that I would pick them up in Kampala," the passenger said.

The second passenger arrived on November 30. He says two of his four bags were missing at Entebbe airport.

"But I can't blame the airline because most people have shopped for the festive season."

Sarah Bireete, the Executive Director at Center for Constitutional Governance, who also arrived on November 30 is not amused. She says the aircraft did not carry her two check-in bags.

Bireete told our reporter that the bags were finally delivered to Entebbe on Friday. 

She was however told to return to the airport to clear with customs.

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Most of the affected passengers say they boarded Uganda Airlines because of its direct flights from Johannesburg and affordable rates for return tickets  that range between 370 US Dollars 520 US Dollars compared to  Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways that have non-direct flights and charge over 450 US Dollars.

Baggage Handling

Under normal procedure, check-in bags are given identification tags and are carried through a conveyor belt and sorted on the basis of destination, and flight number on the tag before being loaded in the underbelly of the plane. When the planes land, the airline's handlers unload the luggage and drive them to the baggage carousels for passengers to pick up.

However, passengers have to now  wait for their baggage to be delivered from O. R Tambo Airport in South Africa. 

They are not sure of when they will get their bags. "Airlines lose or gain trust in the way the handle passengers on board and their baggage," Bireete says.

Currently the airline is using the CRJ 900 Bombardier aircraft to operate Johannesburg flights. The aircraft carries a maximum of 76 passengers and has a maximum weight of 38,329 kilograms at takeoff. 

Sources at Uganda Airlines confirmed last Friday that they have baggage backlog of two weeks from Johannesburg. The airline operates four flights weekly

As a result, passengers say management  consider using one of  over 250-seater Airbus A330-800 aircrafts for the Johannesburg route to carry the baggage left behind since it has the capacity to carry 40 tonnes of cargo. 

However, two sources at Uganda Airlines says both airbuses are not available. One is operating flights to Dubai while another one is undergoing maintenance. 

"The best option is for us to charter cargo flights to pick up the baggage," a source said.

Meanwhile, this incident has raised concerns about Uganda's failure to ratify the Montreal Convention 1999. Uganda is among the 54 countries out of the 191 members of the International Civil Aviation Organization-ICAO that  have not ratified the convention.

The convention  ensures  rights of air transport consumers are protected by establishing airline liability in the case of death or injury to passengers, as well as in cases of delay, damage or loss of baggage and cargo. 

"Maybe Uganda Airlines is not treating this issue of delayed baggage as some airlines like KLM, Emirates and others because it might be difficult for passengers  to get compensated in the absence of a legal framework," a frequent traveler says.

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