Topic of the day: Luggage Restrictions

Now that your safari plans have been set, the details begin to emerge and as you re-read your itinerary and your eyes do a double take as they land on the phrase “Note: luggage restrictions … “ and so it begins! THE most popular topic of conversation.

Yes, there is a high probability that if you are going on safari that you will be on a light aircraft flight, which means there will be luggage restrictions! Trust us when we say, we are not implementing these restrictions to torment you. Rather, these are set for safety reasons and due to limited storage space on board the plane.  The restrictions vary between the different light aircraft companies as the size of the plane does affect how small the luggage hold is.

The aircraft that you will be flying on is usually determined the day before or, on the day, of your flight. Depending on the aircraft that is allocated to your flight, the hold can be very small – and It’s for this possibility that they (light aircraft companies) set their restrictions. 

By small, we do mean small –  they can even be smaller than shown below!  At times, larger planes are allocated and for a moment you may find yourself thinking that a larger bag would have fit just fine.  In these cases, just remind yourself that there is no telling beforehand what kind of plane will be allocated to your particular flight so you are better off ‘safe than sorry’.

Here is the deal; each light aircraft airline company has its own set of rules, measurement and weight restrictions, which we pass along to our clients. Unfortunately, it is out of our hands after that. Should you decide to use a bag that doesn’t quite meet the rules – for example, if the bag is larger than the measurement guideline provided or, if it is hard sided etc. – there is a chance that the airline could refuse the bag when you arrive to check-in.

Should this happen, you would be encouraged to re-pack into a temporary bag and leave your other piece of luggage (now empty) behind or couriered to you at a future destination, at your own expense.

These rules may include language like ‘soft-sided bags only, no wheels or hard frames’ and they mean it! For example

You can see from this diagram the importance of a soft-sided bag which needs to be malleable in order to fit the necessary luggage into the hold. If the bags are all hard sided, they cannot fit into the hold – maybe one or two bags ends up fitting but there are 6 people on board. You see where we are going with this?

When flying on these light aircrafts, it is unlike flying on a commercial airline whereby you could arrive with excess weight/luggage and then would pay for excess fees. These aircrafts are limited in what they can accept due to fuel consumption. The pilots have to factor in weight of the passengers (which is why we ask for your weight on our Guest Info form) and their luggage to determine how much fuel is required. Although the weight restriction may seem arbitrary to the traveler, it is very important when it comes to the overall safety of the passengers. It is not a good idea to show up knowing that you have excess weight without making any pre-arrangements.

This leads us into the next point, if you really need to increase your luggage allowance, please let us know in advance so that we can guarantee the excess weight by charging what the light aircraft companies refer to as an “extra seat in plane” – this is the phrase that is used which allows for extra freight rather than a literal translation of securing an extra seat on the flight. The excess weight allowed will vary between companies and so will the charge.

You may wonder … if we keep within the luggage weight limit, how many bags can we take? Ideally, it is one bag per person plus your personal carry-on. However, if you absolutely need to split the luggage (in case we are referring to camera equipment) that is fine keeping in mind that each piece cannot weigh more than the stipulated luggage limit.

These planes do not have overhead compartments for you to put your bag so, your carry-on would have to fit underneath the seat in front of you. We cannot stress enough how small some of these planes can be; there isn’t enough room to have a toilet/washroom onboard and, there definitely isn’t any premium seating with extra leg room on these planes!

In some cases, when you are flying in East Africa (either Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda or Rwanda) you may be allowed to use luggage with frames and wheels but you will need to verify this information with us prior to your departure.

Be assured, the light aircraft companies set these restrictions to keep you safe as they transport you to these incredibly beautiful and remote locales! Small inconvenience for the extraordinary experience that you’re about to embark on.

When it comes to packing to stay within those luggage limits … we have a lot of advice 🙂 Let us know if you need it!

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