Goodbye traditional check-in counter! Off-site ‘bag drop’ service now available for OR Tambo

A new concept globally and the first of its kind in South Africa, BagPortr is a 'baggage butler' type service that will collect the passenger’s bag from their home, hotel or any preferred point of collection (initially only within Johannesburg) within the terms of the service, before their flight. The luggage will then be delivered to OR Tambo International for loading.

But is there a need for this type of service?

Betty Maloka, Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs at OR Tambo International Airport tells Traveller24 that “According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), over 50% of passengers worldwide want more self-service options to speed up their journey."

READ: 'One bag can cause big jams' – OR Tambo to continue irregular baggage rules for June/July peak season travelling 

BagPortr founder, Juan van Rensburg, a travel and airline industry veteran of 35 years, started this service with the purpose of elevating the travel experience for passengers.

Speaking to Traveller24, Juan says, “Bag drop queues have become longer than the check-in queue and passengers need a better solution. The ‘mobile check-in and bag drop’ if you like, where passengers merely collect their bag at their destination, offer convenience and peace of mind."

For them, the particular target market will be families with plenty of baggage, business people checking out of the hotel in the morning and their flight is only later that evening (they might still have to attend meetings during the day), the disabled community who struggles to get their bag to the airport without being assisted by a family member or friend; and anyone who wants to get their baggage stowed without having to stand in the bag drop queues - and go straight to the boarding gate.

The company currently offers a boutique baggage collection service to Air France and KLM travellers. Once the passenger has completed their online check-in process, the bag collection is ordered online and collected up to four hours prior to their departure. The bag will be collected, security sealed, and transported under strict security conditions, in line with the airline, Civil Aviation and airport security guidelines.

Air France KLM General Manager in Southern Africa, Wouter Vermeulen, says, “We are very pleased to offer a bag collection service to our passengers through BagPortr. The service BagPortr provides will be a great added value for all our Air France and KLM customers.” 

How does it work exactly?

 • The passengers or his/her agent go onto the website to make the baggage collection booking

• The passenger will receive an email and sms confirming the collection booking with a BagPortr reference number

• On the day and time of the collection we will dispatch a vehicle to collect the bag(s)

• On arrival the following will happen: The passenger's passport will be required in order to capture the detail, the bag will be weighed - the weight of the bag must be within the airlines rules and regulations, security questions will be asked as per normal check-in procedure, then the bag will be sealed with a unique security seal, QR code (the QR code will be available to the passenger only for verification on arrival)

• After the security seal has been applied the bag will be wrapped with a recyclable plastic wrapper

• The passengers then signs on the tablet that the bag has been handed over and the security questions cleared (innovation as there is currently no signature at the check-in point to confirm the same) 

• Bag is then loaded into the vehicle for transportation to the airport or out secure warehouse, depending on the time of collection

• The passenger will be kept informed by sms on the whereabouts of bag

• 2 hours before departure the bag will be delivered to the airline’s check-in counter

• The bag-tag will be issued and handed to the passengers at the boarding gate

• The bag will be reconciled with the passenger at boarding when the passenger receives the bag-tag, then loaded onto the aircraft

• You will then receive an email and sms message that the bag has been handed to the airline  

Cost? 

Travellers will pay approximately R350 per bag, depending on the time of collection. Any additional bags on the same booking will be 50% less of the cost of the first bag, collected from the same address. Bags can be collected from any address up to a 60km radius of the airport.

Concerns around safety? 

Maloka says that porter services are not accredited by the airport. In this instance, the porter services are offered by the respective airline to its passengers, which should have approval from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA). 

“The process of baggage security is regulated by the SACAA, therefore the security rules and regulations as set by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will still apply.”  

Juan says that the process has been cleared at all levels and that they have refined and enhanced the process with additional security measures like the security seal, camera surveillance inside the vehicles and confirmation of any dangerous goods in the bag at the time of making the booking. 

“We are protecting the passenger as we deliver several bags simultaneously without, for example a syndicate knowing where the bags originate from, protecting the integrity of the passengers’ departure and his/her identity."

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