A Packing Challenge

We have read  that there are tight restrictions on luggage size and weight for some airlines in Africa. If a person has too much luggage, he/she will get charged for an extra seat or for freight. We have also read that bags get stolen and/or lost frequently. Since we are flying on a number of smaller airlines and a number of different airlines, we want to ensure that our luggage is of the correct size and weight and that it travels all the way with us and doesn’t go astray.

The general idea we are going to strive for is to reduce the stuff we take to an absolute minimum so our carry-on is small and light and will stay as carry-on and not have to be checked on any flight. Let’s see if we can accomplish this.

I get out our flight info and start checking the airlines that we will be flying. We are flying Westjet and British Airways from Edmonton to Vancouver to London to Dar es Salaam. They each allow 1 piece of hand luggage plus a purse/briefcase.  Weight limits for Westjet are 22 lbs for each piece and sizes of 21.5″x9″x15.5″ and 16.5″x6″x13″. The hand luggage weight limit for BA is a whopping 51 lbs and no weight limit was given for the purse/briefcase.  The sizes for BA are 22″x18″x10″ and 18″x14″x8″.  These flights are not going to be the issue for us.

We are flying Precision Air from Dar es Salaam to Arusha return. They allow one piece of checked luggage with a weight limit of 51 lbs and total dimensions adding up to 62″. Only 1 piece of hand luggage is allowed which must weigh under 22 lbs.


We must fly through South Africa to get from Tanzania to Botswana, so we are flying South African Airways from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg return. SAA allows checked baggage of 1 piece that weighs 50lb and maximum dimension of 62″. Only 1 piece of hand luggage is allowed and it must weight less than 18 lbs with a size no greater than 21″x16″x9″m for a total dimension of 46″.

I am starting to get worried……

Air Botswana, which we are flying from Johannesburg to Kasane and Maun to Johannesburg allows 1 checked bag weighing 44 lbs and 1 piece of hand luggage weighing 15 lbs.

And now I am really worried!!!

We are taking Mack Air from the Okavango Delta to Maun, and they fly the smallest planes I have come across (6 seats).  Their website is so small that they have no information on luggage weight and sizing. My guess is that it doesn’t run along the same lines as Westjet and British Airways!!

Coastal Aviation is flying us to Zanzibar return.  All their website says is that soft-sided bags are preferable and a person’s total luggage must weigh under 33 lbs.

One website indicated that the traveler’s name should be on the outside and inside of checked luggage along with the route and destination.  Does that sound like luggage goes on a walk about often?

After looking at the various luggage requirements, I am not sure that we can limit all our luggage (as carry-on) to the lowest  denominator of 15 lbs required by Air Botswana. Murray’s camera/lens weighs that much!! I still want to give it a really good try and go with my “purse” and a very small backpack. As we start to lay out our gear, I will keep you posted as to what we take and what we leave behind and the final tally of weight and size.

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