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Flying & scuba gear: South African Airways

As a diver, picking the right airline can mean a big difference in baggage costs when bringing along your own trusted gear. In this series of blogs, we will investigate the rules and regulations around flying with your scuba gear with different airlines for you so you don’t have to.

Although having frequent-flier status on an airline, or flying business class could give you larger weight allowances, we will only take a look at the rules and regulations that apply to passengers flying economy class.

South African Airways

South African Airways (SAA) is the flag carrier of South Africa and a member of the Star Alliance. The airline flies to 56 destinations worldwide, in partnership with SA Express, SA Airlink and its low-cost carrier, Mango.

Standard baggage allowances

SAA welcomes you to bring as much baggage as you need (up to 3 pieces above your free baggage allowance), but remember, once you exceed your carry-on and checked-in baggage limits, additional baggage rates will apply and they don’t come cheap. If you are flying between Johannesburg and Sao Paulo a maximum of 10 pieces of baggage, including your free allowance, is allowed and between Johannesburg and Lagos or Accra you are even allowed a maximum of 50 pieces of baggage including your free allowance, could be handy just in case you need to bring some extra weights I guess.

Bringing your dive gear with you

According to South African Airways, scuba gear is part of sports equipment which can travel free of charge as long as the additional piece of baggage weighs no more than 23kg (50 lbs) with a maximum of 200cm (79 inches) in length. If you decide to take your tank with you, remember that it must be empty.

5 pro tips for packing your gear

  1. Place fins along the edges or top of your dive bag’s main compartment to protect your other gear.
  2. Protect your mask by storing it in an open-heel fin pocket or mask box.
  3. For added protection, pack wetsuits around regulators and other sensitive equipment.
  4. Airline weight limits are very strict. Take the time to weigh your bags before you go, and remember being kind and a smile goes a long way with ground staff.
  5. Only pack what you really need on your trip and make sure you have everything serviced before leaving.


As of writing, South African Airways is a dive friendly airline and a great option to fly if you are planning on bringing your scuba gear along on your next trip.

Always make sure to check the latest regulations on their website before your trip as things may change in the future and don’t forget to always have a good dive or travel insurance that covers your gear in the case of an airline losing your gear.

And last but not least always respect your minimum preflight surface interval before flying!



Colin is Padi certified Divemaster, loves diving with the larger marine species around the world, and writing code.

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