Durban - A Durban family’s dream holiday to the US ended on a sour – and expensive – note when a toy water gun one of the children had bought at Disney World prevented them boarding the last leg of their flight home.
Kulula.com at Joburg’s OR Tambo Airport refused to allow the family of seven, from Winston Park, to board their flight to Durban earlier this month, unless they dumped the, as yet unassembled, colourful plastic Transformer toy – even though it had been placed in luggage destined for the hold.
They had travelled from the US, via Atlanta, without incident.
Greg Bold, father of 10-year-old Jordan, the owner of the water pistol, said the tipping point had been when “we were basically told we had better hurry up and sort out our baggage or we would miss another flight. After that attitude we decided to hire a car to drive back to Durban”.
The kulula.com website says no toy guns are allowed on “kulula flights as checked-in or hand luggage”.
On the company’s website, it says: “With today’s technology, guns can be made from plastic and even appear to be a toy.”
Kulula spokesman Shaun Pozyn said while he did not know the details of what had happened, passenger safety was a priority for the airline. “I will, however, investigate this issue further,” he said.
Jordan’s grandmother Trish Molyneaux said each child had been allowed to choose a special gift from either Disney World or Universal Studios paid for by their grandparents. “Jordan really wanted the Transformer water pistol after doing the special effects experience at Universal,” she said.
Molyneaux had had the dismantled toy in her main luggage. When her bag had been weighed, she had been questioned on what was in it.
“She (the kulula.com staff member) asked about sharp objects and flammables and then she asked if I had any toy guns in my bag.”
When Molyneaux admitted to having the water pistol in her luggage, she had been told the airline did not, under any circumstances, allow toy guns on their planes, even in checked-in luggage.
Molyneaux offered to take the water pistol out of the luggage and take it to the gun counter, where firearms are put in a locked box and transported in the checked luggage on domestic flights.
“The attendant told me they could not do that either because kulula.com does not have a licence to carry firearms.
“I tried to explain this was not a firearm, but a toy, but they would not hear any of it. I can’t get my head around it; we travelled all the way from America with it, and you would think they would be stricter about their baggage policies.”
The Airports Company of South Africa says on its website that a toy gun is a restricted item on all flights.
“Passengers may be given the option of having these items transported as checked baggage if prior arrangements have been made,” it said.