Airport officials predict that if this growth continues throughout the summer months of January through to March the airport will surpass the 9.5 million passenger mark. Picture: Courtney Africa

Cape Town - It’s 4am and there’s a three-hour flight ahead of you. You are irritated, and it’s not the child kicking the back of your seat or the armrest bandit next to you. It’s the fortune you just spent on overnight parking.

A survey has revealed that nothing gets South Africans more annoyed at the airport than the cost of parking.

Travelstart asked 6 000 people about their biggest gripes when catching a flight and found some telling results.

The number one offender was parking fees with 72 percent of the participants putting it at the top of their list.

“We have heard many instances where the public have been forced to pay for short-term parking as there is no availability in the long term,” said Travelstart’s Russell Jarvis.

Second on the list was luggage theft. Just over a quarter of travellers had had their bags tampered with or had some of the items inside lifted and stolen. Most of these incidents took place at Joburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

“The number of baggage pilferage incidents taking place at OR Tambo is abnormally high compared with other major airports such as Cape Town and Durban where nine percent and four percent of respondents reported incidents of theft respectively”, said Jarvis.

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) responded to the findings, saying: “As we strive to improve the mishandled bag rate, the company continuously measures and reviews its baggage processes against international standards with the objective of remaining competent and competitive.

“As a result of these efforts the number of pilfered bags has been reduced to a point where the airport now averages between 50 and 70 bags pilfered per month.”

This was compared with an average of 150 bags three years ago.

And while travellers lashed out at “surly” staff and scratchy PA systems, they also listed some improvements. The third entry on the list was a call for better free wi-fi. As it stands, local airports are already ahead of the game compared with JFK airport in New York.

Where the American airport only offers a brief 15 minutes of free wireless internet, local airports have doubled that amount.

Other notable entries to the gripe list were a lack of facilities and shops as well as “aggressive” security. - Cape Argus

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