Smoke And Fly

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 120 months ago
Smoke And Fly

Image courtesy of drome under a Creative Commons Attribution licence
From stories of air crew heroism to tales of a very different type. 15 members of a South African Airways flight crew were arrested at Heathrow yesterday after customs discovered a whacking £310,000 worth of drugs in their luggage.

The initial haul was 50kg (that's like a big snow leopard!) of cannabis (or 'dagga', as South Africans evidently call it), with a street value of £150,000. Customs later confirmed that 4kg of white powder had tested positive as cocaine with a street value of £160,000. The drugs were found in three separate bags but apparently there's some confusion about who they belong to. Doesn't SAA label its bags properly then?

The airline staff - including members of the flight crew - were arrested, questioned and bailed until March. The Professional Pilots' Rumour Network is full of stories of baggage being tampered with at Johannesburg airport so there's a possibility the stuff could have been planted. But that's a hell of a lot to slip into someone's bag and hope they don't notice.

What we really want to know is: when SAA's maximum baggage allowance is 32kg, what did they have to take out of their cases to fit in all the drugs? Were the packages squeezed in beside a couple of pairs of trousers and some shampoo? Sure, they could have bought more clothes with the profits, but wouldn't it be less risky to just pack normally?

Last Updated 21 January 2009