I didn't want to hi-jack the other thread that's running on flying with firearms, so thought I'd start a new one asking about peoples' airport experiences.
I've only ever flown with firearms twice and niether time was problem free. The first time was in 1999, when I'd saved up every spare penny I could during a 6 month Bosnia tour for the trip of a life time to S. Africa. I flew from Heathrow with S. African Airways and all was plain sailing until I had to catch my connecting flight in S.A.
I got to the firearms check in only to be "professionally ignored" for half an hour while the "officers" in the back room sat on their arses drinking coffee. Eventually I got someone to process my firearm and I went on my very hurried way to catch my impending flight. At the other end (I think it was Port Elizabeth) I stood at the baggage carousel and waited...and waited..........and waited. No rifle! Just as panic started to set in the PH who had come out to meet me tried to put my mind at rest by saying it happened fairly regularly, and he suspected the rifle would have been put on the next available flight. A quick check with customer services confirmed this, and the next flight would be along in 3 hours. Mean time we went to visit the taxidermist I would (hopefully) be using to arrange the details of what I wanted doing with my trophies. Aparently If I'd waved 20 Rand at the blokes on the firearms desk instead of politely repeating "excuse me" I would have been seen in double quick time. Lesson learned.
Safari successfuly completed, and the return trip was completely problem free, even arriving at Heathrow and clearing customs went without a problem, other than actually finding a customs officer in the red chanel to declare my firearm to.
The trophies turned up about 10 months later.
My next trip was to Estonia in 2005, I'd booked with Diana Hunting Tours to spend a week hunting a bull elk (moose) and wild boar on one of the Estonian islands (Sareemaa, I think). I was booked to fly with Easy Jet to Tallin.
I breezed through Easy Jet check-in, dealing with friendly, courteous, helpful staff and was then directed to the secure check-in to get my rifle booked on to the flight. This is where the problems started.
The woman on duty's attitude, demeanour and facial expression seemed to morph before my very eyes as soon as the word firearm was mentioned. She looked at me with an expression like she'd got dogsh--e on her top lip and said "I'm not checking that in". No amount of sweet talk from either me or the nice security guard lady who'd been assigned to escort me would persuade her, and after more than half an hour of fruitless negotiation, I finally had to insist on calling her supervisor to check the rifle in. It took him nearly another half hour to arrive from completely the other side of the airport and I finally got the gun checked in and went on my very hurried way to catch my, by now impending flight (sound familiar yet? Dont worry, it will in a minute). I got to Tallin, retrieved my case from the baggage caroussel and waited....and waited.....and waited for my rifle case to appear. Nothing.
This time, it took 3 days for me and my rifle to be re-united while the Estonian authorities decided whether or not to impound and confiscate the unaccompanied firearm that had landed in their midst. In the meantime I had to borrow my guide's rifle to hunt with. Eventually my guide spoke to a friend of his in the Police in Tallin and my rifle was delivered to the local cop shop for me to collect. No small favour for him to call in either, as I was a two hour drive and a ferry ride away from Tallin!
My hunt was partially successful, I didn't connect with an elk, but did manage to shoot a nice wild boar sow, and after a very pleasant week I made my way home on yet another trouble free return trip, but again I had to find a customs officer in the red chanel to declare my rifle to on arrival back in UK.
If I ever get the chance to hunt abroad again, I'm very tempted to hire a rifle at the other end, so that rules out Estonia, as apaarently that's illegal there .
So, anyone else been as unlucky as me?