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Thread: Airport Experiences

  1. #1

    Airport Experiences

    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?
    You can't say muntjac without saying, Mmmmmm.

  2. #2
    I've flown many times with easyjet (Edinburgh to Schiphol) and nearly always been effortless, but I have learned that it is essential that your first contact at the desk must have dealt with firearms before and know the process. My strong advice is if you get someone who is new, don't let them call a "supervisor"' politely ask them if any of their colleagues have dealt with guns before and assure them their next hour will be much easier if they get it handled without phoning someone in "authority" who truly does not know anything about the firearms process, that is when your trouble starts!

  3. #3
    I have only flown with Malasian air ways, and it was the easiest thing ever, at the time of booking our flights, I told them about the rifles, serial numbers etc, my license etc.I checked in at Heathrow, the person checking us was fully aware of the forms and stickers required, we were taken by a security baggage handler, to customs, who checked the serial numbers, smiled and thanked me, that was it, no extra charges.

  4. #4
    I have flown through Gatwick, Heathrow and Stanstead. Always had issues mostly with staff that do not know their job.

    BA waste of time flying with them, lost the guns in SA, but got them back on the next flight, plus their staff are some of the most unhelpful I have ever met, or at least they were at the time.

    If I fly to Africa I always use South African Airways, never had an issue with them.

    Stanstead airport staff, useless again, or at least they were when we flew to Finland........even asked us to open the cases up at the check in desk with hundreds of people behind us!! ...............I refused outright.

    Now I have my own rifle in Finland so I do not need all that hassle again, but any airport you go through with firearms be prepared for a long and arduous wait in my opinion. And coming back.............well you could wait a while until the case turns up especially if its BA. The last time we waited over an hour after the flight had emptied and everyone had gone home. It took my threatening to dial 999 and report the guns stolen to jolt the BA staff into life. Funny within 10 minutes two Indian porters turned up with both cases intact.

    Good luck and add at least an hour to go through check in, thus making it 3 hours.
    All grades of deer stalkers/hunters in the UK and overseas catered for. Level 2 DMQ signing off available. Over 30 years experience in the stalking/hunting industry. For friendly and professional help go to


  5. #5
    If you are flying with firearms it is allways wise to inform your airline by email at least 6 months before you travel and again 2 weeks before you travel. Print off the replies from the airline and take them with you to check in so that if they tell you they did not know you were travelling with firearms you can prove that they did. Also print off the airlines policy regarding travelling with firearms and baggage allowance for sporting goods as they may well try to charge you for excess baggage for your rifle. I allways ask the airline by email to confirm that i will not be charged excess baggage for my rifle then print the reply and take it with me to the airport. Make sure that you check the ammunition allowance normally 5 kilos and how they want it packed as the different airlines policies vary greatly, it is also worth remebering that many insist on the ammo being in the original packaging so if you home load put the ammo in a factory box. If you travel into joburg airport it is worth considering using a meet and greet service especially if you are transferring to a domestic flight. This will save you a lot of hassle and you will not be plagued by locals wanting to milk you of your cash. If you are flying internally in SA you will need to fly South African Airways as only they can carry firearms internally in SA, but be aware that if you book a flight that is operated by South African Express they have a different baggage policy to the flights operated by SAA and you will be charged excess baggage for your rifle.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by sikamalc View Post
    I have flown through Heathrow . Always had issues mostly with staff that do not know their job.
    You are bang on the money there Malc, when you come up against a jobsworth like i did it is an absolute nightmare and they do not budge, and in my case an apology from the airline after i got home accepting they got it wrong!

    What have i learnt from this, do not assume because it went smoothly the first time you fly with an airline it will again, take documentation with you to show the staff and any emails.


    Last edited by devon deer stalker; 28-07-2015 at 09:26.
    Deer stalking and fly fishing opportunities in Devon

  7. #7
    SD Regular
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    I flew back to Paris, France from Lagos in Nigeria in February with my wife. We brought with us some modern made (in fact one was fettled and finished as we waited) bronzes from Igun Street in Benin City where they still make them as they did a thousand years ago.

    Nigerai has strict rules on export of original bronzes but these were modern, clearly so and indeed we had receipts, yet the one of the three customs guys pulled them and threatened us with dire penalties. In reality they were after "dash". My wife then started to swear at him in her Nigerian language. Although he didn't understand it he knew what the intent of it was.

    So he then starts to threaten arrest and other even more dire penalties. At which point I reach in my back pocket and take out a letter from the Minister from the Nigerian Embassy in France wishing us a safe flight and inviting us to let him know of our safe return and inviting us to come and see him when back. And invite the three customs guys to read it.

    At which point the other two that do read it call the other one to one side and appear to have a quiet word with him. They then come back and advise us that all seems correct they don't need to keep us any longer and hope we have a safe flight.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by enfieldspares View Post
    I flew from Lagos..with us some bronzes from Benin City where they still make them as they did a thousand years ago..
    PM inbound. (not wishing to thread hijack).
    Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can't eat it, hump it or learn from it then piss on it and walk away.

    "HOSPITALITY" - the art of making guests feel at home (when you wish they were).

  9. #9
    SD Regular
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    East Midlands M1/M69 Junction 21
    PM responded to (not wishing to hijack thread).

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Harry mac View Post
    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 .
    Continuing my effort to provide info on Finnish and Estonian hunting:

    In Finland and Estonia you can loan/lend/borrow (possess and use without supervision) a firearm if you have European Firearms Passport for similar firearm with you. I don't suggest paying anything, since at least in Finland that could introduce some problems about commercial use (I don't even want to think about it since it's so hairy).

    I always try to provide the references so people can check themselves instead of relying on some blokes word in the internet, so here it goes:

    I found official English translation of Finnish legislation, but it's over 10y old and the possibility to loan a firearm is based on few separate pieces of the Act (there's no single clausing saying "you can loan a firearm if you have EU firearms passport") so I didn't quote anything but contact me by PM if you want any clarification (I'm very familiar with the relevant pieces of legislation). Here's the translation if somebody wants to read:

    Regarding Estonia, my knowledge is based on talking with my local friend who has good grasp on hunting related legislation. I'm not familiar with the actual structure of Estonian legislation, so I probly didn't know where to look (Estonian legislation is online also). But here's a quote from Estonian Tax and Customs Board website:

    Maksu- ja Tolliamet

    "Foreigners may bring their own weapons across the border if they have the European firearms pass issued by a competent authority of their home country. A hunting weapon may also be borrowed from a local hunter."

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