As you know some of us headed up to Scotland to do our DSC1 and we took our rifles with us. As we were flying with BA we were expecting some issues and extra time but now that we are back all I can say is that the system is a joke and we could easily have lost our rifles.
Below is a summary both flights from the point of view of a FAC holder travelling with rifle and ammo.
For reference both the rifles were packed within identical airline approved cases with 2 combination locks and two padlocks per case and ammo was packed in steel cases packed within the hold luggage.
Gatwick to Edinburgh
Checked in online prior to travel so upon arrival at airport straight to the queue for bag drop. At check in desk informed them of the firearms straight away and the lady starting the normal checks and called the baggage handling subcontractors.
A lady arrived with firearm stickers for rifle case and hold luggage and took us away to a secure zone where all the bags were x-rayed and we were asked to open the rifle cases.
FAC details noted but serial number not checked on rifle. The lady then asked to look down the barrel………..
We were asked to sign that we handed over the rifles and a docket was placed inside the case and these were relocked. Later upon arrival the other end we checked the docket and both rifles were described as shotguns!!!
We were then walked around to an entrance to airside where the staff go and the rifles and hold baggage was taken from us to be placed on the plane.
So no police attendance and no real paperwork. The lady doing the work did not have a clue what she was looking at.
Upon arrival at Edinburgh we left the plane and headed into the baggage reclaim. We joined the queue for baggage assistance though I did leave it at one point for 15mins to sort out the hire car to save some time and another of our party of 3 went to the loo
When we got to the desk the man said to wait to one side and they would ring through when the rifles were to be released back to us. So we step away from the queue to be out of the way when the 3rd member of our party returned from the loo with 2 baggage handlers in tow holding out rifle cases and luggage. We said they were ours and they simply handed them to us, no checking of paperwork what so ever.
Some what stunned we walked out of the terminal and picked up our car.
Absolutely anyone could have taken the rifles.
When we loaded the car it was then we noticed both cases had been damage, mine had a large ding in the back of the case and the other had had one padlock removed and some of the small feet ripped of.
We were not happy bunnies.
Return flight, Edinburgh to Gatwick
Not checked in online prior to flight so up to the gate and again explained we had firearms to travel with us. They checked us in and the rifles. This time however we did not get taken to a secure area to check the rifles/ammo. The rifle cases were marked with firearm ticks but the luggage with ammo was not.
We were simply told to take both items to the oversized luggage drop and that was that.
Upon arrival at Gatwick as soon as we got to baggage reclaim an agent was waiting with our rifles. He did at least check our ID and handed over the rifles and we had to wait for the rest of the baggage to come through the carousel with all the normal bags.
It was at this stage we noticed that my case had been crushed at one end, pushed in about an inch and feet removed.
So, straight over to log a claim with the BA baggage desk in the arrivals hall.
There seemed to be no common system in place, the holes in the security meant anyone could have taken our rifles at one point. It was also obvious the rifles were not handled well due to the extreme damage.
It has made me think twice about travelling with rifles again in the future.
Letters are going to be written to BA complaining and both of us are going to be claiming for new cases.
We are also going to carefully check the rifles this week to ensure the scopes have not been damaged in anyway, especially in my case with the crushed case.