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Thread: British Airways, Rifles, Africa!

  1. #1

    British Airways, Rifles, Africa!

    Just in case anyone has planned to go to South Africa with British Airways let me tell you of my recent experience.

    The ONLY reason I used BA was because I had to go to Cape Town to meet my friends before we drove up to the Eastern Cape. Had South African Airways not stopped the direct London to Cape Town flight last September then I would have flown with SAA as I have before.

    The final dates for the hunting took a little while to sort out so by the time I booked about three months ago the flight alone cost me 1,058. Take it or leave it. I have about 50,000 Avios from years ago but you try and spend them to upgrade or even to pay part of your flight...almost impossible!

    I did inform BA weeks ago that I would be taking a firearm and ammunition. I also notified them again the week before...just to be sure. I was told that there was a record of that fact 'on my file'.

    On Monday the 1st of July I called the BA Customer Services number and eventually, after the obligatory wait, spoke to 'Fraser in Newcastle'. Now Fraser in Newcastle was very helpful and by the end of our conversation I was assured that when I got to Heathrow, the 50 handling charge for my firearm and the ammunition (which has to be in a separate box for South Africa) would be the only additional charge I would have to pay. Wrong!

    At check in I was told that I had to pay for an extra bag to cover the rifle case and the ammunition box. I argued, mentioned Fraser in Newcastle but that was to no avail so I stumped up 90, fifty for the 'handling by Security' and forty for the bag. What choice do you have at that stage??

    The trip was good the hunting was good I ate too much meat and drank too much alcohol but that is a sign of a good trip! Job done.

    Last Sunday evening I went to check in at Cape Town International. The lady on check in seemed a little confused and eventually had to call the Supervisor. The issue was bags. Now being aware that the rifle case constituted an extra bag I pre-paid for it when I checked-in on-line. (It was 33.60 instead of 40.00). However, the problem then was that (unlike London) the 'system' would not let the check-in desk issue and extra luggage label for my ammo box without the 'system' recognising that as an extra bag and insisting I pay for yet another bag! The Supervisor called the Manager.

    How could it be that in London the rifle and the ammo box are 'lumped' together whilst in South Africa they are not? Who knows, certainly the BA people don't seem to know, they seem to make the rules up as they go!

    The final solution? Put the ammo in my check in bag with my personal belongings. Cannot do it on the outward journey but OK on the return...or so it seemed in my case.

    So the problem of cost (for the second 'additional' bag) was solved and it now meant that my personal belongings (containing my ammo) now had to have a 'Firearms' label on it like my gun case. The upside to this is that Security had to handle both my rifle case and my personal belongings so that when I arrived at Heathrow my rifle and my personal bag were already waiting for me with the Security handler when I went to the carousel. No waiting for bags.

    I hate BA.

    Would it have been better to fly to Jo'burg and then take Kalula or Mango to Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, or should I have flown Lufthansa or whoever?

    Any suggestions welcome!

    Yet another 7mm08 user....

  2. #2
    They're all equally bad.

    You get one that seems to have it sussed for a bit, and relax.

    And then there's some internal policy change, or a personnel change, and it all goes to sh*t.

    The basic problem, as with almost all large companies at the moment, is that they skimp on training or rely on short term staff, so the staff are simply incapable of dealing with anything at all out of the ordinary. They just don't know what to do, and don't have the experience or motivation to take the initiative and come up with sensible solutions.

  3. #3
    Whenever I'm travelling with anything out of the ordinary (usually bikes in my case) I always print out a copy of the relevant stuff off the company website.
    British Airways - Banned and restricted items

    Packing requirements for South Africa or Italy

    Firearms and ammunition are not allowed in hold luggage with general personal possessions.
    All firearms have to be packed separately from the ammunition and must be in a locked firearms case.
    The ammunition must be separate and in its own locked bag/container.
    In these instances you will not be charged for the extra bag(s) but will be subject to the appropriate handling fee(s).

  4. #4
    Something happened to me flying from Gatwick to Geneva with my stalking rifle. EasyJet balls up customs procedure and I had to take the following flight after sorting out their f*ck up... was not happy!

  5. #5
    Having hunted Africa over the years in my experience you must always expect TROUBLE when carrying a FA.

    I have flown with BA and SAA, and carried out all the necessary checks every time, and every time I have flown it has been a different story by airport staff and check in staff. I have flown with rifles out of Gatwick, Heathrow and Standsted, sometimes you get the right person, other times NOT.
    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


  6. #6
    Travel with guns enough and you will blame every Airline.

    If you want to take your gun with you, you have to accept it is going to cost you extra, if you dont want to pay it then use a gun out there.

    The best one I have had was returning from Sweden and having to wait 3 hours at Customs in Heathrow for someone to come on duty. Makes you wonder how many illegal substances just walked into the country during that period.

  7. #7
    Had the same thing happen with BA on a trip to Sweden last year.

    10 of us, 8 with rifles. They wanted 50 for ammo, 50 for the rifle and 40 for the bag each way so an additional 280.00 return for each passenger with a rifle after stating in an email it was 50 only.

    We paid, then I went and argued the toss at the customer service desk. They refunded everyone the 90 for the outward journey. In Sweden they had no idea what they were doing as they were both trainees.

    A supervisor came and he understood where we were coming from and charged us the 50 and managed to do away with the rest by overiding the system.

    We just made the flights both times, BA asked me to get there 3 hours earlier which we did but, we then had to wait an hour for anyone from BA to turn up. When they did finally arrive nobody wanted to deal with us and they all suddenly became very busy apart from one quite annoyed woman.

    I will never travel with BA for a sporting trip EVER again.
    "If you don't belong, don't be long"

  8. #8
    It's not just the airlines, though most of them are utter tossers when it comes to dealing with firearms.
    Even if you fly with the likes of Croatia Airlines the airport will screw you around instead.
    Numerous trips trips to Croatia and on each and every single one it was a different, but equally idiotic, routine at airport security.
    None of them had a clue!
    We would be sent from check-in desk to customs, on to security then inevitably back to check-in, or some mixture of that.
    Different order and different forms each and every time, I even went through two completely different check-in routines flying out of Heathrow on Croatia Airlines within 4 weeks of each other!
    The only constant on all the trips was that each person dealing with our party would claim it was their first time handling firearms in luggage and/or that their supervisor was on leave.
    The Transport Police never wanted to know, probably didn't know, a thing about it all - and to be honest, I'm glad they never became involved - nuff said.
    It's as if they don't really want the hassle, but know that most hunters want to travel with and use their own firearms, so they milk us.
    The airlines get a nice little earner, or in the case of BA at least two, plus the airports have an excuse to employ yet more jobsworths.
    I got so fed up that I haven't travelled via airline with firearms, even on internal UK trips, for at least two years.
    I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, but it was only some fecker with a torch bringing me more work

  9. #9
    Ok guys lets get some facts right here. The 50 for the rifle and 50 for the ammo is the security handling charge. That means it goes to G4S not BA. If you think that is too much talk to them. The rifle and ammo must be in separate bags. This changed in 2012.

    In economy your bag allowance is one bag at 23kg. If you travel with a firearms and ammo that is an extra two bags and you will get charged 40 per bag. The weight limit of 23kg still applies except for the ammo where it is 5kg. There will be a heavy bag charge if any bag weighs over 23kg.

    Some airlines will not take any firearm or ammo period, so while it may be a hassle, at least you can transport them.

    The 1058 economy price sounds like it was a fully flexible ticket since there seemed to be problems with getting the travel date. You can get it cheaper if you know when you are going to travel, but once booked you cannot change the dates.

    Avios points now expire so trying to redeem them after "years" was never going to work.

    BA will incur heavy fines if they get the paperwork wrong. We are talking thousands not hundreds.

    South Africa is different and requires special procedures. It's their country and their decision.

    As an aside, the reason airlines are hot on baggage weight these days is because every kg loaded burns fuel. If I need to carry an extra 1000kg extra baggage on a 9 hour sector, I will need to carry 335kg to burn. This would be on a 767-300. Those numbers go up on a 15 hour sector not to mention being on a 747-400. Consider, if everyone took an extra 10kg of extra baggage on a 747, that would be around 3750kg extra weight. That's a lot of fuel.
    Last edited by achosenman; 16-07-2013 at 09:55.

  10. #10
    Sounds like you work for BA "achosenman"?
    Most of us complain not so much about the charges but the fact that they aren't standardised, explained fully beforehand, typically the staff on check-in/security/baggage/customs or whatever don't know the routine - or don't give a ****.
    As a pilot(?) you ought to know that complaining to any airline is one of life's most pointless activities.
    Try it at check-in and the least you can expect is to be blanked, more likely threatened with either not allowing you to board or calling security to have you dealt with under "anti-terrorist" legislation.
    Complain after the trip and you'll be lucky to get a reply.
    As you say, SA, their country = their rules indeed, but as BA fly there and appear willing to transport passengers AND their firearms to that destination, it would help greatly if they made regulations available, clearly stated charges, stuck to them and made their staff aware of all this too - not too much to ask for, surely?
    I'm lucky enough to be able to travel club/business on a regular basis, it's the same mess, even if staying within the increased (and to be fair, generous) baggage limits at the higher class.
    As for extra kg = extra fuel, why don't they charge extra for porkers in that case, or is that coming soon?
    I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, but it was only some fecker with a torch bringing me more work

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