British Airways, Rifles, Africa!

UK Outfitters

Philwilk

Well-Known Member
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!

Phil
 

Mungo

Well-Known Member
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.
 

Labrat

Well-Known Member
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).


 

scrumbag

Well-Known Member
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!
 

sikamalc

Administrator
Site Staff
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.
 

eggy s

Well-Known Member
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.
 

moses

Well-Known Member
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.
 

geoshot

Well-Known Member
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.
 

achosenman

Well-Known Member
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.
ATB
 
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geoshot

Well-Known Member
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?
 

achosenman

Well-Known Member
I hear you mate. The trouble is that sometimes what we hear is not what was said. I cannot comment on the OP conversation since I was not there.

However this area is a minefield. The rules change every time some chinless wonder in Transec gets a bright idea.

Matters pertaining aviation are a joke.
I almost get a cavity search when I go to work and they remove my nail clippers and remove liquids over 100ml. Yet I strap in behind a bullet proof locked door and have a b**dy great big fire axe within arms reach on the rear bulkhead. Not withstanding the 74 tons of fuel I have just loaded into the tanks.

I could go to work buck naked and if I pop a circuit breaker non of their security checks will matter. I have long given up any hope of common sense or joined up, intelligent thinking finding it's way into the corridors of Whitehall.

In the meantime we all have to grin and bear it.

ATB
PS Samoa Air now charge by passenger weight.
 
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Bos en Dal Safaris

Well-Known Member
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!

Phil

Or Just fly to Jo'burg and hunt in the nearby vicinity! Like Bos en Dal Safaris, which is just 90 minutes drive from the airport!!! LOL

No sorry you had such a bad experience. Maybe it is just better to rent/borrow rifles this side. But if i had to choose between struggling with my rifle and renting one at my destination i would take the inconvenience. I just love using my own equipment to do the job.

Best of luck to all hunter traveling to SA hope the issues with rifles and ammo is kept to a minimum
 

rogue trader

Well-Known Member
Similar situation to Moses with all those charges when I flew out of Heathrow last December to Germany. On the flight back from Berlin we arrived 3 hrs early and were told they wouldn't start processing us until 1.5hrs before take off. The German police were really nice when checking our kit, much more than BA staff. By the time we were all processed we almost didn't make the flight and the muppet at the boarding gate told us that we were late and that they were about to take our bags off the plane and we should arrive earlier in future. WE had a few choice words for him.

Another time I was flying out of Luton. It was my first time taking a rifle so I wasn't too sure about how the whole thing was processed. The check-in man decided that the best place to check our rifles was to get us to open up our cases in front of everyone queuing behind us. I should have told him to take us somewhere private but I didn't know the form and didn't want to appear to be difficult. We had people trying to look over our shoulders and others asking if we were taking our guns onto the plane. The only positive comment I had was that Easy Jet/Luton airport didn't charge us anything extra for handling the ammo and rifles like BA do.
 

tackb

Well-Known Member
Similar situation to Moses with all those charges when I flew out of Heathrow last December to Germany. On the flight back from Berlin we arrived 3 hrs early and were told they wouldn't start processing us until 1.5hrs before take off. The German police were really nice when checking our kit, much more than BA staff. By the time we were all processed we almost didn't make the flight and the muppet at the boarding gate told us that we were late and that they were about to take our bags off the plane and we should arrive earlier in future. WE had a few choice words for him.

Another time I was flying out of Luton. It was my first time taking a rifle so I wasn't too sure about how the whole thing was processed. The check-in man decided that the best place to check our rifles was to get us to open up our cases in front of everyone queuing behind us. I should have told him to take us somewhere private but I didn't know the form and didn't want to appear to be difficult. We had people trying to look over our shoulders and others asking if we were taking our guns onto the plane. The only positive comment I had was that Easy Jet/Luton airport didn't charge us anything extra for handling the ammo and rifles like BA do.

i had this exact same issue and refused and made them take me somewhere quiet and discreet and surprise surprise my kit never made it onto the flight ! and after the trip i tried to complain , i tried easy jet , they lied and politely told me to foxtrot oscar , i tried the caa they were not the slightest bit of help and i even tried the local police about there appaling security at check in and even they wern't interested ! in the end i gave up but i will film all my dealings with easy jet in future because it worries me that the baggage guy can bare faced lie which would have been evident from the cctv and get away with it?
 

Adamant

Well-Known Member
The answer is to fly Virgin Atlantic when flying to RSA - we have a corporate account with them because we fly around 50 clients a year into Johannesburg for wing-shooting safaris and they are unfailingly excellent.

All sporting firearms are transported free as sporting baggage, there is no spurious security fee at Heathrow (despite using the same G4S personnel as BA :rolleyes:) and the check-in staff are always fully trained and efficient in handling travellers checking in with firearms.

Even SAP at the airport are pretty efficient now as long as you've got your paperwork right. We tend to request and get 12 month duration temporary visitor firearm permits for ourselves via our SA outfitter side, so clearing guns on arrival in SA only takes 5 minutes, with no need to be met by your PH, making catching internal flights a breeze.

Adam.
 

achosenman

Well-Known Member
The answer is to fly Virgin Atlantic when flying to RSA - we have a corporate account with them because we fly around 50 clients a year into Johannesburg for wing-shooting safaris and they are unfailingly excellent.

All sporting firearms are transported free as sporting baggage, there is no spurious security fee at Heathrow (despite using the same G4S personnel as BA :rolleyes:) and the check-in staff are always fully trained and efficient in handling travellers checking in with firearms.

Even SAP at the airport are pretty efficient now as long as you've got your paperwork right. We tend to request and get 12 month duration temporary visitor firearm permits for ourselves via our SA outfitter side, so clearing guns on arrival in SA only takes 5 minutes, with no need to be met by your PH, making catching internal flights a breeze.

Adam.
So I take it you don't work for VS then?
Could you please explain what the contractual difference is between VS and G4S and G4S and BA please? I'm intrigued by your claim that it is spurious.

I can only go by what I have seen written and by what my other half tells me. Since she works as a senior manager for BA at LHR, I'm inclined to believe her. If however you have proof of what you claim, please provide it. (I say this somewhat tongue in cheek, since I know you cannot possibly have this type of commercially sensitive info and therefore you cannot possibly know whether it is spurious as you allege)

I would heartily endorse flying with VS, I find them very good. But like all things, for every one satisfied customer, there are two who will tell you something different.

As I said earlier I was not present at the OP conversation. But I would suggest if anyone is unhappy with BA or any airline, write an official complaint. They cannot put something right if they don't know its broken. However after many years it is my experience when dealing with unhappy customers, that once you start to look at what actually happened and not what was thought to have happened and once explained the problem is resolved to their satisfaction.


ATB
 
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george joy

Well-Known Member
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.
ATB
Hi Achosenman, Sorry to side track - Re the fuel calculations, I assume all the checked in luggage is weighed automatically and easy to calculate for, if its not a company secret how do they calculate the combined weights of the passengers and hand luggage or do they take on a calculated guess as to how much fuel to take on board - just curious as every extra ton of un needed fuel would obviously add to the flight costs, Thanks
 

enfieldspares

Well-Known Member
My son's mother used to fly BA from London to Saudia Arabia. Until the snow some years ago. Despite checking in early she was then bumped off what was to be the last flight before the snow closed the airport.

BA's customer service afterwards was a disgrace. Given a hotel but told, when she asked how to get there "I give airline information not bus information".

When she then asked about a taxi was told that she'd have to pay the taxi to get there...it was THIRTY MILES AWAY...and continual denial from BA that as they had bumped her off that they were liable for both EU Compensation and to refund the flight.

Only after a threat of legal action in the Small Claims Court was an acknowledgement that they were liable for BOTH sums of money.

And then an attempt to offer her that money as "credit on future BA flights". Told them "No thanks", and took the cheque.

Never again!

She now uses Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Saudi Arabia and takes a connecting flight ffom UK to Germany to do so. So a customer lost for ever because of the attitude of BA staff at Heathrow that was unhelpful, disinterested, condescending and a disgrace to Britain.

As now, on hearing her story and then trying Lufthansa, do the majority of her work colleagues in Saudi Arabia.

BA and "customer service"? Don't think BA understand the meaning of the word...
 
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achosenman

Well-Known Member
Hi Achosenman, Sorry to side track - Re the fuel calculations, I assume all the checked in luggage is weighed automatically and easy to calculate for, if its not a company secret how do they calculate the combined weights of the passengers and hand luggage or do they take on a calculated guess as to how much fuel to take on board - just curious as every extra ton of un needed fuel would obviously add to the flight costs, Thanks

We use standard weights except for exceptional hand baggage.

These are
Male 12yrs and over 88kg
Female 12 yrs and over 70kg
Child 2-11yrs 35kg
Infant on lap less than 2yrs 0kg

Charter flights would be 80kg for males, females would be 69kg. The rest unchanged. These weights include 3kg hand luggage allowance for the adults.

Standard weights for some sporting equipment is
Skis 12kg.
Boots (skis) 7kg
Snowboards 17kg.
Exceptional items are weighed.

The effort to reduce the fuel carried and burned is massive. E.g. we shut down an engine as we taxi in after landing to save fuel. We plan CDA (continuous decent approaches) for 99% of our landings. I.e. we try to plan our decent and deceleration so that we only set approach power at 1000' AAL. Safety consideration not withstanding, we now use less than full flap for landing and don't use reverse thrust.

The price of fuel has concentrated the minds in the various fleet offices around the World and they take it very seriously.

ATB
 

achosenman

Well-Known Member
My son's mother used to fly BA from London to Saudia Arabia. Until the snow some years ago. Despite checking in early she was then bumped off what was to be the last flight before the snow closed the airport.

BA's customer service afterwards was a disgrace. Given a hotel but told that they'd have to pay the taxi to get there...it was THIRTY MILES AWAY...and continual denial from BA that as they had bumped her off that they were liable for both EU Compensation and to refund the flight.

And then an attempt to offer her that money as "credit on future BA flights".

Never again!

She now uses Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Saudi Arabia and takes a connecting flight ffom UK to Germany to do so. So a customer lost for ever because of the attitude of BA staff at Heathrow that was unhelpful, disinterested, condescending and a disgrace to Britain.

This is very interesting, do you have the facts pertaining to this event? PM me if you want...I am intrigued about some aspects of this.

ATB
 
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