US Customs "boogie man" myth dispelled.

Discussion in 'Before & After the Hunt' started by Diamondhitch, May 28, 2012.

  1. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    On my return from SA I had the unspeakable happen.

    When checking in I clearly told the SAA agent that I required my bags to be checked to my final destination. In fact I clearly stated it twice. My 1st bag was tagged and shuffled onto the conveyor and my rifle case handed back to me for check in with SAPS. I immediately noticed that my Rifle case was only checked through to Washington Dulles, as a Canadian this is bad news.

    My duffle containing my locked ammo case had already passed through the little flaps into the bowels of the airport. I spent the next half hour argueing with SAA to fix their mistake but they refused, apparently once the bag goes through the little flaps no act of man or god can get it back. Finally they agreed to recheck my rifle case through to my final destination and basically told me to quit bothering them about the other bag. I made a plan to simply come clean with Customs about the mistake and was prepared to surrender the entire bag and contents rather than risk a retreival, in violation of US law.

    Upon arrival at Dulles the customs agent I spoke with was completely unconcerned and simply responded "talk to someone by the baggage carousel". I relayed the info to a very helpful woman there who phoned the arrivals terminal and they sent my bag over ASAP.

    The bag was retagged through to final destination and I was on my way (read running as fast as I could to catch my plane). Good thing I had just spent 12 days climbing mountains as I just caught my flight.

    In the end no harm came of this, had I gone myself to retrieve the bag it would have been bad but no one was concerned over an airlines mistake that was fessed up upon arrival. No harm no foul. Congrats to the US customs for being completely reasonable and level headed. I find their bad rep to be completely unfounded.

    On a side note the whloe fiasco did cause my bag to miss the flight to Denver. I just got a call it is in Edmonton now.
     
  2. saeng101

    saeng101 AH Veteran

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    I have also had good experiences with Customs and Ag. Also had HORRIBLE experiences with SAA, no customer service at all.
     
  3. Hank2211

    Hank2211 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    On the other hand, I had a great experience with SAA recently. I was flying Air Canada from Calgary, Canada to Victoria Falls, via London and Jo'burg, and had made sure ahead of time with Air Canada that I could check my bags all the way through to Zimbabwe. When I arrived for my departure, the bags were checked through, but a supervisor came over to "make sure" the guns were properly handled. When he saw that they were checked to Victoria Falls, he tore the tags off the luggage and said everyone had to clear customs and enter South Africa before going on to Zim.

    Of course, this would create a big problem for me since I had no permits for the guns from South Africa, and I had a two hour layover, and I had none (or very little) of the paperwork that South Africa needs to issue permits. No amount of arguing was going to change his mind - not even the fact that I had done this before and had transitted South Africa without ever entering the country formally. Eventually I had no choice but to catch my flight, worried all the while about what I would do on arrival in South Africa.

    Once in London I went to the SAA counter and explained my situation. The gentleman behind the counter said he was surprised about Air Canada's position, especially given that they were both in the Star Alliance and this should have been easy. In any event, he took my lugage tags and sent someone into the bowels of Heathrow to locate my bags, and re-checked them through all the way to Zimbabwe. Couldn't have been easy, since I assume there's a fair amount of baggage in there! Very polite and helpful, and took a huge weight off my mind.

    By the way, upon my return, I wrote to Air Canada to complain and was told that it is imposible to transit South Africa without entering the country. Apparently, the facts were not to get in the way of bad service!

    So kudos to SAA!
     
  4. saeng101

    saeng101 AH Veteran

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    Good to hear. Not trying to be a smart guy but you won't find SAA service in SA at this level.
     
  5. mudslinger

    mudslinger AH Veteran

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    If the SAA you are referring to is South African Airways, I will say this after flying them in 2008 and 2010, I will take a slow boat to Africa before I fly that sorry airlines again. Enough said. Going Delta in Sept.
     
  6. Wolverine67

    Wolverine67 AH Fanatic

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    Never had any issues with SAA...No extraordinary service, but never any problems with weapons or anything else. I usually fly Lufthansa to SA and connecting flights with SAA.
    Another thing, if you fly via Heathrow, you cannot check your guns directly to Zim. But that is British rules. So going through Frankfurt will get you away from that headache.
     
  7. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Derek can you imagine if some poor dumb hunter who did not know the rules just went and grabbed his rifle case??

    Glad they knew it was not your mistake and used common sense.


    Have you stopped wobbling yet? or is it vibrating?

     
  8. 35bore

    35bore AH Elite

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    Always good to hear that US government employees still retain some ability to use common sense. Really glad things worked out for you despite the mishap in SA.
     
  9. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    This is my 2nd time with SAA and have not had any previous problems with them. I am sure it is like any other business, it all depends on the individual (or individuals) you are dealing with at any given moment. I will still fly SAA but will certainly watch them (or any other airline) like a hawk.
     
  10. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    I know thats the bad thing, I hate the fact that it is so easy to be turned into a criminal by something so innocent. On the other hand in this day and age everyone needs to be well schooled on the rules before travelling, its just a shame how hard it can be to get the facts on these rules out of any of the agencies involved.
     
  11. Norwegianwoods

    Norwegianwoods SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    I think you are totally right.
    In most of the cases there is an individual that either feel they have some power and want to show it, or it is someone afraid of making a mistake, so they do what they think will get them the least problems with their boss.

    When traveling outside Europe, I always try to travel via Frankfurt.
    They are strict, but good service and no nonsense..
     
  12. mudslinger

    mudslinger AH Veteran

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    When you fly SAA twice and both times have bags broken into and items stolen and nothing done about it and the service being terrible on 1 1/2 of the flights, then that makes me not want to give them any more money, ever. Delta may be the same way, but I will not know that until Sept. I can tell you one thing, DO NOT flash any money, not even 1's in the airport at J'oberg around any of the customs people or porters.
     
  13. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Sorry to hear of your bad luck.

    Please elaborate about flashing money around the porters in joburg.
     
  14. mudslinger

    mudslinger AH Veteran

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    The first time we flew out of J'oberg in 2008, I was going to tip the porter that carried all our bags back to the custome area, but I did not have anything less than $20 on me and my wife was not close to where I was. I tipped the porter a $20, I know now I should not have done that and when the customs agent told me to open my bow case, I di and he promptley told me I coudl not keep clothes in the same case with my weapon. I said it was not classified as a weapon and he just said if you want this case to make it out of the airport then I would do what he told me. He then took me by the arm outside the customs office and proceeded to tell me that he wanted the same tip the proter got along with the same tip for his buddy behing the counter and i would be good to go. There went another $40 and I was good to go, but what do you do when you are in a foreign country and they tell you to do this or your baggage is not going home. All black and they take advantage of all whites as they know no one is going to do anything about it or listen. Sorry if this offends anyone, but that is the way it was. They all laughed as we left. All the SAA employees were virtually about the same as far as any respect or service. They could care less about anyone. I learned and I do not carry but just a few bucks on me in the airport. The cut my 2" TSA strap, busted the locks and zippers on my large bag and ripped the shrinkwrap off I had done in the airport at J'oberg and this happend at J'oberg or in Dulles as it came off the plane. Rifled thru my bag and stuffed part of the strap and busted zippers and lock inside in 2010 and broke open and sotle merchandise I had inside in 2008. SAA wanted all my banking info to send a check for damages. I do not care if it is safe or not, I am not sending my routing # and account # to any foreign company. Sorry.
     
  15. saeng101

    saeng101 AH Veteran

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    I hate to tell you that your experiences are not unique. When I have friends come over I give them R200 in R10 notes to use for tips. While clearing firearms one time I had $1000 taken out of my passport case, did get the passport back. There is a joke, what is the difference between a tourist and a bigot? The time it takes to get out of OR Thambo.

    I had over 1.6 million miles with SAA when I gave up on them. Poor service and attitude at every turn. Luggage beat to hell, missing, or misdirected. Flights landing at wrong airports as they took off too late to make the one we were supposed to go to. Had a flight canceled twice that they made the passengers make their own way to another airport three hours away. Changed a flight, a month ahead, that got me to JNB too late for the outbound to Heathrow, would not put me up in a room. Generally the cabin service has been fine, the ground was the worse I have ever seen. In all of the luggage claims I have never had them pay out, maybe 20 times.

    Diamondhitch, you will like Delta, never had an issue that they did not deal with. Had a late bag once and they shipped it around SA following me until it caught up. The boarding in JNB is a bit longer due to extra security but is not a bother.
     
  16. Stretch

    Stretch AH Fanatic

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    This is valuable info. After reading all of this I will not book on SAA. Don't need the headache. An Africa vacation is supposed to be fun. Experiences like you fella's had puts some sting into it. Thanks for sharing the info.
     
  17. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    United doesnt seem to give a damn either. My lost bag was supposedly in Edmonton 2am Sun (I arrived at 2pm) yet it took until today to get them to send it and since it was supposedly coming on the bus yet has still not arrived I am wondering if they bothered to get it shipped today.

    I was also talking today about the luggage smashing service. No matter how badly I abused my gun case, in a lifetime I could not get it to look as beat up as the airlines have done in just 2 trips.
     
  18. saeng101

    saeng101 AH Veteran

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    I agree on United also. Was in their top .1% of customers. Had horrible problems and sent a letter to the Pres. They said they would fix the problems, booked a first class trip, all of the same problems, now use Delta. Have about 1mil miles that I can't seem to use up with them. UA and SAA together are one hell of a joke.
     
  19. Norwegianwoods

    Norwegianwoods SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    I had no problems at all when I traveled to Frankfurt-Joburg with SAA and then to Kimberley and back home last year.
    Good service and no bribes needed and everything went without problems at all.

    I will not hesitate to travel with them again next year.
    I will see how that will be then :)
     
  20. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

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    I've used Delta the last 2 times and no problems what so ever. Quite the contrary, they went overboard when SAA from Namibia was late for my connection. Never had any problems with Customs or anyone in Jo'berg. Treat them with respect and be watchful of your belongings. Maybe I'm just lucky over there.
     

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