Flying with rifles

Be advised, unless you're a Delta club/high mileage,/ special customer, they can switch your seat at the gate, e.g. from a bulkhead seat where you paid extra, to a seat further back in the middle. BTDT. It's a reason I will never fly them again anywhere. YMMV.
 
I've been many times, PM if you want to get a coffee in Old Saybrook and ask questions
Thank you! I'm pretty busy until after the holidays. I may take you up on that offer, if I dont have a flight booked by then.
 
I've flown United from Newark to Johannesburg a number of times, no issues. Two things I suggest, put an Apple Airtag in your checked luggage and gun case, also, take 75% of your clothes and all of your medications in a backpack and take those with you. On my first trip I did not do that, my luggage arrived 9 days later. It only takes on 'f' up like that to learn you need to be taking the bulk of your hunting clothes with you on the way over. Good luck planning your trip!! Andrew
That's good to hear, there's so many moxed reviews. Thanks for the tips!
 
I think that flight from Philly to Doha is actually on AA Metal. Not so sure I would want to do the firearm surrender in Doha:

8:52 PMPhiladelphia International Airport (PHL)
Travel time: 12 hr 38 min
Overnight
5:30 PM+1Hamad International Airport (DOH)
AmericanEconomyBoeing 787AA 120


Can you drive to Dulles? More choices.
Thank you for that insight. If I absolutely had to I could drive to Dulles though it's a 6 hour drive without traffic.
 
In my judgement, whatever problems United may or may not have, the genuine bad actor in this discussion is Newark airport.....
Incredibly long waits for baggage check, gate boarding, security, customs and immigration, luggage return, food court etc are not the fault of United I believe.
Twenty five years ago when I flew regular flights to visit manufacturing/vendors in Europe, Newark was a dismal armpit. Today it's a clean and bright armpit.
Everything move at DMV speed.....
None of my issues with United have been while traveling through Newark. Once Houston messed up and sent my Rifle Case and Bags to Rapid City, SD instead of sending them to Gillette, WY and then refused to deliver them because they were a firearms, refused to put them on the plane because I wasn’t a ticketed passenger and expected me to make the 4 hour round trip drive to go pick them up.

Second time they pulled them in Denver (someone broke my lock) and didn’t send them to Boise (final destination). I was initially told they didn’t make my flight and would be on the next flight 12hr later. They weren’t and this time I got the response the lock broke (looked cut) and they pulled the case. I asked why I wasn’t paged during my layover and didn’t get a reply. Once again they refused to deliver them for the same reasons. Both times, after getting the run around and going through multiple levels of management I just replied with something about calling the local ATF to report them stolen and file a report that they’re in the possession of United Airlines they’ve suddenly gotten put on a plane and one time, gotten delivered to my location. I did it a lot earlier in the process one of the times and got a much faster resolution from United.
 
Be advised, unless you're a Delta club/high mileage,/ special customer, they can switch your seat at the gate, e.g. from a bulkhead seat where you paid extra, to a seat further back in the middle. BTDT. It's a reason I will never fly them again anywhere. YMMV.
That’s any airline regardless of status. It’s part of their “Terms of Carriage”. It’s less likely to happen to someone with status, but I’ve personally been moved twice, including being downgraded from First Class (after seated) as Executive Platinum (highest status you can earn with American). Just email customer service with a copy of your ticket and they’ll take care of you. I think I got 15,000 miles, and a $100 or $200 voucher.
 
Well, you asked for good or bad - so here goes.

I've made 4 trips to Africa in the last 5 years, 3 traveling with rifles and ammunition, for the purpose of hunting.

The first of those trips was on Delta/Lufthansa, SFO - Amsterdam - Arusha; booked by Gracie Travel. I have never used either of those airlines or Gracie again. Service on the airlines was horrible, and although Gracie did get all of my paperwork in order, she completely ignored my request for airline choice and routing - citing. "It's too long" or, "That's not the way we do it." She does get the job done, so the choice is yours. Firearms and ammo went all the way without a hitch.


Second trip was with my wife, on Emirates, SFO - Dubai - Nairobi; booked by Patrick Wright while he was still at TWG - Travel With Guns. We traveled First Class on the A380 and it was fantastic.


Third trip was on QATAR, simply because Emirates was not an option. SFO - Doha - Jo'berg - Maun (Botswana); booked by Patrick Wright, now on his own - PWP.
QATAR does not have a dedicated First Class, they offer a Business Class advertised as comparable to First - it's not, but it's OK.
Patrick handled all the paperwork, arranged for transfer assistance, interim lodging, and made all necessary changes to my return when I extended my hunt. All done with email or text. In honesty - I think his mother does all the work and he takes the credit.

Firearms and ammo were checked through to Maun and the transfer in Jo'berg was painless. A prearranged agent was there to assist me through Customs.
There were no issues anytime during the flight with either firearms or ammo.


Fourth trip was a different story. Wife came along for the first 2 weeks, so - Emirates A380 First Class, SFO - Dubai - Jo'berg - overnight then Fast Jet to Vic Falls. Once again, the Emirates portion was fantastic. Jo'berg is where it got complicated.
Apparently, SA now requires firearms and ammo to be inspected - even if only transiting. This requires all baggage to be checked only as far as JNB, because you are now looking at an overnight stay in Jo'berg.
Firearms and ammo are pulled by police and taken for inspection - if and when they find the right guy. This part was fairly straight forward - it just took time.

From here you go to the hotel, then back to the airport the next day to clear Customs, and go through the firearms and ammo inspection all over again. Only this time it's with Fast Jet, and there's nothing fast about Fast Jet. Their counter people have absolutely no grasp of the rules regarding ammo weight. The 5kg limit applies to the ammno, and ONLY the ammo - the weight of the ammo container is not included. I had the counter personnel tell me the ammo case could go, but NOT the ammo, because if they put the ammo in the case it was more than 5kg; and of course, the ammo couldn't go without the required case. It took 2 supervisors, the transfer agent, and a policeman to convince them of the rule.

After a month of hunting in Zim, I attempted to fly to Lusaka on QATAR, I experienced the exact same issue as with Fast Jet. It seems in-country personnel are completely unaware of the proper interpretation of the rule. In this case I ended up chartering a flight from Harare to Lusaka.

I have vowed to never fly QATAR or Fast Jet; I will try to avoid country to country transfers, and never transfer through SA. If I do need to transfer - I will charter a flight.

If you want to contact Patrick or his mom, the number is 210-686-0766. He will have a booth at DSC.

There was one slight delay clearing in Lusaka; Customs people were really friendly and nice, as were the police doing the firearms inspection - then I was told I had to wait for a supervisor.
After about 5 minutes the supervisor appeared, apologized for making me wait - and asked it if would be OK to get his picture taken with my double rifle.

Have a good trip.
Wow, I appreciate the thorough review and your past experiences. I will keep all of this in mind and may give Patrick a call to see what my options are. Thank you!
 
None of my issues with United have been while traveling through Newark. Once Houston messed up and sent my Rifle Case and Bags to Rapid City, SD instead of sending them to Gillette, WY and then refused to deliver them because they were a firearms, refused to put them on the plane because I wasn’t a ticketed passenger and expected me to make the 4 hour round trip drive to go pick them up.

Second time they pulled them in Denver (someone broke my lock) and didn’t send them to Boise (final destination). I was initially told they didn’t make my flight and would be on the next flight 12hr later. They weren’t and this time I got the response the lock broke (looked cut) and they pulled the case. I asked why I wasn’t paged during my layover and didn’t get a reply. Once again they refused to deliver them for the same reasons. Both times, after getting the run around and going through multiple levels of management I just replied with something about calling the local ATF to report them stolen and file a report that they’re in the possession of United Airlines they’ve suddenly gotten put on a plane and one time, gotten delivered to my location. I did it a lot earlier in the process one of the times and got a much faster resolution from United.

Unfortunately, we as hunters live in a world which condemns our practice. Anti-hunting sympathizers believe their passion justifies their actions, elevating their feelings above our rights.

Extremism is the new norm - climate activists glue themselves to roadways and buildings, disrupting the lives of thousands without any thought to the consequences.

Having your lock broken and firearms "miss-shipped" is sadly becoming more prevalent. More than one of my friends have arrived at their destination only to discover their firearms were never loaded on the plane. One acquaintance missed out on a hunt because his ammo never arrived - all the more reason not to carry an uncommon caliber.

So far, I have been lucky - my only problems were encountered once in Africa and they were resolved.

At 70, I don't know how many more trips to Africa I will make; I'd like to think a few because I just bought another double rifle. I am exploring ways to leave my rifles in Africa; it's not as easy as it sounds. I am in the process of gifting my 458 Lott to my PH, and it's way more complicated than I imagined.

For now, I try to disguise my firearms as best I can. I pack them inside one of those "Tuff Pack" containers which resembles a golf bag, and cover it with golf course stickers. Of course, I run the risk of some baggage handler stealing it thinking they're getting an expensive set of clubs.

I do not foresee this problem going away.
 
Whatever you do, try to fly with the same carrier all the way to Joburg.
Try to avoid switching carriers even if they are in the same alliance.(for example AA flight to Qatar flight)
Best and cheapest flights out of US are from JFK with Qatar or THY even though travel times are longer.
Both United and Delta are at least 25-30% higher because of being only non stop flights to JBN.
Buy two separate tickets one from your hometown to JFK and the second one from JFK to JBN.
Claim your guns at JFK and recheck them with Qatar or THY.
This way you'll save a lot of money and you'll make sure your guns will on the flight to Doha/Istanbul and will make the flight to Joburg.
Both airlines are very good handling firearms.
Also don't forget to become a member of the airline or alliance you'll be flying with and collect the points.
Good Luck.
 
The last 5 trips were with Qatar out of Boston. We live in CT and it is a 2 hour drive through Massachusetts but we have never had any issues with the drive. I have also driven innumerable times CT to Maine through Massachusetts without incident. Guns are disassembled and in a locked case with ammo in a separate locked case. I book online through the Qatar website and it allows booking with local airlines on the same ticket and only one payment. Last trip Qatar Boston > Doha > Cape Town, then overland to tour and hunt. Return trip was AirLink from Port Elizabeth > Johannesburg, then Qatar for Johannesburg > Doha > Boston. Advantage was less cost than booking separately and luggage allowance on Qatar (2 bags) became luggage allowance on AirLink (normally one bag). Only hassle was Qatar requires ammo inside a checked bag and AirLink requires it in a separate locked box outside of your checked bags. They do not charge for an additional piece of luggage but do charge about $30 per rifle. No issues with advanced approvals for firearms via email or filling out forms from websites and having them approved prior to flights via email, with exception that you need to fill out an "Advisement of Pilot" form at the ticket desk upon check-in with Qatar. NEVER had a delay or cancellation with Qatar.
 
Unfortunately, we as hunters live in a world which condemns our practice. Anti-hunting sympathizers believe their passion justifies their actions, elevating their feelings above our rights.

Extremism is the new norm - climate activists glue themselves to roadways and buildings, disrupting the lives of thousands without any thought to the consequences.

Having your lock broken and firearms "miss-shipped" is sadly becoming more prevalent. More than one of my friends have arrived at their destination only to discover their firearms were never loaded on the plane. One acquaintance missed out on a hunt because his ammo never arrived - all the more reason not to carry an uncommon caliber.

So far, I have been lucky - my only problems were encountered once in Africa and they were resolved.

At 70, I don't know how many more trips to Africa I will make; I'd like to think a few because I just bought another double rifle. I am exploring ways to leave my rifles in Africa; it's not as easy as it sounds. I am in the process of gifting my 458 Lott to my PH, and it's way more complicated than I imagined.

For now, I try to disguise my firearms as best I can. I pack them inside one of those "Tuff Pack" containers which resembles a golf bag, and cover it with golf course stickers. Of course, I run the risk of some baggage handler stealing it thinking they're getting an expensive set of clubs.

I do not foresee this problem going away.
The wrong airport I can’t explain. Not only did it go to the wrong airport, it got put on a totally different airline. I was told it had to do with excess baggage from delays and cancellations a few days prior from a blizzard. Most airlines have an excess baggage agreement with other airlines for baggage. United was apparently intending to physically deliver the baggage to the customers (2hr drive each way), but because it was a firearm they wouldn’t do it with my bag. I laughed and said someone should’ve thought about that before pulling my rifle case for someone else’s bags to get loaded and that’s now a United problem not a me problem. I just borrowed a rifle from my buddy who I was hunting with for a day and a half before getting my rifles arrived.

I fly a lot with work so it’s inevitable I don’t have a baggage issue when checking bags occasionally. I fly 50% carry-on (when I’ve got a tight schedule) to avoid issues. The only issue is by doing that it means I can’t fly with a cc, so if the schedule allows I’ll check a bag for my cc. I’m very understanding when there’s issues, it sucks but there’s nothing I can do or the folks at baggage can do. All i need is a solution and a timeline. Most of the time it’s not an issue, the challenges always seem to be when hunting which typically means smaller airports (less flights) and that’s where the major challenges and inconveniences lie. The airline policy on not dropping off firearms at your final destination is the issue BUT I understand why they have that policy. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t type situation.
 

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sgtsabai wrote on krish's profile.
I recently had operation for Agent Orange caused throat cancer and cannot talk so phone calls are out. I am interested, maybe more so after seeing the pics. No decision today, it's radiology and chemo day and sometimes that leaves me a bit worn down. I did notice the used rifle had only one reenforcing bolt in contrast to the NIB.
sgtsabai wrote on krish's profile.
I'm interested. Maybe more so in the used as I want to have some work done on one and restocked. Would it be too much trouble to send some pics of both. Btw, [redacted].
sgtsabai wrote on flyfishdoc's profile.
Do you still have that CZ?
Maintenance is going we fitted new walkway lights at the Wildgoose lodge!

 
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