My Emirates Experience

PHOENIX PHIL

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I thought I'd pass along my experience with flying Emirates on my trip last week to South Africa. For the most part I have no complaints about Emirates and in fact found flying this airline to be very good. My flight legs took me from Phoenix to Seattle on Alaska Airlines which code shares with Emirates. From there we flew to Dubai with the flight path more/less going over the north pole and intercepting if you will Dubai. From Dubai on to Joburg.

The Emirates flights were on Boeing 777-300's. There's just a bit more legroom on these planes. Not huge, but enough to make a difference even in cattle class. The personal entertainment system had a very large selection of movies, television shows and music. Food was better than what I normally get and was actually quite good. The part that really separates Emirates from others are the flight attendants. They actually treat you like a person, very friendly and helpful. I was quite impressed with how they paid special attention to parents with young children as well as the kids themselves. As a parent who has traveled with young children, I appreciate that. But all passengers should as a happy baby and not a crying one is good for all.

I had for the most part no problems with traveling with firearms. The first step in ensuring this is to declare your firearms no more than 30 days in advance of your flight. I recommend doing this 29 days before. You can do this online at:

https://www.emirates.com/ae/english/help/firearms/declaration-form.aspx??catid=bgfa&frl=/baggage/

This is a pretty painless process. After completing the information, you will virtually immediately receive an email response back with a PDF document that you should print out and have with you when you travel. This email will also tell you that they will contact you as soon as they have approved your travel with firearms. I will say about 2 weeks or so passed before I got this email and I started to make phone calls. But sure enough about a week before we were to leave, I got that approval email. Again, I'd recommend having that email available when you travel.

The second step in ensuring this all goes smoothly is if you have a connection from an airport that Emirates does not fly out of like I did, only check your firearms to that airport. So in my case I picked up my rifle case and ammunition box in Seattle and took them to the Emirates check-in counter. Now here's the good part. Emirates is expecting you and your firearms. When I got to the check-in counter there was someone there waiting and expecting me, someone who knew what they were doing. They did require weighing my ammo which I knew would not be a problem since I had weighed it myself. Once this was done they gave me a finalized version of that document they sent me when I declared my firearms and we put that in the rifle case. The same nice lady walked me to TSA who subsequently sent the firearms to the plane.

If you don't have a connection to make and start your trip from an airport in which Emirates flies, I would expect the same level of service as I just described. You just obviously won't have to do what I did flying from here to Seattle.

So then we flew to Dubai feeling confident that our firearms and ammunition were taken care of. We had a roughly 4 hour layover in Dubai. When we went to boarding I was held up for a few moments as it flagged on their system when they scanned my boarding pass that I was traveling with firearms. So what's the hold up all about? They wanted to ensure my firearms were on the plane before I got on the plane! A bit of a minor inconvenience but I see it as a positive that they were tracking this to ensure the firearms were traveling as expected.

And sure enough the rifles made it to Joburg as expected.

Now for the return flight. Once again when we checked in at the Emirates counter at Tambo, someone was waiting on me there. This was a very reasonable lady. At first she was going to weigh my ammo and I said no problem. But I also told her that I'd been there to hunt and assured her the ammo would weigh less than when I started my trip. She put 1 and 1 together and agreed, so she didn't bother to weigh my ammo. So off from there to SAPS and the rifles and ammo were on their way.

I presume due to my 9 hour layover in Dubai, I did not get stopped at boarding regarding my firearms. I'm sure they had easily made it on to the plane with that long a layover. So on to Seattle we went.

This is where it got a little stupid. Once we had cleared immigration we went downstairs to the baggage carousels where we had one bag to get in addition to the rifle case and ammo box. While there an announcement came over the PA calling us to meet someone there. I found the nice lady in short order and once again she was there to help us with the firearms and ammo. Turns out they already had them at the baggage inspection station. We went over there and went thru the serial numbers check with the CBP gents, who were really nice guys and asked about my hunt. So we were done with those guys with no issue. Here's where it gets stupid.

The nice Emirates lady had handed us off to an equally nice gent from Emirates. Once we were done with CBP, the Emirates guy tells us he will send the rifle case and ammo box up to carousel 1 in the main terminal. What for, why not just send it on to Alaska Airlines I ask? Answer was because they don't have a baggage agreement with Alaska Airlines when it comes to firearms.

So we get on a train which takes us to the main terminal and go to carousel 1. About 10 minutes later another gentleman with a cart shows up with the rifles and ammo box and down to the other end of the terminal we go to check these in with Alaska and then to TSA again. Not a huge deal, but we were running a bit tight on time. Fortunately the check-in counter was virtually empty and TSA line was short. We ended up at our gate about 15 minutes before boarding was originally schedule to begin. Alas our flight to Phoenix was delayed by over an hour. But if that had not been the case and IF our Dubai-Seattle leg had been ever so slightly delayed, I'm not sure we'd have got to our flight home in time.

Overall I was happy with the experience on Emirates. Although my original flight plans had a 3 hour layover in Dubai on the return leg. Only after my reservations were made did they change the flight times such that I had a now 9 hour layover in Dubai. They sent me an email to notify me of this but failed to change my Seattle to Phx leg to account for this change. I called Emirates about it and was polite but let them know that I wasn't happy about the change and especially with not taking the time to understand how that affected the final flight. The gent I talked to was apologetic and made the appropriate changes and also redid our seat assignments to give us bulkhead seats on 3 of the 4 Emirates legs.

Hope you find this information helpful.
 

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Good to hear your trip/flights went well. My experience with Emirates last May was similar in that the authorization came less than 24 hrs before flight. I am a planner by nature, so this was unnerving. My best part was that they flew direct into Harare, so I could miss Joberg entirely. The flight crew was extremely professional also. Now on to read your hunt report!
 

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I had talked with Lori about this route but she seemed uncertain if the guns could be more or less guaranteed to go all the way without having to handle them somewhere along the line. My home airport is Seattle so seems like it should be no problem as long as you take Emirates all the way to Jo. But we go on from JO to Namibia and that would be a SAA flight I assume so not sure how that would go. How long was that flight from SeaTac to Dubai Phil?
 

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I had talked with Lori about this route but she seemed uncertain if the guns could be more or less guaranteed to go all the way without having to handle them somewhere along the line. My home airport is Seattle so seems like it should be no problem as long as you take Emirates all the way to Jo. But we go on from JO to Namibia and that would be a SAA flight I assume so not sure how that would go. How long was that flight from SeaTac to Dubai Phil?

Roughly 13.5 hours on the way out and I think 14 hours on the way back. If I were you I would have no hesitation about doing this route. But I'd plan on a midday to afternoon connection to Namibia if possible. But that would be due to the biometrics system at Tambo.

The only other hesitation would be that 9 hour layover on the way back. Once this came through, I made a reservation at the Dubai Airport hotel which is on the air side of security. We crashed for about 6 hours, got up and showered and had breakfast there in the hotel. In the morning the same lady who checked us in looked up our gate and escorted us to the train that took us to the right concourse.
 

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I thought I'd pass along my experience with flying Emirates on my trip last week to South Africa. For the most part I have no complaints about Emirates and in fact found flying this airline to be very good. My flight legs took me from Phoenix to Seattle on Alaska Airlines which code shares with Emirates. From there we flew to Dubai with the flight path more/less going over the north pole and intercepting if you will Dubai. From Dubai on to Joburg.

The Emirates flights were on Boeing 777-300's. There's just a bit more legroom on these planes. Not huge, but enough to make a difference even in cattle class. The personal entertainment system had a very large selection of movies, television shows and music. Food was better than what I normally get and was actually quite good. The part that really separates Emirates from others are the flight attendants. They actually treat you like a person, very friendly and helpful. I was quite impressed with how they paid special attention to parents with young children as well as the kids themselves. As a parent who has traveled with young children, I appreciate that. But all passengers should as a happy baby and not a crying one is good for all.

I had for the most part no problems with traveling with firearms. The first step in ensuring this is to declare your firearms no more than 30 days in advance of your flight. I recommend doing this 29 days before. You can do this online at:

https://www.emirates.com/ae/english/help/firearms/declaration-form.aspx??catid=bgfa&frl=/baggage/

This is a pretty painless process. After completing the information, you will virtually immediately receive an email response back with a PDF document that you should print out and have with you when you travel. This email will also tell you that they will contact you as soon as they have approved your travel with firearms. I will say about 2 weeks or so passed before I got this email and I started to make phone calls. But sure enough about a week before we were to leave, I got that approval email. Again, I'd recommend having that email available when you travel.

The second step in ensuring this all goes smoothly is if you have a connection from an airport that Emirates does not fly out of like I did, only check your firearms to that airport. So in my case I picked up my rifle case and ammunition box in Seattle and took them to the Emirates check-in counter. Now here's the good part. Emirates is expecting you and your firearms. When I got to the check-in counter there was someone there waiting and expecting me, someone who knew what they were doing. They did require weighing my ammo which I knew would not be a problem since I had weighed it myself. Once this was done they gave me a finalized version of that document they sent me when I declared my firearms and we put that in the rifle case. The same nice lady walked me to TSA who subsequently sent the firearms to the plane.

If you don't have a connection to make and start your trip from an airport in which Emirates flies, I would expect the same level of service as I just described. You just obviously won't have to do what I did flying from here to Seattle.

So then we flew to Dubai feeling confident that our firearms and ammunition were taken care of. We had a roughly 4 hour layover in Dubai. When we went to boarding I was held up for a few moments as it flagged on their system when they scanned my boarding pass that I was traveling with firearms. So what's the hold up all about? They wanted to ensure my firearms were on the plane before I got on the plane! A bit of a minor inconvenience but I see it as a positive that they were tracking this to ensure the firearms were traveling as expected.

And sure enough the rifles made it to Joburg as expected.

Now for the return flight. Once again when we checked in at the Emirates counter at Tambo, someone was waiting on me there. This was a very reasonable lady. At first she was going to weigh my ammo and I said no problem. But I also told her that I'd been there to hunt and assured her the ammo would weigh less than when I started my trip. She put 1 and 1 together and agreed, so she didn't bother to weigh my ammo. So off from there to SAPS and the rifles and ammo were on their way.

I presume due to my 9 hour layover in Dubai, I did not get stopped at boarding regarding my firearms. I'm sure they had easily made it on to the plane with that long a layover. So on to Seattle we went.

This is where it got a little stupid. Once we had cleared immigration we went downstairs to the baggage carousels where we had one bag to get in addition to the rifle case and ammo box. While there an announcement came over the PA calling us to meet someone there. I found the nice lady in short order and once again she was there to help us with the firearms and ammo. Turns out they already had them at the baggage inspection station. We went over there and went thru the serial numbers check with the CBP gents, who were really nice guys and asked about my hunt. So we were done with those guys with no issue. Here's where it gets stupid.

The nice Emirates lady had handed us off to an equally nice gent from Emirates. Once we were done with CBP, the Emirates guy tells us he will send the rifle case and ammo box up to carousel 1 in the main terminal. What for, why not just send it on to Alaska Airlines I ask? Answer was because they don't have a baggage agreement with Alaska Airlines when it comes to firearms.

So we get on a train which takes us to the main terminal and go to carousel 1. About 10 minutes later another gentleman with a cart shows up with the rifles and ammo box and down to the other end of the terminal we go to check these in with Alaska and then to TSA again. Not a huge deal, but we were running a bit tight on time. Fortunately the check-in counter was virtually empty and TSA line was short. We ended up at our gate about 15 minutes before boarding was originally schedule to begin. Alas our flight to Phoenix was delayed by over an hour. But if that had not been the case and IF our Dubai-Seattle leg had been ever so slightly delayed, I'm not sure we'd have got to our flight home in time.

Overall I was happy with the experience on Emirates. Although my original flight plans had a 3 hour layover in Dubai on the return leg. Only after my reservations were made did they change the flight times such that I had a now 9 hour layover in Dubai. They sent me an email to notify me of this but failed to change my Seattle to Phx leg to account for this change. I called Emirates about it and was polite but let them know that I wasn't happy about the change and especially with not taking the time to understand how that affected the final flight. The gent I talked to was apologetic and made the appropriate changes and also redid our seat assignments to give us bulkhead seats on 3 of the 4 Emirates legs.

Hope you find this information helpful.
Phil, when did you jump over to being a Serapa Rep? This is the first time I caught this. Good Luck!
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Phil, when did you jump over to being a Serapa Rep? This is the first time I caught this. Good Luck!

This week, see my hunt report for further explanation.
 

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Phil I hope to travel with these guys one day, but my desire would be to get into one of those A380 monsters. Do you have any pictures that you can share of the seats you and the wife had. My understanding is that in every class Emirates planes have better seats and room.
 

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Thanks for the report Phil. I booked my flights with Emirates last week for my trip next May and I feel much better about the choice after reading your report!
 

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Happy your trip went well, Phil. To read of your experience is amazing to me; does not seem it could possibly be the same airline. Although I also had completed all paper work and used a great travel agent, this airline proved the worst I have ever experienced for traveling with a firearm. The agents would not accept their own permission to travel paper work, made me complete it multiple times again, and at each stop. To cap it off, rifle was lost both in Joburg and upon return to states.............and forgot to mention in my report...........they charged me $75 extra for a Cabela's single rifle case because "too large" popped up on their computer....and they could not explain what that meant....(I should be used to this by now)......too heavy or sized out...........My best in hunting..................FWB
 

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Happy your trip went well, Phil. To read of your experience is amazing to me; does not seem it could possibly be the same airline. Although I also had completed all paper work and used a great travel agent, this airline proved the worst I have ever experienced for traveling with a firearm. The agents would not accept their own permission to travel paper work, made me complete it multiple times again, and at each stop. To cap it off, rifle was lost both in Joburg and upon return to states.............and forgot to mention in my report...........they charged me $75 extra for a Cabela's single rifle case because "too large" popped up on their computer....and they could not explain what that meant....(I should be used to this by now)......too heavy or sized out...........My best in hunting..................FWB

Yeah, I don't know what to make of that, bad luck? It would seem you unfortunately got some employees who did not know their firearms procedures. The ones I dealt with were on top of their game knowing exactly what they needed to do. This made the procedure not only easy but fast. The lost rifles part is what really confounds me as my impression was they wanted to make absolutely certain the rifles were following me so they didn't get stuck with a problem.

Sorry it didn't work out for you and I hope you got your rifles back home!
 

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Phil I hope to travel with these guys one day, but my desire would be to get into one of those A380 monsters. Do you have any pictures that you can share of the seats you and the wife had. My understanding is that in every class Emirates planes have better seats and room.

I didn't take pics Charlie. I've also read the A380's are more roomy, but at my height just the little bit extra on the 777 was enough to make a difference for me.
 

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Phil I hope to travel with these guys one day, but my desire would be to get into one of those A380 monsters. Do you have any pictures that you can share of the seats you and the wife had. My understanding is that in every class Emirates planes have better seats and room.

We flew in coach on the 777-300. The space in the seats was about the same as the Alaska Air coach seats, but the entertainment system and the food is much better. It looked to me like business class was a signifigant upgrade in seat comfort and space, (better than the AK Air first class.)
 

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Emirates is a very nice ride. Their business class to Johannesburg a year ago was significantly less than Delta or even South African. The two pictures below are their Airbus A380. It is a very comfortable, though very long trip. Food was superb, and the wines are what you would expect to see in a very, very good restaurant. And yes, they have a small bar on board for business - not that it is needed. In my case, I was connecting in J'burg so flying longer Emirates saved me the overnight in City Lodge or wherever.

The seats go flat and you are issued a real pillow, mattress pad, and comforter. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, particularly if transiting to Mozambique.

My rifle was under very careful and very polite control going and coming. I flew them out of Houston, so did not have the challenge of changing airlines.

full


full
 
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And for smokers in business class flying from Dubai, their smoking lounge is the best I have seen.
 

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I haven't flown Emirates in years, but I have fond memories of flying with them. Not only are the flight attendants rock-solid in service, they are about as easy on the eyes as you could ever hope to see.
 

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I'm flying Emirates every year, mainly between Cape Town and Zürich, sometimes with a rifle, have only very positive comments about Emirates.
 

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I am flying on Emirates Airline from Houston to Dubai then to Johannesburg. My question is Emirates wants an "Original Firearm License " uploaded along with my PH Letter. Can someone please tell me what is an original firearm license?
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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I am flying on Emirates Airline from Houston to Dubai then to Johannesburg. My question is Emirates wants an "Original Firearm License " uploaded along with my PH Letter. Can someone please tell me what is an original firearm license?

Your 4457 will suffice as a firearm license. Just about every other country has such a form.
 

Manny R

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I am flying on Emirates Airline from Houston to Dubai then to Johannesburg. My question is Emirates wants an "Original Firearm License " uploaded along with my PH Letter. Can someone please tell me what is an original firearm license?
 

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