New Bow Policy with South African Airways?

Drillbit

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I just got back from South Africa hunting with my bow and ran into some issues.

Issue #1) When I was at the baggage recheck in Joberg (on my way to East London) I explained that my big bow case contained a bow, and not a rifle. The lady asked when I bought my ticket because they have a new fee for handling bows. She said I had purchased my ticket before the new policy took effect and sent me on my way. Looking up the on the SAA website, it says archery sports equipment is free, but at the bottom of the page it states :

"A handling fee for shooting/hunting (firearms) will be raised for tickets issued as from 15 May 2019."
https://www.flysaa.com/manage-fly/baggage/checked-baggage/special-baggage

Issue #2) On my way back from East London to Joberg, they inspected my bow and case. They then attached a big red tag labeled "Firearm" with a picture of a rifle. I argued with the inspector that this clearly was not a firearm and did not want to go to the police station in Joberg and wait in line when this wasn't a rifle. He said its SAA's new firearm policy and bows are included. The good news was that in Joberg they just inspected it, I signed for it, and was on my way. I spent the night in Joberg and ripped off the red Firearm tag. The next morning I'm checking in for my first leg flight back to the States. Sure enough when I check in my luggage they put the Firearm tag back on my bow case. I again argued that this isn't a firearm but got the same response. "New policy".

Issue #3) My flights back were Joberg -> Sao Paulo -> Houston. I was concerned that my luggage would be pulled when they handlers saw the red Firearm tag. Its a 5 hour layover in Sao Paulo. Unbelievably, I don't hear anything until right when they start boarding and they call my name over the intercom. "We need to inspect your rifle". I explain its not a rifle, just a bow. Said they still need to inspect it. I then have to follow a guy all the way back to security screening (again, all while my plane is boarding!). He then gets on the phone for 10 minutes speaking agitated Portuguese. 15 minutes pass and now I'm really agitated too. He says "we just need to make sure the bow is for personal use." I say "yes". He then says "and not used for hunting?" (What???) I lie and respond "Nope". Long story short, I guess my bow was already loaded onto the plane, so nothing gets inspected and we high tail it back to the gate where the boarding sign shows "Last Call". The guy finally states "We accept that this is a bow and you are allowed to board the aircraft". Very stressful but made the flight.

So, anyone been charged a bow handling fee from SAA? And I hunted last year and never remember a "Firearm" tag being put on my bow case. Has anyone else run into this? I can only imagine in certain cities like Frankfurt, this could cause you to miss a connecting flight which almost happened to me.
 

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sierraone

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The BS seems to never end.
 

BRICKBURN

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Sorry to hear about your nightmare.

I had my bow show up in the SAPS office when I arrived a few years ago.
I said its a bow not a firearm, hand it over. They did.

Black plastic case = Firearm at OR Tambo.

Stupidity never ceases to amaze me.

This better not be another cash grab on bow hunters.
 

BRICKBURN

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I'm with you on the policy.

Special Baggage


Fragile, valuable or items with sentimental value should not be checked-in. These items, including identification documents and passports, should be placed in your hand baggage and kept safely.

  • Sports Equipment Expanded Content
  • While we go out of our way to encourage your healthy lifestyle and sporting adventures, charges on sports equipment may apply on both international and domestic flights.

    Sports equipment which can travel free of charge is listed below as long as the additional piece of baggage weighs no more than 23kg with a maximum dimension of 200cm. ......

    The sporting equipment allowance is available on all SAA operated flights. It excludes our codeshare partners and the following flight series 1000-2999 and 7000-8999. Excess baggage rates may be charged during special events.

    Archery

    Sports equipment not specified above can be included in the free baggage allowance and any excess weight will be charged accordingly.

    A handling fee for shooting/hunting (firearms) will be raised for tickets issued as from 15 May 2019.

    https://www.flysaa.com/manage-fly/baggage/checked-baggage/special-baggage
 

Hogpatrol

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They may have caught someone trying to ship a takedown or other firearm of some sort in a bow case. All it takes is one bozo. May not help but I would I would take a paint stick and a stencil and print ARCHERY EQUIPMENT and a club name on the case. Make it look professional.
As to the money grab, remember, they're broke.
 

CAustin

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Ineptitude never stops.
 

Areaonereal

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Considering the income brought to South Africa thru the hunting industry it seems they make every attempt to make it as frustrating and technically difficult as possible for a bow or rifle hunter to bring their equipment. The worst part is the blatant stupidity of the rule and how they seem to be interpreted by anyone of any authority without a simple understanding of the policy....as far as SAA charging for a firearm or even a bow....just another source of income for a pitifully managed and financially strapped airline. They want our $$$$ but continually make it more difficult with asinine policy changes, both airlines and SA governmental ruling. And then they wonder where have all the rich hunters gone. Maybe Namibia? A direct flight from the U S to Windhoek...a dream wishing it would come true.
 

Adrian

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It's a poor policy that SAA have introduced. I can understand a reasonable charge for handling firearms and the associated costs which have previously been swallowed by the airline but for archery equipment it is just daft.
I sent an email last week (ignored by SAA so far) expressing my disappointment and pointing out their new policy won't gain them any new customers and revenue but will actually cause them to lose business, not wise for an apparently struggling airline.
If their charge was for the journey and not each leg then fair enough but it will cost me twice on my two legged journey to Namibia this year. All with SAA so no problems swapping airlines etc, just put my bags from one aircraft to another.
The same as my suitcase which travels for no extra charge.....
 

JimP

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While a lot of hunters fly SAA we are just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of those that fly with them.

In my opinion they saw a small group that they could increase revenue with and did it. Like a lot of other things if all hunters boycotted SAA they would feel it but not that much.
 

Hogpatrol

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While a lot of hunters fly SAA we are just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of those that fly with them.

In my opinion they saw a small group that they could increase revenue with and did it. Like a lot of other things if all hunters boycotted SAA they would feel it but not that much.

I hear you on the overseas flights and my next trip is booked with Qatar but they're the only game in town for transporting firearms in country.
 

JimP

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A person has to do what he has to do.

It is just like the check bag fees here in the US. If you want to fly you are going to pay for that bag, even if the airline doesn't put it in print that you are paying for a bag they get you by raising airfare and not telling you.
 

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