Traveling With Ammo: South African Air's New Rules Lead to Confiscation

JimP

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Flying into and out of South Africa on SAA is a crap shoot. On my way to Port Elizabeth my ammo stayed in my checked bag all the way. Coming home from Port Elizabeth I had to remove the ammo from the checked bag and let it fly to Joberg along side my rifle case, I then put it back into my checked bag for the rest of the flight to the US.
 

Dinsdale

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I guess dropping by AH before heading out has some value!

I know Steve Scott posted here at one point.

Still there is nothing new about this and has been talked about since I started flying SAA in 2005 or 6(?) on forums and such.

Honest if you can't take $20 and buy a box to put ammo in, you get what you deserve, a plastic bag with ammo rattling around in it.
 

Scott CWO

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Never bother bringing ammo back - not that expensive and just not worth the hassles
Technically, in most countries it is against the law to leave live ammo behind with friends or your PH. I would suggest that you at least bring a small quantity home so it doesn’t look suspicious. If you bring 60 rounds per rifle and have zero going home, it could be called into question. Some countries I have hunted even counted my empty brass and questioned me about why I was missing a few that disappeared into the forest upon ejection that I could not locate.
 

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I live here in South Africa and travel quite frequently with rifles and ammo.
In EVERY instance I have had to put rifles in hard lockable cases with NO ammo in these rifle cases( a few times the security guy doing the rifle serial number checks etc made me take out the rifle bolts from the rifle, which I then wrapped and packed inside the rifle case along side the rifkes ( built in ammo pouches served this purpose well).
In EVERY case I have had to have my ammo in a separate hard lockable case( my padlocks)
In EVERY instance I have NOT been allowed to check Ammo in my travel bags. The security notices all around the check in and X Ray points clearly show this is not allowed.
These have been SAA flights to and from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Brazil.
I will investigate this plastic bag story as it just seems way off the norm.
 

Lee M

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I fly United in the states every year and have my ammo in my locked gun case.
 

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I fly United in the states every year and have my ammo in my locked gun case.

Spot on. INSIDE the USA.

The assumption that those rules apply when leaving the US ( flying around the world) is where that ignorance will bite the person in the ass.
 

BeeMaa

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Never bother bringing ammo back - not that expensive and just not worth the hassles
Technically, in most countries it is against the law to leave live ammo behind with friends or your PH. I would suggest that you at least bring a small quantity home so it doesn’t look suspicious. If you bring 60 rounds per rifle and have zero going home, it could be called into question. Some countries I have hunted even counted my empty brass and questioned me about why I was missing a few that disappeared into the forest upon ejection that I could not locate.
I've never been to SA, but my wife and I are going there next May from Dulles (IAD) to Joberg (JNB) on SAA.
This is a direct flight with only a refueling stop in Ghana where nobody gets on or off the plane.
It was my understanding that the US/TSA would not allow me to bring back ammo and had planned on gifting it to my PH.
Am I completely out to lunch on this?
I haven't really looked into it up to this point, because I didn't believe it was an issue.
 

Areaonereal

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Yes, you can bring ammo back to the US, No problem for me the last five trips to Joberg. Ammo is in a lockable case in my checked baggage, TSA does not even inspect it, but on each trip my checked bags have been opened by the notice that TSA leaves in the bag, but the ammo case was locked and never inspected.
 

BeeMaa

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Yes, you can bring ammo back to the US, No problem for me the last five trips to Joberg. Ammo is in a lockable case in my checked baggage, TSA does not even inspect it, but on each trip my checked bags have been opened by the notice that TSA leaves in the bag, but the ammo case was locked and never inspected.
Thank you sir.
 

Nosler guy

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I've never been to SA, but my wife and I are going there next May from Dulles (IAD) to Joberg (JNB) on SAA.
This is a direct flight with only a refueling stop in Ghana where nobody gets on or off the plane.
It was my understanding that the US/TSA would not allow me to bring back ammo and had planned on gifting it to my PH.
Am I completely out to lunch on this?
I haven't really looked into it up to this point, because I didn't believe it was an issue.

I never realized this was an issue either = have only hunted Namibia and RSA, and have never had any ammo checked, or any questions asked about it. I understand that some of the other countries are much more diligent about this and there may be issues - have never looked into it.

I tend to travel on the lighter side with ammo, 2 boxes, 40 rounds - I take a 30-06 or 300 Win mag - both common enough that if I ever came up short, it wouldn't be hard to find something to finish up the hunt (all the camps I hunted out of had these calibres). Usually by the time you sight in, shoot a handful of animals and blast off a few rounds at Jackals (sometimes at ridiculous distances, just to keep the outfitter happy) you only have a handful of cartridges left. As I mentioned, the camps that I hunted out of both had rifles of those calibres, so I just gifted the extra rounds to the outfit, never realized there was a problem and never checked into it. When questioned about ammo at airport, I just said that I didn't have any - no further questions asked.

Just sharing my story - don't make any decisions based on this info as I never really checked into the legalities etc.
 

Scott CWO

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Yes you can bring ammo back to the USA. Contrary to Areaonereal, I have had my ammo case opened by TSA and I know this because the TSA left a written notice flyer inside my ammo case that was locked with TSA locks and stored in my checked bag.

On another note, I have heard from Barbara Crown that anyone passing through South Africa must get a firearms transit permit even if you don’t leave the airport on your way to another African country. It used to be that you didn’t need any type of a SA permit to just pass through.
 
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Areaonereal

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I have used non TSA locks on my pelican ammo box and have never had a problem. I have never been informed or noted anywhere that a TSA lock was required onn the ammo., I am sure if your luggage is opened by the TSA , and a TSA lock is on your ammo, then that would be opened also. The TSA locks are truly worthless as far as security, most are numbered 007 , so anyone can have a key to access and I am referring to anyone including baggage handlers, since those keys are available to anyone. A ticket agent at Delta once told me when I was locking my checked bag with a TSA lock after he stopped laughing that I was wasting my time, that those TSA keys were everywhere in the hands of many airport employees. Ever wonder why those bags are wrapped in heavy plastic at so many airports in Africa. Last month thru ATL on return my checked bag was opened by TSA, but they failed to lock it back and it came home with no lock at all.......thanks TSA
 

BeeMaa

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This sounds like a good area to be well informed of the law, as well as what is actually practiced.
A smile, a kind voice and a firm stance can go a long way and get many things accomplished.
I have none of this, that's why I travel with my wife.
I sit in the corner and suck my thumb while she works her magic like a Master Jedi.
Not sure what I'd do without that woman.
 

fourfive8

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Baggage and security personnel, no matter the country or carrier, can pretty much inspect as they please because they have both the access and authority to do so. My checked bag is a rollered duffle with a full length zipper. I don't bother putting a lock on it. What's the point? I zip it to one end then use a strong, about 10 inch long braided cord to run through the zipper and secure with about 3 half hitches. It won't come open with regular handling and allows those behind the curtain access without too much trouble. The harder it is for inspectors to open something up the less likely they will be to close it. If they can't pick or key a particular lock they'll just cut or pry it open anyway. If someone wants to steal something, a TSA lock or any kind of lock isn't going to make any difference. They'll break the lock, open it with a key, cut open the bag or just steal the whole bag or case!!! The only thing I think about a "TSA" lock is it provides some kind of extra business for the company making them. Also, the TSA is a USA agency, a fact which sometimes gets lost in these intl travel discussions. For the small, locked ammo box to carry in a checked bag-- I just use a couple of very small, cheap locks. Again what's the point? It's mostly a feel good reg anyway. If someone wants the ammo they'll just carry off with the ammo box :):) If SAA or SA Airlink wants to check the ammo box separately from the main checked bag between one RSA airport and another- a regular, locked hard case of some sort with a cheap lock or two will be no less secure than super locks or TSA locks on a super tough ammo box. The same for my gun case-- a 2 lock Pelican. I simply use two cheap, small-medium locks. I usually pack an extra small lock or two if security breaks a lock or two- which I've never experienced. I've air traveled some 29 times to destinations outside the continental US varying from AK to Africa to SE Asia and have experienced few of the difficulties described in this thread. Except for guns, valuables are in my day pack carry-on.
 

Scott CWO

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I have used non TSA locks on my pelican ammo box and have never had a problem. I have never been informed or noted anywhere that a TSA lock was required onn the ammo., I am sure if your luggage is opened by the TSA , and a TSA lock is on your ammo, then that would be opened also. The TSA locks are truly worthless as far as security, most are numbered 007 , so anyone can have a key to access and I am referring to anyone including baggage handlers, since those keys are available to anyone. A ticket agent at Delta once told me when I was locking my checked bag with a TSA lock after he stopped laughing that I was wasting my time, that those TSA keys were everywhere in the hands of many airport employees. Ever wonder why those bags are wrapped in heavy plastic at so many airports in Africa. Last month thru ATL on return my checked bag was opened by TSA, but they failed to lock it back and it came home with no lock at all.......thanks TSA

On one of my trips to Moz, I was recalled from my gate in Denver to the ticket counter and TSA checkpoint to unlock my ammo box when I was using keyed padlocks because TSA wanted to look inside my ammo box. They told me to use TSA locks next time for ammo in a locked box and placed INSIDE my checked baggage. South Africa requires ammo to be in a locked ammo box and checked separately from checked baggage. In this SA instance, a keyed or combo padlock is required instead of TSA locks.
 
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Arctic97

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On one of my trips to Moz, I was recalled from my gate in Denver to the ticket counter and TSA checkpoint to unlock my ammo box when I was using keyed padlocks because TSA wanted to look inside my ammo box. They told me to use TSA locks next time for ammo in a locked box and placed INSIDE my checked baggage. South Africa requires ammo to be in a locked ammo box and checked separately from checked baggage. In this SA instance, a keyed or combo padlock is required instead of TSA locks.

Yes, I always use the TSA locks on my ammo case inside my checked luggage when leaving the US, for reasons shown in the post here by Scott. I view the locks on an ammo case more as a couple of more latches to help keep the case closed, than a security measure anyhow. If someone wants the ammo, they will just take the case. I will paste a post I made on another thread here about the cases I use. .....

If you happen to own any pistols you will find that the cases they come it make wonderful ammo cases. I am using 3 such cases this May. One S&W and 2 Spingfield XD & XDM cases. They will each hold up to 6 boxes of ammo. I have 2 of them packed with 110 rounds of 30-06 (One is for me and one is for a friend also using 30-06). This keeps them just under 11 pounds (5 kg) with case and locks. The third case has 5 boxes of 300 Win Mag in it - again, just under 11 pounds all in. The great thing about this it that when you check the ammo here in the states it will be in the middle of a suitcase, but if you have another flight in SA, either in, or out of country, they are not going to let you leave the ammo in a suitcase. They will want it out and traveling on its own. The pistol case works good in this instance - better than a lunch box, or plastic ammo can. They may not be as tough as a Pelican, but they are made to protect a pistol, and if you already have them at home they work fine. I have done this twice before. It is hard to watch them send your ammo down the belt on its own, but it is better than the bag and string they sometimes offer you to put your ammo in. A side note - I have not yet been asked to pay an extra baggage fee for going over my 2 checked bag allowance when they do this. Not saying it can't happen though......
 

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Everyone should be aware that you must have a good, hard side, lockable ammo box placed in your checked baggage when departing the US. When making a connection SAA may make you take the ammo box out and check it separately. Hence the reason for the lockable (I use Pelican) box.
Credit should be given to Steve Scott for writing this piece in the Outfitters wire.
Philip
I have never checked ammunition separately on a US carrier.
 

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Flying into and out of South Africa on SAA is a crap shoot. On my way to Port Elizabeth my ammo stayed in my checked bag all the way. Coming home from Port Elizabeth I had to remove the ammo from the checked bag and let it fly to Joberg along side my rifle case, I then put it back into my checked bag for the rest of the flight to the US.

That's what I've done my last two trips. When I got to Joburg from the US I had to remove my locked ammo case from checked bag and fly it separately to PE along with my gun case. Same coming back to Joburg. At Joburg ammo went back into checked bag for the flight home. No problems. I flew SAA from the US to PE and back. Domestic US flights I was told no ammo in the gun case. Put it in checked baggage.
 

Newboomer

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PS to above: Airline agent told me not to use TSA locks. What was in my ammo box was nobody's business. Just goes to show you how varied airline policies can be. Each have their own and it can be confusing as hell, especially flying internationally.
 

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