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Still jet-lagged after returning home from Bulawayo but I wanted to share my experience with the flights. I was on Air Emirates from Seattle-Dubai-JNB and then a SAA Airlink flight from JNB to Bulawayo, and the reverse for the trip home.
Fred at TWG appropriately cautioned me about both the $45 firearms transfer fee within Africa and that I might need the SAPS permit if required to claim the rifle in JNB and then re-check it with Emirates. He also was concerned that although Emirates and Airlink have some affiliation, the flights had to be booked as separate ticketings.
One thing I have already learned about southern Africa is that procedures are at best inconsistent and not to assume that my previous experience will match my current situation. But happily things went quite smoothly.
When I checked in with Emirates in Seattle, the check-in agent happily checked my bags to Bulawayo and assured me that I would not need to claim them in Joburg. I have already learned that it is prudent to check with the gate agent at each stop to ensure that my "special bags" (rifle case, suitcase with ammunition) are there, and if one does not, you may well be paged by the gate agent--who may ask you the kilogram mass of each bag, oddly enough. Good to remember! Also, note which claim check is for the firearms and which is the ammunition.
Things went smoothly with the Dubai transfer. To my fatigued delight, things were also seamless in Joburg. I simply cleared passport control, went to my SAA gate after a breakfast and coffee, and SAA confirmed my bags had transferred. Better yet, no $45 transfer fee was requested and no SAPS permit.
Murphy was along for the safari and when I arrived at Bulawayo at noon I found my suitcase but no rifle. I spent 30 minutes with the missing luggage desk and $20 in tips and they seemed confident that the rifle would appear on the next day's early morning flight and so it was.
I was still concerned about the return flights as I started in Bulawayo with SAA Airlink. But they happily checked my bags to Seattle and did not ask for the $45 fee either. The Emirates gate agent in JBG confirmed that they had both bags loaded on the Dubai flight and I had similar good news about the Seattle flight. Both bags appeared at customs.
I did note that SAA Airlink had more restrictive bag weight limitations than Emirates and packed accordingly. I'm suspicious that this was needless as SAA did not seem to check nor care, but it wasn't too difficult to pack carefully and it eliminated one potential hassle on the trips.
Again, I do not necessarily expect this to occur with my next similar flights but I was happily surprised on this trip! But I'd still prefer to just fly Emirates to my final destination.
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Thanks for the report!
J. Lane Easter, DVM
DSC Life Member
NRA Life Member
APHA Honorary Member
A born Texan has instilled in his system a mind-set of no retreat or no surrender. I wish everyone the world over had the dominating spirit that motivates Texans. – Billy Clayton, Speaker of the Texas House
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Glad things went well. An angst free trip is always a blessing. I agree with your comment below but in my experience you're just about as apt to find inconsistencies here in the US as anywhere. The two biggest problems I've encountered with African travel have been caused by the ignorance of the counter staff at initial check in Stateside.
MARK H. YOUNG
MARK'S EXCLUSIVE ADVENTURES
7215 GREAT DOVER ST.
LAS VEGAS, NV 89166
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Good to hear that things went smoothly.
I had the same experience with my rifle not showing up in Bulawayo. It also arrived on the next day's flight even though I had a 4+ hour layover on OR Tambo before the flight. The worst part is that SAA would not even check that it was still in Jo'Berg or that it was tagged to fly the next day.
"I don't know what there is about buffalo that frightens me so.....He looks like he hates you personally. He looks like you owe him money."
- Robert Ruark, Horn of the Hunter, 1953
NRA Life, SAF Life, CRPA Life, DRSS lite
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My experience with Emirates on my last trip from Dallas to Tete was the booking agent assured me my firearm could be checked through to Tete. When I arrived at the Emirates counter at DFW the counter agent was insistant that no firearems could be checked through on a SAA Airlink flight as Emirates did not have a transfere agreement with SAA Airlink at JNB. This created a mad scramble at JNB to import my rifle into SA and recheck the rifle on the airlink flight with a 3 hour layover.
Interestinly, at Tete SAA Airlink checked my luggage through to Dallas, including my rifle; even though I was spending the night in JNB. Mayby the Emirites agent in Dallas was just doing what he could to support the Emirates anti hunting corporate position.
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