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Tips for flying to Africa

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  • Tips for flying to Africa

    Oh my, what an adventure ... before I even get to the adventure.

  • #2
    I finally got around to booking my flight yesterday. Been sidetracked with other issues. The gunsmith who recommended the outfitter to me in March decided suddenly last week to cancel his trip for next year and tag along with me. I only know the guy from our brief meeting at the gunshow but he seems nice enough. Very exuberant and excitable! Anyway, he got tired of waiting for an official flight itinerary from me and made his own reservation yesterday. He called me before finalizing to make sure I was okay with the dates. Well, his schedule was much better than the one I proposed. It actually had us being picked up at Port Elizabeth by outfitter about noon on my first day of the package deal. Somewhat cheaper too. Okay, all seemed good. He went ahead and called Air Canada back to get it finalized. They handled everything right through to the end because they have a "Star Alliance" arrangement with South African Airways. However, when I tried to book the same itinerary online, Air Canada's site wouldn't let me do it for the last leg from Joburg to PE even though it was SA Airways. Hmmm. So I called the airline. Got a very nice young man whose first language was English (very surprising these days!!). He was obviously very dedicated and able to think outside the box. He couldn't find a booking for the other fella (because the guy was actually booking it while we were on the phone) so I called him on the land line while I had the agent on the line. He gave me his booking reference number but also indicated the price had gone up considerably! My agent found out how to book the legs into and back out of PE and then went about figuring out why the cost was so high. Aha! The flight back from PE was all booked up in economy so it was necessary to bump up to business class. Now here's the wicked kicker!! If an airline books a trip with multiple connections and one leg has to be booked up to expensive grade, ALL THE REST OF THE FLIGHTS ON THE TRIP (ONE WAY) ALSO HAVE TO BE BUMPED UP TO THE HIGH CLASS SEATS. Well, that sucks. The young booking agent on the other end sorta agreed. Okay, I tell him, just book me return through Joburg and I'll take care of the little hop to Port Elizabeth. I know danged well it won't be eight hundred bucks (actually about a hundred bucks Canadian in economy). The agent says "Hey, wait a second! I think I can book you all the way through to PE on the trip in and then out from JoBurg on the return." And he did. Saved me about a thousand bucks less than flying first class through the entire return trip. Then I went on line and booked the PE to Joburg flight myself for under $200 Canadian in business class. I immediately phoned my hunting partner and told him to do a cancellation for PE to Joburg and rebook it on line like I did. He had 24 hrs to change his ticket. I also had to cancel one day of the trip or I'd be returning on a weekend and price of the return trip bumped up almost $2,000! The other fella going with me was under the wrong impression I was only hunting one extra day. It works out okay because I will arrive early enough in the day to get the sighting in of guns taken care of, a bite to eat, and off for some late afternoon hunting or spotting. Fortunately, the business class glitch was on the beginning end of the return. If it had been a connecting flight in the middle that needed bumping up to business, I'd have been stuck with getting screwed. The downside is if the PE flight doesn't get in to JoBurg in time for the connecting flight to London, I will be stuck with paying fees to rebook flights. By booking everything with the same airline, they are responsible for getting me home no matter what airline I'm on. Keep my fingers crossed that nothing goes haywire with that flight.

    Moving the guns has been an interesting project. First, because they are going overseas, Canada government requires temporary export permits (permanent one for the elephant gun I'll be leaving there). Second, every airline and every country/airport along the way where flyer is required to stop for connecting flights has different regs for guns in baggage. ALL guns coming into Joburg airport MUST be checked through the police station there even if the flyer is only there for layover awaiting a connecting flight. Heathrow in London can be difficult if landing at one terminal and departing at another. That requires a bonded courier to move the guns. As far as I can determine our guns are booked right through to Joburg from the airport here. At any rate, both airlines use terminal #2. We have two hour layover in London so if anything does crop up, I can probably get it resolved. Also, Heathrow must be called 24 hours in advance and notified that guns are coming through. Presumably this is so someone can keep a special eye on them in the baggage apes' domain (or watch me in the lobby?). All airlines allow eleven pounds of ammo per person only and it must be securely packaged (SA Airways seems to want ammo cases that are lockable but doesn't specify if they actually have to be locked - other airlines indicate a factory cartridge box is secure enough). Ammo must be stuffed in the other checked baggage. One of the airlines requires that the baggage with ammo in it be tagged clearly as containing ammo (which I don't think is very safe ... I would much rather some unbalanced baggage ape with a death wish didn't know where to look for ammo for guns in gun cases). Ammo CANNOT be in the gun case with the guns (for same reason). All airlines require locked hard-sided gun cases. I discovered there is no such thing as "airline approved" gun cases. Marketing BS. One of the airlines/airports insists on no nomenclature on the guncase indicating it has a gun in it (i.e. no Browning or Winchester logos/stickers which makes sense). Air Canada also requires trigger locks on guns even though they are in locked gun case. Again, this kinda makes sense so some crazy baggage ape can't use the gun to shoot/threaten his coworkers or hijack a plane. Air Canada allows three guns per person but SA Airways only allows two. Not sure how gun inspections work with directly booked connecting flights through to South Africa from Canada. It is still unclear to me if we will have to get the guns inspected when switching airlines at Heathrow. Ordinary baggage is booked straight through but guns may be different. I have a couple of hours layover there to deal with any possible issues that might crop up.

    Then there's the importing (albeit temporarily for hunting) paperwork at the South African end. Wow! SAPS Form 520 is eight pages of extremely confusing redundancy (and no instructions!). Oh, don't forget to use ONLY black ink pens. This is the only instruction written on these forms so I guess the SA Police are pretty sticky about it. Probably an anti-Apartheid thing. Also, ALL pages must be included, even the six non-applicable pages with nothing filled in. These forms should be filled out ahead of time BUT NOT SIGNED TILL WE GET THERE. They require a letter from the safari outfitter confirming the hunting trip (which he still hasn't sent). Also need proof of ownership for the guns (my Canada export documents or ATF From 6 for US gun owners). Picking up the guns at Joburg airport, getting through customs, and checking the guns in with police station there is all a bit confusing but safari outfit is supposed to have a "meet & greet" guy there to help us (described by outfitter as "Mr. X" ... I wonder what that's about). A couple of sites warn about SA police officials at airport trying to charge for gun processing. Insist on a receipt and the fee will go away instantly.

    Well, there you have it in a nutshell ... the size of a bathtub. Maybe it would have been easier to have someone else handle this. But as my partner learned, that's not always the best route either. Anyway, flight booking and gun transporting prep will be an interesting chapter in the African adventure story I'll be writing for my grandkids.
    Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 05-14-2019, 10:30 AM.


    • #3
      Sort of sounds like going to the dentist and having every nerve drilled out without the use of Novocain (sp) ! Too much BS for me, rather stay home.
      Last edited by bowhunter75richard; 05-14-2019, 04:40 PM.


      • #4
        Thanks for reminding me why I usually like tagging along on trips rather than having to take care of the logistics. Yikes.

        I’m still waiting on our tags to arrive in the mail, then I’ll be sending in for the boys tag by mail as you can’t buy the youth tags online due to needing proof of a Hunter’s Ed class. After that it will be booking our flight, making the hotel reservation and paying the balance to the outfitter. Just want the tag in hand first.

        Did you decide on binos yet OHH? Thinking about upgrading myself actually and giving my 10x42’s to the boy.




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