Hunters planning to travel to South Africa this safari season should be aware that South African Airlines (SAA) is not accepting firearms as checked baggage. Also, while the airline is flying within South Africa and to other countries on the African continent, it is not flying overseas.
SAA had suspended all operations when it declared bankruptcy in 2020. It resumed operations recently, but only flying regionally, within South Africa and the African continent. More significantly for hunters, is that in addition to dropping its transcontinental routes, SAA has also dropped the carriage of firearms.
Inside sources say the airline simply has not renewed its contract with the security company licensed to handle firearms, as required by South African law. What’s more, those sources say SAA, has no intention of renewing that contract. Regardless the reasons, it means hunters traveling with firearms must avoid this airline.
The good news is that South African Airlink has secured the required security services to handle firearms on all of its flights. Airlink does not fly overseas either, but it will get hunters from South Africa to other popular hunting destinations on the African continent as well as areas within South Africa. Airlink requires at least a three-day notice to accept firearms. The policies are posted on the airline’s website at https://www.flyairlink.com/baggage-sporting-equipment. Read more about these developments in the May 2022 issue of Safari Times.
With all of the changes to airline routes and policies, it is advisable for hunters to use a travel agent who specializes in traveling with firearms. SCI members may contact SCI’s Hunter Hotline for a list of such travel agents and assistance with other hunting travel issues.