I flew to Cameroon, from Miami to Douala, via Paris, earlier this month of March, with Air France being the Carrier. Purpose was to hunt and for which I took my rifle along.
While I was in transit in CDG airport in Paris and awaiting my connecting flight to Douala, I was summoned to the a/f flight Counter just 15 minutes before departure. To basically alert me that "security wanted to open my only checked luggage because it contained an undeclared and therefore an unauthorized rifle
I had to depart the Boarding area, miss my flight, and be led under escort to an office about a half-mile away in the same airport. After walking all the way there, there was no one to meet us at some sort of special room under lock, which the escort could not open.
Eventually someone showed up which opened the room were I sat for a long while, awaiting the official Air France interrogator." All this time being unable to relieve myself because there was no bathroom nearby. Eventually a rather pleasant and apologetic Air France PR lady arrived, fluent in English. After allowing me to relieve myself in a bathroom outside of the room, told me what the problem was allegedly: that there was no record in their system that I was traveling through France with an undeclared firearm.
She then clarified her commentary by noting that the rifle was checked directly to Cameroon, was only in transit at the airport, and was never going to technically enter France.
Furthermore, it had been placed on Air France system at the time the Air France flight ticket had been purchased and the flight booked by my agent in Miami several weeks before. Then all reconfirmed once more at the Air France airport counter in Miami prior to my departure earlier that same day.
All of this was to no avail, and I was escorted once more to their security area, far away, on foot. When we arrived there, the main security person that had had the problem with the bag now could not locate the "illegal and potentially dangerous" bag in their own warehouse.
After a rather long wait and waste of time, I myself spotted my bag in a heap of suitcases ten feet from where we all stood while waiting for the bag to be found. I was asked to open the bag, a tuff pack containing the hunting rifle with all the pertinent papers and clothes and ammo, but was told not to touch anything.
I complied and after the officer put his own hands in the bag and injured his fingers with some sharp fishing hooks, he then asked me to retrieve the gun and the ammo myself, which I did. As per the official Air France regulations, the ammo was declared in Miami, was in its original unopened hard plastic box, and was packed with some extra bullets in very tight foam, all in another extra hard metal box, under lock.
In case you are not aware, Air France regulations actually permit the gun and ammo to travel as such in the same bag as long as the above mentioned safety rules are followed, which they were.
Then came the real clincher! I was told that 1) they could not find the gun as having been checked in their Air France system and 2) neither the report of any accompanying ammo. And that the ammo was incorrectly packaged "because it rattled," meaning it was loose.
Moreover, it was Air France regulations for a gun to travel wrapped in clothes. I was traveling with a tuff pack bag precisely to pack all my belongings, rifle-ammo-clothes, etc, in one piece of luggage and avoid extra suitcases.
I then went on the offensive, shook the original unopened federal plastic ammo box, recreating the rattling that they had heard. I suggested to them that all the thousands of boxes of federal ammunition imported by air into France by Air France in a given year should perhaps also be confiscated, as I was sure they also rattled.
They conferred, and they then decided to let this one "pass as an exception, "this one time."
Eventually they rechecked their system, I assume, and told me that it was The Miami Air France counter people who were at fault in not reporting the gun. I could now travel on the next flight to Douala the next morning, gun and ammo included. But that I had to remove my clothes, shoes, etc from the gun bag.
They had no packing material there to cushion the gun after the protecting clothes were removed. So the gun did indeed get to Douala, with the ammo, rocking and rolling inside a tuff pack gun case without adequate cushioning protection of an otherwise empty tuff pack suitcase.
I was given two Air France large plastic handbags to put all my belongings in. I had to stay overnight in Paris and I had to get a bit sharp for them to provide me with a complimentary overnight hotel allowance voucher, which they eventually did. So I walked and took the tram with my plastic bags, one on each hand, to the Ibis Hotel.
The next morning I was allowed to board the plane to Douala. On the return flight, all went smoothly, until I got to Miami were an Air France person actually was waiting to personally escort me to the special USA security area. When I got there, no one had any idea as to why I had been personally escorted there. I just cleared customs with my gun in the usual fashion.
What was my take in all of this? Sheer incompetence and poor internal communication on the part of Air France and possibly an anti hunting caper by someone in their system. Is there really a problem with Air France regulations and the tuff pack s idea of carrying a gun and clothes in the same piece of luggage?
Lastly, it seemed like a good idea to take Air France to Cameroon because the ammo can be taken in the same piece of luggage with the rifle and I wanted to travel with all luggage in one piece.
Air France allows this, other airlines do not, however when I arrived in Cameroon to travel in a domestic flight to the hunting area, I had to make special arrangements, as Cam Air does not allow the gun and the ammo to travel together in the same bag.
Needles to say, I did not dare bring back any of the unused ammo. Losses? Three days of hunting time as I had to overnight once more in Douala. I could not connect to Garoua as originally intended, and had to fly another day to Maroua which was about an extra eight hours away from camp. And again an extra day travel to camp plus the immense aggravations and extra expenses and "tips." Which are mandatory to actually successfully get to the hunting camp in a very roundabout manner.
PS: Maybe the LD Eland of 50" was worth it after all?