Always plan when smuggling weapons
I’m not really big on over-planning, or even much planning at all. Even a three month trip doesn’t really take a lot of organising. As long as I’ve got my passport and some money, then I’ve got the essentials covered at least.
But this last trip, I did fall afoul of my lack of foresight.
Being a frequent flyer on Emirates, I do get a decent amount of baggage allowance. 42kg which after my usual 12-14kg for a trip leaves me with a lot of spare capacity. So, rather last minute, I decided to see if I could take my air rifle with me.
A quick google-fu showed me the following:
Firearms designed for sporting purposes, such as target pistols and rifles, air guns, … hunting rifles, etc., may be carried as checked baggage on Emirates flights
That sealed it… I’d strip the rifle down and take it in my checked-in luggage. Job done!
Or so I thought.
When checking in, I said that I’ve got an air rifle in my bag, just to be clear. That caused a bit of a kerfuffle, and after about 30 minutes had the baggage manager telling me that I can’t take it even checked in.
But hang on! I’m sure it said I could. Fire up the laptop and pull up the page on Emirate’s own site to see that carrying it checked in is allowed, but then I’m horrified to read the other conditions. That not only do you need prior approval from Emirates at least three days in advance (I’d only booked my ticket the day before, so that would’ve been tough), but you also need approval just to transit Dubai from both the Dubai Airport Police Department and the Department of Civil Aviation.
I don’t often fuck up, but this was on a rather spectacular level.
The baggage manager suggested I get someone to pick it up. Late on a workday evening, that’s rather inconvenient for anyone I know in London, but maybe I could leave it at left luggage and a mate could pick it up when possible?
Nope. Turns out left luggage won’t even store something that looks like a weapon, let alone the parts for one.
How about a taxi then? I could pay to get it delivered to one of a few mates who live in London. But nope. No taxi driver would take it unaccompanied and I asked pretty much every one in the line.
I was getting at my wits end by this stage. I was sick with the flu, I’ve still not yet checked in, and was trying to find some way (short of just throwing a rifle in the bin) to deal with the situation. Even got to the point of asking randoms if they’d hang onto it for a day (but funnily enough, once the word ‘rifle’ was mentioned, nobody wanted to know… I don’t blame them)
In the end, a pilot mate of mine came to the rescue (I own him big for that!) through a little manouvering and persuasion I was able to get it held for 24 hours in order for him to be able to retrieve it the following day.
Totally my fault for not researching more thoroughly. Like the time I booked a hotel in Geneva, that turned out to be across the border in France (where my girlfriend didn’t have a visa for) instead of in Switzerland.
Have I learnt from this? Yes, a little. One that it’s just not worth trying to do anything too much out of the ordinary. Yes, it’s probably possible to go through all the bullshit of getting permission to carry a weapon, but is it worth it? Probably not.
I detest the amount of red tape you’ve got to go through these days to appease, what is basically, security theatre. And it’s experiences like this that put me off ‘conventional’ travel. Probably not enough to stop me though. I’ll just try and plan a little better in future.