Flying to Canada: Best Practices

TommyPiz

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2019
Messages
12
Location
Colorado
Hey guys, I know the topic of logistics for sheep hunts in Canada has been discussed many times, and I've probably read every thread, but the world of commercial air travel between the US and Canada has changed over the last couple years. I'm looking for advice/best practices from the post-COVID era, I know thats really only one hunting season. Background, I was incredibly fortunate and won a Huntin Fool raffle for a stone sheep hunt in BC that was originally scheduled August 2021. But, with the shortened season and the clients that rolled over from the cancelled 2020 season, my hunt was pushed to August 2022.

I'm currently looking in to commercial flights from Virginia to Whitehorse. My options are to fly on Air Canada through either Toronto or Montreal, on to Vancouver, and then on to Whitehorse, or, fly on Alaska Air to Seattle, on to Vancouver and then hop on Air North to Whitehorse. Prices and times are similar enough that it isn't a determining factor. I'm wondering if anyone has found it easier to fly with a rifle on Alaska Air vs Air Canada or if there is any advantages to connect through Montreal vs Toronto?

Another factor in logistics is that I'm planning on bringing the meat home, if I am lucky enough to tag a ram. I'll have a soft cooler as a carry on bag that I'll transport optics in prior to the hunt. I've discussed this with my outfitter and he has told me that there shouldn't be a problem with getting everything back to Whitehorse after the hunt...again, if I am so fortunate.

Sorry for the long winded post, this will be my first time hunting in Canada. Thank you in advance.
Feel free to leave any other advice from your experiences with the logistics of getting to and from with all of your gear intact.
 

Doc Holliday

Well Known Rokslider
Classified Approved
Joined
Jun 15, 2016
Messages
1,574
Ammo cannot go in with rifle case. Will go in your luggage. If you are checking multiple bags put some ammo in each one.

If you fly through Toronto, do not rely on any airport worker knowing anything other than where the bathroom is. You will have to get your rifle and all checked backage before going through customs. Get one of the luggage carts while you are waiting for it all to come out. Sporting goods will be off to the side. Look for other hunters. Then after going through customs with all of it you will recheck it before getting on your next flight.

Take a log of coppenhagen long cut and some whiskey. Give the dip to your guide, wranglers, or anyone else at camp who wants it. Keep the whiskey for after you get your ram
 

Fullcry

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2021
Messages
21
Take the least amount of connections you can.
This helps with less chance of lost luggage.
Take all the old name tags and bar codes off.
Air Canada is best.
Seattle to Vancouver.Then up
 

Millek47

Newbie
Joined
May 13, 2017
Messages
6
If at all possible, I would avoid Toronto and Montreal with a rifle. I have flown thru Toronto multiple times with a rifle and I absolutely refuse to do it anymore. It’s a very liberal city and people will mess with you. If you have to do it- give yourself at least 2.5 hours.
 

Jonesry09

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Aug 11, 2021
Messages
125
Location
Excelsior, MN
Ammo cannot go in with rifle case. Will go in your luggage. If you are checking multiple bags put some ammo in each one.

If you fly through Toronto, do not rely on any airport worker knowing anything other than where the bathroom is. You will have to get your rifle and all checked backage before going through customs. Get one of the luggage carts while you are waiting for it all to come out. Sporting goods will be off to the side. Look for other hunters. Then after going through customs with all of it you will recheck it before getting on your next flight.

Take a log of coppenhagen long cut and some whiskey. Give the dip to your guide, wranglers, or anyone else at camp who wants it. Keep the whiskey for after you get your ram
Is the no ammo in rifle case a Canadian rule? I flew twice this year (once internationally) and right in the TSA guidelines it says ammo can go in gun case. https://www.tsa.gov/news/press/factsheets/firearms-and-ammunition

I find this topic is often misinformed much like the TSA locks. You should NOT use TSA locks. Once the gun is checked, you are the only person that should be able to unlock the case.

As far as travel to Whitehorse, I would fly through Edmonton given the option. Deoending on how many connections it takes for you to get there. My biggest piece of advice is to print both TSA and specific airline regulations and agents know very little when it comes to guns.
 

Hackleback

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
236
Location
Truckee Meadows
Read and print hard copies of the ammunition and firearm rules for the particular airline (plus TSA and a the Canadian equivalent) as not all gate (or TSA) agents know all the rules. Having highlighted copies of the rules has saved me some headaches in the past. Alaska Air handles guns regularly and I seldom have issues with them.
 

Old and gray

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Aug 21, 2019
Messages
155
Almost certain the bolt and ammo go in the checked luggage. The advice about going through Edmonton is a good plan. Try to go with Air North from Edmonton to Whitehorse.
 

Racer00

Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2018
Messages
51
Location
Michigan
Bolt and ammo can stay in the case. I flew Air Canada fall '21. No issues with either. Non TSA locks. No one needs to be in there with out you present. Hard copies of all the regs is a great idea. Not all gate and TSA agents know their own rules. I did remove my bolt and put a locking cable through the action and a trigger lock on as well. But the bolt remained in the case with the rifle and ammo. And by the way, I had my ammo (40 rds) in two MTM plastic ammo boxes. No issues at all.
 

Fishn4eyes

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 19, 2013
Messages
145
Location
Helena, Montana
Similar to what some of the other guys have said: I'd try to get to either Calgary or Edmonton.

I flew through Vancouver to Whitehorse on my Stone hunt on Delta then switched to Air Canada in Vancouver to go to Whitehorse.

If I had to do it again, I'd get to either Calgary (and fly West Jet to Whitehorse) or Edmonton (and fly Canadian North to Whitehorse). West Jet and Canadian North are both hunter friendly and better than Air Canada in my opinion.
 

Truaxdw

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 15, 2019
Messages
157
Location
Virginia
Avoid Air Canada if possible or give yourself an extra day for gear/ rifle to show up if lost. Gear bag with ammo didn’t show on our departure flight and rifle was lost on return flight. Both showed up a day later. Would of been a scramble if we didn’t have a weather delay for our float plane. Have CBP 4457 form filled out prior to departure. Good Luck!
 

tuffcity

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Nov 2, 2013
Messages
418
Location
YT
Fly whatever is your most hunter friendly airline from Virginia to Vancouver then switch to Air North. They are the most hunter friendly commercial airline in western Canada. Plus you get a 100lbs of checked baggage included with your fare (2-50lb pieces) and meat counts as checked baggage- just freeze or pack it so it can't leak.

AIrNorth baggage policy can be found here.

Check the section on firearms and ammo.

You can get a AN flight if you route through Calgary or Edmonton as well.
 

birdhunter

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
May 3, 2015
Messages
310
Location
hudson valley ny
I have flown both AC and alaska air with nothing but the usual minor travel issues.Having said that I have always found it to be no problem flying into Canada but getting back thru US customs is a nightmare.
 

ericthered

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
136
Location
Michigan
I'm coming back from Norman Wells to Edmonton this September. I'll land in YEG around 7PM and catch an 8:30AM out next morning. Will I need a PRC Raid Test in Edmonton to get in the US? Does anyone know if this is possible in Edmonton with such a small window of time I'm there?
 

Fullcry

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2021
Messages
21
Yes
There are a couple of 24 hour places you can do it.Including at the airport.So you can schedule it.
But it cost more.
However,Feb.28th all the rules changed.
By September it will probably be totally different
So who know if you will even have to do anything by then .
I just came back and the requirements I had to have going up totally changed within the 2 weeks I was there
There is much less requirements coming back now.
 
Last edited:

Sam Colt

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Messages
130
Make sure to get your rifle re-importation paperwork done early and keep 2 copies in waterproof bags.

Bring spare locks for your gun case in your carry on; I’ve had my locks cut off on 2 trips to Canada. It was very disconcerting to claim my case in Edmonton and Calgary with cut locks inside along with a TSA tag, but there was nothing missing either time.
 

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