Flying with a Firearm

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Yawn

Blackhawk
Joined
Dec 4, 2010
Messages
646
I will be travelling at the end of next month. We will be flying commercially. My Concealed Weapons Permit covers the states that I will be in.

I have never flown with my firearm in my checked luggage before.

I know that people do it ALL OF THE TIME, but I never have.

I know fully unloaded and in a locked container with the ammo in a seperate container. I need some tips beyond that though.

- A gun case that the TSA can open? Or a case that they can’t open?
- Does the gun need to be in a locked state (ie trigger lock or Rugers long padlock though the open slide)?
- Does the ammo need to be in a locked case? Should it be?
- Is it better to have it all gun stuff among my clothes or in its own separate checked bag?
- Best practices for delacring besides walking up to the counter and saying, “I have a gun”?
- Can I use the computer check in AND THEN go up to the counter or is it better to go up to the counter and just chat with them?
- Any thing else I should be aware of that I don’t currently realize that I should be aware of it?
 

RSIno1

Hunter
Joined
Sep 17, 2013
Messages
2,110
Each airline also has their own rules. Check their website. Your gun HARD case needs a lock TSA can't open. Stay at the gate until your luggage is on it's way to the airplane in case they want to check that your gun is unloaded. Ammo can just be in the suitcase. Keep it in the original box. Keep everything in one checked bag - you don't want a small one with just your gun stuff walking away. Let the person at your first point of contact know you need to declare a gun - sometimes they direct you to the shorter preferred customer line. I bought a Pelican https://www.pelican.com/us/en/product/cases/air/1615 it holds enough for the wife and I for a week. Meets the hardcase rule and allows me to put nonTSA locks on all my stuff.

PS - make sure your permit is good for any layover/transfer states. I've heard horror stories of people who landed in NJ and NY and were arrested if their flight was delayed and they had their luggage/gun back in their possession.
 

blume357

Hawkeye
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
8,573
Yawn said:
- A gun case that the TSA can open? Or a case that they can’t open?

In theory so they can't open it... regular lock not one of the TSA ones.
(now with that said...keep in mind they can open anything they want if they wish and will
)

- Does the gun need to be in a locked state (ie trigger lock or Rugers long padlock though the open slide)?

Nope, but I usually have a flag in mine just in case... that way all 'they' have to do is look and can see that it is unloaded with out handling it.

- Does the ammo need to be in a locked case? Should it be?

Technically no, but I have a hard pistol case that has room for the ammo.
Also, the TSA allows loaded magazines but some airlines don't.
The ammo can not be loose and the easiest is to just have it in the factory box.


- Is it better to have it all gun stuff among my clothes or in its own separate checked bag?
Depends on what you mean by gun stuff...

- Best practices for delacring besides walking up to the counter and saying, “I have a gun”?
- Can I use the computer check in AND THEN go up to the counter or is it better to go up to the counter and just chat with them?

You walk up to the counter and tell the clerk you want to check a firearm.... it's actually no big deal.. Now keep in mind on your return trip you will get an email probably wanted you to check in 'early' electronically... then when you try the airlines system won't let you.

- Any thing else I should be aware of that I don’t currently realize that I should be aware of it?

I've flown multiple times and checked a firearm.... as long as you follow the rules it's no big deal.... you do have to kind of be passive and let who ever be in charge... since they are. Oh, and most probably you will have to pick up your checked bag with the firearm at the 'lost luggage office" of your airline when you get to your destination... unless the baggage handlers mess up....

There was a time when Delta would put all kinds of nylon wire straps all around your bag before they would give it back to you then you had to figure out how to get them off... since you in theory had no sharp objects on you. Oh, and it is no secret that there is a firearm in your luggage... it's put in their computer and I suspect anyone who works for the airline can see that. One thing I started doing was to lock with a strap the pistol case to the inside of my checked bag.

The big secret is people fly with firearms all the time.... I've never had a check in clerk even blink when you declare you have a firearm.... it is pretty much routine for them. The only time is was to a degree difficult was I had a clerk who was training a newbie and it too forever to check in because he had to explain the process several times.

Oh, and I've had the airline clerk insist on checking the gun at the counter and had them not even want to open the case.... and I've had them send me to a TSA person to check the gun... I had the clerk that did not even want to look at the case tell me that they (TSA) had a machine in the back that could tell them everything that was in the case and what condition the gun was in... and I think that is the real secret... the visual stuff is just to keep folks busy and such.
 
Joined
Oct 26, 2006
Messages
9,297
Yep, I have flown a bunch. If TSA wants to see your gun they will take bolt cutters to your lock! I had one TSA officer mention he liked my gun, and the gun might not make it to my destination. At that time I took down his name and badge number, and let him know, that if my gun didn’t make it, he would be held responsible!
gramps
 

Yawn

Blackhawk
Joined
Dec 4, 2010
Messages
646
:shock:

It sounds like a lot of trouble.

I have historically never packed anything of real value in my checked bags
 

Jeepnik

Hawkeye
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
5,067
Don’t fly much since I retired. I planned to but current events have tossed a wrench at that monkey. That said, I here’s what I do and have never had a problem.

I put the handgun, with a trigger lock installed, and magazines into a hard sided locking case. Non TSA lock. But the case is FAA approved. In another similar case I put the ammunition. Both go into a hard sided suitcase with a TSA lock.

I’ve never had a problem with either the TSA or the airlines.

Just go to baggage check and tell the agent you have a firearm. Sometimes I have been asked to go to a room out of public view to show the weapon is properly secured and unloaded. Most of the time they just take the bag and I’m on my way.

A couple of things. I don’t take any of my high dollar handguns when flying. Avoid airports in states that restrict possession of them.

My last trip was to Texas. I checked their laws and found out they accept a California permit. I was asked by TSA to inspect the gun in California but on the return the folks in Texas just bid me a good day.
 

blume357

Hawkeye
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
8,573
I think most of the visual checking is just to make it look good and keep folks busy. Like I said before, it was at the Manchester airport in New Hampshire where the airline clerk told me 'they' / TSA had a machine in the back that would tell them what was in the pistol case.

I think it was in Rapid City South Dakota I saw one of these machines as they ran my checked baggage through... I was tempted to ask the TSA person to let me look but thought better of it.. It was nothing like the X-ray machine they use for your carry on luggage... it was this big monster thing.
 

FergusonTO35

Hunter
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
2,420
If you land in an Iron Curtain state (NY, NJ, etc.) for any reason DON'T pick up your luggage that has firearms and/or ammo in it. Let the airline hang on to it, they will forward it on to your final destination.
 

blume357

Hawkeye
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
8,573
Good point... and it will end up (should go straight to) the airlines luggage office counter... probably best to call there and let them know your estimated time of arrival.

We missed a connection in Chicago a year ago and ended up flying to Charlotte... I assumed my checked bag with gun would just go on to here in Greenville on the next flight... but nope AA sent it with us to Charlotte.. we did not know and I did not check on line... so the next day Charlotte's lost luggage office calls wanting me to come pick it up....... we had rented a car that night and driven home.. 2hours.... I finally convinced them to put it on the next plane to Greenville.... lady in charlotte was a little worried because her computer said there were firearms in the luggage and I pointed out to her it was going to the same office in Greenville as her's and I would have to show ID to pick it up and for her not to worry about it.
 

langenc

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 22, 2007
Messages
409
It used to recommended to view airline(s) rules regarding flying w/ gun(s).

Then print off 2 or 3 copies of those rules cause many emps just make up rules as they go. When they put you in a bind, just give em a copy of THEIR rules and ask em to follow em.
 

Jeepnik

Hawkeye
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
5,067
Mobuck said:
And this is why I don't go places I can't drive to.

And then the other side gets a win. Yes there are rules. Heck there are rules for everything in life. The rules for flying with a firearm aren't difficult. And like anything else after the first time or two it becomes commonplace. Heck, think about the first time you carried concealed. If you're like most you were nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof. Then suddenly one day you realized it was just business as usual.
 
Joined
Oct 26, 2006
Messages
9,297
I was working in Alaska. On one trip I was vectored to Chicago by Delta to connect with Alaskan Airlines(AA). Delta WOILD NOT transfer my luggage. I was forced to pick it up then recheck it in with AA. That was the trip TSA used bolt cutters to open my Ruger Redhawk case. When I landed in Anchorage, I was called to the TSA area, asked for ID, opened the case and asked if I declared it all, yes. OK. I got on my plane to Kotzebue, Alaska, and all was well.
gramps
 

buckeyeshooter

Blackhawk
Joined
Nov 8, 2004
Messages
670
gramps said:
Yep, I have flown a bunch. If TSA wants to see your gun they will take bolt cutters to your lock! I had one TSA officer mention he liked my gun, and the gun might not make it to my destination. At that time I took down his name and badge number, and let him know, that if my gun didn’t make it, he would be held responsible!
gramps

Nicest time I ever had was flying into Missoula, Montana on a bear hunt. I had a layover and airline change in Salt Lake that required rechecking luggage. The TSA folks brought me back in the room to unlock my case to check the guns and I got many questions and compliments on the Turnbull 50 Alaskan lever gun I was bringing, by the way, my second rifle was my old 77r .338 win mag that goes everywhere I hunt.
 

Far North Collector

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 20, 2022
Messages
113
flying with guns is easy. no one flys more with rifles and pistols then us. good gun case, a lock for each hole. (2 or 3) makes sure there unloaded. yes you can carry ammo in that case. in org boxs. DECLARE the fire arms. sign the statement there unloaded. check them in. nothing hard about it. sometimes TSA looks at them. sometimes they don't. each airport is different. have your keys ready. pick up at bag counter. they will not be on the carousel. that easy...FNC
 

314Chevy

Single-Sixer
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Messages
184
Two issues I had. First was declaring my packed and locked weapon to a young lady working in BWI. She freaked as did 80% of the people around me. Fortunately an older lady was working next to her who took control of the situation. TSA showed up and were excellent. Lesson learned: go to an older person when checking in.
Second happened when landing in San Diego. I had a locked rifle case that mysteriously disappeared upon arrival at 10:30 at night. Everything closed at 11:00 and I was told they will get it to me the next day (right). I told them they had 10 minutes to find it then I will call Harbor Police (LEO for the airport). Funny thing some young guy brought it to me in 5 minutes saying he was holding it for safety. Lesson learned: always stick to your guns!
 

Simmonsburg

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 28, 2021
Messages
149
I have always run a bike cable through my guns and locked it with a separate lock often firmly affixed to the case so they’d have to monkey bumping uglies it pretty hard to get away with one. Also always travel with the largest case possible with the thought that it’s harder to hide in a corner and get the guns out where a supervisor, who may not give two fucks anyway, can’t see.

Worst thing Bush did was create TSA. Same rags now federally over paid.
 

idsubgun

idsubgun
Joined
Nov 11, 2012
Messages
43
Flown many times with a gun. Even flown internationally. No issues what so ever. Just follow the rules.
I will say I've been directed to TSA every time. And had to pick up at the lost luggage office.

Another option if it's still legal. I haven't been a FFL for almost 10 years so haven't stayed up on any new regs. You used to be able to FedEx or UPS a firearm to yourself at your final destination, addressed to you, and opened only by you after you arrive. I've known guys doing this in the past when they went to another state to hunt. NOT LEGAL BY USPS unless you're a dealer. If you're going to several states, this wouldn't be a good option.

And TSA will cut your lock if they want to see inside and can't contact you. Had it happen once. After that, I made sure there was a name tag with my cell number, and that paid off once. Use those cheap suitcase locks so if they cut it, it's not a big deal. Expensive locks don't stop someone from getting into the suitcase.
 

blammer

Single-Sixer
Joined
Oct 6, 2007
Messages
169
Only did it once and it worked fine. I would suggest printing out current copies of both the TSA rules and airlines rules and take the paperwork on board with you: just in case you get an employee who doesn't know or wants to cause problems.

I liked the idea stated in post above for not picking up your luggage if you get stuck somewhere unexpected and gun-unfrirendly. Delta made you go to the controlled lost luggage pickup area which I also liked: they lock the room up when they close for the day.

Asking a question: Any legal beagles on here to comment on other options if you get unexpectedly diverted to hostile gun territory and for some reason your luggage just gets dumped in the normal pickup area? Would it be better to ask a cop to take possession of it and maybe lose it than to just let it sit there or take it and risk getting arrested for illegal possesion in that jurisdiction.
 

LakeErieGuns

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 29, 2022
Messages
14
Very easy to fly with a firearm. Disclose it at checkin desk. Have it locked in a larger bag. Your bag will be stored in a separate area from standard cargo and doesn’t even cost extra.

file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/ed/13/EE0ACD6C-56A9-4C38-B482-9B373E55F150/67234144565__7B05D4DB-D071-4BBB-A4CB-35D2599DC79B.HEIC
 

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