Flying with guns
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Author:  citori_girl [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Flying with guns

I will be flying from the west coast to the east coast with my shotgun in the spring. I have a Flight Proof steel case that is heavier than all else and pretty darn indestructable. I am looking for advice on how to lock and secure my gun with the new airport standards. Do I need to get a lock that can be opened by airport staff or can I make it more inaccesible? If anyone has experience traveling with guns I would appreciate your imput and/or suggestions!

Author:  Baron23 [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 2:32 pm ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

Your case needs to be lockable, but it does NOT have to be a lock that can be opened by TSA. The normal procedure is to report to the reservation desk (not curb side check-in) and tell the counter person "I have an unloaded firearm to check"...I find that much better than blurting out "I have a gun" in an airport.

They will give you a small form to fill out, will then ask you to open the case, will put the form in the case, and then ask you to lock it. At some airports you will have to take you gun to a free standing x-ray machine, if so, tell them the same thing and then stand by until its scanned in case they want you to open it for inspection. At other airports, they put the case from the counter onto the belt with the rest of the checked bagage and tell you if TSA wants to talk with you, they will get in touch (this is Southwest at BWI). When this step is done (either way), just go to your gate.

On the receiving end, your gun may come out with the rest of the checked baggage or may go to the airlines bagage office for pick-up. There is no way to tell...different at each airport. Best bet is to stop by the baggage office for your airline and ask...sometimes they come out seperately with other large items like golf clubs...there is no standard.

Good luck and have a safe trip.

Author:  scaupstopper [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 2:34 pm ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

I fly with firearms quite a bit. A good case is the first step. You take your own lock(s). You do not use TSA locks.

You declare the gun at checkin. Open the case to prove it is unloaded. Close the case, do not lock it yet.

Then one of two things will happen. Either TSA will come get the case or the airline rep will take the case to the x-ray machine. When you get there, hand the TSA rep the lock(s) and wait till they say the case is clear, and watch them lock the case.

This is the most standard process, but despite "TSA" regulations, it may be handled differently in each airport. I fly 2-3 times a month with a gun, and it seems that each TSA person thinks they know everything, but does it different than everyone.

When you arrive it may not come out on the baggage claim. Sometimes an agent will bring it out and make you show ID, so keep an eye out for that person.

But dont fear, guns get special handling and I have never had a problem, except when flying through Detroit. Things tend to get "lost" there. I just dont fly through there anymore.

Author:  ruger4570 [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 3:31 pm ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

Another thing, don't have ANY ammo in the case. I have travelled several times with a shotgun and have had no problems so far. I also put a trigger lock on the gun. Check with your airline for any rules or if they will not allow you to have a gun checked. I have heard that some airlines don't allow guns. I haven't had one so far..

Author:  Bill M. [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 3:47 pm ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

Done it a few times. No real problems. Be nice if the case does not have things that stick out and catch on the auto handling lines. All of the employees I have encountered seem to know a little about it. I packed the ammo in a suitcase and the gun in a gun case. The ammo needs to be in the factory cardboard boxes and there is a limit how much.

Author:  Rogmatt [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:12 pm ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

All good answers.
I have flown with guns a few times.
Ther TSA will ask you to unlock your case & inspect the contents, I have had plenty of ammo packed in the case as well. Never had a problem. The see hunter on a regular basis & are very courteous in my experience. It's not us they are worried about. I use at least 3 locks on a long gun case.

Author:  jeepguy [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:47 pm ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

all good advice. the only thing i can add is 1 little extra piece of safety i do when i fly with my guns. i carry a roll od duct tape. when it's time to lock up the case, i lock it, then rap the case and lock in duct tape. this keeps the locks from catching on anything that can add to the case getting banged around more. it alos will prevent anyone from opening the case as you can tell if the "seal" has been broken. just a little extra i do when i travel, i've never had a problem. :D

Author:  ruger4570 [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:45 pm ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

I was told by the airline I could NOT have ammo in the same case as the gun and also it had to be in factory boxes. I suppose you could just put your reloads, if you like, in some factory boxes. I also use a cheap Doscosport plastic case with 3 locks on it. It worled fine with no damage to the gun whatever. I also put my name address and phone numbers in the case too.

Author:  waverider [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:26 pm ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns


As you can read, procedures differs from airline and airports.

Dept of Transportation (DOT) rules state that the gun must be in an Airline Approved Case, ie lockable hard case. The case must be locked. The key and/or combination must be kept/known only by you. You can have up to 25 lbs of ammo in the original boxes per bag. Most airlines that I have flown only allow 10 or 11 pounds. Most do not allow the ammo to be in the bag with the gun, some do. Airlines can make up their own rules as long as it is more restrictive that the DOT rules.

My procedure is to double check that the gun is indeed unloaded, that includes snap caps. If you really need snap caps get plastic ones just for air travel. I take the unlocked case to the ticket counter and declare that I have an unloaded firearm in this case/bag. I am usually given an orange declaration tag to sign and put in the bag. The agent is suppose to check that it is unloaded, some do not. I then put the tag in the gun case and lock it. I would not allow the gun case to be put on the belt to the back. I would make sure that a TSA agent inspects the gun and gun case and places a TSA sticker on the baggage tag. This way if the bag is X-rayed later on, the other TSA agent will know that the bag has been check. With out the sticker they will most likely break open the case to check it, you have no recourse for damage to the case and/or the gun if this happens. Using TSA locks if you can is good but you may be breaking DOT rules. I do use them for my other bags.

Author:  rockman22 [ Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:21 am ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

I just happened to read an article on this today that covered this topic from A to Z. To find it go to find the link to their magazine, and it's one of the main headlines on that page.

Author:  Baron23 [ Tue Mar 06, 2007 7:47 am ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

Jason - at BWI's Southwest terminal there is no TSA inspection station or x-ray machine that you can wait by while they check your gun. They ask you to wait a minute or so by the counter in case TSA wants you to open the case again (after the ticket agent has inspected it, and you/they have placed the declaration in the case).

There is no uniformity in procedures and an insistence on staying with your gun until TSA has inspected it will not, at this particular airport, yeild any results.

You just need to ask at the counter what the process is for any further TSA inspection.

Author:  shotgunworld [ Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:16 am ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

Info at ... _1666.shtm

Traveling with Special Items
Firearms & Ammunition

You may only transport firearms, ammunition and firearm parts in your checked baggage. Firearms, ammunition and firearm parts are prohibited from carry-on baggage.

There are certain limited exceptions for law enforcement officers who may fly armed by meeting the requirements of Title 49 CFR § 1544.219. Law enforcement officers should read our policies on traveling with guns.

The key regulatory requirements to transporting firearms, firearm parts or ammunition in checked baggage are:

You must declare all firearms to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.
The firearm must be unloaded.
The firearm must be in a hard-sided container.
The container must be locked.
We recommend that you provide the key or combination to the security officer if he or she needs to open the container. You should remain present during screening to take the key back after the container is cleared. If you are not present and the security officer must open the container, we or the airline will make a reasonable attempt to contact you. If we can’t contact you, the container will not be placed on the plane. Federal regulations prohibit unlocked gun cases (or cases with broken locks) on aircraft.
You must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging that is specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
You can’t use firearm magazines/clips for packing ammunition unless they completely and securely enclose the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the exposed portions of the magazine or by securely placing the magazine in a pouch, holder, holster or lanyard).
You may carry the ammunition in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as you pack it as described above.
You can’t bring black powder or percussion caps used with black-powder type firearms in either your carry-on or checked baggage.
We and other authorities strictly enforce these regulations. Violations can result in criminal prosecution and civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

Airlines may have their own additional requirements on the carriage of firearms and the amount of ammunition that you may have in your checked baggage. Therefore, travelers should also contact the airline regarding its firearm and ammunition carriage policies.

Also, please note that many other countries have different laws that address transportation and possession of firearms. If you are traveling internationally, please check with the authorities at your destination about their requirements.

Author:  shotgunworld [ Thu Mar 08, 2007 8:59 pm ]
Post subject:  re: Flying with guns

Posted for Peter T.
My gun case has a zip up outer fabric cover. This somewhat disguises the gun case, covers and protects the combination/key locks. It's got a few marks but is cheaply replaced when evetually necessary.

After last year's World FITASC we flew home with American Airlines from New York to LA. Our one and only flight with AA. We checked in a couple of hours ahead for an early morning flight, flying Business Class. The check-in attendant had no clue with firearms and spoke with a supervisor. Apparently at that time of the morning the supervisor had trouble finding a TSA member so the spervisor found a police officer to verify the gun was broken down, and placed the tag in the case. I then went with the check-in attendant to a seperate area and placed the gun case on a special luggage or oversized items conveyor and was assured everything had been properly taken care of, despite my enquiries about the TSA. We then waited in the departure lounge for nearly an hour for our flight.

The gun case was recovered in LA, cover zipped up, but with the locks forced open and the case destroyed. Even being a Business Class passenger and in the terminal for some time prior to the flight, no attempt whatsoever had been made to contact me prior to departure to open the case for a TSA inspection.

I complained to the American Airlines baggage counter in LA and received an apology, an admission of liability and a promise to reimburse or replace the case, all in writing. I had to fly out for Australia a few hours later, on a Saturday, and had no chance of replacing the case myself that day and providing the airline with a receipt for reimbursement. Despite written reference numbers, e-mails and phone calls, to this day I have had no further response from American Airlines whatsoever. They completely ignore my e-mails and don't want to know about it.

We had 12 flights in the US on that trip with several different airlines and had no other problems with TSA, because I spoke directly with the TSA every other time. No matter what anyone tells you, no matter what written procedures you are notified of, insist on staying with your gun case until a TSA officer tells you it's ok to leave the gun with them. Sometime they will ask you to open the case and inspect the firearm, sometimes they won't, but make sure it is the TSA and not the airline giving you advice.


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