I have packed my bag in a similar manner as MacG22 describes here, but using a $30 Secure-It or http://www.center-of-mass.com/Store_InCarGunSafe.htm
, with a steel cable looped around the suitcase frame. The case my Glock came in doesn't have a place for a padlock.
I usually just tell them at the airline counter that I need an unloaded firearms declaration form. I've had varied experience with where the airline employee wants the tag to go. Most realize it's supposed to be inside the luggage, but outside
of the locked firearm container, specifically so the TSA screener can see I declared it with the airline. In fact at SeaTac the secondary TSA guy once taped the tag to the gunsafe so it wouldn't get separated inside the luggage.
At Savannah/Hilton Head a couple of weeks ago, the airline lady (US Airways) absolutely insisted the tag go inside
the case, stating it was what TSA there wanted (she radio'd ahead that it was on its way down). Some tags have an elastic string, and I usually loop that over the latch inside the case and leave the tag hanging out, but I didn't argue with the witch (sorry, she had an attitude). The reason for confusion is probably because when traveling with a rifle or shotgun where the case is
the luggage, the only
place to put the tag is inside the case.
I even drove from PA to NJ to fly out of Newark airport with a gun once. Another poster alluded to the case of a traveler with a firearm being arrested there a few years ago. Here's that case: http://www.anjrpc.org/fopalawsuit.htm
. Because of this and other abuses at NY area airports, Congressman Don Young wrote to the TSA to get their interpretation of FOPA and received this response from the Assistant U.S. Attorney General: http://www.nraila.org/images/DOJltrTSA.pdf
Anyway, I took my chances and didn't have any issues at the airport. However, I think it's probably so rare for travelers to declare handguns at Newark (and the TSA guy was so overly polite) that I think they assumed I was a LEO (mere mortals don't have guns in NJ, unless they're criminals!).
Another good source of info on flying with firearms is http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig10/ollam1.html
. Check out the link to some entertaining videos on this topic near the bottom of the page.