Mac's Guide to Flying with a Firearm:

Discussion in 'The SHOT ShowCase' started by MacG22, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. I am traveling for the first time with a pistol next week out of Orlando into Vegas and then back.

    Can you use the Kiosks for getting your boarding passes or do you have to stand in the big line of people that need to talk with an agent? With the kiosks an agent comes up to you still and checks you ID and puts the tag on your luggage which then you drop off for TSA.

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  2. The one question I have is about the ammo. I know it has to be in a box but does the box have to lock? Does it go in the case with the gun or in another locked case? Or can I just put the ammo boxes loose in my bag?

  3. For Delta it does not need to be locked up. It just needs to be packed so the rounds are separated from each other. It could be a paper, plastic, or metal box up to 11 lbs.
  4. Using a Kiosk won't work well because:

    1. A counter agent may or may not want to inspect your firearm.
    2. A counter agent needs you to sign a declaration tag that you put inside your suitcase declaring the firearm is unloaded. kiosks can't do that.
    3. In some cases an airline rep will have to walk you and your bag to TSA for screeniing, If the screeners aren't close by. Again, Kiosks are not set up for people traveling with guns. You can get your boarding pass when you get to the counter although some airlines give you a small discount for checking in and checking your bag on line. But you still gotta go to the counter anyway for the tag and inspection

    I always give myself an extra 30 minutes if I am traveling with a handgun in case of the aforementioned counter lines. Small tip as you approach the counter,just state in a normal conversation level and matter of fact voice "I have an unloaded weapon I need to declare." Works much better than "I have a gun" in a voice others in line can hear.

    My .02 YMMV
  5. TSA allows ammo to be either in your luggage or inside the locked gun container. As mentioned it has to be in a container suitable for holding ammo. (no loose rounds) Original containers are OK. Check airline web pages for weight restrictions on ammo. As an example, United allows onnly 11 lbs but Alaska air allows 50. Check before flying.
  6. MacG22


    Every airline is different. Some are really easy about it (just properly secure your unlaoded mags, etc) and some are more harsh. I have adopted a system which is pretty foolproof... I found what I believed to be the strctest interpretations and I use them for every flight. It's not necessary to do that, but there's no chance for mistakes if I get rushed or have a temporary lapse in memory, etc. My default routine satisfies the strictest requirements.

    I use the kiosks if I need. Generally I try to check in online before I get there, though.

    Here's why I like to use the kiosks...

    When you check in at the kiosk, you can pretty well get done by the time they come and try and take any back you have selected to check. And you can select your seat, etc, which can be nice.

    If you go to the counter and you get someone who is put off by the firearm, they may not be as kind an accommodating when selecting your seat for you. I was given a middle seat one time from that story I posted in the OP and when the plane took off there were tons of other seats open.

    So the kiosk isn't bad, in my experience, but by far the best way to have checked in online and printed your boarding pass at hone, IMO.

  7. What is the proper way to secure my mags? Lock them in the case with the gun. Can the ammo boxes just be placed in my checked bag?
  8. Anyone ever try flying into another country?
  9. Mags should be locked in your pistol case or suitcase UNLOADED. According to TSA rules you can put loaded mags into your luggage if the open ends are covered as inserted into a belt mag holder, but I have seen airline reps who wouldn't allow it, so to be safe, travel with mags unloaded to guarantee a hassle free trip.

    Ammo can be placed in your checked bag no problem. Conform with ammo box rules and you'll be fine.

    Again, my .02
  10. Ever watch the cable show Locked Up Abroad?

  11. Ok. I will plan on checking in online. Hopefully it will be pretty clear where I need to go with my boarding pass and bag to check. I have not flown in a couple of years. I have a confirmed seat and am in the first class cabin so they better not try and move me around. :)
  12. rmarkob

    rmarkob NRA Member

    I have packed my bag in a similar manner as MacG22 describes here, but using a $30 Secure-It or, 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: 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:

    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 Check out the link to some entertaining videos on this topic near the bottom of the page.
  13. MacG22


    Couldn't have said it any better, other than the one edit. Some airlines get sticky with ammo in checked bags. But in general there's no problem.
  14. Thanks for the info, I haven't flown commercial in 20 years so things have changed a bit.

    Does your bag that the guncase goes into have to be locked?
  15. Alchemy

    Alchemy Senior Member


    Maybe someone should direct EMT1581 to this thread. Since I'm on
    his ignore list and he's already started a thread in carry issues about it.
    He could learn a lot from this thread.

    He's flying to Florida next year for a wedding.

    So if someone that is not on his ignore list could forward a message
    to him about this post. It might spare us a lot of misery until next
  16. This is an excellent write up. Thank you for sharing.

  17. I always get a seat assignment in advance. Waiting until you get to the airport could get you bumped if the flight is overbooked. Since you have to go up to the counter anywauy to declare your firearm, I skip the kiosk and just get in line. My .02
  18. No, but if you want to lock, you may only use TSA approved locks if you desire to lock. TSA approved locks allow a TSA master key to open them if necessary but I have stopped using TSA approved locks as well since they seem to enjoy cutting them off instead of opening them with their key. I use a nylon wire tie to secure the outside of my luggage or nothing.You can get TSA travel locks almost anywhere these days but I refuse to waste any more money on them as TSA thinks bolt cutters are their master key.
  19. Cochese

    Cochese Most mackinest
    1. The JBT's

    I suggest pasting this into your blog section, then throwing a link to it in your sig line, for easy reference.

    That is what I did with the one I wrote years ago for here.

    ETA: link to my write up...
  20. Great info....thanks.

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