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Mac's Guide to Flying with a Firearm:

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

  1. reckless45


    Apr 3, 2010
    Great info - i like the cable idea very much. Thanks!
  2. NickV02


    Feb 8, 2010
    Do you hold the case outside of your luggage while you declare it or do you have it packed already in the suitcase and then once you declare what you have you take it out of the suitcase when they want to inspect it?

    Thanks for this great writeup !!

  3. IMO I'd be careful about this. Depending on the carry laws of the state you're in, walking up to the counter with an encased but not packed firearm may or may not be legal. The exception might be that if the firearm case was your only luggage, you'd probablt be finebut I don't travel that way.. My procedure is to pack the case in my luggage and only open the luggage after declaring the firearm to the counter rep. and following their instructions. I have had one or two occasions where the rep didn't even bother to look at the weapon before handing me the declaration to sign

    I'd rather pack it and be safe rather than sorry. Again, my .02 Others may disagree.
  4. NickV02


    Feb 8, 2010
    That's the response I assumed but just wanted to confirm. I would imagine a firearm in a case would be considered a concealed weapon so I will keep it in my suitcase.
  5. skyparker

    skyparker SkyMan

    Nov 3, 2009
    Branson, MO
    (This is the follow-up on my two posts made April 6th within this thread.)

    Back from my Florida trip....

    All went well with my departure on Allegiant Airlines declaring my Glock27 in a Pelican type case. I followed MacG22's instructions to the letter. I informed the Allegiant ticket agent that I had a firearm to declare. He simply had me sign their declaration notice. The gun case was placed in my suitcase. When the agent saw how it was secured with a cable and double locks, he only stated, "It's unloaded, right?" and left it at that.

    The ticket agent then called for TSA. TSA escorted me to their bag screening area and saw how the case was secured and again I was only asked if it was unloaded. He then swabbed the interior of my suitcase and told me all was OK. There was NO interior inspection of the gun case at all.

    The whole process from start to finish lasted 15min. Declaring the the firearm and doing the TSA screening probably took 10min or less.

    Again, thanks to Mac for his write-up. I will have no hesitation of doing this again in the future.

    (Oh, For our return trip, we had an overweight suitcase
    due to the wife's shopping. So, a buddy of mine brought my gun case back from FL on his private plane. And yes, it was still unloaded and double locked.)
  6. MacG22

    MacG22 CLM

    Feb 28, 2008
    I agree with this. Half the time the agent at the desk won't even open your bag. They'll have you fill out the declaration tag, put it inside your bag, and that's it for them. Then you'll either be forwarded to TSA for a quick secondary or they'll put it on the belt and instruct you that if TSA needs to inspect it more further then you'll be paged.

    So I wouldn't take the unnecessary step of pulling it out ahead of time. I tend to think of it like this... "will my actions make the people behind the counter more or less comfortable?" Within the regs, I always aim to make them more comfortable. It almost always makes it easier on me to do that.
  7. MacG22

    MacG22 CLM

    Feb 28, 2008

    Thanks for the update. I'm very glad it went well for you.
  8. B.Reid


    Jun 20, 2005
    I am in Alaska, first time I flew with a firearm. It was really no problem at all. The truth is they took special care with my bag. Also to the poster that said the gun dealers in Alaska would not let him come within 6 feet of the counter, He must be some kind of a hole because we visited several gun shops and they were very nice. My girlfriend bought a Browning Hi Power today, it will be shipped to a dealer back home. I brought my gun mostly just to test the system and I have found it to be very easy, just follow the rules. Of course you may have more trouble flying in and out of Progressive states but why would you live there anyway?
  9. Jon_R


    May 3, 2009
    Central Florida
    I traveled today for the first time bringing a pistol with me. I took some tips from this and it went pretty smooth. I took my G19 apart and put it in the lock box. Neither the ticket agent or TSA asked me to open the box. I think the ticket agent did something wrong though as after I went through security and got to my gate the gate agent called me up to confirm I was traveling with a weapon on me. I let them know that was not the case and they said oh.... We will let the captain know. I guess I was an honorary federal LEO for about an hour. :)

    I expected the issue to come back up on my connection but they didn't say anything.
  10. mtnglocker


    Dec 6, 2008
    Here's another horror story at baggage check-in. About 20 years ago, I was an active LEO, traveling with my wife on vacation to New Orleans. I had my S&W Model 38 Airweight, unloaded and locked inside a case per instructions from the airline. No problem leaving Tampa. I told the clerk I was an off-duty LEO, and want to declare an unloaded firearm in my luggage. He said no problem, put the blue tag inside the suitcase and I was on my way.

    On the way back, at the NO airport, I approached the young female clerk with the same line. She said: "take the gun out, I need to make sure its unloaded." I looked around for a security guard or police officer to assist, but none around. I took the firearm out and swung open the cylinder to show her, as discreetly as I could. See, no rounds in the cylinder. She said: "You have to make it click so I could make sure." I asked her to repeat herself.......I said fine, and pointing it down in a safe manner, I dry fired it 3 times, see its empty !!! The "clicking" noise brought over a security guard and after I explained the lunacy and lack of knowledge of the clerk, not to mention the upset people behind me, he said you're good to go, have a safe flight.

    Since 9-11, and the increased firearm carrying public, I'm sure training and experience of the clerks is somewhat better. Now I just try to drive on vacation.
  11. MacG22

    MacG22 CLM

    Feb 28, 2008
  12. NickV02


    Feb 8, 2010
  13. MacG22

    MacG22 CLM

    Feb 28, 2008
    No problem, guys. I'm glad it was a help. I remember looking for info and writeups before I flew and didn't find much (a few years ago). It's pretty terrifying if you get to an airport and don't have any guidance. At least, it was for me the first time. But then when I realized how easy it was to fly it was it took all intensity out of it. It's really not hard to do. I don't always travel with my firearm, but when I'm working on projects where I need it I'm glad it's easy to fly with it.
  14. Thanks for this excellent thread and information, Mac. I don't fly much these days but had pretty much concluded the hassles of checking a handgun into baggage wouldn't be worth it. Clearly it is generally much more straightforward than I had assumed.

    Should the need arise, I'll reconsult your thread first, then check the airlines's and TSA's sites next!
  15. dnuggett

    dnuggett PRO 2A

    Feb 28, 2005
    DFW TX
  16. Timberwulf

    Timberwulf Pack'n Llama

    Sep 28, 2001
    I've had great experiences on American Airlines over the last 7 years flying multiple times a year. Pistol locked in a lunchbox sized Pelican case, clerks always just had me sign the unloaded form and set it on top of the Pelican, then wheel it over to TSA at the DFW airport, or more often at other airports they just put it on the conveyor and had me hang out for 10 minutes to make sure it cleared TSA.

    Southwest was a little odd at Love Field a week ago - the ticketing agent had me open the slide to demonstrate it was unloaded. That was more reminiscent of when I used to fly with firearms around 1999-2002. On the way back to Dallas from Tucson, the ticketing agent looked horrified that the Dallas agent had had me do that, and indicated that he must not be briefed on current procedures because that's no longer their procedure.

    Over the last 10 years of flying with firearms in checked baggage, it really is usually a pain-free, easy process and I've had no real troubles.
  17. MacG22

    MacG22 CLM

    Feb 28, 2008
    I'm really glad you wrote this. I wish everyone could read it.
  18. badlands99


    Mar 19, 2009

    First of all, tremendous amounts of appreciation heaped upon MacG22 for this information. It has emboldened me to give it a go. I'm flying tomorrow to New Orleans by way of who-knows-where and I was not looking forward to being unarmed during my stay, so... many thanks.

    I was printing out the info from the TSA site and this is part of the page...

    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 in the area designated by the aircraft operator or TSA representative to take the key back after the container is cleared for transportation. 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.
    ***END PASTE***

    That seems to contradict the previous idea of the traveler being the only one who is allowed to have the key/combi.

    Has there been a change?

    Also, I'll be traveling on some of those small regional jets and I have a carry on bag that I can't be separated from (it has all my camera gear, IE: livelihood). Do any of you have any tips on how to deal with the crew if/when they tell me I'll have to check that bag? I can't let it get into the hands of those gorillas who throw bags around.

    Thanks in advance for any info you can offer on that.
  19. No but if asked to provide the combo, you can politely ask the TSA rep to give you the case so you can open it. You are obligated IMO to open it, not share the combo as that defeats TSA's rule about only you having access. I am lucky in that my Gunvaut Micro has a combo and a key. This is my opinion. Mac and others may differ.

    I fly on regional jets quite a bit and you will be asked to check your carry on bag at the jetway before boarding if it doesn't fit the small bins on those small jets. My carryon is 14 x 9 x 22 and it is totally legal on a regular sized plane. I always have to give it to the baggage guys before boarding. You normally get it back when you deplane. Once the airline made us go to baggage claim to get our carryons. I believe that was a screw up.

    There is really no way around that. I recommend calling the airline and asking what the max size carryon size will be for the jet you will fly. This way you can hang onto it.