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Flying with a Gun - My Experience Login/Join 



Picture of TXBRASS
posted
Wrote this for another forum and thought I’d share it here too.


I just returned from my bear hunt in Oregon and for the first time in my life I flew with my Specialty Pistol as checked baggage. I had previously traveled to Oregon to hunt in 2016 and that time had shipped my gun via UPS, but round trip shipping cost me over $300 and I was not happy with the condition of my case when it arrived back home so for this trip I decided to fly with it.

I hunt with Specialty Pistols which are bolt action rear grip handguns. This “not normal” look may have played some role in what transpired, but I will share my story just the same and let you decide.

First off, I have a Pelican hard case that is almost 5 feet long. Inside I have three layers of foam with the center piece cutout that holds a soft sided case which contains my firearm. I do not have anything else (Ammo, etc) inside the case.
The pelican case is locked with 4 padlocks, two of which require a key and two which are combination. They are extremely tight fitting, so even in the event of the latches popping open, the case will not open at all. The Pelican case is identified with 2 heavy duty ID tags, as well as my brand and personal ID being stippled into the polymer of the case. Although it looks like a gun case by nature, there is nothing identifying it as a firearm.

I arrived at Austin, TX airport at approximately 2:45 am. I was flying American to Medford, Oregon with a layover in LAX. I declared my firearm when I went to the American counter as is required by law and the teller asked me if it was unloaded. I said it was unloaded and she had me sign a form which she had me place inside the case. I unlocked one of the end locks and slipped the postcard sized paper in and re-locked the lock. I was then directed to a TSA firearm check station about 30 yards down from the American counter. I was the second person in line there behind a guy with a standard handgun. That guy put his handgun case on a conveyor that drug it through what I’m guessing was an X-ray machine. In just a few minutes the 2 TSA guys gave him the green light to go and he and his wife walked away. I then was instructed to put my case on the conveyor and I watched as the two TSA guys talked back and forth as they looked at the screen. One of the guys walked over to me and stated that he needed to do an inspection. He had me unlock all 4 locks and then take a step back while he conducted his check. He unzipped the soft case that contained the firearm, but did not touch the gun. He zipped the soft case back and then pressed on the foam around the gun on both sides of the case. He then began to close the case and as he did, I requested he place the free floating piece of foam I had in the proper place which he did. He then had me lock the case and told me I was good to go.
When I arrived in Medford I went to baggage claim and grabbed my suitcase. A few minutes later I heard a woman’s voice call my name and I saw a lady walking around the carousel with my gun case. She was holding one end in her hand and the other end was rolling on the floor how it was designed to do. I approached her and she asked to see my ID which I provided. As soon as she saw my ID, she let go of the end of the case, allowing it to drop to the floor, turned and walked away without even a word. I responded to her actions with a loud “really” and she never looked back. It wasn’t a big deal as my rig is well padded, but I can only guess she was an “anti” of some sort and was taking her anti kidney shot as she saw fit. No biggie either way as I was excited to get going and get to hunting.

4 days later I re-entered the Medford, OR airport at 5am to begin my journey home. This time I was flying United and did the same process as before. The United lady at the ticket counter asked if my gun was loaded when I declared it and I again said it wasn’t. She told me that she was going to take my word for it and had me sign another declaration postcard which I again had to slide in one end of the case. She took my gun case and told me to stand to the side and she would call me in 10 minutes if TSA wanted to do an inspection. In about 10 minutes she gave me a thumbs up and said I was good to proceed to to the TSA security line and that no inspection was needed. I was in line for about 15 minutes when a female TSA agent in her mid-20’s approached me and asked my name. She then said that she needed the key to my gun case because they felt that the gun was loaded. I politely informed her that I was a police detective and that it would be against federal law for me to give her my key and that I needed to be present during any inspection of my firearm. She replied, “really???....well then come with me”. I followed her halfway across the airport (only about 100 yards) where she took me to a hallway and told me to wait on another agent to conduct my inspection. In a few minutes another female in her 20’s came out with my gun case. She could barely lift it, so I helped her get it onto the table and she thanked me and asked me to open the locks. She opened the case and only felt around the foam on both sides of the case and never opened the soft case containing the firearm. She asked me if it was loaded and I said no and she then had me lock the case back and said I could proceed back to the TSA checkpoint. I went and got back in line which was short and made it to the point where my boots, belt, and all my belongings were in the plastic bin and I was about to walk through the body scanner. The original TSA lady walked up to me and said, “were you the one with the loaded gun?” I said that I wasn’t and that I had just finished my inspection. She walked over to another TSA guy and they began whispering to each other and looking at me. She came back over and said that a second inspection was going to be required because x-rays showed that my gun was loaded. She had me carry my container of stuff along with my boots and walk in my socks the 100 yards back over to the same hall. As we walked she said there was something round in the gun. I told
Her maybe she was seeing the rounded muzzle-brake or the bipod legs and she said that wasn’t it. This time three ladies in their 20’s were in the hall with my gun case and they again had me
unlock it. I told them they would need to remove the gun from the scabbard and the one said, “I’m not touching a gun....you do it.” I removed the gun and opened the bolt and put my pinky down into the chamber so they could see that it was empty. The other lady said, “the x-ray looks like there are bullets inside the front and in the grip.” She then said, “it looks round and then like a lot of bb’s”. I realized that I had filled my stock with brass pieces, and then brass coated bb’s mixed with Devcon for weight. I guess they were seeing this on the X-ray. When I explained this, they said they understood and had me lock it all back up and proceed. Even though it was a bit of a pain, they were all very polite, although clueless. My flight got delayed (unrelated to the inspection) so I had to catch another to Austin which put me about 2 hours later than originally scheduled. As we touched down in ATX, I received a text from Travelocity saying my luggage had arrived on an earlier flight and that I needed to see a United baggage claims specialist for my stuff. I found the United baggage claims office behind the carousel and I saw my bag and gun case sitting there with about 40 other pieces of luggage. I walked in and the lady asked if she could help me. I told her the gun case and tan bag were mine and she said to go ahead and take them. She never asked for ID or for a claim ticket or anything. This probably made me the most nervous of all.

The gun was in excellent condition and had been taken care of from what I could see. It only cost me $50 round trip to ship it vs the $300+ with UPS 2 years earlier.

All in all I was happy and would recommend the process. I feel my guns which are my prized possessions are much safer flying than they are being shipped. I recommend knowing the law and the airline rules and not hesitating to speak up when an uneducated TSA agent tries to do something that violates those laws. Remain respectful yet firm and I feel all will go well.

Just my experience the first time doing it and thought I would share for anyone else who might be thinking about doing the same.





CW
**********************
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- SHORT STICK BANG GANG -
 
Posts: 1227 | Location: SHINER, TX | Registered: September 30, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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nuts
I wonder what kind of qualification you have to have, to be a TSA inspector. I have seen many people in charge of somthing they know little if anything about.

Glad it ended well and look forward to more on your trip.
Jeff


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G whiz, it's a Contender or a G2, never was a G One!
 
Posts: 3024 | Location: Kansas U.S of A | Registered: November 01, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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They don't make it easy do they. I've noticed there seems to be some reluctance to allow help in handling and insuring the firearm is replaced properly after inspection. It seems they dismiss the fact you brought it in in the first place, declared it etc.
 
Posts: 761 | Location: Idaho | Registered: March 16, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post



Picture of Leupold Man
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Great write up! As a person that is qualified to do Fed. Screening (non-TSA) I can tell you the training they have is sub-par!!!! Great advice to know the rules/laws and stand up for yourself!!!! Glad everything worked out for you Cody.


---------------------------------
Veteran and NRA Life Member
 
Posts: 2724 | Location: Waterloo Wisconsin | Registered: October 22, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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Thanks for the write-up. I travel a lot "out West" for work and have considered taking a rifle for long-range entertainment in the wide open spaces of public land. It sounds like you have to show up much earlier and have the patience of a saint to exercise your rights as an American. Somewhat sad but at least you're not utterly denied.
 
Posts: 39 | Location: NM, USA | Registered: November 14, 2016Reply With QuoteReport This Post


082222



Picture of Arrowflinger
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Our recent trip from California to Wyoming for WyShot was pretty uneventful. The airline were easy to deal with. Like you Cody, we had to declare the pistols were unloaded.(no one checked) and insert a signed card in the locked case. The biggest difference is we flew Delta. Delta required that the ammo (not to exceed 11 lbs per person) be in the same case as the firearms. They had to be in their original packaging or in plastic ammo boxes that were taped closed. I thought this was strange to say the least. But that is two years in a row with the same requirements. Maybe this is just a Delta thing?
But all in all. Easy with no problems.
Derek >>>--------->
 
Posts: 900 | Location: Bay Area California | Registered: April 19, 2016Reply With QuoteReport This Post



Picture of TXBRASS
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quote:
Originally posted by jsh:
nuts

Glad it ended well and look forward to more on your trip.
Jeff


JSH,

More on trip in hunting section of SP Forum.


CW
**********************
Get your W-GEAR shooting accessories NOW!
SP Scabbards, Rear Rest Bags, Ammo Bracelets, Front Rest Bags, & more...
Made in USA with a LIFETIME warranty!



www.codyweiser.com



- SHORT STICK BANG GANG -
 
Posts: 1227 | Location: SHINER, TX | Registered: September 30, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post






Picture of Magnum Mike
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My experience with flying with a gun was fairly uneventful.

On my departure, the ticket agent asked me to see my unloaded gun then sent me to tsa, where I found my case did NOT meet regulations. They sent me to jet blue, who sold tsa approved cases and I got the last broken one they had. Fortunately, I travel with pocket tools and was able to repair it and used it. Upon my return to tsa, they swabbed suitcase, looked in the case at my unloaded gun, sent it thru a scanner and then finally approved it to be sent to the plane. Btw, I had to do the signature card just like Cody.

On my return, the ticket agent, who waived all the baggage fees as I was returning with my middle son from boot camp, asked to see my gun, verified that it was unloaded, had me sign the card and place it in the case. I then zipped up and locked my suitcase, she tagged it and stuck it on the belt. No tsa check, no hassle.

Obviously, the ticket agent makes a huge difference in how things are handled. Would I do it again, absolutely!


mike
------------------------------

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Posts: 19878 | Location: western PA, USA! | Registered: October 30, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post


030423



Picture of Sawfish
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I make 5-10 flights per year with handguns, and have done so for hears, with no real problems. The irksome thing is that all TSA locations are supposed to operate under the same rules which they do not. There is also a variation from airport to airport, airline to airline, and within different areas of the country. In July, I flew round trip from Orange County California to Monroe Louisiana on American. I was going to make some repairs to my lake house in Louisiana which is in a fairly remote area. I took a double sided pistol case with a .357 Magnum, a 44 Magnum, a 45 Auto, and a .22 pistol. I checked in at American in Orange County, I gave the ticket agent my ID, told her that I had a gun case, with handguns. She gave me the declarations card to fill out, sign, and place in my gun case. I slipped in the end of the case like Cody. She tagged the case as gate delivery only, and sent me to the TSA Counter. The agent asked me if the guns were unloaded, was there ammunition packed with the guns, and was it in the original packaging, or other suitable packaging. I answered yes to all, and I was good to go. TSA regulations require ammo to be packed securely in either the original packaging, or other suitable packaging, with a maximum of 11 pounds. TSA does not require ammo to be packed with the gun. That rule varies with the airline. As luck would have it, I missed my Dallas connection, and had to take a later flight to Louisiana. While in Dallas, I received a call from the American Agent in Monroe, Louisiana telling me that my bags had arrived there, and they would hold them until I arrived. I told him that one of the bags was a gun case, and he said that would be held in secured storage. When I arrived in Monroe, I told the security guard in the baggage claim area that my luggage had arrived earlier. He found a baggage agent for me, who retrieved my gun case, and upon showing my ID, presented my gun case to me. The gate delivery and ID requirement are new this year.

No problems checking in, or on the return trip. When I arrived in Orange County, I went to the American Baggage Claim office, and told the lady that I was looking for a gun case. She gave me a big smile and said "I have been waiting for you". Do you have your ID? I showed it to her, and she gave me the gun case. Everything on this trip was done exactly, as it should have been. Possibly because these are more gun friendly areas, and the employees in these area are familiar with guns. I will never ship my guns. This was recommended to me when we were having the North American Handgun Hunters Hunt in Texas every year. I decided to ship my ammo as a test two weeks before the hunt date. The ammo arrived on the afternoon of the last day of the hunt. Never again.


------------------------------
Good Shooting Makes Good Hunting
NRA Patron Member, FTRA Member;
Life Member SCI, NAHH, RMEF, and NSRPA; HHI Member #7108, Member CBA, NSSF

"A man can never have too much red wine, too many good books, or too much ammunition."
Rudyard Kipling
 
Posts: 3510 | Location: Peoples Republic of Kalifornia | Registered: March 13, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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Cody,
Thanks for sharing your experiences w/ us. I last flew w/ firearms (rifles and a Contender) in 2012 for a ground squirrel hunt in NE CA. My flying experience was uneventful. My main complaint relates to all the different rules in place at the time. TSA had some rules that were different from particular airlines and rules were different from airline to airline. My best advice is to KNOW THE RULES. Being polite goes a long ways, as well. Some airlines required ammo to be in the same case as the gun while some required it to be in a different case. Also know the rules pertaining to the size and weight of luggage/gun case. On the '12 trip I bought a new Pelican gun case because my old rifle case was long enough that is was now classified as "oversize" and subject to an extra $200 charge one way. Mad


Good luck and good hunting.
 
Posts: 1674 | Location: Springhill, LA | Registered: November 16, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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quote:
I flew round trip from Orange County California to Monroe Louisiana on American.

Between graduating from college in Monroe and having a number of family living in the Monroe area, I have a lot of fond memories. thumbup That's a loooooong way to travel for lake house repairs! Eek


Good luck and good hunting.
 
Posts: 1674 | Location: Springhill, LA | Registered: November 16, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post



Picture of Duffy
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Checks do seem to vary greatly from one airline/airport to another. While not a firearm my wife has an auto injector for her shots and that used to get scrutinized quite closely in the x-ray machine. I can see why as it has a plunger and spring in it. Some airports will just about disassemble her wheelchair to check it out while others don't give it a second look. Have had the most trouble in LAX as far as people being rude and totally un-helpful. One gal pulled my camera out of the case, ran her finger across the lens and then unscrewed the lens and was about to poke her finger inside when I stopped her and politely told her she would be buying me a new one if she did that. Got a dirty look and I took it from her so she wouldn't cross thread the lens/body.
I can see them switching things up to keep the bad guys guessing but I think some of them are wanna-be detectives and make up their own rules. Glad everything went well for you.


------------------------------

A body at rest stays at rest, until the wife shows up.
Ryan
 
Posts: 4627 | Location: Odessa Wa. | Registered: September 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post


030423



Picture of Sawfish
posted Hide Post
quote:
Between graduating from college in Monroe and having a number of family living in the Monroe area, I have a lot of fond memories. That's a loooooong way to travel for lake house repairs!



Yes it is, but I have a few cousins there with strong backs and weak minds who will work for beer. Besides they have access to some pretty good hunting and fishing spots, when we are "resting". I went to NLSC as it was called then, but got transferred to Texas and finished school there


------------------------------
Good Shooting Makes Good Hunting
NRA Patron Member, FTRA Member;
Life Member SCI, NAHH, RMEF, and NSRPA; HHI Member #7108, Member CBA, NSSF

"A man can never have too much red wine, too many good books, or too much ammunition."
Rudyard Kipling
 
Posts: 3510 | Location: Peoples Republic of Kalifornia | Registered: March 13, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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quote:
I went to NLSC as it was called then, but got transferred to Texas and finished school there

It was NLU when I graduated from Monroe, but by the time one of my daughter's graduated they'd changed the name to ULM (University of Louisiana at Monroe). They also changed the mascot from the Indians to the Warhawks. Sad Regardless of the name or the mascot, the Alumni Association still wants my money. hammer


Good luck and good hunting.
 
Posts: 1674 | Location: Springhill, LA | Registered: November 16, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post



Picture of Shaggy357
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I have travelled a lot with guns. They have me flagged in the system or something because i have been asked several times, "no guns this trip?"

My biggest issues have been having my case loaded right at the 50lb limit. I have had to open the case and remove a scope one time, and a bi-pod another. Not a big deal, except my other checked bag was already gone. I had to carry these items in my carry on. It took me almost an hour to get three TSA folks to understand a bi-pod would not hurt them. Portland International it took half an hour for lady TSA to understand how action protection device was used when cleaning a firearm and that ammo could not be fired from it. No one ever asked about the scope in my bag. Go figure!

Never had anything lost or damaged. Always been good in that respect.


Steve Smile
---------------------------------
"Life is a play before an audience of one. When your play is over, will your audience stand and applaude, or stay seated and cry?"
 
Posts: 1933 | Location: Washington  | Registered: October 14, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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Irritating but funny. Did the whole baggage check in, yes guns unloaded, locked case. Flying From New Orleans, Louisiana to see my son in Alaska. There’s two 44mag one for my son and my 45 carry gun for when we’re not fishing. Three boxes of ammo. Four one pound bags of dry Red Beans. They don’t get Blue Runner beans in Alaska. I make it through security and am half way to my gate when my name is called to return to baggage check in. Oh hell here we go! Return and here’s three female TSA agents looking at the X-ray and pointing at the screen. They ask what the little round objects are!!! They lost it when I explained my son neeeds some Red Beans! Laughed their butts off. Never mind the pistols or ammo. Back through an even longer security line a second time.
 
Posts: 1 | Location: Abita Springs, La | Registered: November 06, 2018Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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