Post By oakchas
December 31st, 2011 01:27 PM
Airline baggage difficulties...
Last Wednesday I was flying out of Bush Airport in Houston on Continental Airlines. I had been there for 3 days and had traveled there with a small handgun in my checked bag. I had carried the gun during my visit, as I have permits recognized by Texas. Prior to going to the airport I unloaded the gun and locked it in a small metal case approved by TSA, then packed it in my suitcase.
At the checkin counter I told the agent that I needed a firearms declaration, and he produced the standard orange card, which he filled in and I signed. He asked me to open the gun case, which I did discreetly, and he asked if the gun was empty. I said it was. Then he put the card inside the gun case and asked me to lock it. I hesitated, and told him that in the past I always observed the orange card attached to the outside of the gun case, not the inside. But he said he knew what he was doing and again asked me to lock the case with the card inside.
I then asked if he wanted me to follow him and the bag to TSA, a short distance away, to stand by while TSA screened the bag. I knew from past experience that this was standard procedure. But he said that was not necessary and put the bag on a conveyor. I was very uneasy about this, but did not object (I should have asked for a supervisor, in retrospect.)
After going through TSA screening myself I walked a fair distance to the departure gate for my flight, and was there quite early, as I had allowed plenty of time. I was traveling with my wife. As we stood there waiting for boarding I was paged by a Continental employee holding a 2 way radio. She said there was a problem with my bag and asked me to return to a certain gate number, back where I originally checked the bag. I left my wife at the gate and hurried back, exiting the secured area of the terminal.
When I got back there I saw about 5 people standing around my bag, including an airport cop, two TSA people and two airline people. I identified myself and the cop said very sternly "Did you pack a firearm in your bag?". I said yes, and that I also declared it to the airline and the declaration card was locked in the gun case. They asked me to unlock the case, and the orange card fell out. Then the attention shifted from me as a possible transgressor to the airline people. They asked which agent packed this and I told them, although his name must have been on the card as well.
They let me leave then, and TSA expedited me back through their security checkpoint. I made it back to the plane in time and my flight was smooth. But my bag didn't make the flight, and the airline delivered it a day later to my home, which was inconvenient.
Although I was pretty annoyed by the incompetent airline employee, I have now calmed down, and I offer this story as a lesson that you have to question authority when you see mistakes being made that can recoil on you.
Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington
December 31st, 2011 01:49 PM
The card goes INSIDE. Yes, you should have escorted the bag to TSA. I have always locked the bag, taken it down to TSA, they have scanned it, and on it's way it goes.
December 31st, 2011 02:52 PM
It depends. At the Northern Kentucky Airport they just put it on the normal conveyor belt and it was already locked with the orange card inside and al was well. Each airport is different. At DIA I escort the baggage to the CTX and then I'm on my way. I can't remember the last time they actually opened the COM case. They just x-ray it even though it's steel. They seem more interested in the ammo. I'm just waiting for TSA to say the box is the wrong brand.
December 31st, 2011 03:53 PM
I've had several different experiences, but luckily, never had an issue (knock on wood). Atlanta airport seems very gun friendly. They put the orange card outside my case, and I escorted the bag to TSA. They opened the bag, and 20 seconds later I was on my way. Las Vegas airport was different. They took my bag and told me to "wait 15-20 minutes in case TSA paged me". I waited around, heard nothing, and left. No issues there either, even though it was done differently.
I cant really fault some of those TSA guys entirely. The amount of rules, regulations, restrictions, policies, laws, red tape, blue tape, orange tape, forms, stickers, declarations, badges, and secret handshakes that they have to deal with now has to be a pain for them. In your case, a simple second opinion by the TSA could have saved you the headache, but I dont envy their job, thats for sure.
I cant stand the TSA like the next guy. I just cant blame the guy at the bottom of the ladder with the magnetic wand and plastic badge. He didnt make the rules. But yeah, sometimes he totally sucks at enforcing them
December 31st, 2011 03:55 PM
Inside the suitcase/bag, not inside the gun case. (That's what I think you meant.)
Originally Posted by TVille
If in doubt, always ask for a supervisor!
The last Blood Moon Tetrad for this millennium starts in April 2014 and ends in September 2015...according to NASA.
Certified Glock Armorer
NRA Life Member[/B]
December 31st, 2011 05:16 PM
I like this guy's methodology...
link to deviant ollam: HERE
Now, things may have changed a bit since Devaint posted this.. but I dont' really think so... But if I travel by air, not in my own rental aircraft, I would be this prepared.
It could be worse!
December 31st, 2011 09:03 PM
Heck If I have flown out of JFK in NY with my firearms. Any other place has to be easier.
January 1st, 2012 06:21 AM
We have these discussions from time to time. The reason the declaration car d goes OUTSIDE the gun case is to prevent exactly what happened. Many times TSA conducts a secondafry search after the bag leaves your possession. There is no way for them to know if the weapon was declared if they can't see the orange card.
As Ret Sup mentioned, if the airline employee is not handling things correctly, politely ask for a supervisor.
January 1st, 2012 09:41 AM
You are correct, the card goes outside the gun case, but inside the outer case or suit case. There should be no indication that the bag has a weapon inside it. The purpose of the orange card is if they open the outer case, which, in I can't tell from the OP if he used a separate outer case or not.
Originally Posted by swinokur
January 1st, 2012 09:50 AM
+1 to the last two posts. I also learned this the hard way.
I now ask the airline check-in agent to use their airline logo tape that is at each check-in station. I use it to wrap my gun case and to tape the orange tag to the gun case. I have had no problems since.
I have had to correct TSA staff as training among TSA agents is spotty and many simply don't know the rules. Keep a printed copy with you in your carry-on bag.
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