Air Travel. What Should I Know?
Hello the group,
I have not been on an airplane for several years. In the old days you just locked your pistol and ammo in a hard case and declared it in your checked baggage. The TSA web site APPEARS to say the same thing, but I am very leary of this.
What should I be wary of? Any airlines that have policies more restrictive than federal law?
The last time I flew with a checked pistol it was stolen out of my baggage. The moron behind the counter actually required me to open the bag and the locked case and he displayed the weapon openly. They refused to allow me to put the weapon tag inside the suitcase. Needless to say it was a setup (Chicago Midway) and by the time I reached my destination the baggage handlers had done a shift change and the CPD was helpless.
Traveling With Your Pistole
Having traveled a number of times, here's how I go at it:
- Review TSA: Traveling with Special Items to understand TSA policies and procedures. Have a copy with you when you reach the airport.
- Put the unloaded weapon(s) in a lockable hard-sided case with locks only you have the keys/combination to open. TSA locks are not allowed.
- Steps that will make it easier to show that the weapon is unloaded - especially when x-rayed.
- If the weapon is a:
- lock the slide open
- put a cable tie through the barrel and out the breach to show that the chamber is empty
- revolver, flip the cylinder out
- Do not put the magazines in this locked case with the gun(s):
- it invites questions about them being loaded
- if the gun case is "liberated" from the checked bag by a Criminal Entrepreneur, the lack of magazines frustrates the "Liberator", since the weapon is now initially a single shot one
- Check the airline(s) you are flying on:
- To determine if the ammo
- MUST be in boxes (plastic reload boxes work)
- can fly in loaded magazines
- If loaded magazines are permitted, make sure the pouches fully cover the magazine top where the cartridges are visible.
- The round(s) from the chamber(s)/cylinder(s) must be in a box, not loose
- Secure and protect magazines (separately from the weapon) and ammunition boxes from possible damage.
- Put the lockable hard-sided case with the weapon and the ammo/magazines into a cheap, non-descript bag - with clear labeling outside and inside - for checking in.
- If possible, develop a way to attach - in a lockable way - the hard-sided case to the piece of luggage it has been placed into.
- The labeling should be limited to:
- Your Name
- Your Cell Phone - if you have one, or your home phone if you do not
- Your personal email address - if you have one
- NO ADDRESSES, JOB TITLES, ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD BE INDICATED
- Other stuff - like shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc, could be in this checked bag also.
- Have the rules for the airline in hand when you check this non-descript bag at the airport.
- Make sure you have the keys/combinations to the lockable hard-sided case with you and you alone (Per Federal Regulations 49CFR § 1540.111 Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals - Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:) at all times. You will have to open the lockable hard-side case:
- to demonstrate to the airline that the weapon(s) are not loaded at check in (a signed form/tag indicating that will go in with the weapon(s))
- if the TSA wants to see
- Have the serial number(s) and descriptions of your weapons on you, so if they "disappear" you can report the loss/theft immediately to the:
- airline - NOTE Some airlines - Delta and US Air being 2 - now allow you to track your checked luggage on your I-Phone/Android if you are a Frequent Flier
- FAA Regional Office
- ATF Regional Office
Other things to consider:
- Check Handgunlaw.us and/or Concealed Carry Permit Reciprocity Maps - USA Carry to determine:
- If you can possess the weapon at all your stops
- Where and how you can carry at all your stops
- What are the deadly force rules in each state you are visiting
- Have a copy of the Don Young Transportation Letter on hand - http://www.handgunlaw.us/documents/doj_doc_nyc_air.pdf. This covers changing modes of travel - car to plane to car - in a single journey.
- AMTRAK (Amtrak - Plan - Policies - Firearms in Checked Baggage) is similar to airlines. Key differences include:
- You must notify the departing station 24 hours before departure.
- There must be baggage handling of checked baggage at both ends of your trip.
- Ammunition must be boxed.