Transporting on airlines and baggage security

Transporting on airlines and baggage security

This is a discussion on Transporting on airlines and baggage security within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; When you check your bag/gun in at the check-in - does carrying a gun get any priority/special handling over regular luggage? I have always been ...

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Thread: Transporting on airlines and baggage security

  1. #1
    Member Array gun1's Avatar
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    Transporting on airlines and baggage security

    When you check your bag/gun in at the check-in - does carrying a gun get any priority/special handling over regular luggage?

    I have always been concerned with bag checks and stuff ending up "missing". I would certainly hope that a bag containing a gun would be a little higher on the watch list for ensuring it follows the owner through layovers and such.


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    They used to put tags outside of the bag. No more. Once you declair it to the satisfaction of the Specific Air Carrier's Agent (not the TSA), and it is in a very solid locked case with a tag on the actual gun case, it is put into your bag for transport.

    Highly recommend that you use a TSA Lock, in case X-Ray inspection causes them to open your bag, to check that it has been properly tagged by the Air Carrier. This happens out of your sight, after you give them the bag to check, if it happens at all.
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    Member Array Goat_Herder's Avatar
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    I made a few trips last year with a firearm. All went very smoothly and hassle free, as long as you prep ahead of time. I go a little overboard but I think the ticketing agent appreciated it.

    PREP
    - I locked back the slide on my firearm and put a cable lock on it. Put it in a hard shell case and lock it again
    - I left ammo in its original packaging and put it in another case with the unloaded magazine in a seperate case. Lock it
    - Put both cases in my checked luggage in an easily accessible area (so the agent doesn't have to dig and unpack the luggage)
    CHECK IN
    - Politely inform the ticketing agent that you have a firearm in checked luggage. You will be asked to fill out very short form - is it locked, ammo in its packaging, etc
    - a orange tag will be placed in your bag. You will be asked to bring the bag to the Oversized luggage area (with all the golf bags)
    - Your bag will be examined with you present. Give him the key and tell the agent where the items are. The agent will review and do some swipe test
    - Once the examination is completed, your bag is checked. It will not be searched again.

    I've made 2 cross-country trips and both times were very pleasant.


    NOTE: I did volunteer to surrender some ammo the first time - 10 rounds of 9mm in a ziplock bag with the pistol in the case. Since then, I've learn to bring ammo its original packaging. :)

  4. #4
    Member Array RevTracy's Avatar
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    I agree with Goat_Herder...preparation is the key. As a point of interest, the TSA no longer requires a TSA lock. I, for one, would not use one. I've traveled with a checked gun on two occasions. The airports I fly out of require you to walk your luggage (with or without a gun) to the TSA screening station. When I do, I simply inform the TSA agent and on both occasions the agent had me stay there until my bag passed through the x-ray machine. After that, they simply sent me on my way. No muss...no fuss.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array DocT65's Avatar
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    I travel often with my sidearm. I use a Pelican case with 2 high security padlocks (NEVER use a TSA lock). Most every time I declare the weapon and check and lock the case, the airline agent asks that I stand by until it clears TSA xray. Once it is through TSA, you are fine. Remember that the weapon must be unloaded and always best to get the "all clear" from TSA. Any ammo is supposed to be in a factory box and secured as well.

    The hard Pelican case with locks definitely screams "item of value", so I am always sure to be at the baggage pick up close to where the bags emerge so that I retrieve the case as soon as it is out of the sterile area. The airlines have pitiful limits as to liability......far less than the cost of the weapon and case.
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    Distinguished Member Array Anubis's Avatar
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    Any bag can be lost. Don't put a firearm in checked luggage unless you can live without it.

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    Member Array OJDerrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anubis View Post
    Any bag can be lost. Don't put a firearm in checked luggage unless you can live without it.
    That's what gps is for.

    But really, you don't even need a case if you have hard sided luggage with a lock. Traveled with a pistol and they never opened the bag, YMMV.

  8. #8
    Member Array Strmwatch's Avatar
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    Just to echo what another poster said here.

    DO NOT...I'll say it again...DO NOT use a TSA lock on your firearms case...period. The TSA even has this posted on their website. Use a keyed padlock and hold the key with you.

    DO use a TSA approved lock on your checked bag if you put your gun case inside of it.

    I know at the airport in Tampa the airline rep will walk the bag with you over to a TSA screening location. They will hand the bag off to the TSA and you'll stand there until they (TSA) give you the all clear.

    At most airports if you have a gun case inside your checked bag it will come out in the normal baggage area with everyone else. If you checked a rifle case or your gun case by itself, a luggage handler will hand carry it up to the baggage claim area and give it to the customer service desk in the baggage claim area.

    With regard to ammunition, you're allowed 11 US pounds and the ammo must either be in the original packaging or ammunition specific carrying containers. Loose ammo or ammo in magazines is not acceptable and will be removed (read: confiscated) by the TSA during the screening process.

    You CAN have the ammunition in the same case as your firearms.

    I bought a small 2 pistol carrying case and put my ammo in there. This helps protect it in transit and keeps everything together.

    I have yet to be asked to open my cases. It helps if you have your ducks in a row before handing it over to the TSA.

    Make sure...and I can't stress this enough. Make sure the hard case you are using can not be pried apart. All of those $20 "hard side" cases you see...can easily be pried open and the firearm removed. Make sure you're using something like a pelican or equivalent.

    When you get to your destination...I suggest you move to an out of the way spot and take a quick peak inside the case to make sure everything is there. I don't mean open the case and pull the firearm out. Just open it enough to see inside. This way you'll know if everything is good to go.

    If something is in fact missing. Report it immediately to the baggage reps, the TSA AND the airport law enforcement.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array The Fish's Avatar
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    Just a couple of extra things to add to post #8;
    1)The TSA lock goes on the OUTER bag,the lock only you have the key for goes on the inner (hard) case with the gun.
    2)I put a note with my cell # on the hard case so TSA can call me if they want to open it. I have never actually had this happen. I think they can see on the x-ray that the gun is empty.
    3)The outer suitcase will be treated like any other bag. ***It is not to have any outer markings saying there is a gun inside.
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    Member Array tflhndn's Avatar
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    Also, NEVER use a TSA lock on a firearm case - TSA rules state that a firearm CANNOT be sent with a TSA lock - That is why they ask you to go with your bag to TSA while it is screened (and if they don't ask me to, I always insist on it. Also, it is a good idea to have an extra lock in your luggage - as I once had the lock cut off by TSA - who paged me when they found the firearm declaration so I could resecure the bag...

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    That's why if I can't drive there I ain't going there.
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    Member Array Strmwatch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NONAME762 View Post
    That's why if I can't drive there I ain't going there.
    It really is pretty painless. In Tampa it takes all of 5 minutes to do.

    Besides, some of us travel for work and driving isn't always an option...so we're kind of stuck!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Array The Fish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NONAME762 View Post
    That's why if I can't drive there I ain't going there.
    Although flying these days (even with no gun) is a PITA,you are still missing a lot of great places.
    " Keep On Packin' On The Bimah"

  14. #14
    Member Array JoshJ10's Avatar
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    My wife & I are going to Florida in April to see family. I don't have a Pelican case & definitely can't afford one.

    I know the TSA rules say it must be a hard sided case that isn't easily pried open. Are there any other good cases out there that don't cost an arm & a leg? Would one of the small in car safes suffice?

  15. #15
    Senior Member Array kb2wji's Avatar
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    I've flown through several airports and have never had a problem.

    I use a Nanovault. It doesnt take up much room in my bag, and I can wrap the cable around the "spine" (aluminum rails that the expandable handle uses) that runs down the length of the bags interior. It keeps the honest people honest. I slide the nanovault under a pair of dirty gym socks and nobody bothers it :) A pelican case just screams "valuables!" ...and takes up too much room in my suitcase.

    Dont use a TSA lock! Use your own, and keep the key with you (but keep it handy...as sometimes you will have to open it all up to prove it's unloaded.

    Also, I field strip the gun that I have in the nanovault. If inspected, its better that it looks like a pile of oddly shaped metal bits, and less like a gun. Also instantly shows even the most dimly lit TSA agent that there arent any boooolits in there.

    Another tidbit... When dealing with the TSA / airport staff....be 110% confident in what you are doing. If you arent sure about what you need to do, then they arent either. Walk in there as if you have done this a million times before. "Hi. I need an orange form to declare a firearm so you guys can include that with my luggage etc... I've already packed and locked it properly per your policies" Shows them you know what you're doing. If we walk in there and say "uhhhh i think theres something I need to do with my gun....do I need to sign something?".... They will either walk all over you if they just suck to begin with, or may delay you for a while as they try to figure out what to do. They arent always clear on how to handle this. I wouldnt expect them to know all of their policies off the top of their heads....im sure their policy manual is 42,000 pages, small print. Be confident and have everything in order when you get there.

    edit: got off track

    You're bag will get a little special attention. It will usually be taken away to a different area than other bags. It has to hit one more TSA check-off before being loaded onto the plane. I believe they simply visually inspect every few bags with special circumstances. As for extra "security" for your bag? Not a snowballs chance LOL You'll always take a risk of a bag getting lost. However, many lost bags are still found eventually.

    Either way, dont bring that $4000 custom 1911. Bring a pistol that you could live without for a little while just in case. Ya know, like a Glock
    Last edited by kb2wji; February 26th, 2013 at 11:24 AM. Reason: got off track from OP's original question

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