Travel on Southwest Airlines

This is a discussion on Travel on Southwest Airlines within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I've flown numerous times with 1-2 handguns, including today from MI to MN. I'd make a distinction between "ticket agent" and "TSA person". Never, never ...

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Thread: Travel on Southwest Airlines

  1. #16
    VIP Member Array JimmyC4's Avatar
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    I've flown numerous times with 1-2 handguns, including today from MI to MN.

    I'd make a distinction between "ticket agent" and "TSA person".

    Never, never have I handled the gun to show it was clear, nor have I ever been asked to...gun-handling at a ticket counter is absurd and unnecessary! Here's the drill I go through each time.

    1) Approach the counter to check in baggage and state to the ticket agent that I have an unloaded firearm locked in a hard case within my luggage.

    2) The ticket person gives me the bright tag to sign/date indicating that it is an "Unloaded Firearm". NOT one per gun, but one tag...that's a source of confusion for them, so I just sign whatever I need to, but have been assured numerous times by TSA staff that just one tag is needed.

    3) The tag goes inside the luggage, NOT on the exterior.

    4) I am told to leave the hard box containing the firearm unlocked. From this point forward I do not handle the bag, box or firearm...it's now their baby. The bag then goes to the TSA table (the uniformed folks) for their inspection. They ask me for the key to use to re-lock the box when they are done. Essentially they stare at the gun and then lock the hard box and zip up the luggage (the piece of luggage is NOT locked). Again I state, there is no identification on the outside of the luggage indicating a firearm is inside.

    5) I stand there and watch to be sure the hard box is locked up and luggage closed, get the hard box key back, thank the TSA folks and head for the gate.

    It's all pretty routine, and above all, don't act as though you're doing something wrong or unique. It's no different than a trombone player travelling with his instrument, all perfectly legal and nothing where we should expect anything other than a normal reaction by airline and TSA staff.
    Last edited by JimmyC4; May 23rd, 2007 at 10:48 PM.
    "It's a big gun when I carry it, it is also a big gun when I take it out” – Clint Smith

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  3. #17
    VIP Member Array sgtD's Avatar
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    I flew southwest from Ft. myers FL to South Dakota a while back for some pheasnt hunting with no problem.

    Two weeks ago I flew Air Tran to Kansas City form Ft. Myers and then back KC to Ft. Myers with my .40 and one 50 rnd box of ammo.

    Like JimmyC, I don't handle the gun. I had the mags in the case, out of the gun, and the slide locked back to show clear. All I had to do was open the case and insert the tag.

    No problems at all. I had the pistol in a plastic hard case with a pad lock and then after putting the tag in the case, I just locked it, put it in my duffle bag and locked the bag with another pad lock for extra security. The box of ammo was just in my duffle bag. I just had it in the box I bought it in and taped the ends shut to prevent spillage.

    Here in FL the TSA agents didn't even look at it, in KC they opened the case and stared at the gun, then put everything back in, locked it up and ran my whole duffle through the x-ray machine for about 5 mintues.

    They used my bag to show a newby TSA agent how the gun and ammo looked on the x-ray machine. Thereby, my trip helped to stregthen homeland security. I probably should have been given some type of a medal or comendation for that, but It's my thankless duty as a citizen I guess.
    Last edited by sgtD; May 23rd, 2007 at 10:59 PM.
    When you've got 'em by the balls, their hearts & minds will follow. Semper Fi.

  4. #18
    Member Array sotxrdr's Avatar
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    First, I always travel with the TSA page printed and a copy of the airline's firearms procedure for passengers' guidance.

    I fly several times monthly, mostly on Southwest. Always have traveled with a Glock. After making the required "unloaded firearm" verbal declaration to the counter agent, the Glock, with slide back and cable locked, is offered for inspection in an locked case in the partially opened suitcase. They have frequently asked to have the hard case opened to verify that it is unloaded, very infrequently they don't. (Their procedure requires that they verify. I usually insist, just so there can be no question later of my willingness to comply.)

    At some airports, the case is left unlocked for another inspection by the TSA screener and then locked and the keys returned to me, while at another, the hard case, now locked, goes to them inside the suitcase. Ammunition is in a Winchester white box.

    About locks, remember the hard case is NOT to be locked with a "TSA lock." Use a non-TSA openable lock on the hard case with the firearm.

    I've always filled out the card and it always goes in the bag. Having checked multiple bags, one with Glock, the other without, there is no visible difference in claim tags on the outside.

    No big problems in more than two years of frequent travel, other than another passenger in line behind me at baggage check-in who leaned around to see what we were doing, because we were taking more than her anticipated 29 seconds to get my bags tagged. No problem until she later told the TSA rep at the TSA screening point "that man is traveling with a gun!"

    After I had been wanded and groped, had my suit coat, shoes, computer, and carry-on bag x-rayed for a third time and creating a national deficit buying pads for their sniffer machine, (she convinced them that "it just has to be in there somewhere!" in a shrill, panicked voice) did the TSA supervisor finally intercede and listen to my story about a declared firearm in my CHECKED bag. Afraid I was going to have to turn my underwear inside out!

    Other airlines (Continental, Delta, and American) have been reasonably consistent.

    However, at an American Eagle check-in at a small town airport, the counter agent paged the local police officer over the airport PA for a "Firearms check-in at American Eagle!" After that, the police officer, the American Eagle supervisor, and I had a conversation about risk management.

  5. #19
    New Member Array kensteele's Avatar
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    One time at PHX on SWA, I arrived at the airport with my handgun inside a locked small handgun hardcase which was inside my luggage. I could not find the key anywhere, I was convinced it was lost or it was amongst my other baggage not to be found.

    I declared the firearm and I convinced the agent that it was unloaded despite her insistance that she see it but it was impossible to open the gun case. We placed the red tag on the outside of the pistol case....somewhere in the regular baggage and she let me go home with my handgun.

  6. #20
    Member Array airbornerangerboogie's Avatar
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    Are you puting the gun in a case locking it and puting in your baggage or are you just checking the gun case. I've seen some pistol cases that would take up most of the room in a regular travel case.

    I curious, because one CCL holder said to just get a good case and lock and check them by themselves???
    “Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.” James Dean
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  7. #21
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    I've always had good luck flying with firearms, no major problems. SW was good everytime (except one lady at the counter in Houston that got an attitude as soon as I mentioned checking a firearm). They've always asked me to see if its unloaded (this is a TSA requirement not just airlines), I just open the case and show the chamber and empty mag well with it sitting in the box, 50 rounds in a hard plastic ammo box, OC, knife, spare mags, and my license.

    [QUOTE=sotxrdr;376832]
    About locks, remember the hard case is NOT to be locked with a "TSA lock." Use a non-TSA openable lock on the hard case with the firearm.
    QUOTE]
    I'm not sure of the reasoning behind this comment. If the TSA people need to get in your case then their master keys will be able to open the lock instead of you getting paged (if they do it) or having the lock cut off and you having to buy another before your plane leaves (won't let it onboard unlocked). This is per the TSA website.
    If your gun case is hard-sided it can be put in a soft-sided suitcase and the gun case itself must be locked.

    I flew to Dallas in March and on the return trip during my check in the SW agent told me I couldn't carry ammo in the same case as the firearm. I instructed him that he was wrong and we pulled up the SW website on his monitor there and I "educated" him.
    LEO/CHL
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    "I got a touch of hangover bureaucrat, don't push me"
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    Independence is declared; it must be maintained. Sam Houston-3/2/1836
    If loose gun laws are good for criminals why do criminals support gun control?

  8. #22
    Member Array 40FIVER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sotxrdr View Post
    About locks, remember the hard case is NOT to be locked with a "TSA lock." Use a non-TSA openable lock on the hard case with the firearm.
    I've only flown twice since 9/11, both times to Chicago, and have never packed a firearm. For us IF (Infrequent Flyer) types, what's a "TSA lock"?
    Charlie - 40FIVER

    Why I carry:
    "The heart is deceitul above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
    Jeremiah 17:9

  9. #23
    Senior Member Array Sig229's Avatar
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    I travel a lot via the airlines with guns all over the USA.

    I have found that it seems like 60% of the airports want to make sure the weapon is unloaded "clearing" and the other 40% dont care.

    It doesn't make any difference to me.
    But I always like being on one of the "Anti" states and pulling out an M4 and one of my Sig's or Glocks, and the look on the other passengers faces is great.
    Its worth the high air fare just for that.

    I have on occasion gotten into verbal altercations with other passengers when waiting in line to check luggage at times.
    They are either in front of me or behind me and ask "What's in that case?" I reply "Firearms".
    They say "Ohh your a Police Officer?"

    I say "No mam (or sir), I carry firearms for personal reasons and/or self defense "
    They look at me in an angry tone and say "YOU CANT DO THAT! That's Illegal! Especially after 9-11!!!"

    I simply tell them in a very polite manner, that they can go on to any US Airline and read the Federal law pertaining to air travel with firearms.
    When they see me go up to the ticket counter and walk away, they look very puzzled.

    But, Im always sure to be extremely polite, no matter how irate and rude they are to me.
    No sense in making other gun folks look bad.

    I have always wondered, if the Pilots of the aircraft are notified that Firearms are in the checked baggage of their plane before they fly?
    Anyone know?
    Primary Carry Gun: Sig Sauer 229~R (.40cal w/ Golden Saber JHP's)

  10. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sig229 View Post
    I have always wondered, if the Pilots of the aircraft are notified that Firearms are in the checked baggage of their plane before they fly?
    Anyone know?
    I can ask someone that just retired from the business
    I'm interested to know too
    LEO/CHL
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    "I got a touch of hangover bureaucrat, don't push me"
    --G.W. McClintock

    Independence is declared; it must be maintained. Sam Houston-3/2/1836
    If loose gun laws are good for criminals why do criminals support gun control?

  11. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by 40FIVER View Post
    I've only flown twice since 9/11, both times to Chicago, and have never packed a firearm. For us IF (Infrequent Flyer) types, what's a "TSA lock"?
    Since TSA requires the gun cases to be locked while being transported, they recommend that you use a lock that TSA will have the master key for in the event they need to open your locked firearm case.
    These have a special symbol designating them as "TSA approved"
    I bought a pack of 4 of them at wally world and have used them for a couple of years now with no problem.
    go here for info:
    http://southwest.com/travel_center/guns.html

    http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...rial_1666.shtm

    http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...ant/locks.shtm
    LEO/CHL
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    "I got a touch of hangover bureaucrat, don't push me"
    --G.W. McClintock

    Independence is declared; it must be maintained. Sam Houston-3/2/1836
    If loose gun laws are good for criminals why do criminals support gun control?

  12. #26
    Senior Member Array Shizzlemah's Avatar
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    Post 9/11, when the ticket agent asks me to show clear, I invite them to do it or call police as I don't want to be seen with a gun... After perhaps 20 flights, nobody has ever checked or called PD, just accepted my word.

    Ammo can be in the same box as the gun with a few restrictions. Ammo can't be loose. Ammo is fine in the mfg's box, in a plastic case, etc. A full magazine by itself is not allowed. But if you have the mag completely contained in a mag carrier you are fine (just so a round can't work loose).

    As to locks, use TSA locks on your luggage but a non-TSA on the gun case.

    And TSA are N-O-T allowed to touch your gun.

    95% of the time, the ticket agent will walk me right through the security checkpoint, avoiding the line. As soon as TSA x-rays the bags, I walk to the terminal. If they have an issue, I am there with keys in my pocket .


    Back in the day, maybe 1996 or 1997, I was flying out of Boston and declared my sidearm. Ticket agent took me to a backroom to check the weapon, etc. I opened the bag & case, she grabbed the 1911 started pointing it at things and made noises as if she were shooting it and getting ricochets.... I snatched it back from her and put it in the case...

  13. #27
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    I hang around too while they screen my bags, just in case
    LEO/CHL
    Certified Glock Armorer

    "I got a touch of hangover bureaucrat, don't push me"
    --G.W. McClintock

    Independence is declared; it must be maintained. Sam Houston-3/2/1836
    If loose gun laws are good for criminals why do criminals support gun control?

  14. #28
    Distinguished Member Array JerryM's Avatar
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    I have flown maybe a dozen times with handguns. I have been on Southwest, American, and Continental. Have never had the least problem.

    I have never had a passenger in line say anything, but they are not normally close enough to have a conversation when I show the gun.

    I just do what the TSA and airline folks tell me to do, and not a problem. Although I would not want to lose any of my guns, all can be replaced, and not worth getting arrested or detained for if there is an argument as to how it is handled. I do not really care if there is some slight failure to follow TSA regulations as long as they put them through.

    Some travellers are determined to make sure every jot and tittle is followed, and that is OK if you want to do so, but I don't really care if they want to take the bag to someone with the guncase unlocked to inspect it. That is not within the regs, but I don't care. I always take my gun, and have never lost one or had any problem with the airlines or TSA.

    Maybe southwest and southern folks are more used to guns, and don't appear to think anything about it.

    On one of my last flights the TSA rep made a remark that my 642 airweight was a very nice gun. I replied it was light to carry, and he responded it would fit well in a pocket. Not what some report re TSA.

    Jerry

  15. #29
    Senior Member Array DirtDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowdoctor;
    I was told that some airlines tag your case with a different color tag, and put it through baggage claim and other stories of having to go to the airlines security desk to get your case...in southwest's case neither of those scenarios seems to be true. a very good thing. I still don't like opening my case in front of a bunch of people to show clear...but I could live with it. did the person at the desk even know how to check for 'clear'? just wondering
    Having been through the nightmare of 9/11 and increased security, the TSA website has enough info for the traveler. It is now against Fed regulations to tag the OUTSIDE of the bag containing firearms. The declaration needs only to go inside of the bag, not the firearm case. The hard-sided case is locked, usually with a different combo/keyed lock than that on the main bag.

    I usually ask the TSA agent if they need me around. If TSA needs to open the bag-they try to page you. If you can't be contacted, the bag doesn't go.

    I've been through LAX, SFO, SEA, PDX, LAS, TUS, DFW, DEN, PHX, SAT airports, usually the more anti the city, the more curious/disgusted looks my declaration generates.

    I carry the TSA regs, airline regs and the NRA suggestions. So far (knocks on wood) so good.
    Why is it that you always find things at the last place you looked?
    Because when you find something-you stop looking-Mooch

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