Question about flying with firearms

Question about flying with firearms

This is a discussion on Question about flying with firearms within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I will be flying to Florida this saturday and I plan to carry two airweight J frames. This will be my first time flying with ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array samtechlan's Avatar
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    Question about flying with firearms

    I will be flying to Florida this saturday and I plan to carry two airweight J frames. This will be my first time flying with firearms. I plan to carry the revolvers in the plastic smith & wesson blue box that came with the gun. I assume this together with a plain vanilla padlock qualifies as the "hard sided container capable of being locked" which is required?

    Thanks for your responses and any additional coments and suggestions.


  2. #2
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    Yes - locked case, stowed in checked baggage is what is required. Keep any ammo separate and in a functional container - I use an MTM box with rubber band around it.

    Declare these at reception/booking desk and they should issue an orange label - which is put in with your baggage. Allow yourself a bit of extra time for booking in - tho from my own experience it's pretty straightforward.

    TSA may or may not double check while baggage on way to plane. Just be sure obviously, guns unloaded

    Hopefully a stress-free operation.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Array DirtDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P95Carry View Post
    TSA may or may not double check while baggage on way to plane. Just be sure obviously, guns unloaded
    Aye thas the rub. If TSA cannot open your case AND they cannot locate you, the bag doesn't go. So depending on your airport, you may wanna hang around or see if they have a separate area for security screening. OR TSA approved lock on the case, TSA approved lock on the bag. The TSA supervisor is supposed to be the only one authorized to have the "master" key.

    Of course in theory only
    Why is it that you always find things at the last place you looked?
    Because when you find something-you stop looking-Mooch

  4. #4
    Senior Member Array rljohns's Avatar
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    TSA and Handguns

    I just came back from Louisville, KY and had no trouble, I used one of those metal locking foam cases about 6X8X2 inches with a key lock. I would suggest not using a TSA inner lock on the hard-side pistol case. Use the TSA lock on the outter checked bag.

    The ticket agent should have you fill out the orange tag and may want to see the weapon (probally to drool on it). Then he sould escort you to the CTX ( a brand name of X-ray equipment). They will tell you to watch from the door way while they X-ray the bag, if you have a metal one like me or you left the action closed they will ask for the inner pistol case key. They will look at the weapon to ensure it is unloaded. They will inspect the ammo to make sure it is safely packed. They may look a little at your underwear then close it up and hand the key back to you.

    The actual regulations state that only you have a key or combo to the inner pistol box.

  5. #5
    Member Array austin's Avatar
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    I travel a lot with my pistol(s).

    I have one case for my pistols and one for my ammo. The empty mags and pistols go in one case, the ammo in the other!!


    Here is my procedure.

    1. I completely empty my laptop case and any carryon luggage, making sure I have no contraband in either. This means mags, bullets, knives, and pistols. I reload both with what I plan to carry making sure there is nothing TSA has banned. I dont touch these items until I leave the house.

    2. I clean out my gun case, making sure there are no bullets in it. I make sure I know the combinations of my locks and that they work. I place the locks in the case unlocked and ready to go. I place this case on top of my clothes in the bag I will check in.

    3. I place an ammunition box or ammunition carrier with enough room for the ammunition I carry on me including the mags on me plus the one in my carry pistol into my luggage next to the pistol case.

    4. At the airport, if its allowed, I carry into the facility. I proceed to the airline counter, do my e-ticket thing, then tell the counter person that I will be carrying a firearm in my luggage and need to declare it. I am then given a form to fill out and signed which is to be placed IN the case with the pistols.

    ****Be sure to say luggage because some airports have Operators, Flag Officers, and non-FAM LEOs through them a lot and they may give you the wrong form!!. ****

    5. I proceed to the nearest restroom, find a stall, disarm, and then unload my magazines, placing them in the given container. I lock my pistol, slide locked back, in the case with the empty mags along with the tag. If the state is IL or CA I also put a lock on the pistol itself. I then lock the case with the locks and place the case in my luggage. (Obviously, good noise discipline is required.)

    5.a Alternatively, if its a new airline, I sometimes do 5 in my car, BUT leave it unlocked with the combo locks inside to make putting the tag in easy.

    ( Until you know how the TSA guys are at that gate, then you need to do 5a and wait to find out. I have had the TSA guys come over and pick up my luggage and then walk through the airport with me to a station. I had to tell the guy I needed to lock things up so he let me go into the bathroom. )

    If you do 5a, then take your bag and fine a place to open it up and reach in for your case where you can discretely slip the tag into the case and then lock it.

    *** The tag, the pistol, and the EMPTY mags need to be locked up together in the case! Ammo has to be seperate and in a case or original packaging *********

    6. I give the luggage to the TSA guy and tell him I have a declared firearm. At this point he should ask for you to wait at the end of the xray machine. Sometimes they want the combinations and I give it to them, they open it, look around, and then lock it back up. They then tell you that you are good.

    6.5 Before I go through security, I pat myself down and doublecheck my pockets. I also look at my laptop case and carryon, making SURE I have nothing. ( If I ever find ANYTHING, I would go to the bathroom and toss it in the trash. Cest La Vie.)

    7. At the destination, I wait by the luggage carousel's door to make sure I get first dibs on my luggage. When I get it, I push on the bag to make sure I can feel the case.

    8. If allowed at the destination airport, I find a bathroom, and rearm, loading one mag. Alternatively, I do this in my rental car before I leave or my in ride's car.

    Obviously, you need to know the laws at your destination.

    I would also practice 5 at home until you are comfortable doing it or just plan to do 5a.

    A lot of people declare firearms. Its no big deal. I have flown in and out of Chicago - Ohare and Midway as well. I just leave the pistols locked in the case with the locks on them and do not stay in Chicago or the other handfull of towns that have banned them.

    I have heard NYC is another story, but have not studied it much.

  6. #6
    Distinguished Member Array Squawker's Avatar
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    I've never been escorted to the CTX, or anywhere else for that matter. I've checked the bags at the counter, declared them, then straight to the security line. It probably depends on the airport, or maybe the airline. One thing to make your life easier- put the gun case on the top of your clothes. My first trip with guns, I put the case in first, then the clothes went in on top. I declared the guns, then had to open the suitcase to show the guns. That meant digging through my clothes to get to the gun case. Every time I've flown with my guns, I've had to show them to the counter agent. So, just save yourself the trouble. If you don't have to open your case, then great.
    Also, either put your ammo back in the box, or, if you have semi-autos, put tape over the end of the magazine. You dont want your cartridges all over the bottom of your suitcase. (I wish that I could remember the screen name of the member that gave me that tip last year), as I'd like to thank him.

  7. #7
    Member Array samtechlan's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the suggestions.

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  9. #9
    Senior Member Array Roadrunner's Avatar
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    The Smith box should work, just make VERY sure that the box cannot be pried open once locked. I found out the hard way once that if the box can be pried open even with the lock on it, TSA won't let it through. I made my flight, but it was close.
    - Kurt
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  10. #10
    Member Array samtechlan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roadrunner View Post
    The Smith box should work, just make VERY sure that the box cannot be pried open once locked. I found out the hard way once that if the box can be pried open even with the lock on it, TSA won't let it through. I made my flight, but it was close.
    I just tried it AND it CAN be pried open with the lock on it. I need to get another pistol case tomorrow. Thank You!!

  11. #11
    Member Array Doberguy's Avatar
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    This may take a little longer but..

    To make things easier and to make sure your bag goes on the flight; either be there during the baggage scan or ask for physical check of the bag.

    If there are any problems with the case inside, the outer bag, or how the ammo is packed you will be there to take care of it. Afterwards, you can see it being sealed.

    This way if the seals are broken you know one of the Samsonite luggage gorillas had their way with your bag.

    This is a common practice for items of high value that people do not want to carry with them.

    I have come to the scene where a pistol is laying on the baggage conveyor belt. The owners wrap the cable lock that comes with the gun loosely around the handle of the hard case that allows it to open some. They have 70lbs of stuff in a 45lb bag. The zipper seperates and the heavy item like the handgun slides out and onto the belt or floor.

    The bag does not make the flight, and after some questioning quite often neither does the passenger.

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