Information to know / have on hand when flying with firearms

Information to know / have on hand when flying with firearms

This is a discussion on Information to know / have on hand when flying with firearms within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm particularly new to the CCW world, and glad to be on the forum to learn as much as I can about such a delicate ...

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Thread: Information to know / have on hand when flying with firearms

  1. #1
    New Member Array Vrednii's Avatar
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    Information to know / have on hand when flying with firearms

    I'm particularly new to the CCW world, and glad to be on the forum to learn as much as I can about such a delicate responsibility. I've grown up with shotguns and rifles but after getting married and having my own household I've been more concerned with the safety of myself and my family at home and elsewhere. So I took a CCW class and am in the process of purchasing my first handgun. I'm going to be flying this summer and would like to take my firearm with me but I'm worried about complications at the airport, like the lack of knowledge on the part of the employees and / or myself. My main concern is about the proper tagging of the bag containing a firearm. I plan on having a small hard-side case inside of a normal soft luggage piece as instructed, but I want to be sure that they won't make any distinction on the outside of my luggage that there is a gun inside such as an obvious tag or otherwise. It's my understanding that doing such a thing is illegal. So I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions of information I can have on hand at the airport or anything else I can do to make things go as smoothly as possible and ensure the safety of my gun. I saw other threads on flying with firearms but didn't see anything specifically related to the bag tagging issues, so sorry if this repeats anything. Any information will be much appreciated!


  2. #2
    Senior Member Array Super Trucker's Avatar
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    I have never been on an airplane since 9/11 so I can not offer any advice, other than when you search try "TSA" as your inquiry and see what results you get.
    Hope that helps.

    Welcome to the forum!

  3. #3
    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    Nothing goes on the outside of your bag. A tag goes on the inside of the case with the guns, and is if I remember correctly, a statement declaring them "clear". I've flown a few times with my guns, and haven't had any problems yet. Print out a copy of the TSA regulations, and the regulations for the airline you are flying on, and you should not run into problems.
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    Member Array Huzar's Avatar
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    When I fly.... I check in a hard pelican case with my clothes and the handgun is inside. I lock the outside case with a NON TSA lock. When I get to the window I inform the agent that I have a handgun to declare, they trot the TSA person out, they look inside, then depending on the airport they take it (LOCKED) and I wait on the side to hear the go/no go or I take it to the TSA scanner and wait on the side to get the GO/NO GO (if I take it to the outside perimiter I inform the person I hand the LOCKED case to that it has declared firearm). Btw, I have the firearm locked in a small plastic case inside of the locked luggage.

    Anyways, this insures that the firearm does not leave the luggage and they either take the WHOLE thing or nothing (and it's harder to steal the whole piece of luggage). Btw, the fed law says that TSA can't open your luggage without you being present so if they argue that they need to see the inside then they either have to bring you to the luggage or luggage to you.

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    Member Array j21blackjack's Avatar
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    I've flown from FL to AR and back with absolutely no problem with my handguns. I would recommend having a copy of the TSA and whatever airline rules regarding firearms with you. I know Delta's rules differ from TSA a little, but not by much. Most airlines will let you check fully loaded magazines inside the same locked box as the gun, as long as the gun is unloaded. It's much easier to get ammo past the counter if it's in the original box. I used a small metal, combo lock, box inside my large suitcase for three gun. Delta has a limit of 5 guns for checking in, I'm sure others are similar. The only concern the TSA guys had was about the large Chemistry textbook in the front of my bag!

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    Member Array 50calshooter's Avatar
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Huzar View Post
    When I fly.... I check in a hard pelican case with my clothes and the handgun is inside. I lock the outside case with a NON TSA lock. When I get to the window I inform the agent that I have a handgun to declare, they trot the TSA person out, they look inside, then depending on the airport they take it (LOCKED) and I wait on the side to hear the go/no go or I take it to the TSA scanner and wait on the side to get the GO/NO GO (if I take it to the outside perimiter I inform the person I hand the LOCKED case to that it has declared firearm). Btw, I have the firearm locked in a small plastic case inside of the locked luggage.

    Anyways, this insures that the firearm does not leave the luggage and they either take the WHOLE thing or nothing (and it's harder to steal the whole piece of luggage). Btw, the fed law says that TSA can't open your luggage without you being present so if they argue that they need to see the inside then they either have to bring you to the luggage or luggage to you.
    How do you get non-TSA approved locks through security? It was my experience that they force you to remove the foreign lock prior to screening the bag.

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    Member Array 50calshooter's Avatar
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    I would suggest you call TSA's toll-free number and get the specs from them over the phone. Get a name, position and a direct number back to that person in case you run into troubles at the airport.

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    Member Array Huzar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 50calshooter View Post
    How do you get non-TSA approved locks through security? It was my experience that they force you to remove the foreign lock prior to screening the bag.
    As I said: You HAVE to secure your handgun
    The firearm must be in a hard-sided container.
    The container must be locked. A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from access by anyone other than you. Cases that can be pulled open with little effort do not meet this criterion. The pictures provided here illustrate the difference between a properly packaged and an improperly packaged firearm.

    My suitcase is my case :D Some TSA agents might insist on you surrendering the case combination but that's why you have that list printed out and you should be good. Usually what will happen is that either a TSA agent will come out to the check in position (where you check in with the airline) to hand carry your bag to the screeners and then they'll come back and let you know if it's all good or not. If it needs to be opened and examined they are supposed to take the bag to you or you to the bag (I usually remind them that there is a reason there are non TSA locks on the bag and that if they need to open it they need me there). If the scanner is on the outside (like LAX: most airlines have the big scanning machines roped off in the terminal lobby) you handcarry it to the scanning folks and as you hand it to them you tell them there is a declared firearm inside and they ask you to hang on the side and they'll usually throw your bag into the machine before all the other ones that are queued up and you can hang around to make sure it goes through smoothly.

    Oh yeah..... folks, don't cut it close with the departure time if you fly with firearms! Expect to add about 45 minutes for the "Murphy" scenarios.

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    Member Array Huzar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 50calshooter View Post
    I would suggest you call TSA's toll-free number and get the specs from them over the phone. Get a name, position and a direct number back to that person in case you run into troubles at the airport.
    That wont help much... printed rules are the way to go..... don't ask how I know...

  10. #10
    Member Array Dakota97's Avatar
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    And they do go into luggage without you being present. I flew to Hawaii a couple of months ago and when I opened my bag at the hotel, I had a form inside telling me that my bag had been randomly selected for inspection. Nothing was missing but the contents were just stuffed back into the bag without any sense of trying to keep it neat!!
    NRA life member.

  11. #11
    Ex Member Array MadMac's Avatar
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    Ahh - thanks. I travel frequently to states that recognize my NC CHP. I plan on taking my sidearm. I have the TSA locks on my suitcases and personal (non-TSA locks) on my plastic gun case.

    If I ever show up and my handgun is missing, I am going to use the fact I had a TSA lock to go after the TSA for the light-finger treatment.

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    Distinguished Member Array tinkerinWstuff's Avatar
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    for a while I was flying at least once a month with my firearm. It's amazing how many ticket agents aren't familier with the rules.
    1st, you are supposed to show the firearm to the ticket agent so they can verify that it's unloaded.
    2nd, you can only have loaded mags if you have mag covers so that the primers are not exposed - otherwise it must be in ammo type plastic/carboard packaging.
    3rd, you sign the "it's unloaded" red colored declaration tag.
    4th, you put the hard case in your luggage and it goes to security.
    Some airports will require you to accompany the bag to security. Like here in Denver, you get escorted to the oversize luggage area where TSA scans the bag. They put a small indescreet sticker on the baggage identification tag that shows they've manually scanned the bag. At other airports, I've had to wait at the ticket counter while they send the bag downstairs to be checked. And at still others, you roll the bag over the the xray machines next to the ticket counter, redeclare the firearm, and wait a moment while they run it thru.

    Beware of airlines that won't allow you to have ammo in the same container as the handgun. This isn't the norm but I believe Northworst may have had a policy change recently (you'll have to check for yourself).
    "Run for your life from the man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another-their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun."

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    Member Array Evil Drew M's Avatar
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    Read tinkerinWstuff's post several times. Most all of the big airlines operate the same way as that is probably rooted in Federal procedure.

    Also familiarize yourself with the FOPA - particularly the "Safe Passage" clause.

    After you have done both of those visit the website for the airline you will be flying with and search "firearms". They will tell you their specific requirements and procedures.

    After that print out the stuff off the TSA website and follow ALL of it. In any case where there may be a conflict between what the airline allows and what the TSA allows, go with the most restrictive guideline.

    I don't care what rights someone thinks they may or may not have. Screwing around in an airport with a gun is a sure-fire way to have a TON of rights violated and it just isn't worth it to fight them.

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    VIP Member Array Paco's Avatar
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    Here's a question, sort of related. We all have suitcases and many of us have a COM style safe for our guns. But the COM safe can be removed, unlikely but possible, in transit. Does anyone make a suitcase where the safe is actually a part of the suitcase?
    "Don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep." - Theodore Roosevelt

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    Member Array Huzar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paco View Post
    Here's a question, sort of related. We all have suitcases and many of us have a COM style safe for our guns. But the COM safe can be removed, unlikely but possible, in transit. Does anyone make a suitcase where the safe is actually a part of the suitcase?
    You read the thread.. right? As I said, you can fly with a hard lockable case and that would be your safe (like Pelican, Zero and so on). You store your gun in a gun rug or a case and then lock the OUTERMOST case and you're good to go.

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