My experience Air travel with gun: 2 lessons learned
Was flying from Florida to Louisiana last week. Did my research, asked questions here, looked up airline rules, looked up TSA rules. Did everything the proper way. 8:00AM my wife and I are ready to leave and she says we should take her van instead of my car. "Okay, lets just go in case we need extra time at the counter" This was my first time doing this and didn't know how it would go.
We get up to the counter and I tell the agent I have a gun to declare. She said ok, no problem. Writes on a little card, hands it to me and asks me to fill it out and sign it. Going very smooth. She asks me if it is unloaded and I said of course it is. She said ok, just open up your suitcase, take out the gun case and open it up for me. I open my suitcase, dig around for the gunsafe and finally found it. I take it out and exclaim "oh ****, I left the key at home" My wife says "what"? I explained that the key is always on my key ring with car keys and you wanted to take you car so I had left my keys home. LOL
They lady actually said if it hasn't been fired recently the machine the luggage goes through may not detect it and you may be able to take it with you. I declined and put it in my car.
As it turns out, everything happens for a reason. On the trip home we get to the airport terminal a little over an hour early. The line to check in luggage at the ticket counter is well over an hour long. I waited on that line and my wife on the curbside line. Curbside took an hour to get through. We made the gate just as they were boarding. Had I had my gun we would have missed the flight.
Lesson 1) Always take my car
Lesson 2) Always leave plenty of unexpected extra time.
The Full Monte On Taking A Piece With You On A Plane
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 visable.
- 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:
- FAA Regional Office
- ATF Regional Office
Other things to consider:
- Check Handgunlaw.us and/or Concealed Carry Permit Reciprocity Maps 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.anjrpc.org/DefendingYourR...s%20letter.pdf. This covers changing modes of travel - car to plane to car - in a single journey.
Regarding the key or keys - I keep a copy of the key INSIDE the unlocked travel box, to avoid just this problem. I have a second backup key inside my carry on luggage, and of course one on my key chain.