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Thread: Airline travel with firearm question

  1. #1
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    Airline travel with firearm question

    I will be taking a trip to Florida next month (flying Delta) and want to take my CCW with me (Florida has reciprocity with my state; I've reviewed all Florida CC laws). I understand the general process of locking my unloaded handgun, mags unloaded, ammo in original packaging, etc.

    Question 1: In addition to my unloaded handgun and holster, 2 mags, 1 mag pouch and 2 boxes (20 rounds each) of ammo - I would like to add a surefire flashlight and a folding knife. Any problems with adding these additonal items?

    Question 2: Does the locked pistol case have to be checked by itself, or can it, after being inspected, be placed inside another piece of luggage?

    Thanks for any help you all can provied.

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    No problem with knife (must be in checked bag, not carry-on--sorry for stating the obvious). Surefire can be carried on, unless it has one of those crenellated bezels that mark it as an "impact weapon." They will make you take it out and show that it's a flashlight by lighting it up.

    Hard-sided locked case can go inside other luggage.

    Qs you didn't ask: You have to stand in the long line to check-in (unless you're first-class/frequent Platinum or whatever). Tell the person at the desk your traveling with unloaded, cased firearms--he or she will tell you what do do next.

    After you fill out a "tag" for the firearm, you go meet the TSA, who will inspect the gun and allow you to lock the case, which they will (often) seal.

    Be careful--some of the airline staff, and even some of the TSA are clueless. I once had to push the muzzle of my revolver away as the airline lady crossed me with it. She looked at me sternly, "You're not allowed to touch the gun." I said, "Ma'am, I will take it away from you if you point it at me again." She looked at me shocked, but put the gun down and asked someone who knew their head from their asterisk to inspect it.

    Safety first. Good luck.

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    Enjoy your visit here (and your freedom in!) Florida!

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    The locked pistol case not only "may" be placed inside another peiece of luggage, it is highly recommended. (Might even be required, I don't remember. I don't fly with firearms -- I'd rather drive 1,500 miles than deal with airports and clueless TSA drones).

    Another potential point of contention: Federal LAW (regardless of what TSA regulations or an individual screener might try to tell you) require that only the gun owner shall retain the keys or the combination to the locked gun case. Screeners often ask you for the key or the combination. It's your call whether or not you choose to make an issue of it, but if you hand them the key or tell them the combination -- you're committing a Federal felony.

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    Federal LAW (regardless of what TSA regulations or an individual screener might try to tell you) require that only the gun owner shall retain the keys
    Which is ironic because mine had been opened with a 'love letter' inside and taped back up with TSA wrap.
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    Be careful--some of the airline staff, and even some of the TSA are clueless. I once had to push the muzzle of my revolver away as the airline lady crossed me with it. She looked at me sternly, "You're not allowed to touch the gun." I said, "Ma'am, I will take it away from you if you point it at me again." She looked at me shocked, but put the gun down and asked someone who knew their head from their asterisk to inspect it.
    Haha. That's awesome.

    I had a funny incident with TSA as well. They take my bag and right as I'm about to help them out, they let me know that I need to "remain behind the line, sir" with a very strong "let us do our job" air about them.

    The lady pulls out a blue S&W hard case, holds it out angrily, poking her finger on the handle...

    "Is there something wrong?"

    "Sir, don't tell me you didn't know this needed to be locked. I know they told you up front."

    "Mam, that's not..."

    "Sir, did you not hear me?"

    "I did."

    She opens up the S&W case to find a glass bottle of cologne and two wristwatches... nice and safe in the hardcase.

    "The gun isn't even in here."

    "That's correct. That is a bottle of cologne and two wristwatches. I was trying to tell you earlier that the guns are in the black case underneath the blue one."

    "Ok. Looks like that one's locked. Ok good."


  7. #7
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    Traveling with a gun

    Here is some information I put together in another forum, but applies to other handguns as well.

    Traveling with your LCP
    http://elsiepeaforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=197.0

    Traveling with your LCP by AIR - The Hardware
    http://elsiepeaforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=204.0

    Traveling with your LCP by AIR - The Software
    http://elsiepeaforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=203.0

    I hope this proves helpful.
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    I would hasten to add that there are some really GOOD TSA folks out there as well. I was returning from a hunting trip with a .500 Mag revolver, back when they were still new. On the way back, the TSA sees the revolver, and says, "Wow. This is so cool!" He can see immediately that it's unloaded, but asks, very politely, "Do you mind if I check it out a little?" I (proud owner obviously talking to a fellow gunnie) said sure. After a bit of examination, he puts it down and asks, "Neat--what's the ammo cost?"

    Even better: I once show up for an early flight out of western PA. It must've been WAY early, because I didn't notice that I had left one round in the magazine, in the locked case (magazine was out of the gun, and it was SO OBVIOUS--is there a smilie for "I'm such an idiot? Such a jail-bound, sweating idiot?")

    The TSA guy is understanding, but says he has to call over the PA Statie--he can't handle the "loaded" gun, I guess. Rules is rules.

    The Statie looks me over, asks a few polite questons, and then says: "Do you have the box for this ammo?" I did--had even noticed it was strangely missing one round when I packed it ---he took the round out of the mag, put it into the box, everything fine.

    DO NOT DEPEND ON THIS KINDNESS! In a different place, I could have been hung out to dry over this! But it was nice to catch a break when I needed it.

    As always with firearms: check everything--then check it twice!

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    Surefire can be carried on, unless it has one of those crenellated bezels that mark it as an "impact weapon." They will make you take it out and show that it's a flashlight by lighting it up.
    They've never asked me to "light up" my flashlight (Ahhh - don't tempt me! )

    But the last time I had to go to Seattle I just drove my own car. Much nicer that way, costs the company about the same, and I actually "make" money on the trip at least over the cost of gas.
    Governments don't live together. People live together.

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    I had one issue with a Surefire Defender (jagged edges around the bezel) in carryon. If you have a Defender, you might want to put the rubber filter sleeve over it.
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    Tom:

    You can always carry the Surefire in your T'Bone. The pilot won't mind.
    Unless it's life or death related, IT'S ALL BULL****! Obiwan1

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    All, the T-Bone is gone, but the Bonanza remains. Faster and cheaper to run! Loading it up and heading north to chase pheasants this week.
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    When I flew out of Dulles or Reagan, the agents and TSA never batted an eye. Probably due to all the goverment agency / leo's flying in and out of our nations capital.

    The small midwestern airports were a whole different story.... Lansing seemed to be the worst.

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    I had a sickening experience flying out of San Francisco with a pistol in my checked luggage. I declared it to the airlines, and they sent me down to a baggage office, where the surly TSA minimum wage ape went through my entire luggage with explosives swabs, and they searched everything. They were doing the same thing to another man's luggage who had a pistol. We both were so apalled and angry. It was unbelievable. The guy was probably going to miss his flight due to the sluggish behavior of this moron TSA employee. I have to to chalk it up to the insane communist government out there or something. It was really a wake up call. You are literally treated as a terrorist in San Francisco if you declare a legally transported firearm in your checked luggage.
    I think this was just some Orwellian policy of that airport, because flying out of Boston, the airlines and TSA officials were completely helpful, took no extra time, were polite, and looked like they could not care less that I was travelling with my firearm. There was no search, no being led away to the back office or anything.

    So anyhow, if you want to know what living in a Police State is like, try flying out of SFO with a pistol checked.



    One thing I would love to see is the new administration firing the current head of the TSA, the guy is a a smug big-brother wanabee.

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    Sheesh. I'm flying with three pistols in December, going home for Christmas and teaching my mom to shoot. The thought of going anywhere near the TSA people with guns makes me nervous, but I guess it's relatively normal for them. At least I'm going from Florida to Texas.

    I don't want to hijack this thread, but I have a couple of quick questions on the same subject: Can/should you use the original plastic pistol cases (they do have a place to put a lock but it's pretty flimsy)? And can you fly with reloads if they're in plastic ammo boxes or is that likely to get me hassled?
    "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." - Frederic Bastiat, The Law

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    tigre--

    Check the individual airline, but all I've ever seen listed as required is a "hard-sided, lockable case," so those (blue? ) flimsy original cases should do, as long as they can't "be pulled open with little effort"--whatever that means. I usually fly, though, with an aluminum case, which then goes in a bigger bag.

    Make sure the case IS LOCKED and the gun IS UNLOADED when you enter the airport. They'll tell you when to unlock it. It's their ballpark and their ground-rules.

    The TSA says, re ammo:
    You must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging that is specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.

    You can't use firearm magazines/clips for packing ammunition unless they completely and securely enclose the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the exposed portions of the magazine or by securely placing the magazine in a pouch, holder, holster or lanyard).

    You may carry the ammunition in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as you pack it as described above.
    I think reloaded rounds in plastic cases are fine, but reloaded rounds placed in a factory box would be less conspicuous--still, I just HATE mislabeled ammo.

    TSA: Traveling with Special Items--Firearms & Ammunition

    Good luck! (Hey--how can you put a magazine in a lanyard, anyway? )

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    hqmhqm - I've flown out of SFO 4 times with handguns and never had any problems. Maybe I've been lucky, or you got there on a really bad day.
    "People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society." Marko - http://munchkinwrangler.wordpress.co...-plagiarizing/

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    Tigre -

    Check the airline regs. TSA regs are as quoted above, but I am almost positive I've read that some airlines specifiy that ammunition be in original, maunufacturer's boxes. I don't plan to fly, but for similar reasons it's why I limit my reloading to scrounged Winchester brass, and I scrounge Winchester boxes from the trash when I'm at the range. Anyone who knows anything would spot the fact my ammo is reloaded, but a typical blissninny would just see Winchester "bullets" in a Winchester box and that would (hopefully) be the end of that discussion.

    As to locks -- the law says what the law says, and a 75-cent padlock from the local Dollar Emporium is a lock. That's all they can ask for ... the case has to be locked. That little hole in the manufacturers' cases is there for that purpose. Just don't use a TSA padlock on the gun case.

    Have you considered just shipping the guns to yourself at your parents' address? It's perfectly legal, and does not require any FFL intervention. The only requirement is that you and only you may open the package on the receiving end.

  19. #19
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    I just heard that one airline, AIR TRAN is giving people fits over handguns in luggage. requireing that your gun be secured in one bag, and your ammo in another bag. But if your flying alone they charge you extra for the 2nd bag. If your wife or GF is with you put one in each bag.

    Be aware of each airlines peculiar requirements.
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    Have you considered just shipping the guns to yourself at your parents' address? It's perfectly legal, and does not require any FFL intervention. The only requirement is that you and only you may open the package on the receiving end.
    [HIJACK]Hmmm.

    If you're not there yet, and your parent signs for the package, haven't they now taken possession of a firearm? I'm just asking. (If the parents have a license, no worries--but is it still cool if they don't?)

    [/HIJACK]

  21. #21
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    The current BATF book specifically states that shipping a firearm to yourself in care of a third party is legal, as long as the third party who is holding it for you does not open the package.
    The only drawback in doing this is that if the firearm in question is a pistol, then you'll end up paying the exhorbitant overnight rates that UPS and FedEx charge.

  22. #22
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    Tigre,
    I had no problems flying from Tampa to Houston on either Southwest or Continental. Come with a locked case, unloaded pistols, ammo in factory box, declare it at the counter. They will ask you to demonstrate the guns are unloaded, fill out the form, and place it in the case. Then you carry it to the TSA screeners, who will xray it while you wait. (You wait, in case they see something on the xray that makes them want to open the locked case.) Then you wave goodbye and meet it on the other end.

    Try to sit near the front of the plane to ensure you get to the baggage claim before your bag. Don't go to the bathroom after your flight arrives. Go straight to the baggage claim, and claim your bag the instant it comes up the conveyor belt.

    Edit: On one occasion I used the cheap plastic case and an external lock with no problems. On the other I had an aluminum case with combination locks. I never tried carrying reloads in the plastic boxes...
    Last edited by 545days; November 19th, 2008 at 12:33 AM. Reason: Fully answer Tigre's query.

  23. #23
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    I've thought about shipping them, but would rather not pay for FedEx when taking them on the plane is free. And one of the pistols I'm bringing is my carry gun (which I can carry there under reciprocity), so I don't really want to be without it while it's in transit. Of course, I just realized that with gas prices falling like they are it may be better to just drive home.

    If you're not there yet, and your parent signs for the package, haven't they now taken possession of a firearm? I'm just asking. (If the parents have a license, no worries--but is it still cool if they don't?)
    License?
    "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." - Frederic Bastiat, The Law

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loosedhorse
    If you're not there yet, and your parent signs for the package, haven't they now taken possession of a firearm? I'm just asking. (If the parents have a license, no worries--but is it still cool if they don't?)
    http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/faqindex.htm

    (B9) May a nonlicensee ship firearms interstate for his or her use in hunting or other lawful activity? [Back]

    Yes. A person may ship a firearm to himself or herself in care of another person in the State where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. The package should be addressed to the owner. Persons other than the owner should not open the package and take possession of the firearm.

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