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Air travel with a firearm

WarbirdsWarbirds Member Posts: 15,507 ✭✭✭✭
edited January 2 in General Discussion
This is a round about way to tell my friend Drobs I use a Boyt brand case. But the question comes up in one way or another that I thought a general post about air travel might be helpful to the forum for future searches.

The two things for Drobs:

Here is my case made by Boyt- it is a gun specific case and mine shows zero signs of wear after a year of steady travel and makeshift range bag duty.

They make a single or double pistol case- mine is the double pistol case. I also have a giant Pelican rifle case with rolling wheels. It stays at home unless I am absolutely traveling with a rifle simply because it is large, I can?t put it inside of a suitcase once my gun is checked- in short, the downside is it is very clearly holding an expensive firearm.
[url] https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/boyt-tactical-h-series-double-handgun-case[/url]

2nd for Drobs which noone else mentioned was the specific locks- I use TSA approved Cable locks because the gun cases all have heavy duty hinges and its hard to find a lock to fit them.

Now onto the more generic tips for others to perhaps reference in the future.
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1- Safety 1st, with regard to air travel this means ensuring your firearm is unloaded before you get to the airport. I typically will either lock the slide back or remove the slide all together.
2- know the laws where you?re going. They don?t care where you are from once you arrive. NY is particularly notorious for prosecuting travelers who violate their laws.

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When speaking to the agent tell them ?you have a firearm to declare?. They will ask of it is unloaded and if you have any ammunition. Ammo must be separately contained, it cannot be in the mags in the gun case. Federal law limits ammunition to 11lbs while flying. I have never had my ammo weighed, & typically I just buy ammo when I land if possible. Less than 10% of the time have I ever had an attendant ask to see the firearm. I have told them I am not pulling the gun out of the case in an airport- if they need to see it unloaded they can call a TSA agent.
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They will have you sign a firearms declaration card, which I always photograph as proof I legally declared the firearm. I then take my gun case, lock it with TSA cable locks, place the case inside of my checked bag (now it isn?t screaming FIREARM) and lock my checked bag with another TSA lock.
Your bag automatically has $3,300 worth of insurance. If you need more tell the agent when checking in- its pretty cheap.
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Last- the agent will place a ?Return to BSO? tag on your checked bag. This is important as it routes the bag to the oversize baggage area instead of to the regular baggage carousel. 99% of the time they will page me over the loud speaker when my bag arrives. Show them my ID and I am off with the rest of my trip.
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Comments

  • gearheaddadgearheaddad Member Posts: 15,125 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    All excellent information
    Thank you for posting.
    My only question is, I always thought for firearms you use a regular, not a TSA approved lock?
    I've always just used Master padlocks on my case when checking my rifle(s) through.
    Did something change?
    Thanks
    Ed
  • WarbirdsWarbirds Member Posts: 15,507 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Excellent point. I have been told repeatedly by TSA they want TSA locks on everything- and told by airlines they require a non-tsa lock in the firearm case. As a result I bring a set of standard locks along but I have ultimately never used them. The TSA agent if it comes up is the deciding vote.

    Also- it is automatically insured for $3,300 so there is that, luckily they have never lost a bag of mine with a firearm.
    All excellent information
    Thank you for posting.
    My only question is, I always thought for firearms you use a regular, not a TSA approved lock?
    I've always just used Master padlocks on my case when checking my rifle(s) through.
    Did something change?
    Thanks
    Ed
  • drobsdrobs Member Posts: 21,915 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Thanks! I appreciate the write up. I will invest in 2 sets of locks.

    Good idea on buying ammo on the ground.
    I figure, I'll bring 2 boxes of defensive ammo along with the gun/s and magazines.

    I take it, your holster and mag pouches are in your checked bag?

    We'll be down Jan 23 - 30. Let's get together for dinner one night.
  • nononsensenononsense Member, Moderator Posts: 10,646 ******
    edited November -1
    Not to be the exception or a contrarian but I've been flying with firearms for 30 years. Yes the rules change and we are made to be responsible for knowing the changes even without notification. Even worse is the fact that every airline carrier can make up their own rules if they so desire. But the basic rules are always in place, the first from Southwest Airlines:
    Guns

    Customers are responsible for knowing and following the firearms laws of the state(s) that they will be traveling to, from, and through.
    Our Customers must declare the gun to the Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter (no firearms will be accepted curbside) and ensure that the firearm(s) chambers are free of ammunition and the magazine clip has been removed (when applicable). Paintball guns and BB guns are considered the same as all other firearms.
    Paintball guns are allowed in checked baggage and are not subject to the container requirements of firearms. Customers must declare the paintball gun to the Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter. Compressed gas cylinders are allowed in checked baggage or as a carryon only if the regulator valve is completely disconnected from the cylinder and the cylinder is no longer sealed (i.e., the cylinder has an open end). TSA Security Screeners must visibly ensure that the cylinder is completely empty and that there are no prohibited items inside.
    Firearms must be encased in a hard-sided, locked container that is of sufficient strength to withstand normal handling, as follows:
    A firearm in a hard-sided, locked container may be placed inside a soft-sided, unlocked suitcase.
    A firearm placed inside a hard-sided, locked suitcase does not have to be encased in a container manufactured for the transportation of firearms.
    The locked container or suitcase must completely secure the firearm from access. Cases or suitcases that can be pulled open with minimal effort do not meet the locked criterion.
    The Customer checking the luggage should retain the key or combination to the lock, and may use any brand or type of lock to secure the firearm case (including TSA-recognized locks).
    Firearms may be checked and will count toward the two-piece free baggage allowance for each fare-paying passenger. We allow multiple firearms to be transported inside one hard-sided case.
    Southwest Airlines assumes no liability for the misalignment of sights on firearms, including those equipped with telescopic sights.
    Firearms are never allowed in carryon luggage.

    TSA advises passengers on how to travel with firearms, ammunition

    Local Press Release
    Thursday, July 26, 2018

    PHOENIX ? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on July 26 provided tips for passengers who are traveling with firearms and ammunition on a commercial aircraft.

    ?Every day, at airports across the country, TSA officers detect firearms ? many of them loaded - during the routine security checkpoint screening process,? said Scot Thaxton, deputy federal security director for Arizona. ?Passengers are allowed to travel with firearms, but it is important that certain procedures are followed to ensure it is done properly.?

    Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. Ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips and magazines are also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be checked.

    At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger needs to go to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and any firearm parts. Prior to traveling, passengers are encouraged to check gun laws and regulations at their destination to ensure they are in compliance with local and state laws.

    Firearm magazines and ammunition clips - whether loaded or empty ? must be securely boxed in a hard-sided case containing the unloaded firearm. Small arms ammunition that does not exceed .75 caliber for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be transported in the same case as the firearm. TSA recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.

    Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage. TSA permits rifle scopes to be transported in either carry-on or checked bags.

    If a passenger brings a firearm to the TSA security checkpoint, TSA will levy a civil penalty against the passenger. The recommended civil penalty starts at $1,960 and can be as high as $9,800. The factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition. TSA evaluates each incident on a case-by-case basis.

    Individuals who violate the rules above will have their Trusted Traveler status and TSA Pre?? expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time. The duration of the disqualification will depend upon the seriousness of the offense and if there is a repeated history of violations.

    In addition to the above:

    Travelers can use the ?Can I Bring?? feature on the TSA mobile app, myTSA, or visit the TSA web site. Travelers can also Tweet or Message ?AskTSA? if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance every day from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. MST.

    Delta Airlines, on the other hand, does not specifically call for a TSA agent to inspect a firearm:
    Shooting Equipment

    Shooting equipment is allowed as checked baggage only. It must fit within the very specific criteria that we outline below.

    Declare to the Delta representative that you are checking a firearm
    Declare the existence of a firearm to security personnel if there's a security checkpoint before the Delta counter
    All firearms must be declared by the passenger to a Delta representative at the main ticket counter
    Present firearm(s) unloaded and sign a "Firearms Unloaded" declaration
    Firearms must be packed in a locked manufacturer's hard-sided container specifically designed for the firearm, a locked hard?sided gun case or a locked hard-sided piece of luggage. Handguns may be packed in a locked hard-sided gun case, and then packed inside an unlocked soft-sided piece of luggage. However, a Conditional Acceptance Tag must be used in this case
    Maintain entry permits in your possession for the country or countries of destination or transit
    Ensure small arms ammunition is packed in the manufacturer's original package or securely packed in fiber, wood, plastic or metal boxes and provide separation for cartridges
    You are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with all Federal, State or local laws regarding the possession and transportation of firearms. For more information about this regulation you can visit the TSA websiteopens in a new window
    If you are transporting a firearm to the United Kingdom, a permit from the United Kingdom is specifically required. You must contact the United Kingdom for more information about securing this permit
    Until further advised, passengers departing Brussels, Belgium are not allowed to check weapons including, antique, sporting, hunting or toy rifles in their checked baggage
    Customer must be 18 years of age or older
    All firearms checked as baggage must be picked up at the Baggage Service Office upon arrival at your final destination. ID will be required to claim your checked firearm

    In the smaller regional airports I've used in the south flying Delta, you simply step aside after informing the ticket agent of your firearm, place the case on a table, unlock and sign the waiver. Re-lock and let it go through baggage. There may be 50 people in these airports not 10 or 20,000 like Phoenix or worse, O'Hare.

    In every major airport though, I have quietly declared to the ticket agent that I have a firearm to check and get told to see the TSA agent when they walk over. We move to an area aside from the regular check-in and I unlock the case(s) for inspection. Then sign the waiver and re-lock the case(s). I have been told by TSA that I can use my own locks or (they recommend, of course) using TSA locks. I use my own locks. Cases are picked up away from general baggage, usually in the airline office.

    The best suggestion I will always make is to READ ALL airline rules first then check TSA just to be sure of what is required. These folks do not joke!

    Best.
  • WarbirdsWarbirds Member Posts: 15,507 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Thanks for making this post better! Mine is based on the trips over the years but this year (2019) I made about 20 round-trips with a firearm on planes.
    nononsense wrote:
    Not to be the exception or a contrarian but I've been flying with firearms for 30 years. Yes the rules change and we are made to be responsible for knowing the changes even without notification. Even worse is the fact that every airline carrier can make up their own rules if they so desire. But the basic rules are always in place, the first from Southwest Airlines:
    Guns

    Customers are responsible for knowing and following the firearms laws of the state(s) that they will be traveling to, from, and through.
    Our Customers must declare the gun to the Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter (no firearms will be accepted curbside) and ensure that the firearm(s) chambers are free of ammunition and the magazine clip has been removed (when applicable). Paintball guns and BB guns are considered the same as all other firearms.
    Paintball guns are allowed in checked baggage and are not subject to the container requirements of firearms. Customers must declare the paintball gun to the Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter. Compressed gas cylinders are allowed in checked baggage or as a carryon only if the regulator valve is completely disconnected from the cylinder and the cylinder is no longer sealed (i.e., the cylinder has an open end). TSA Security Screeners must visibly ensure that the cylinder is completely empty and that there are no prohibited items inside.
    Firearms must be encased in a hard-sided, locked container that is of sufficient strength to withstand normal handling, as follows:
    A firearm in a hard-sided, locked container may be placed inside a soft-sided, unlocked suitcase.
    A firearm placed inside a hard-sided, locked suitcase does not have to be encased in a container manufactured for the transportation of firearms.
    The locked container or suitcase must completely secure the firearm from access. Cases or suitcases that can be pulled open with minimal effort do not meet the locked criterion.
    The Customer checking the luggage should retain the key or combination to the lock, and may use any brand or type of lock to secure the firearm case (including TSA-recognized locks).
    Firearms may be checked and will count toward the two-piece free baggage allowance for each fare-paying passenger. We allow multiple firearms to be transported inside one hard-sided case.
    Southwest Airlines assumes no liability for the misalignment of sights on firearms, including those equipped with telescopic sights.
    Firearms are never allowed in carryon luggage.

    TSA advises passengers on how to travel with firearms, ammunition

    Local Press Release
    Thursday, July 26, 2018

    PHOENIX ? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on July 26 provided tips for passengers who are traveling with firearms and ammunition on a commercial aircraft.

    ?Every day, at airports across the country, TSA officers detect firearms ? many of them loaded - during the routine security checkpoint screening process,? said Scot Thaxton, deputy federal security director for Arizona. ?Passengers are allowed to travel with firearms, but it is important that certain procedures are followed to ensure it is done properly.?

    Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. Ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips and magazines are also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be checked.

    At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger needs to go to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and any firearm parts. Prior to traveling, passengers are encouraged to check gun laws and regulations at their destination to ensure they are in compliance with local and state laws.

    Firearm magazines and ammunition clips - whether loaded or empty ? must be securely boxed in a hard-sided case containing the unloaded firearm. Small arms ammunition that does not exceed .75 caliber for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be transported in the same case as the firearm. TSA recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.

    Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage. TSA permits rifle scopes to be transported in either carry-on or checked bags.

    If a passenger brings a firearm to the TSA security checkpoint, TSA will levy a civil penalty against the passenger. The recommended civil penalty starts at $1,960 and can be as high as $9,800. The factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition. TSA evaluates each incident on a case-by-case basis.

    Individuals who violate the rules above will have their Trusted Traveler status and TSA Pre?? expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time. The duration of the disqualification will depend upon the seriousness of the offense and if there is a repeated history of violations.

    In addition to the above:

    Travelers can use the ?Can I Bring?? feature on the TSA mobile app, myTSA, or visit the TSA web site. Travelers can also Tweet or Message ?AskTSA? if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance every day from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. MST.

    Delta Airlines, on the other hand, does not specifically call for a TSA agent to inspect a firearm:
    Shooting Equipment

    Shooting equipment is allowed as checked baggage only. It must fit within the very specific criteria that we outline below.

    Declare to the Delta representative that you are checking a firearm
    Declare the existence of a firearm to security personnel if there's a security checkpoint before the Delta counter
    All firearms must be declared by the passenger to a Delta representative at the main ticket counter
    Present firearm(s) unloaded and sign a "Firearms Unloaded" declaration
    Firearms must be packed in a locked manufacturer's hard-sided container specifically designed for the firearm, a locked hard?sided gun case or a locked hard-sided piece of luggage. Handguns may be packed in a locked hard-sided gun case, and then packed inside an unlocked soft-sided piece of luggage. However, a Conditional Acceptance Tag must be used in this case
    Maintain entry permits in your possession for the country or countries of destination or transit
    Ensure small arms ammunition is packed in the manufacturer's original package or securely packed in fiber, wood, plastic or metal boxes and provide separation for cartridges
    You are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with all Federal, State or local laws regarding the possession and transportation of firearms. For more information about this regulation you can visit the TSA websiteopens in a new window
    If you are transporting a firearm to the United Kingdom, a permit from the United Kingdom is specifically required. You must contact the United Kingdom for more information about securing this permit
    Until further advised, passengers departing Brussels, Belgium are not allowed to check weapons including, antique, sporting, hunting or toy rifles in their checked baggage
    Customer must be 18 years of age or older
    All firearms checked as baggage must be picked up at the Baggage Service Office upon arrival at your final destination. ID will be required to claim your checked firearm

    In the smaller regional airports I've used in the south flying Delta, you simply step aside after informing the ticket agent of your firearm, place the case on a table, unlock and sign the waiver. Re-lock and let it go through baggage. There may be 50 people in these airports not 10 or 20,000 like Phoenix or worse, O'Hare.

    In every major airport though, I have quietly declared to the ticket agent that I have a firearm to check and get told to see the TSA agent when they walk over. We move to an area aside from the regular check-in and I unlock the case(s) for inspection. Then sign the waiver and re-lock the case(s). I have been told by TSA that I can use my own locks or (they recommend, of course) using TSA locks. I use my own locks. Cases are picked up away from general baggage, usually in the airline office.

    The best suggestion I will always make is to READ ALL airline rules first then check TSA just to be sure of what is required. These folks do not joke!

    Best.
  • fatcat458fatcat458 Member Posts: 152 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    l have been traveling with a firearm for 20+yrs. Since before 911 even. Been thru big Airports like Denver and 0'hare, Portand.. Little ones like Bismarck ND too. Never had a problem with my rifle. l use a single rifle SKB hard case... A little banged up, but has never failed me. l took a look at Boyt cases... They are built like a tank and WEIGH as much as one too... No extra locks either. The bolt travels with me in my hold baggage along with the ammo.. A little extra SECURITY measure l perform is run a couple layers of YELLOW duct each end of the case after its checked/locked by TSA. The tape acts as an extra lock.. Also lets me know if anyone has messed with my gun. Even if they do steal my rifle they have NOTHING, because l've got the BOLT. Kinda like taking the ENGINE out of my car whenever l park it ;)
  • bustedkneebustedknee Member Posts: 1,747 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I flew with guns for many years and have found the TSA to be knowegeable, understanding and friendly.
    Their focus is air security and are very supportative of citizens rights which include the 2nd Admendment as well as our right to privacy.

    I found the easiest way to receive their customized service is to simply carry my gun into the terminal exactly the same way I carry it every day - concealed. After gaining access to the passenger booking area I hold my gun above my head and declare in a loud voice, "I HAVE A GUN!"

    From that point, forward, TSA gives me that special service thay are famous for.
    They promptly take me out of that long line of people waiting for check-in, and a nice young TSA bellhop carries my bags to a private processing area to package my firearm and complete my processing.

    I find this personalized TSA service to be very handy when (it seems like every time I travel) part way through the processing they announce my flight has been canceled.
    They then escort me to a quiet private area and get me a beverage. Someone always sits with me and leads a pleasant conversation to pass the time.

    I love TSA.
    I can't believe they misspelled "Pork and Beans!"
  • iceracerxiceracerx Member Posts: 8,808 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I would add a trigger lock to the equation.
  • Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,296 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    fatcat458 wrote:
    . The bolt travels with me in my hold baggage along with the ammo.. A little extra SECURITY measure l perform is run a couple layers of YELLOW duct each end of the case after its checked/locked by TSA. The tape acts as an extra lock.. Also lets me know if anyone has messed with my gun. Even if they do steal my rifle they have NOTHING, because l've got the BOLT.

    Sounds good to me. I would not check a functional gun, some part would be removed and packed separately. In a different suitcase if I had more than one.
  • nononsensenononsense Member, Moderator Posts: 10,646 ******
    edited November -1
    Hawk Carse wrote:
    fatcat458 wrote:
    . The bolt travels with me in my hold baggage along with the ammo.. A little extra SECURITY measure l perform is run a couple layers of YELLOW duct each end of the case after its checked/locked by TSA. The tape acts as an extra lock.. Also lets me know if anyone has messed with my gun. Even if they do steal my rifle they have NOTHING, because l've got the BOLT.

    Sounds good to me. I would not check a functional gun, some part would be removed and packed separately. In a different suitcase if I had more than one.

    Any methods you are comfortable with are applicable and within the letter of the law and rules. But...

    As the great mythical thief was once overheard saying, "If we want it we'll get it!"

    There are three places where the ATF will rush to when a report is made regarding a lost or stolen firearm:

    Airports
    FED-X
    UPS

    And they show no mercy until that firearm is recovered. So, long story short, sign your paper, put it in your case then YOU have to lock it. TSA will not touch your case before YOU affix the locks. They are your witness that the case left their care locked. I've used about 7 different name brand cases designed to be locked and to survive airline travel. Two or three locks, one each end and or one in the middle if possible or just two in the middle to prevent the case from being pried open. Security throughout the baggage handling area is super tight, especially nowadays with all the new digital surveillance equipment. The reality is that the potential thief has no idea if they are stealing a $500.00 commercial rifle or a $10,000 custom rifle because they can't open the case to see. Replacement bolts are currently made for most rifles. Lock your case and enjoy your flight.

    Best.
  • bambihunterbambihunter Member Posts: 10,431 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Warbirds wrote:

    When speaking to the agent tell them ?you have a firearm to declare?. They will ask of it is unloaded and if you have any ammunition. Ammo must be separately contained, it cannot be in the mags in the gun case. Federal law limits ammunition to 11lbs while flying. I have never had my ammo weighed, & typically I just buy ammo when I land if possible. Less than 10% of the time have I ever had an attendant ask to see the firearm. I have told them I am not pulling the gun out of the case in an airport- if they need to see it unloaded they can call a TSA agent.

    I'll say to do what you have to do to remember this step... I was flying home from AK when I went through TSA at like 3am with only a couple hours of sleep. I forgot, but for less than 30 seconds after they placed my bag on the conveyor. The TSA agent quickly called and was able to get it pulled off the line. I then spent the next half-hour with an officer as he checked everything out piece by piece. It seemed irrelevant to them that I was the one that caught it (just late) than it getting flagged by the system. Months later I got a notice from TSA of a fine to be paid. I contacted them and explained the details to him and also had the TSA and officers names so he could corroborate what I was telling him. They did away with the fines THIS TIME. He basically said failure to declare could result in not being able to fly. I don't know how true that last part is. I will say, that I definitely was awake after forgetting it that morning. :?

    I now have a big orange lanyard attached to my bag with only an exclamation point written on the tag.
    Fanatic collector of the 10mm auto.
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