Flying with handguns please share TSA experience and advice

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by cookekdjr, May 27, 2021.

  1. cookekdjr

    cookekdjr Member

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    In late June I’m flying to an area where I’d like to bring a handgun or two. Looking for any helpful advice on how to do this as hassle free as possible. Please share your experiences on how to make sure I do this the right way. I’ve checked out the TSA website and that of my airline (Delta). What I’m looking for is specific recommendations on gun cases and other nuts and bolts advice on the process.
    Thanks
    David
     
  2. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    I have flown with guns. It was years ago now. I definitely followed their requirements but they have changed a little since I flew with guns last. I cannot recall if a TSA rated lock is needed for the case but I do recommend you get a tough pistol case and it will get beat up a little.
    Perhaps a hard sided Pelican style case from, well, Pelican, Seahorse, SKB, Harbor Freight, believe it or not. Midway, etc.
    Find out if they require a specific type of lock.
    Put any ammo in OTHER checked luggage, just as the rules say. DO NOT PUT AMMO IN THE GUN CASE! Sorry for the Caps, but that’s important to remember. Don’t even have an empty shell casing in the pistol case. Unloaded magazines can also be in the case, but verify this.

    Most of all read the requirements and follow them to a tee. Also, if you act nervous or squirrelly you can count on TSA emulating your demeanor. Just act like you do this all the time. Follow the rules and make sure you find out exactly how the receiving airport is going to handle and deliver your gun box to you.
    I had an incident where the airport where I arrived shuffled my Gun box to the lost baggage office, but no one told me. I reported a missing gun box to a police officer and there was a little excitement at the baggage claim. Luckily, one officer knew the airport’s procedures and sent me to the lost baggage office and there I was able to retrieve my guns.
     
  3. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Current guidance, as I remember it, is that TSA wants a locked case that is specifically not TSA-locked. This as there are too many TSA lock keys in circulation.

    You need to separate ammunition from the cased arm (how much varies by Airline, IIRC). Handgun cases are meant to be inside checked bags, so you may need to check another bag, or use a larger carry on for your clothes, etc.

    Typically, you want to find out where the luggage inspection area is for your airline, and TSA will (generally) want to observe that you are locking your unloaded handgun in its case before closing the luggage up (I have heard that some TSA will want TSA locks on the checked bag--some). Then, the bag gets tagged and put on the conveyor.
     
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  4. sequins

    sequins Member

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    You get there, tell the gate agent at checked baggage that you have a firearm, they'll summon TSA, then you open your pelican case to show the gun and its unloaded, then they watch you lock it up and take it to the jet for you.

    Im going to Utah tomorrow and bringing my glock 26.
     
  5. cookekdjr

    cookekdjr Member

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    Is ammo in same case or different case?
    Can the pelican case go back into a checked bag once I’ve shown it to them?
     
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  6. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Not a problem. First, make certain your firearm will be legal at the destination. Second, buy a lockable hard case. Do NOT use TSA locks, get real locks as required by the FAA. I suggest getting a cheap trigger lock. Put everything in the case. When you get to the airport, inform the ticket agent that you need "a firearm card" for (point to it) "this case". This wording will keep the hysterics to a minimum. They may or may not have someone from TSA or the airport security come over. You open the case, they put the card in. Lock the case, put into the normal checked baggage.
     
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  7. TarDevil

    TarDevil Member

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    Yep, this. The gate agents will ask if your gun case has TSA locks, tell them "yeah." There's quite a disconnect between the gate agents and TSA.

    In that vein, if your gun case is going inside your luggage, make sure the declaration form is ON TOP of your gun case, not inside. I've had gate agents insist on putting inside and we couldn't come to terms until we summoned a TSA agent to set them straight. If the gun case is going as separate luggage, the declaration does go inside.

    Last, check it early and hang around the gate area for a while to make sure you aren't paged. If there's a problem and you've gone to the gate and can't hear the page you won't find your gun at your destination.

    It's really simple and easy, I've been doing it for ten years. Tell the gate agent exactly what you've got... an UNLOADED hand gun, tell them where the ammo is, fill out the form and have a safe trip.
     
  8. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

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  9. George P

    George P member

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    Separate compartments for ammo and guns; lock both with NON-TSA ;ocks and put them inside your checked bag. Declare at the counter, have a copy of your airline and TSA regs with you to show to ignorant counter personnel. You are required to be there to unlock the case while TSA inspects. They will get it into the baggage claim and you are supposed to go to claim office at other end, but sometimes they just put the bag on the carousel
    Make sure whatever you bring is legal where you are going
     
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  10. sequins

    sequins Member

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    I plan to have my pelican stand-alone, with ammunition in a factory box in the same pelican. If they object to that ill try putting it in my hard sided luggage.
     
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  11. JR24

    JR24 Member

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    It's been six years but I didn't have any issues with pistol and a box of factory ammo in the case back then, I think if it's in loaded mags the rule used to be the mag had to be completely up encases in something like an pouch.
     
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  12. Miami_JBT

    Miami_JBT Member

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    I fly all the time. Just came back from Puerto Rico.

    FNEzX7u.jpg

    Ammo goes in a factory box (I had .380 Auto and .38 Special in the same tray) and I run a zip tie through the guns just because the usual ticket agent is oblivious to guns and it is a visual flag to them that the guns are unloaded. A pelican style case with a lock. Not the TSA lock, just a normal lock.

    Go to the ticket agent, inform them that you have a firearm you need to declare, show them it is unloaded and in a secure case, fill out the declaration slip, goes back in the checked luggage, off it goes to TSA and you go through the checkpoint.

    The luggage is usually tagged a certain way and nine out of ten times, you simply go to the luggage office by the baggage claim area and pick it up there.
     
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  13. sgt127

    sgt127 Member

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    I’ve flown a bunch with a gun in checked baggage. Never an issue.

    I use a steel gun box. Cabled to the frame of the luggage. Only I have a key. Not TSA lock. Gun unloaded. Mags or speedloaders unloaded. Ammo in a factory box or, one of those ammo wallet things.

    Tell gate agent I have a firearm to declare. Sent to TSA. Show him gun. Lock box. He compliments my packaging, I lock the box. We put an unloaded firearm tag on the gun box, claw suitcase. TSA lock on suitcase. Done.

    Always get the the Luggage carousel early. Watch your bag pop out. Grab it before it makes a couple circles.

    Last time I flew, it was marked “special Handling” and, I picked it up from customer service. I rather liked that.

    Whenever I flew with the family, every bodies bags had been reopened by TSA. Except mine. I think if anyone knows there’s a gun in it, they avoid it like the plague. Yeah, you can snatch a little jewelry here and there but, ATF. Feds. Stolen gun. Not worth it. Also, my gun box, chained or cabled to the frame, makes it a lot tougher to pull out and “drop” on the floor.

    One time, at Washington DC, I told the clerk I had a gun in the bag. I showed her my badge and ID. She yelled out across the lobby “ hey we got a weapon over here!“

    All the color ran out of me. My wife at the time said “Jesus could you say that a little bit louder?”

    She said oh yeah! I can do that for you, and yelled it again....
    then looked at me and said ain’t no big thing baby, there ain’t nothing to this will get you out here in no time!

    Big smile.

    I swear. When she yelled that, a little pee snuck out.
     
  14. AirForceShooter

    AirForceShooter Member

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    Be aware some airlines are now tagging weapons' as valuable cargo.
    You will be required to pick it up at the lost luggage office.
    Ask when you check in.

    AFS
     
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  15. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    This one time at Detroit Metro... I finally get up to the Delta counter to check my bag for my return flight to Seattle. Delta counter guy walks away for a minute, then, from thirty feet down the counter, yells out, "SIR! How many guns did you say you're checking?" Heavy sigh from me, but I rather enjoyed the looks on some faces of those in the lines next to me and behind me.

    But not all airlines, and not all airports.

    Even in these weird times, traveling with firearms is not a big deal, nor especially inconvenient. The more one does it, the easier it gets. (Unless you're flying to a NYC airport.) As others notes, review individual airlines' requirements and the current info on the TSA website.
     
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  16. sequins

    sequins Member

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    So my experience today was slightly different from how it's gone in the past, but ultimately it worked out the same.

    So as I approached the luggage area a Delta employee tasked with ushering traffic saw my double master locked pelican and asked if it was a firearm. I replied that it was, and they advised me to go ahead and get in line. After waiting 20 minutes in line I came to be next in line, and right then the same employee from earlier said "come with me sir" and I was taken to a new line that apparently opened just for me and I was served immediately by that line agent. This customer service agent asked me to pop the case, prove safe, and then I signed and dated the declaration and popped it in the case and locked it back up and paid delta $30. I then went to TSA with the tagged bag and repeated the inspect process in the oversize baggage area, and left it with them.

    I had a folding knife, ruger LCP slide locked back, an empty magazine, and an MTM casegard 50rd box (in blue ofc) with 7 rounds of ammunition in it.

    Overall everyone was professional, Delta is good to go in that regard.
     
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  17. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    I've never really had a problem flying with guns. I've always had a small steel case cable-locked to my suitcase. Ammunition stored in a factory box in the same case. I'm going to start storing it in a separate case, though, mainly because the steel case is really small, and it gets to be a stretch to fit everything in there, especially because I'm carrying a full-size Sig P320.

    Go to the ticket counter, tell the agent you need to check a firearm.

    I have seen a lot of variation in how it's handled after that, though. Once I was escorted back to the checked baggage screening area and a TSA agent screened my bag. Once it was done more or less right at the ticket stand. Once I had to open it up and demonstrate it was clear and re-lock it. Once the TSA agents did it. It does seem more common that you have to pick up your baggage from the special handling/lost luggage counter, which can be really inconvenient. Also flying into Florida one time, my suitcase arrived with all the zippers zip-tied shut, which was super aggravating.
     
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  18. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Wait until you get to do this traveling overseas. With muzzle-loaders. :)

    (Easiest country was France, hardest was Australia, and the German customs inspector wanted to chat about shooting.)
     
  19. cookekdjr

    cookekdjr Member

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    Thanks so much everyone! You’ve been very helpful!
     
  20. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    I've flown with a handgun in one of those steel key-locking automotive security boxes, the kind that has a cable to go around the seat rail. I unzipped the suitcase liner and had the cable secured to the suitcase frame. If any airport worker wanted to steal it, it was going to be either take the whole suitcase, or spend some time cutting the cable or picking the lock.
     
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  21. dodo bird

    dodo bird Member

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    This seems like a great idea just to expedite and not have anyone handling your guns. Make sure to have a knife in your bag to cut it off.
     
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  22. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    There are three sets of rules.
    The FAA, the airline, and TSA.
    Have them all printed out.
    I usually have multiple sets so I can afford to give them away.

    FAA sets rules about how much ammunition you can have.
    It used to be stated as "11 pounds".
    IIRC they also have basic rules about the container, and the locks.
    They also have the rules about verifying the gun is unloaded, and that the tag is INSIDE the gun container.
    They very specifically have a rule that no marking should be on the outer container.
    I had my aluminum locked container fasted to one side of my suitcase on the inside.
    A casual thief will not have tools to remove the fasteners, so they are forced to steal the whole larger suitcase.

    NO TSA locks on gun containers.
    Do not give anyone the combination if you are using combination locks.
    You can TSA lock a larger suitcase that contains the firearm.
     
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  23. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    It's been several years since I have flown. I posted this the last time I did:

    >>Ammunition can indeed be in magazines. Magazines cannot be in the gun, but they must be in the same container in which the gun is, or a separate-but-similar locked container. Ammunition not in magazines must be in an approved container; as mentioned, the container it came in is sufficient.

    I bought a metal locking box called a "Sentry Safe" from Wal-Mart for this purpose. Nothing fancy; it uses a key I hang on to.

    My last couple of times went like this:

    Show up with suitcase containing Sentry Safe (itself containing firearm and magazine, and locked.) Declare firearm to gate agent. She has me retrieve firearm and demonstrate an empty action, which is certainly easier with a small CC-type pistol than with a rifle. She watches me re-package firearm and lock the Sentry Safe and place it back in the suitcase. I keep the key. She inserts a bright orange card stating "Unloaded Firearm(s)" into the suitcase. This is to advise any TSA officer opening the bag that the firearm has already been checked and cleared. The suitcase is then closed. A TSA lock can be used on the bag, but the Sentry Safe is only accessible to me. No evidence of a firearm being inside is supposed to be attached to the outside of the suitcase.

    Some posters have said they were asked to "follow the bag" until it was cleared through TSA. I never was, but I was asked to provide a phone number at which I could be reached while still in the terminal. I never had any issues.<<
     
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  24. Climb14er

    Climb14er Member

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    GF recently flew, walked to counter, alerted agent, filled out info, they alerted TSA, looked at Pelican case with two NON TSA LOCKS, never asked her to open, placed Pelican into check in bag, ran through scanner... picked up bag at destination, Pelican case, locked with gun, arrived safely. Was told, some TSA agents want to inspect inside case, some don't. Honestly, and personally, YMMV... the whole process seems smooth, but it could be a crap shoot. I NEVER allow my carry pistol to leave my side. With TSA... it's totally out of your control. Hope everything works out well for flyers!
     
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  25. Jimbo80

    Jimbo80 Member

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    As airlines have dropped limits for checked baggage remember the case just has to be hard. Steel or heavy pelican cases are not necessary. Plastic cases are fine as long as they can be locked with a padlock. I typically use the case that the pistol came with.
     
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