View Full Version : Anyone with experience flying on Alaska Airlines and guns..?

11-10-2009, 10:32 AM
So, here is my intention, if it will fit in my Pelican case.

I want to fly from Los Angeles to Redding CA with some rifles, shotgun, and revolver.

I have a Kimber 8400 .270 Win., Bushmaster AR-15, Beretta Extrema2 12 gauge, and a Smith & Wesson 340pd, 357 mag.

I want to bring the Kimber to target shoot and dial in my scope, The AR-15 to target shoot, the Beretta for turkey hunting, and the revolver and my pocket pal...

I was reading Alaska Airlines website which stated they allow "Sporting rifles, shotguns, and handguns". Will they not allow my AR-15 as they will claim it is an assault rifle as opposed to a sporting rifle?

The maximum allowable diameter of ammo is "11/16" in diameter, the size of a dime". 11/16 = 0.6875. A 12-gauge shell has a diameter of 0.729, so no shotgun ammo is allowed?

As for my case. I'm probably going with the Pelican 1750. Pelican sell TSA approved combo locks but the Alaska website says keyed locks and only I to possess the key. Anyone have experience with what type of locks to use?

Here is the text from their website:
Firearms Definition

The term "firearm" describes any weapon that will or is designed to or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive, or the frame or receiver of any such weapon. This includes:

* Sporting rifles, shotguns, and handguns
* Handguns of authorized law enforcement officers while traveling on official duty
* Starter pistols, compressed air or BB guns, and flare pistols
* Antique firearms

Handguns must be unloaded and packed in a hard-sided container locked with a key or lock combination only in the traveler's possession. The locked hard-sided case can be placed in a soft-sided case.

Rifles, shotguns, and other firearms must be unloaded and carried in a locked hard-sided container where only the customer retains the key. We also recommend that the bolt be removed and the slide locked open. All parts of the firearm must be packed in the same container as the firearm itself.

Alaska Airlines does not allow customers under age 18 to carry on or check a firearm.
Firearms / Shooting Equipment

The following items may be included in your normal baggage allowance. Excess charges will apply for additional pieces of baggage. All items must be suitably packaged for transport.

* Shooting Equipment
1. One rifle case with rifles, scopes, one shooting mat, noise suppressors and small tools, or
2. One shotgun case with shotguns, or
3. One pistol case with pistols, noise suppressors, one pistol telescope and small pistol tools
* Ammunition—up to 50 lbs.(domestic) and 11 lbs. (international - where permitted) may be checked, if securely packed in the original manufacturer's package or in a container designed for ammunition and of sufficient strength to protect it from accidental crushing or discharge (i.e. wood, fiber, plastic, or metal). The projectile must be no larger than 11/16" in diameter, the size of a dime. Ammunition may be checked with or separately from the firearm. Spent ammunition shells will be accepted in checked baggage provided they meet the same acceptance procedures as live ammunition (e.g. packed in a crush-proof case).

Firearm Declaration

Identify all bags containing firearms when you check in. Firearms must be unloaded. You will be asked to read and sign a special tag for each bag/container holding a firearm(s). This serves as your declaration that each weapon is unloaded and both weapons and ammunition are properly packaged. It is your responsibility to obtain all the necessary permits for any firearm checked between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

11-10-2009, 10:39 AM
Check with them but I flew to Alaska once on Alaska Air and we had one shotgun and three pistols in one case.

I know that internationally most airlines only allow two long guns and up to four handguns in one case.

I know a lot of guys who fly with ARs for competitions and have never heard of anyone not be allowed to carry them.

The solid projectile limit size is set by the BATF for sporting arms, I've never heard of it applying to shotgun shells.

I've always used regular padlocks.

11-10-2009, 10:53 AM
Alaska Airlines should have no issues with "assault weapons". I'd disassemble it just in case anyway. CYA policy.

I flew from Alaska to CA with an FAL (disassembled since it wasn't CA legal), a bolt action Mauser, and a Colt 1911 alongside with about 15 or 20 pounds of ammo (or so it felt like) in a Hardigg 3300 Storm case.

I used two cheap key-locks I picked up at the grocery store in the Misc isle. Master's locks IIRC.

All they did was ask if my firearm was unloaded Yes Then had me sign this reddish-orange tag stating that the firearms inside were declared unloaded.

11-10-2009, 11:04 AM
Thanks for the replies fellas, I really appreciate it.

I read online that the TSA locks are not allowed on firearm cases, it must be a keyed or combo lock which only tou have control of. At no time is anyone allowed to access your case without you being present.

Here is some great info I found online regarding several aspects of flying with guns/ammo. (In case this searched for later)

I was very happy to read about the airlines liability as I had just began to wonder about that...



A "firearm" is any device that expels a projectile by means of a combustible propellant. This includes conventional guns, flare guns, starter pistols, and blank/stage firing replicas. Serialized parts for any of these items (for instance, stripped receivers) are also treated as firearms.

The Right to Travel with Firearms

It is the right of American citizens to travel with firearms that they legally possess, and as such firearms are permitted on all flights to and from any destination, either domestically or internationally. It is the passenger's responsibility to research and comply with all relevant laws wherever their travels will take them; the airline shall take no responsibility for a customer's failure to comply with the rules of any state or nation.

Secure Luggage

Firearms and ammunition can only travel in checked baggage. Luggage that is suitable for such a task must be hard-sided and lockable. When secured, an individual should not be capable of inserting a finger anywhere into the firearms case by means of prying or bending its housing or material.

Sizable Luggage

Small handgun cases can be useful tools for securing a pistol or revolver against damage and mishandling, but they are not suitable for protection against theft. Handguns cases must be inserted into larger hard-sided luggage which itself must be locked in order to be acceptable for air travel.

The Passenger's Locks

TSA-compliant (a.k.a. "SearchAlert") locks are NOT allowed to be used when transporting firearms... a proper lock must be used and only the passenger traveling with firearms (along with members of his or her traveling party, if they are part of a group) are ever allowed to be in possession of the key or combination to said luggage. Should a luggage inspection be necessary for any reason, the passenger must be directly present and they alone shall be the one who unlocks the luggage in question. Again, ONLY THE PASSENGER may ever unlock and open firearms-bearing luggage. The passenger must remain present to observe such proceedings, and then will verify that all their firearms and ammunition are still present and properly packed before re-locking the luggage at the conclusion of the inspection. At no time will passengers ever be separated from their key or combination, nor shall firearm-bearing luggage ever be opened out of their presence once it has been secured.

Additional Fees

There are no limits concerning how many firearms shall be packed with a piece of luggage, however no special provisions are made for baggage weight. If luggage is over the fifty pound limit, additional fees maybe imposed by the airlines as they see fit. However, airlines may not impose any specific "gun case fees" or in any other way penalize passengers who are traveling with guns and ammunition.

Additional Designations

Passengers must fill out the declaration card [in my ideal world, the card would be standardized and available both at airline counters as well as via the web so customers could fill it out in advance] stating that their firearms are unloaded and this card will be kept inside the luggage during the flight. At no time will this or any other indicating tag be affixed to the outside of firearms-bearing luggage. Furthermore, the airline's printed baggage tracking tag will not display any markings or characters used to designate a bag as containing firearms. A passenger's entry in the airline computer shall also not contain any special details indicating their travel with firearms.


There are no limits for how many rounds or what size caliber ammunition a passenger may pack aside from a maximum weight limit of fifty pounds. Ammunition must be packed in a manner that protects against crushing or the rounds becoming loose. The original box, or an after-market vessel designed to carry ammunition, or clips and magazines are all appropriate ways to pack ammunition provided that it is completely enclosed and there is no exposure of the rounds. Ammunition may be packed in the same container as firearms, as long as it is packed in accordance with these standards.


Passengers are responsible for verifying that their firearms have arrived safely at their final destination. Upon arrival at their final destination, an air traveler will have the right to briefly open and inspect the contents of their luggage in order to assess if things are safely in order. Passengers have a duty to report lost or damaged firearms and ammunition as soon as such a situation is discovered. Airlines are fully liable for loss, theft, or damage caused by non-routine handling of firearms and ammunition that they are transporting. Passengers traveling with firearms shall never be prohibited from purchasing additional insurance coverage for their luggage, but such coverage is not mandatory. In the event of theft or loss, it will be the airline's responsibility to contact law enforcement and fill out all reports. If lost firearms are not recovered within thirty-six hours of a passenger's arrival at their destination, the airlines must compensate the aggrieved party accordingly.

11-10-2009, 11:08 AM
my experiences with Alaska Airlines:

My wife flew with a 380 pistol in a locked case and about 50 rounds of ammo in her checked baggage

I have brought back 100 rounds of 380 ammo and about 30 round of 12 gauge shotgun in my checked baggage

No problem either time.

11-10-2009, 1:40 PM
I frequently travel w/guns, usu on Alaska or Horizon, sometimes on Southwest.

I often fly with multiple guns including reg'd AWs, pistol(s) and ammo,.
The airlines and TSA don't care about AW vs non-AW, etc. (you should, however have all firearms compliant with CA law while in or entering CA).

Some of the above information about flying with firearms is a bit "too good". Normally while I agree with knowing and following the precise details of the law, indeed TSA and FAA have different standards about access to gun case for inspection, and it's not my job to get between their p*ssing match. You're still following the direction of law enforcement, so relax. Nobody's gonna put you in jail for *complying* with the TSA.

Not all airports are set up for ease of gun inspection, and your gun case may be in the bowels of the airport after checking and declaring it w/ gate agent, so you're likely gonna have to give a key or the lock combo in envelop to the TSA, and they will give it back to you (they'll page you, or a gate agent brings it back). If you insist on being there etc. you may delay getting on your flight or cause disturbance to the process which is not good when time is precious.

Airline counter girl may ask to inspect your guns. She thinks she's being safe/efficient but that's not in the rules of any airline I've seen. Instead, tell her...
- you've signed the "Firearms Declared" tag(s);
- you've declared under penalty of perjury your guns are unloaded;
- it's a crime to do otherwise, and you don't wanna go to jail;
- would she really know what your guns look like, loaded vs. unloaded?
- would she really want you to pull out your guns from the case and cause a panic?

Reason will prevail. Since I carry my guns in a Starlight or Pelican case, and there's usu no room, I put my ammo in my travel bag. I also put a "Firearms Declared" tag in there even though they say it's not necessary.

Biggest issues:

1. Getting your guns back. When you get off the plane, don't socialize,
get coffee, go pee, wait to meet someone, etc. - get down to that luggage carousel ASAP. You don't want your rifle case circulating on the carousel for a half hour for the benefit of Colombian luggage theives.

The above even applies if you've asked (before boarding) that your luggage be checked and left at "oversize luggage office" for "pickup with ID required". Sometimes they forget to do this.

2. Tight connections - make sure your luggage makes it with you. On a multileg flight with tight connections, go to the gate agent before boarding for your next leg. Ask if your luggage is on; she'll probably breezily say Yes. Then inform her you're travelling with legal, declared firearms and it'd be a shame if they got diverted/lost, because a variety of interesting folks with badges may end up asking about what went wrong. Her brow will furrow and she'll check if your luggage made it. I've even been upgraded to first class after doing this (and it turned out to be necessary, the baggage was scheduled to come on a following flight 1/2 hr later...)

3. You can pay (~$10 per $1000 coverage) for Loss/Damage Waiver. This isn't really insurance. But it can help, and may assist in tracking or may elevate quality of tracking. It won't protect against broken optics, etc. But if your rifle case gets driven over by a truck, you'll get some cash back.

11-10-2009, 2:15 PM
Alaska/Horizon is as easy as Southwest...I often fly with guns back/forth from ID to the Peoples' Republic.

As Bill suggests, get the loss/damage waiver, pee before you leave the plane, head for baggage soonest.


11-10-2009, 3:17 PM
I was a skycap for 3 years. In my experiance Alaska/Horizon is better than most due to the amount of hunters that travel to Alaska.
Just lock everyting up, buy cleaning supplies at your destination. Only take the ammo that you need especially if ammo is avalible at your destination.

There are the TSA regs and the airlines may have their own on top of that.
I flew American West years ago and they wanted me to show that my firearms were indeed unloaded.
Also, check the equipment you'll be flying on. Alaska uses MD 80/90's and 737's. If your flying into one of the smaller airports your case might not fit if the flight is full.

11-10-2009, 6:22 PM
Well I never even thought about the fact my case wouldn't fit on the plane.

I just bought a Pelican 1750 tan-colored case.

Exterior Dimensions (L x W x D):53.00" x 16.00" x 6.12" (134.6 x 40.6 x 15.5 cm)
Interior Dimensions (L x W x D):50.50" x 13.50" x 5.25" (128.2 x 34.3 x 13.3 cm)

I will probably have to choose between bringing the .270 Win and AR-15, I don't think I can fit both with the Beretta scattergub.

I have a flight number but nowhere does it state what type of plane. I will assume it is a small plane. I'm flying from LAX to Redding CA (a VERY small municipal airport).

I will call Alaskan tomorrow and inquire....

Geeez, the 9-hour drive keeps looking better and better........

12-30-2009, 9:44 AM
I flew out on a turbo-prop plane, only about 40 seats probably. I believe it was a Q400 model.

I had zero issues taking my huge Pelican case with me.

I just had to pay $40 when I checked in, not sure if that was a gun thing or oversize luggage thing or both...