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View Full Version : Legality of flying with firearms in an expandable hard-sided suitcase


Reynold
11-10-2013, 9:57 AM
When flying with firearms, I know that you can have a firearm in a hard-sided suitcase and just lock up the entire suitcase (as opposed to keeping the firearm in a locked case, and putting the locked case in the unlocked suitcase).

For example, Southwest (http://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/baggage/special-luggage-pol.html):

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 former is obviously preferable than the latter, because with the latter someone can just snatch your locked case out of your unlocked suitcase. Why not lock both the case and the suitcase, you ask? Some TSA agents (my experience is that it really depends who you get) won't allow you to lock up the outside suitcase if your firearm is already "secured" (at least, they won't guarantee that they won't break the lock to "re-inspect" your suitcase), so only having ONE lock on the outside avoids this problem.

Here's the question: how is a "hard-sided" luggage defined? Is this a per-airline policy, or is there a legal definition? Would a suitcase that is *expandable* like this (http://images.fastcompany.com/upload/tumi-luggage.jpg) qualify, even if the "extension" portion is just a fabric extension with zippers? In such suitcases, it's not "hard" all the way around, but it does have "hard sides"...

Anyone have insight?

SmokieBear
11-10-2013, 12:31 PM
As long as its not crushable plastic or cheap aluminum case then yopur fine. My experience with flying with firearms with Southwest is that I have it locked up in a big ole steel box where if anyone wants to steal my stuff they stand out with a big dark earth color box to drag around. Plus southwest has placed my stuff to baggage claim area a couple times as I darted for the baggage claim soon as we landed SJC. Usually they're suppose to have a tsa agent escort you to the pick up area for it. Theres a thread in regards to travel stories on this too. other than that have a safe flight and good shooting with your gear.

Dvrjon
11-10-2013, 7:01 PM
Here's the question: how is a "hard-sided" luggage defined? Is this a per-airline policy, or is there a legal definition?

Anyone have insight?

TSA says only,
The firearm must be in a hard-sided container that is locked. A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be pulled open with little effort cannot be brought aboard the aircraft.http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition

nullman
11-11-2013, 1:18 PM
... Usually they're suppose to have a tsa agent escort you to the pick up area for it. ...

Really?!? So TSA meets you at the gate as you deplane and then escort you to the baggage claim area? Wow! Do they have a TSA agent guard your bag until you arrive?

Nick

Tincon
11-11-2013, 1:30 PM
Really?!? So TSA meets you at the gate as you deplane and then escort you to the baggage claim area? Wow! Do they have a TSA agent guard your bag until you arrive?

Nick

In my experience the departure point procedures vary, but coming off the plane it's always just the normal baggage carousel procedure. I've never been escorted by TSA on arrival.

Twystd1
11-11-2013, 6:52 PM
I have flown with firearms ALL OVER this country.

And have yet to have a single TSA agent escort me anywhere.

T

CSACANNONEER
11-11-2013, 6:59 PM
I've had airline employees escort me to TSA checkpoints while I was carrying firearms but, I've never seen or heard of a TSA employee escorting anyone to the baggage pickup area. The baggage, including baggage with firearms inside, just comes down the chute and revolves around the turnstile until it's claimed.

Intimid8tor
11-11-2013, 6:59 PM
Usually they're suppose to have a tsa agent escort you to the pick up area for it.

Yeah, NO! Never have had that happen, even flying into SFO with a checked firearm.

Do yourself a favor and buy a lock box from Cabelas or somewhere. The one I bought has a cable that goes through one of the rods for the handle. If someone is determined they will get it but it will stop the unzip and grab. Every airline and every airport on any given day is a little different. I can't tell you how many times I have had a different process followed when flying with a firearm. Sometimes the ticket agent wants the card in the case, sometimes not. Sometimes they want to see the locked case, sometimes not.

Remember, the lock on the gun case is not supposed to be a TSA lock so if you don't put it inside your suitcase in a seperate locked container then you will have a suitcase locked with non TSA approved locks.

As others have said, the departure process varies but your luggage will just drop onto the conveyer belt. The only exception to this is cases that are clearly rifle cases. Those I have seen go to oversized though there was not an escort.

baggss
11-11-2013, 8:46 PM
I've had airline employees escort me to TSA checkpoints while I was carrying firearms but, I've never seen or heard of a TSA employee escorting anyone to the baggage pickup area. The baggage, including baggage with firearms inside, just comes down the chute and revolves around the turnstile until it's claimed.

Ditto here. Actually had an airline employee ask me to take the locked gun case to TSA unescorted once it had been declared and the tag was placed inside. As for pickup at baggage claim, it's always been just another bag on turnstile.

Reynold
11-12-2013, 12:53 AM
Remember, the lock on the gun case is not supposed to be a TSA lock so if you don't put it inside your suitcase in a seperate locked container then you will have a suitcase locked with non TSA approved locks.

What's the source for this? Is it simply the policy/law that says the flyer is the only one to retain the key and combination, and that a TSA lock would violate this, thus TSA locks are no good?

I've actually had ticket counter airline employees say that I NEED a TSA lock in order to lock the outer suitcase.

Twystd1
11-12-2013, 4:12 PM
I agree with the NO TSA locks. There are several threads about that here at Calguns. The answer was. NO TSA LOCKS.

Hot Holster
11-12-2013, 4:19 PM
When I fly with handguns, they are in a locked case within the larger case which I use two TSA approved locks on the outer piece and have never had a problem doing that. My rifle case has always gone to the oversize luggage claim area for pickup.

I have had a TSA agent and airline agent walk me to a separate xray screening area prior to departure but have never had anyone meet me coming off the plane.

edgerly779
11-12-2013, 4:48 PM
I put my handguncase locked with padlock inside my regular suitcase also locked with combo lock. If they want in they have to cut lock. Never been escorted to security bag check by airlines employees after signing declaration at counter.

Intimid8tor
11-12-2013, 8:54 PM
What's the source for this? Is it simply the policy/law that says the flyer is the only one to retain the key and combination, and that a TSA lock would violate this, thus TSA locks are no good?

I've actually had ticket counter airline employees say that I NEED a TSA lock in order to lock the outer suitcase.

Source is TSA so owner is only one with access. Inner box = no TSA lock. Outer suitcase = TSA lock.

todd2968
11-16-2013, 9:30 PM
flew last year with pistol no event at all used lock box http://i1122.photobucket.com/albums/l535/gabsrm/other/feba7721.jpg
told ticket agent they put in red tag and picked it up on arrival