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  #1  
Old 06-11-2013, 4:15 PM
madsend81 madsend81 is offline
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Default My Experience Flying with a Firearm

So, I thought I'd share my experience flying with my handgun from Long Beach airport to Phoenix, AZ and back. No horror stories, just some interesting observations regarding the checking in of my firearm. I had my handgun properly packaged for transport in my check-in luggage. I got to the counter and told the ticketing agent "I have an item I need to declare."

She paused, looked at me a bit confused and then said "Oh, is it a ..." and then whispered, "firearm?" I nodded and she then thought for a moment, apparently unsure of what the proper procedure was. She told me to continue to check-in using the automated machine and she would be back to finish checking me in. A few minutes later she came back, apparently more confident in what needed to happen. As she was going through the inspection procedure, she noted that I appeared more knowledgeable about what to do than she was. After we were done, she took my bags and I next saw them sitting on the baggage carousel in Phoenix.

Contrast that episode to when I checked in at Phoenix to fly back home. I told the ticketing agent that I had an item to declare. She said, "You mean a gun?"

"Yep," I replied.

She then shouted to her coworker across the way so all could hear, "Can you help me over here? I have to check-in this guy with a firearm." She helped me with my luggage and we had a nice conversation about different destinations around the US while she walked me over to a TSA inspection area where a TSA agent asked me about how the firearm was packaged. I offered him the key to the lock as nobody had visually confirmed it was unloaded, but he said, "I don't need that," and proceeded to wipe my suitcase with a little cloth. The luggage passed inspection and I next saw it in Long Beach on the baggage carousel.

After it was all said and done, my wife and I chuckled a little bit thinking about the nonchalant attitude the AZ ticketing agents had about my having a firearm compared with the very discreet attitude of the Long Beach clerk, like she was helping me keep a secret from the other passengers. Don't get me wrong here, both clerks were very helpful and neither was judgmental about my having a firearm. I have no problems using that airline again (US Airways) to travel to visit my folks again in AZ.

So, has anyone else noticed this subtle nuances when flying with firearms, or am I the only one?
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  #2  
Old 06-11-2013, 4:48 PM
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Im glad things went smoothly for you. Not that it matters but what was the airline?
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Old 06-11-2013, 5:50 PM
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I am glad you had a good experience. I flew back home (Ca) from Maryland and had a scary experience. I declared my hand gun and then placed it into my military duffel bag. You know the tubular kind that has the flaps on the top.. So I get to California and am waiting at the baggage claim for my bag. I see my bag coming with the flaps open and my gun in the box falling out. I quickly grab my bag and stuff my gun back into the bag.
I called the airlines and they blamed the TSA. I called the TSA and they blamed the airlines. I was pissed.
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Old 06-11-2013, 7:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trriemferent View Post
Im glad things went smoothly for you. Not that it matters but what was the airline?
I'm glad things went smoothly as well. The airline was US Airways. It was my first time flying with a firearm and I was extra cautious to make sure that I was doing everything correctly.
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Old 06-11-2013, 9:14 PM
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Flew out of San Diego a year ago no issue no drama it was my first time
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:07 PM
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Default My Experience

I have flown through many airports with a firearm in my checked bag. While I have noted a great variety of ways that ticket agents follow the procedure (some want to see the firearm, others don't), they are usually courteous and helpful.

One difference was when I checked in once in LAX--when I told the ticket agent I was declaring a firearm she got real nervous. I think I popped her cherry!
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:56 PM
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I fly Southwest a lot. I had my handgun locked with 2 padlocks in a small Pelican case inside my carry-on roller bag which had a TSA approved lock. I placed the carry on, on the scale and told the agent behind the counter I was declaring a firearm. He/she then gave me a small form to fill out; my name, flt #, date. and then they placed clear packaging tape over the form and placed in on the Pelican case. I locked the carry on and I saw the bag at my destination.
In Ontario, they had me go to the end of the counter and wait for a TSA agent to inspect the firearm which they recorded the make and serial #. I locked everything back up and the TSA agent placed it on the belt.
In Burbank, same thing except the SWA agent there told me to have a seat for about 20min. in case a TSA agent came out and wanted the keys to inspect. But they did not.
Fine by me.
Oh yes, SWA allows 11LBS of ammo to be place in check in luggage as long as its packed properly like in their original packaging or in the replacement range container blocks you see made of plastic or metal and secured.
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Old 06-11-2013, 11:05 PM
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Default Nice thanks for sharing

That's a good story. You weren't the guy asking about how to declare it a couple of weeks ago were you?

I have never had the experiance like you had in Arizona. I must say though I hope they aren't doing stuff like that when LEO's are traveling that would piss me off. I have had some carriers give me issues because like you found not everyone knows the rules. Some items are more obvious when declaring too which can in itself be a drag. I always try and call ahead if I' am using a new carrier or going to a destination I have not be too before.

The fun parts trying to get you gear on at your destination without having TSA and all the LEO's chasing you out of the bathrooms thinking you're a terrorist. I've opted to wait till I get to my destination now adays.

Being able to carry can be a burden and of course a responsibility. Alot of people think carrying is all fun and games but if you're not dead serious and 100% sure about what you're doing you could end up in a very bad situation. Just ask George Zimmerman..
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Last edited by negolien; 06-12-2013 at 6:17 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-11-2013, 11:26 PM
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You can avoid most of that by calling the airline and asking their firearm policy. Sound ignorant so they are forced to look it up. Then ask them to put in a note about it on your reservation. Then when you arrive at check-in all the info is right there for the agent to read, and they will trust it as The Word since it was put there by an airline employee.
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Old 06-12-2013, 5:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by negolien View Post
That's a good story. You weren't the guy asking about how to declare it a couple of weeks ago were you?
No, that was someone else, but I did read all of the advice that was provided on that thread. Next time, though I won't say "I have something I need to declare," I'll just straight up say, "I have a firearm that needs to be checked-in with my baggage." That way I'll probably avoid the temporary confused look.
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Old 06-12-2013, 7:04 AM
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I always fly out of LB and I always take a pistol and usually a rifle or two. I've never had problem one.

Course I fly JetBlue. Someone told me they were run by Mormons. That would explain a lot.

I carry the TSA policy and the airlines as well, but its my experience these guys play fast and somewhat loose with the rules.

Personally I don't give ****, I'm checking an unloaded gun in a locked box... Its not like its a box cutter or something dangerous.

As long as my bag comes out at my destination....
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Old 06-12-2013, 11:52 AM
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I fly with guns alot. Post 9/11 checkin way different from pre-9/11.
Going to the NRA Police Nationals in Jackson MS in 2004, flying Delta out of LAX. Declared my firearm(s), opened my 52" Pelican case to expose 10 handguns and a Benelli S-90A1. The clerk had a litter of kittens, "Sir, you can't have that many guns in one case!" Yes I can...get your supervisor. Everything cleared but my case set of alarms on the xray machine. Pretty funny watching TSA agent telling everyone it was going to go off and then calming other agents when the bells rang.
Coming back....out of Jackson, declared my guns, opened my case and....the ticket gal looked at the arsenal and point to my PPC revolver and said "oh isn't that one pretty. What is it? I told her, offered to have her hold it (and she did) and she told the TSA guy how heavy it was compared to her SW36. TSA guy got all excited when he saw the Benelli and told me he was saving up for one.
Different states, different attitude about guns.
Last year flew out of San Diego SWA with just my carry gun. Nobody inspected it and I didn't have to wait for TSA. However, coming home from, of all places, San Antonio TX. I was escorted to a little cubical by SWA employee and had to wait 20 effing minutes for the TSA turd to wipe my case down without inspecting it. My wife was freaking out thinking I got arrested and we're going to miss our flight.....it's a joke and would be funny if it wasn't such a waste of time.
Flying with guns = Adventure!
Our government spents BILLONS of dollars protecting us from what the terrorist did last year. Stupid.
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  #13  
Old 06-12-2013, 12:38 PM
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I've been traveling almost weekly all year from SNA to PHX (mostly Southwest, occationally US Airways) and have three flights booked in the next three weeks, starting with a flight tomorrow to PHX. One flight to HOU next week.

Every time I checkin, I see that sign on transporting firearms and have considered taking one with me, but thought it would just be to much to deal with.

Thank you for posting your experience and I might give it a try on one of my upcoming flights.
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Old 06-12-2013, 1:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MossbergMan View Post
I fly with guns alot. Post 9/11 checkin way different from pre-9/11.
Going to the NRA Police Nationals in Jackson MS in 2004, flying Delta out of LAX. Declared my firearm(s), opened my 52" Pelican case to expose 10 handguns and a Benelli S-90A1. The clerk had a litter of kittens, "Sir, you can't have that many guns in one case!" Yes I can...get your supervisor. Everything cleared but my case set of alarms on the xray machine. Pretty funny watching TSA agent telling everyone it was going to go off and then calming other agents when the bells rang.
Coming back....out of Jackson, declared my guns, opened my case and....the ticket gal looked at the arsenal and point to my PPC revolver and said "oh isn't that one pretty. What is it? I told her, offered to have her hold it (and she did) and she told the TSA guy how heavy it was compared to her SW36. TSA guy got all excited when he saw the Benelli and told me he was saving up for one.
Different states, different attitude about guns.


Last year flew out of San Diego SWA with just my carry gun. Nobody inspected it and I didn't have to wait for TSA. However, coming home from, of all places, San Antonio TX. I was escorted to a little cubical by SWA employee and had to wait 20 effing minutes for the TSA turd to wipe my case down without inspecting it. My wife was freaking out thinking I got arrested and we're going to miss our flight.....it's a joke and would be funny if it wasn't such a waste of time.
Flying with guns = Adventure!
Our government spents BILLONS of dollars protecting us from what the terrorist did last year. Stupid.
Had the same happen to me last year in San Antonio. Tsa wiped my luggage looking for explosive residue. Oh well, really wasn't a bad experience.
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Old 06-12-2013, 1:43 PM
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I flew to MI and bacm with a case of firearms back in 2010, and it went surprisingly smoothly at LAX. I asked one of the staff about declaring firearms as soon as I got there and was directed to a check in line much shorter than the main one, seemed a good deal.

It was funny because it was a pair of young guys doing the inspection in another room. One of them came out to tell me the guns were cleared and he was like "are you a secret agent? That silenced machine gun is some serious hardware!". I guess they were impressed by the GSG-5.

I'm sure LAX may treat firearms a bit differently these days, since gun hysteria is like at record levels.
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Old 06-12-2013, 1:47 PM
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Good to hear that everything went smoothly for you. I fly regularly between LAX and DCA (Ronald Reagan). Never had an issue flying with a rifle, shotgun and pistol.
Ive found that it helps if you understand the policy and rules and act like it's no big deal.

Flying out of Reagan this morning and this is how it went:

Me: I have a firearm to declare so I need that orange form.
Ticket Agent: Firearms unloaded?
Me: Yes
Ticket Agent: I need you to open the case so I can verify that your firearms are unloaded.
Me: (sign form) I usually just crack open my case enough to slide in the form.
Ticket agent: Ok, sir. I'll meet you next to TSA bag drop.
Me: (Lock case and wheel over to TSA bag drop).

Hand your checked luggage and gun case to TSA. Watch them put it on belt, scan it and give you the thumbs up. You're done.
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Old 06-12-2013, 1:54 PM
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IF checking in baggage I'll fly with firearms, otherwise I overnight it and ammo to myself. Sounds like you had a normal experience outside CA, NY & IL.
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Old 06-12-2013, 3:55 PM
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When I was in college in KY in the early 1990s, I would usually bring at least one firearm home with me when I came back To CA to visit my parents for vacations (all of my firearms were in KY with me).
Every time, I was very careful to have the unloaded firearm in the approved locked container, with a chamber tag inserted, and only bring factory ammo in new, complete boxes.
Tell the agent in Nashville or Memphis that you have a firearm to declare, and they ask if you're going hunting, what kind of gun it is, etc. and they cheerily process the gun in about two minutes flat.
At Oakland the agent freaked out a bit, and called for a supervisor. The process took about twenty minutes.
At San Francisco, it took over a half an hour, and involved two supervisors and several cops/security people trying to figure out what to do, waving the firearms around, and scaring the hell out of people. I was told by the police LT that I should just pack it in my checked luggage next time and not create problems by declaring it, since I had held up the line for over half an hour and people were about to miss their flights. When I told him I was just following the law, he called me a smartass, and *****ed about how non-cops shouldn't be allowed to own firearms.

One note to the wise: When you arrive at your destination, do not remove the tag that they place on the gun case and/or your luggage until you are out of the airport, and if you do remove them, make sure you don't just throw them away. Having those tags will help to avoid any unfortunate misunderstanding with the airport cops.
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Old 06-12-2013, 6:26 PM
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I brought an M1 rifle back from Pittsburgh pre 9/11. The lady at the US Air counter said it had to be checked to see that it was empty. I said right here right now? Yep. So I took it out of the case and yanked the bolt back with that distinct sound. No one even looked at me. She said thanks and I packed it back up.
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Old 06-12-2013, 7:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smle-man View Post
I brought an M1 rifle back from Pittsburgh pre 9/11. The lady at the US Air counter said it had to be checked to see that it was empty. I said right here right now? Yep. So I took it out of the case and yanked the bolt back with that distinct sound. No one even looked at me. She said thanks and I packed it back up.
As I read that, I heard the sound of an M1 Garand bolt racking back in my head. Boy is that a wonderful sound
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Old 06-12-2013, 7:51 PM
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For those who flown with rifles recently are you getting hit with the over size luggage fee? I was going to fly Southwest with a rifle and the smallest case I have was over the size limit per the Southwest web site. I was worried about getting hit with a $75 fee each way so I shipped the rifle Fedex for less than $25 each way.
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Old 06-12-2013, 8:26 PM
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For those who flown with rifles recently are you getting hit with the over size luggage fee? I was going to fly Southwest with a rifle and the smallest case I have was over the size limit per the Southwest web site. I was worried about getting hit with a $75 fee each way so I shipped the rifle Fedex for less than $25 each way.
I have a plano hard side rifle case (it will fit two 14.5 bbl AR's ) a cheap one at that and it is technically over the bag dimension limit, I think its a little to long if I have it right, but no one has ever mentioned it. It also depends on where you measure it from.

When I get one free checked bag, I pack guns, my wife packs clothes, lol...

But yeah, if they ever broke out the tape measure it would get expensive fast.

The first time I checked it, it never came out on the carousel and I panicked a bit. Turns out they have a little office for strollers and fishing rods and snowboards etc.. Oversize or odd shaped bags.
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:12 PM
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I flew SouthWest from San Jose to Nashville, TN for the first time with my Glock 19. I went up to the counter by myself (hubby was in car getting ready to head back home) and the guy at the counter was great. Got the paper for me to fill out, had me open my case, show him it was empty and lock it back up. Then they taped the card to the case and it went back into my checked luggage and i met up with it in Nashville. On the return trip, the lady was expert. She did everything quietly and efficiently. Took less than 5 minutes from start to finish.
I did not carry ammo as I was told "Don't worry about it. Just buy it in Bowling Green." Yeah right...famous last words! I did manage to find a place after a few days and I bought 9mm ammo and my mom bought new gun...LOL. We went to the range the following morning and had a blast. Lookin forward to our next mother daughter shooting time.
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Old 06-14-2013, 3:34 AM
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Many people have flown with firearms and ammo many, many times and didn't have anything bad happen. What did the OP expect to happen?
What happened to him happens every day. Nothing special, nothing to write about, it's business as usual.
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Old 06-14-2013, 4:50 AM
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Originally Posted by dwtt View Post
Many people have flown with firearms and ammo many, many times and didn't have anything bad happen. What did the OP expect to happen?
What happened to him happens every day. Nothing special, nothing to write about, it's business as usual.
There is a campaign to demonize firearms throughout the country. From our President, all the way down to City, State and local politicians. Some recent events, especially in traditionally gun 'safe' States like Texas, have law abiding citizens (and soldiers) being arrested for mere possession (see Temple Texas arrest for "Rudely Displaying" a Rifle). Then there are those (justified or not) who will spend 3-5 years in prison for just passing through anti-gun states with unloaded guns (see Reason #7,452 to stay out of New Jersey).

So, while it is easy to state that it's nothing to write about, there is some apprehension today, where there wasn't in the past. Especially for those of us who have not done it before.
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Old 06-14-2013, 5:20 AM
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I've flown a couple of times out of CA with my handguns in my checked luggage and the process has been to "Declare it, fill out the form, get the case swiped and occasionally open it to show the firearms). Occasionally I'll get a TSA agent who *****es about the locks not being TSA approved (meaning they can't open them).

The only time I've ever had any trouble was when my flight (Sacramento to Salt Lake, Salt Lake to Manchester NH) was diverted to Boston because of icy runways or something.

And that wasn't even much of an issue. Because we were close to our final destination the airline (Delta) offered to put us on the shuttle bus to get us there, and the shuttle wouldn't let me do it because of the firearms. Delta paid for a rental car though for me so it worked out.
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Old 06-14-2013, 5:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwtt View Post
Many people have flown with firearms and ammo many, many times and didn't have anything bad happen. What did the OP expect to happen?
What happened to him happens every day. Nothing special, nothing to write about, it's business as usual.
Well, it was my first time flying with a firearm so I wasn't sure exactly what would happen. I didn't expect anything bad. I knew what the laws and regulations were and followed them as I understood them. I thought I would highlight the different reactions I got between the two airports and see if anyone else had any similar experiences. I also thought I'd share my experience to help those who may have wanted to fly with their firearm(s), but were unsure of what to expect. From the looks of the responses, it seems that my posting of my experience was beneficial to some.

I'm sure it is, and hope it is, business as usual for 99% of those flying with firearms. Hopefully, as more individuals post their experiences of flying with firearms, some of the apprehension, at least amongst our community, can be abated.
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Old 06-14-2013, 6:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SGTKane View Post
I've flown a couple of times out of CA with my handguns in my checked luggage and the process has been to "Declare it, fill out the form, get the case swiped and occasionally open it to show the firearms). Occasionally I'll get a TSA agent who *****es about the locks not being TSA approved (meaning they can't open them).

The only time I've ever had any trouble was when my flight (Sacramento to Salt Lake, Salt Lake to Manchester NH) was diverted to Boston because of icy runways or something.

And that wasn't even much of an issue. Because we were close to our final destination the airline (Delta) offered to put us on the shuttle bus to get us there, and the shuttle wouldn't let me do it because of the firearms. Delta paid for a rental car though for me so it worked out.
Now that's where it gets dangerous. You could have landed in NY or NJ... Then what I wonder?

Refuse to take possession of you bags? ****ing states are evil.
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Old 06-14-2013, 7:05 AM
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I've flown a few times with one or more of my firearms the last couple months on a few airlines, its a pretty similar experience. Never had anyone yell back to another person about it, but i've never had them whisper ether. To me they seem to generally not have an opinion or care about it. I did have one agent ask me about what she needed to do to buy one and I gave her my e-mail and helped her find a class in her area for first time shooters. (Her desire to be a first time buyer was completely because of the gun control push this year.)

I've run into the agent that doesn't know what to do and I've had to help them along a little bit.

Couple of things I've found interesting,

The declaration cards/forms on Virgin America the card has elastic and they want it on the handle of the case with the gun, which if its in another piece of luggage means its out of sight. However if its just a pelican case then you have a giant tag on the outside letting everyone know whats inside. On the other hand Delta the card is just a card and they want it INSIDE the locked case... which is funny/odd to me since I have the key...

Also TSA inspection so far I've run into 3 different procedures. 1. At the check bag counter they call TSA and an agent takes you aside to a table, side room, etc and inspects things there. 2. They drop it on the belt with all the check luggage and thats it. 3. It goes on the belt with all the checked luggage and then you get a phone call on your cell phone, or the gate agent calls your name and you go meet a TSA agent somewhere where they escort you into a special area where they do the inspection inspection in front of you.

Also I've NEVER been asked to open the actual gun case (besides putting the delta card inside before TSA even got there), and they've never actually inspected the gun or anything in the case. (Yup that means they've never actually opened the action to see if it was unloaded, or asked me to do so.)
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Old 06-14-2013, 7:24 AM
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I think the declaration is supposed to be inside per FAA rules.

I had an TSA agent open the case once in Medford OR. He wanted to take the keys and case into the back room. I argued with him for awhile, but in the end I just let him have it.

I think he just wanted to fondle my AR. He came back and start telling me about his guns....

He also taped up a broken ammo box with TSA tape. I still have it.
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Old 06-14-2013, 11:29 AM
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I always take it one step further and disassemble my guns when I pack them. When non-gun people see the upper and lower separated, it doesn't look as scary to them.
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Old 06-14-2013, 12:06 PM
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I think these type of posts help others understand what to expect or any changes in procedures by airlines. I appreciate these posts. Thanks for sharing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by madsend81 View Post
Well, it was my first time flying with a firearm so I wasn't sure exactly what would happen. I didn't expect anything bad. I knew what the laws and regulations were and followed them as I understood them. I thought I would highlight the different reactions I got between the two airports and see if anyone else had any similar experiences. I also thought I'd share my experience to help those who may have wanted to fly with their firearm(s), but were unsure of what to expect. From the looks of the responses, it seems that my posting of my experience was beneficial to some.

I'm sure it is, and hope it is, business as usual for 99% of those flying with firearms. Hopefully, as more individuals post their experiences of flying with firearms, some of the apprehension, at least amongst our community, can be abated.
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Old 06-14-2013, 12:12 PM
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Regarding the original post... I did have the same experience with that airport late last year. No fuss at all.

On a side note, I was transporting my bolt action for some training in the mid west. I flew out of SFO. The lady behind me just so happen was using to NYC, and began chatting me up about things, and eventually "what's in the case". I groaned inwardly.

Attendant made a big fuss about having to open it in front of the line, made the inspection then and there, held up everyone? Etc. It could have been worse I guess, but it could've been much better too. Have flown with firearms about a dozen times, various places.
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