first time flying with pistol


jjack31

New member
Need some tips from some of you veterans! My wife and I are flying Wednesday from Louisiana to Arizona. This will be only my second time flying but first time with a pistol. I've read united policies and tsa policies. Original case for my xd and ammo in original box. The pistol case will be locked as well as suitcase. My question is am I missing anything? I know some of you do this frequently and could use any advice or tips! Thanks in advance!
 

crappiekiller2

NRA Life Member
Don't forget to declare your firearm when checking in. You have to put the tag on your firearm case.
They may want to search your suitcase, they did mine on my first flight. Returning flight was no problem.
I carried mine in a gunvault safe. Cable wrapped around the suitcase handle and then used it in the car when I couldn't carry it with me.
Know the laws in AZ and enjoy your trip.
 
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FAS1

Member
I have always used a lockable plastic case and put the unloaded gun in it with two loaded magazines and my spyderco knife. I have never used ammo boxes. Never had a problem.
 

NavyLCDR

New member
I have always used a lockable plastic case and put the unloaded gun in it with two loaded magazines and my spyderco knife. I have never used ammo boxes. Never had a problem.

Many airlines will not accept ammo in magazines, and Federal regulations require the magazines to be in pouches that covers the exposed rounds. Factory boxes are always accepted and just as easy to transport as empty magazines.

To the OP:
Non-TSA locks that only you retain the key/combo to go on the gun case. Only you unlocks and opens the gun case if they want it opened. TSA approved locks go on the luggage, if you desire. Non-TSA locks on the luggage have a 90% chance of getting cut off. Tell the airline baggage person you have an unloaded gun to declare in your checked baggage. Really easy.
 

GHF

New member
Taking Your Pistole Along for the Flight

Having traveled a number of times, here's how I go at it:


  1. Review Link Removed to understand TSA policies and procedures. Have a copy with you when you reach the airport.
  2. Put the unloaded weapon(s) in a lockable hard-sided case with locks only you have the keys/combination to open. TSA locks are not allowed.
  3. Steps that will make it easier to show that the weapon is unloaded - especially when x-rayed.
    • If the weapon is a:
      • semi-automatic
        • lock the slide open
        • put a cable tie through the barrel and out the breach to show that the chamber is empty
      • revolver, flip the cylinder out
    • Do not put the magazines in this locked case with the gun(s):
      • it invites questions about them being loaded
      • if the gun case is "liberated" from the checked bag by a Criminal Entrepreneur, the lack of magazines frustrates the "Liberator", since the weapon is now initially a single shot one
  4. Check the airline(s) you are flying on:
    • To determine if the ammo
      • MUST be in boxes (plastic reload boxes work)
      • can fly in loaded magazines
    • If loaded magazines are permitted, make sure the pouches fully cover the magazine top where the cartridges are visible.
    • The round(s) from the chamber(s)/cylinder(s) must be in a box, not loose
  5. Secure and protect magazines (separately from the weapon) and ammunition boxes from possible damage.
  6. Put the lockable hard-sided case with the weapon and the ammo/magazines into a cheap, non-descript bag - with clear labeling outside and inside - for checking in.
    • If possible, develop a way to attach - in a lockable way - the hard-sided case to the piece of luggage it has been placed into.
    • The labeling should be limited to:
      • Your Name
      • Your Cell Phone - if you have one, or your home phone if you do not
      • Your personal email address - if you have one
      • NO ADDRESSES, JOB TITLES, ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD BE INDICATED
  7. Other stuff - like shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc, could be in this checked bag also.
  8. Have the rules for the airline in hand when you check this non-descript bag at the airport.
  9. Make sure you have the keys/combinations to the lockable hard-sided case with you and you alone (Per Federal Regulations 49CFR § 1540.111 Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals - Link Removed) at all times. You will have to open the lockable hard-side case:
    • to demonstrate to the airline that the weapon(s) are not loaded at check in (a signed form/tag indicating that will go in with the weapon(s))
    • if the TSA wants to see
  10. Have the serial number(s) and descriptions of your weapons on you, so if they "disappear" you can report the loss/theft immediately to the:
    • airline - NOTE Some airlines - Delta and US Air being 2 - now allow you to track your checked luggage on your I-Phone/Android if you are a Frequent Flier
    • FAA Regional Office
    • ATF Regional Office

Other things to consider:


  1. Check Handgunlaw.us and/or http://www.usacarry.com/concealed_carry_permit_reciprocity_maps.html to determine:
    • If you can possess the weapon at all your stops
    • Where and how you can carry at all your stops
    • What are the deadly force rules in each state you are visiting
  2. Have a copy of the Don Young Transportation Letter on hand - Link Removed. This covers changing modes of travel - car to plane to car - in a single journey.
  3. AMTRAK (Link Removed) is similar to airlines. Key differences include:
    • You must notify the departing station 24 hours before departure.
    • There must be baggage handling of checked baggage at both ends of your trip.
    • Ammunition must be boxed.

 
Last edited:

NavyLCDR

New member
The only thing I would really disagree with is:

(a signed form/tag indicating that will go in with the weapon(s))

The signed form goes in the outer luggage near the gun case...not inside the gun case. That way TSA can inspect the declaration form if they desire without having to request that the gun case be opened.

Personally, I put the magazines, ammo, and gun all in the same case, if allowed by the airlines. When I get to my destination, if state law allows, I get my rental car, I take the gun case out of my luggage, and everything is right there that I need to load my gun and carry it. If a criminal is going to steal anything, they are going to grab the entire luggage suitcase and have everything anyway. Might just as well have the magazines behind one extra lock as the gun.
 

el maestro

New member
Hello, I followed this guys instructions and all worked out for me with southwest and american airlines. I ordered the same case and locked it weighing in at 49.7 pounds with lock just shy of the 50 pounds. This guy travels all over the U.S. and other countries. Enjoy flying.

 

spdracr39

New member
Just call your local TSA and the airline you are using and ask for the rules it is not difficult to follow and really isn't even much of an inconvenience even if they ask you to open the box. It is also important to call ahead to your destination and check out the local laws there. If they don't honor your permit and or have additional firearm restrictions IE your hotel you might want to leave it at home.
 

NavyLCDR

New member
Just call your local TSA and the airline you are using and ask for the rules it is not difficult to follow and really isn't even much of an inconvenience even if they ask you to open the box. It is also important to call ahead to your destination and check out the local laws there. If they don't honor your permit and or have additional firearm restrictions IE your hotel you might want to leave it at home.

Make all these phone calls and you get one thing - the person's opinion who is on the other end of the phone. Then you find out that person's opinion conflicts with Federal regulations, laws or at a minimum airline policy. Then what?

The ACTUAL real Federal Regulation has already by been posted:
Link Removed

You must comply with that no matter what. Each airline's policy is online as well. Where a conflict exists (such as if an Airline policy says to give TSA the key to the locks on request) the Federal Regulation takes precedent which says ONLY the traveler retains the key or combination to the lock.) Once you arrive at your destination, that state's law are in effect, and you better know those - as written in the statues (not some sheriff's office receptionist's version), if you are going to possess a firearm in that state anyway.
 

Stan45

New member
Print a copy of the TSA rules and take it with you.
Have it well read and even highlight some parts.
If you have an issue TSA may not know the rules better than you.
Your goal is not is correct them but to get on the plane and your weapon in your luggage traveling with you.
 

NavyLCDR

New member
Print a copy of the TSA rules and take it with you.
Have it well read and even highlight some parts.
If you have an issue TSA may not know the rules better than you.
Your goal is not is correct them but to get on the plane and your weapon in your luggage traveling with you.

Your goal might be to get on the plane and your weapon in your luggage traveling with you. My goal is to comply with Federal Regulations so as not to receive a citation, a fine, and possibly a jail sentence. For example.... the "TSA Rules" contain this statement:

Link Removed

Travelers should remain in the area designated by the aircraft operator or TSA representative to take the key back after the container is cleared for transportation.

So, can I ask how I am supposed to take a key back that Federal Regulations prohibit me from giving to ANYONE?

Link Removed

(iv) The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger retains the key or combination.
 

Stan45

New member
Your goal might be to get on the plane and your weapon in your luggage traveling with you. My goal is to comply with Federal Regulations so as not to receive a citation, a fine, and possibly a jail sentence. For example.... the "TSA Rules" contain this statement:
QUOTE]

Was that not what was implied?
If you printed the rules, read the rules, even highlighted important parts to remind you what to do. Plus not get in a pissing contest with TSA, or the airlines agent.
And please do not forget the goal, for you to get on the plane and your firearm to get on the plane, would mean you were NOT arrested and put in jail. But you are happily flying to your destination.
 

jjack31

New member
everything went smoothly

Thanks for the advice and suggestions. I carried my xd in factory case with unloaded magazines and a box of hornady htap bullets. I locked it with a padlock. I flew united and had no problems whatsoever. I did have a copy of both united policies as well as tsa policies. On the flight to arizona, the united associate taped an orange declaration tag on the outside of my pistol case which was inside my tsa approved locked suitcase. However on the flight back, the associate insisted the declaration go inside the pistol case. After arguing a minute about its location I let it go. I stopped the first tsa supervisor I could find and explained my issue. He said they the bags go through a scanner and a computer identifies questionable luggage. He mentioned that very rarely will handguns alert computer because I their small size. Typically hunting rifles or assault type rifles will flag. In this case they would open suitcase to check for declaration. Finally he said if a bag is questioned and it appears to contain firearm, then tsa will come and find you before cutting the lock. In his words, they do not want liability of having to replace any missing or stolen items. Don't know how much of this was 100% fact but nevertheless my luggage as well as my pistol made it home with me! Thanks again for the earlier suggestions and now I don't have to be nervous about flying with my weapon!
 

NavyLCDR

New member
Your goal might be to get on the plane and your weapon in your luggage traveling with you. My goal is to comply with Federal Regulations so as not to receive a citation, a fine, and possibly a jail sentence. For example.... the "TSA Rules" contain this statement:
QUOTE]

Was that not what was implied?
If you printed the rules, read the rules, even highlighted important parts to remind you what to do. Plus not get in a pissing contest with TSA, or the airlines agent.
And please do not forget the goal, for you to get on the plane and your firearm to get on the plane, would mean you were NOT arrested and put in jail. But you are happily flying to your destination.

And what if the airline policy, TSA Rules, or what the airline agent or TSA agent is requesting that you do violates Federal Regulation?

There are airline websites and the TSA website which either state or imply to hand over the key if the case needs to be opened for inspection. So what do you do in real life? Hand over the key in violation of Federal Regulations so as not to engage in a pissing contest with TSA or the airline agent?

Flying with a firearm is pretty dang simple. And the real Federal Regulations are pretty dang simple.

The reason the declaration tag goes on the outside of the locked gun case, but inside the suitcase is because if TSA detects the handgun they will be able to find the declaration tag without having to find the passenger in order to open the gun case to retrieve the declaration tag for inspection.
 

Stan45

New member
Flying with a firearm is pretty dang simple. And the real Federal Regulations are pretty dang simple.

The reason the declaration tag goes on the outside of the locked gun case, but inside the suitcase is because if TSA detects the handgun they will be able to find the declaration tag without having to find the passenger in order to open the gun case to retrieve the declaration tag for inspection.

Yes that is why you print yourself a copy of it.
 

spdracr39

New member
And what if the airline policy, TSA Rules, or what the airline agent or TSA agent is requesting that you do violates Federal Regulation?

There are airline websites and the TSA website which either state or imply to hand over the key if the case needs to be opened for inspection. So what do you do in real life? Hand over the key in violation of Federal Regulations so as not to engage in a pissing contest with TSA or the airline agent?

Flying with a firearm is pretty dang simple. And the real Federal Regulations are pretty dang simple.

The reason the declaration tag goes on the outside of the locked gun case, but inside the suitcase is because if TSA detects the handgun they will be able to find the declaration tag without having to find the passenger in order to open the gun case to retrieve the declaration tag for inspection.

They asked me to open my case once and when they did they opened my bag turned it toward me and let me unlock the case. They did the inspection not actually touching the firearm then let me close and lock the case then sealed my bag. No problem or hassle at all took about 5 extra minutes. The ticket agent always tells you to wait a few minutes before going to the gate to give them time to let the bag pass or flag it for inspection. This is a very simple and well laid out process if you just comply with the rules. That's why you need to get the rules for yourself from your local airline rep and the local TSA office. Do not do anything based on information you get from this site, your local gun store, or even local law enforcement.
 

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