Traveling by Air


688SubMan

688SubMan
I have been asked by many of my friends that are looking to get their CCW how easy is it to travel by air with your firearm. Every time that I fly within Conus, I travel with my sidearm. All I do is declare my weapon at the ticket/baggage check-in desk. They ask you to open the case to show my pistol to ensure that it is not loaded and insert an inspection slip to show that it has been checked. I install the required two (2) locks on the gun case and put it in my checked baggage. (I usually put my ammo in a ziplock bag and store in the same case as my pistol). Once I arrive at my destination, I get my luggage and verify that my weapon is still there. When I get to my rental car I "suit up" and go on my way. Of course, you have to make sure that you know and abide by the gun/carry laws of the state where you are in, but is is just that simple to travel by air with your firearm. This also applies to most long weapons. I have yet to have any problems traveling in this manner. Also another note: I always print out the latest version of laws for the states that I travel to.
 

apvbguy

New member
where did you get the idea that TWO locks are necessary? AFAIK only one non TSA lock is required for the box/container that the firearm is transported in.
as for your ammo, some airlines require that the ammo be carried in a box that it came from the factory in. it can also be in a plastic container designed for rounds.
 

688SubMan

688SubMan
I didn't get an idea. I was told by the airline that TWO locks were required. If you have noticed, just about all newer gun cases have holes for at least two locks to be installed. Some of my old ones only have one hole for a lock. Maybe some airlines only require one lock, but when I called ahead of my arrival to the airport, I was told to have two. It probably just depends on the carrier you choose to fly and their regulations.
 

apvbguy

New member
I didn't get an idea. I was told by the airline that TWO locks were required. If you have noticed, just about all newer gun cases have holes for at least two locks to be installed. Some of my old ones only have one hole for a lock. Maybe some airlines only require one lock, but when I called ahead of my arrival to the airport, I was told to have two. It probably just depends on the carrier you choose to fly and their regulations.
from the TSA site:

Firearms - firearms carried as checked baggage MUST be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in.


could it be that whomever gave you that erroneous info was talking out of their rear orifice?
 

NavyLCDR

New member
The requirement for the locks is that the gun case cannot be easily pried open enough on one side to retrieve the gun from inside the case. Some cases require two locks for that, some only require one.

http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition

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.

Link Removed

^^^This case requires another lock.

As far as the ammo in a zip lock bag - that violates Federal regulations.

Link Removed

49 CFR 175.10:

§175.10 Exceptions for passengers, crewmembers, and air operators.

(a) This subchapter does not apply to the following hazardous materials when carried by aircraft passengers or crewmembers provided the requirements of §§171.15 and 171.16 (see paragraph (c) of this section) and the requirements of this section are met:

(8) Small arms ammunition for personal use carried by a crewmember or passenger in checked baggage only, if securely packed in boxes or other packagings specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Ammunition clips and magazines must also be securely boxed. This paragraph does not apply to persons traveling under the provisions of 49 CFR 1544.219.

Zip lock bags are not specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition will have dividers between the rounds to prevent anything from directly contacting the primer. Rounds stored in detached magazines are acceptable if there is something covering the top of the magazine to prevent the rounds from being stripped out of the magazine because the primers are protected from direct contact by the magazine.
 

688SubMan

688SubMan
No Free Floaters

Thanks for the clarification NavyLCDR! Also, let me clarify myself. When I said that my ammo was in a ziplock, I meant to say that the mags containing the ammo were in ziplocks and place in their cutouts (shadow box style) in my gun case. (Old habit for protection against salt water corrosion) I would never just have ammo floating around freely. Besides the obvious possibility of primers being struck, you could also damage the ammo in other ways. Again, thanks for the clarification.

The requirement for the locks is that the gun case cannot be easily pried open enough on one side to retrieve the gun from inside the case. Some cases require two locks for that, some only require one.

Firearms and Ammunition | Transportation Security Administration



Link Removed

^^^This case requires another lock.

As far as the ammo in a zip lock bag - that violates Federal regulations.

Link Removed

49 CFR 175.10:



Zip lock bags are not specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition will have dividers between the rounds to prevent anything from directly contacting the primer. Rounds stored in detached magazines are acceptable if there is something covering the top of the magazine to prevent the rounds from being stripped out of the magazine because the primers are protected from direct contact by the magazine.
 

Rock_Castle

New member
I traveled with my pistol for the first time in November and I was surprised by how easy it was. Didn't need two locks.
 

wolf_fire

New member
Very informative..... Thanks


Welcome to the forums Redtape. You'll find there are a lot of good people on these forums and many who are very up on laws.

I have found NavyLCDR to be one of the better posters when it comes to legal information.
 

GHF

New member
How I Do It

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 Concealed Carry Permit Reciprocity Maps - USA Carry 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 - http://www.handgunlaw.us/documents/doj_doc_nyc_air.pdf. 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.
 

JRM

Instructor
GFH, great post!

It looks like the TSA link in your item #1 isn't working. Here's the current TSA page concerning Firearms and Ammo Firearms and Ammunition | Transportation Security Administration .

Also, if anyone was wondering if the airline or TSA can attach a tag to the outside of your bag indicating that it contains a firearm (CONUS travel only), this federal regulation prohibits it: 27 CFR 478.31(b) "No common or contract carrier shall require or cause any label, tag, or other written notice to be placed on the outside of any package, luggage, or other container indicating that such package, luggage, or other container contains a firearm."

Reading federal regulations at 9:35 at night...you can tell I'm pretty bored!
 

Sue Lange

New member
Just to add insult to injury, the "terrorist support agency" appears to have a different understanding of the word "access" and "easily opened" depending on which airport you are at. This leads to serious stomach upset when you learn that you flew out with a configuration that was deemed acceptable but then, you can not return using that same rig. As you stand there trying to figure out how you are going to conjure up an acceptable case when you a) have no car because you are RETURNING and b) can't take the gun back home because you don't live in that town, you begin to realize what a monster the TSA is. But I digress.

To those who asked about two locks here's the deal: having locked the case by inserting the shank of your lock through the hole that secures the top of your case to the bottom of your case, may not be enough. If the agent can spring the claps (not the locks, just the clasps) and slip a finger inside, and "touch" the gun, you may be denied the right to check that back. Of course you can't board with it, either. The problem arises because unless if your lock is custom made, chances are it is slightly longer than the length of the tube created by the holes in the top and bottom of the case, when lined up. So maybe you have 1/4 to 1/2" "slack". Now, when the clasps are open, you can open the lid ever so slightly. If your lock is on the front (say on one side of the handle of the case or even centered on it), you may be able to pry open the sides.

Never mind that the opening isn't wide enough to get the gun out through. Common sense doesn't apply here. I flew with a gun inside the manufacture's case for years, with an 'offset' lock on the front handle. Then one day last week I got denied boarding in Jacksonville, for the exact same configuration I flew out of Kansas City with!

Fortunately someone saw my plight and loaned me a case to get back on. It had lock holes on three of the 4 sides. I ran to the gift shop and bought two more locks. I put my manufacture's case inside the borrowed case and locked all three sides with a non-TSA lock. They could still pry it open but only 1/8th inch so they passed me.

Two days later I flew from KC to Louisville. KC accepted this "case in case with three locks" configuration: Louisville would not! I just bought a new 1170 Pelican case but I can see it's going to have the same issue. It only has two lock holes and both on on the front side by the handle. It's not possible (using padlocks) to create a situation in which the case will not open slightly at some side or corner somewhere. I'm going to look into steel cable locks that I can wrap both vertically and horizontally around the case itself and pad-lock together.

I guess my point is, you can do it by the book, get the wrong agent, and still have a problem. In over three years I've only run into two problems, and both of them in the last week, on return flights. Different airlines, so I'm pretty sure this is TSA and not airlines causing the confusion. Sounds like harassment to me. Be aware that it is out there and give yourself plenty of time to solve problems in case you get a barney-fife type agent.

Oh, and write your senators and beg them to demand consistency from the TSA. There is simply no excuse for a case that is accepted on the flight out, to not be accepted on the flight back.
 

NavyLCDR

New member
So, what about putting the gun in a soft case, which then goes in the hard case? If the TSA agent can pry open the case enough to get a grubby finger inside, he still cannot access the firearm unless he can completely remove the soft case through the opening. What a crock of bull - if you can't access the gun enough to load it and fire it inside the case, or remove it from the case than the dang firearm can't be accessed. The whole problem probably comes from the stupid photo here:
Firearms and Ammunition | Transportation Security Administration

and some idiot gave training which showed the photo and said "if you can get a finger inside, like this photo - than it is unacceptable."
 

Sue Lange

New member
Well that was essentially what I did when I went to Louisville...I had the manufacture's hard case, inside another hard case with THREE non-TSA locks on it...one on EACH of three sides, the fourth side being the hinged side with the 'feet' on it. I then put that inside my soft-side checked bag with TSA lock. There was no way on God's green earth ANYONE could get to that gun, not even Houdini. Now...I was allowed to fly with that config out of Jacksonville to KC, and out of KC to Louisville...but when I returned from Louisville, they questioned it. They could not open the case more than 1/8th inch but they still questioned it. I finally asked the guy to please remove the gun...and he looked at me rather sheepishly. I said, "I think we are done here," and I put it in my suitcase with the paperwork and I handed it to him and said, "I'd better see this on the other side of my trip." and I walked away.

I guess my concern is, these are crap rules and they deploy them at will...or not...leaving you sometimes in fear of being stranded. They are the terrorists. Write to your rulers...uh I mean elected leaders...and insist on sensible rules that are consistently applied throughout the US.
 

junmard4th

New member
Helpful hints. Thanks!
Just a quick question, I'm still waiting for my CCW license. I'm an FL resident but works now in GA. Can I travel via air then check my handgun without any permit? Or will I need for my permit to arrive in order for me to bring my gun? It's hard for me to do it via land since it's about 12hrs drive one way. Also, I can't ship it via FFL since am not a GA resident. Any thoughts?

Gipaskin gamit akong selpon.
 

junmard4th

New member
No ccw license or permit is required to transport an unloaded gun in a locked case, so you will be just fine.

Thanks.
Is there a limit as to how many I can bring?
Just flown Spirit Airlines few minutes ago. While in FL earlier I asked their CS and the girl in the kiosk said I need a CCW permit to check a firearm.
Any airplane suggestions?

Gipaskin gamit akong selpon.
 

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