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Airline Travel w/guns-Any Theft?

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by blackfoot, Dec 30, 2008.

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  1. blackfoot

    blackfoot Member

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    I am planning to attend a shoot and travel by airline. I haven't done this in a while and am concerned about stealing of guns checked as baggage. I have recently heard of guns in Americase's checked as luggage -the cases were opened, and the gun was removed.It is suspected that TSA or the handlers are stealing guns from cases.

    Does anyone have any experiance traveling by air w/ their guns or have heard of any recent problems.The airline I will be using is Alaska Air.

    I have thought of shipping ahead to avoid the airline issue,but that would cost about $400 round trip and where could a guy ship to for a shoot?

    Thanks
     
  2. skeet_man

    skeet_man Well-Known Member

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    Insure your guns with sportsmans and have peace of mind. siai.net
     
  3. blackfoot

    blackfoot Member

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    My guns are fully insured for replacement value but replacing guns are a major headache!
     
  4. Hydra

    Hydra TS Member

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    You can mail the gun to the school. Put your name and their address on the tag. You can do the same when sending them home. All within the law.
     
  5. Old Texas Marine

    Old Texas Marine Member

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    Do what Hydra says. I have a 50% record of lost guns on airline flights. I was over insured and had the bolt in my carry on so it was semi-worthless to the thief. Forty eight hours later is was miraculously recovered.

    The A/L will charge you more than USPS will and you will have peace of mind. Ship it to yourself at the club you're shooting at and alert them its coming.

    HBT
     
  6. Lead Man

    Lead Man TS Member

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    I have flown to several places with guns. First look at local laws not all are friendly to gun owners, Chicago for instance. Even Denver local laws are a pain if pulled over leaving the airport, outside the city limits it's fine.

    Second get a good nondescript case or at least a strong short case. the longer ones get caught when the trolley takes it through the luggage area. The lock is placed on the case after the declaration card is filled out. It should be locked in your presence and stay that way until you reach the other end.

    Be sure and check each airline for their rules. I went through an airport with some young folks and they were allowed to check and receive their own fire arms, I think if a BATF agent had been close there would have been an issue. They were under 18.

    Point is check the laws in the area you will be flying into, have a good case and lock, check the airline rules and fly nonstop. The fewer times the casehas to be handled the better.

    Good luck and get insurance.
     
  7. Lead Man

    Lead Man TS Member

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    If you read the rules a bolt, chokes or any other gun part in your carry on will get you a quick trip to the security office if the inspector knows what it is.
     
  8. blackfoot

    blackfoot Member

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    I am not concerned about checking to gun as baggage on the airline and all the rules of TSA and local governments- I understand my rights and the regulations for checking a shotgun as luggage. My concern is getting the gun stolen after it is checked in and making it to my destination.

    I would like to shoot the Spring Grand in Tucson and there are suppose to be 600+ shooters attending and I am wondering if gun theft at airports is something that someone should be cocerned about.
     
  9. Hydra

    Hydra TS Member

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    I went to FL about 3 years ago and at my home town airport two TSA guys were fighting over me. The one I went to said that guy knows nothing about guns but I do. Things went well. When I left Fl I had a TSA guy at the X-ray machine TRIED to tell me that I had to give him the keys tomy case and I said no I do not. He demanded and I again said no. Why do you need them. Well if we need to open it I want the keys. I'm going to stand right here and if it needs to be open then I will do it. He was not happy at all. The case went through and I watched it. When it came out the other end he did not look happy at all. I looked at him and said May I go now? He waited and waited and said YES in a cold and angry tone. yes I did get a smirk on my face and said have a nice day. DO NOT EVER LET GO OF YOUR KEYS TO ANYONE.
     
  10. Frank C

    Frank C Well-Known Member

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    Blackfoot, I flew to Phoenix last yr for the Spring Grand......When I arrived, mine and my buddies guns were the only ones on the flight/baggage carousel. Lots of shooters drive to the shoot, and there are a LOT of flights coming in over many days for the shoot. You will likely not even SEE another case. When you arrive, skeedaddle quickly to the baggage claim and await your case as it comes off the belt. I have had them arrive at the belt AND have had it delivered to the baggage office you never know..... If you are traveling with someone, split up, one go to the office, the other monitor the carousel. Good luck! Frank C
     
  11. Old Texas Marine

    Old Texas Marine Member

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    Leadman and FlaGarto,

    My flights were in 1995 so the bolt issue wasn't what it is today. Yes, it was two flights that I took a gun with me. On the return flight from a Colo. elk hunt was when my Mod 70 failed to show. I haven't given American Airlines a chance to improve or worsen their record since that time.

    I am not known for being a quick study, but the more I thought about the consequences of the missing rifle happening on the first flight and having no rifle for the first two days of a four-day hunt 100 miles from the airport convinced me the airlines would not be handling my firearms again.

    How many days of the Spring Grand can one enjoy with out one's trap gun?

    Shoot well,

    HBT
     
  12. 682LINY

    682LINY Member

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    Flight from La to Jfk in sept,,,,all 4 latches of Pelican case with Beretta 682 inside were open,,,but both pad locks were intact,,,,and we know that pelican cases do not open themselves
     
  13. halfmile

    halfmile Well-Known Member

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    Baggage handlers were videotaped going through luggage and taking high dollar items a few years ago.

    I agree with the key thing, they took my key to inspect the gun but were in my sight all the time. Another time they couldn't work the lock and I had to do it.

    I did mail my guns to Phoenix once, to myself - in care of my friend's shop, no problem. It was about 17 dollars from Wisconsin to AZ.

    I think you can trust the Postal Service more than the baggage handlers.

    But if you don't have other luggage a gun will go fine on the airline.

    Question: is the limit still 2 bags checked and a carry on? Or have they reduced it and charge for additional?

    Tucson is calling.............

    HM
     
  14. scott calhoun

    scott calhoun Well-Known Member

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    I haven't flown in the past year, but between 2002 and 2008 I was on the airlines a few times each year with my firearm. I typically fly out of Chicago O'Hare, but have a couple of trips out of Chicago-Midway also. Destinations have been anywhere ATA shoots are held - Las Vegas, San Antonio and Tampa among the destinations, as well as a few other vacation destinations.

    My firearms have a perfect travel record, but I do take a few steps to do the most that I can to ensure that.

    Try to fly direct when possible, the fewer times the bag has to be handled the better. Be friendly and agreeable with the airline reps and TSA agents, even if/when they don't know what they are doing. They can make your life miserable if they want to. Swallow your pride and be as nice a guy/gal as possible when checking in and going thru TSA security with your firearm. When checking in, stay with your firearm until it goes thru the hole in the wall. For instance, at O'Hare once they check a firearm they don't put in on the regular luggage belt with the suitcases, they set it on the side and call for an oversize baggage pickup. The oversize bag guy comes an gets it and takes it to the part of the terminal where they load oversize bags. I stay in the TSA area until the case is picked up and then follow the guy to the oversize area and make sure that my case goes thru the hole in the wall in the oversize area. At this point I've done all I can to make sure my gun went where it was supposed to go.

    Once you arrive go directly to the baggage area so you can get there before the luggage starts coming out. I've only had my gun go thru the baggage office 1 time in a dozen or so flights. In general it seems that more recently they make much less of a big deal of a firearm than they did shortly after 9/11. Make sure you've got your luggage receipts so you can prove it's yours, and also verify that your firearm is actually in the case. I've never opened my case at the arrival airport, you should be able to tell from the weight. Far better to find out it's gone while at the airport than much later when the case has been outside the airport.

    I've considered shipping my firearm via other means, but always thought that there was probably at least as much of a chance, and in some cases a greater chance that it would dissappear than using the airline. If you use another method the firearm will be out of your control for a much longer period of time and will likely be seen/handled by many more people than when going via the airline.

    Lastly, my gun is insured. While it would certainly suck to lose a firearm, and losing it on the way to a shoot would be even worse, but at least I don't have to worry about taking a financial loss if it happens. Life is full of choices and risk, if you don't want to risk losing your firearm you could always stay home and never take it out.

    Scott
     
  15. Baber

    Baber TS Member

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    I fly 2-4 times a year with my Perazzi's. Have had little problem. The first thing I do is be polite with the airlines counter people. I know you are turning yore 'Baby' over to these people but acting like a AH will get you treated like one. I advise them that I have "checked firearms" quietly and don't make a big issue out of it. I also buy the excess baggage insurance from the airline. Some Clerks don't want the hassle so I carry with me a sample of the previous buy of the excess insurance. They are limited to $5000 so it will not cover the actual loss but it puts the airline on notice that they will lose a lot of money if you gun grows legs. I then accompany the gun to TSA for their inspection. The case is locked and I have the key. If requested I will give the key to the inspectors for them to unlock the case. I then get the key back and ask them to re-lock the padlock and pull on it in my presence to insure its locked.

    While we are on this subject let me talk about cases. I use a Rhino all Aluminum with a American Ultra High Security padlock. It would take a torch or a long time with a hacksaw to get into it. These plastic cases are a joke. Don't fool around with them.

    In closing be polite to the airline people, check their firearms policy before you get to the airport as some airlines will not carry firearms, read the TSA guidelines and use a decent case and you will not have problems.

    Tom
     
  16. Pocatello

    Pocatello Active Member

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    HBT, with all due respect, I don't think your experience in 1995 has much relevance to what goes on today. I think scrutiny of all baggage and checked firearms in particular is much higher than it was before 2001. I've flown with my shotguns at least half a dozen times in the past few years with no problems. Just follow the TSA rules. Make sure the gun is unloaded and you have no loose ammunition in your baggage. Declare that you have an unloaded firearm when you arrive at the counter. You will be given the Orange TSA card to fill out, and when you are done it will be placed inside the case. Either the TSA folks or a police officer will inspect everything to make sure your declaration is correct. After the inspection, you lock the case in their presence and they transport it to the checked baggage area. I always ask that they tape over the locks with their TSA tape, and they have always happily complied. When it comes off the plane most often it is taken to the airlines baggage claim area where I must show photo ID and my baggage claim check to pick it up, but that isn't necessarily true at smaller airports.

    The direct flight idea is good if you can do it, but at least one time I flew using frequent flyer miles, going Pocatello/Salt Lake City/Houston/San Antonio. The Atlanta stop was short enough that I had to run from one terminal to another to make the connection. My gun arrived with me with no problems.

    In summary, use a good case, follow the rules without being a jerk, and you should have no problems.
     
  17. Ibex

    Ibex TS Member

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    Scott, Tom & Pocatello all give very good advice about the lengths you want to go to to be polite to these folks. Airline counter people & TSA do not work for the same entities & you sure don't want to get caught in the local squabbles between them.

    I have done a fair amount of domestic & international travel with shooters & have had the good and the bad, some places that you would expect hassles were trouble free (San Francisco & LAX)places where you would expect no problems were a challenge (Wichita Kansas & Ketchikan Alaska)

    I use the approach of a takedown case with a cover to reduce (as much as possible)the appearance of a gun case. My experience has been that the baggage handlers seperate obvious gun cases by sight & send them to the baggage office. My case usually just bumps right on though with the rest of the checked baggage, sliding under the baggabe handler radar.

    My shooter did take an extra lap around the USA once as "lost baggage", it arrived home several days later & someone had attempted to get into it. The quality of the case prevented them from getting all the way into it though they did tear hell out of the corner of the case.
    Mike
     
  18. Bruce Em

    Bruce Em Member

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    I fly 2 to 3 times per year with handguns

    I use a nondescript older hardshell suitcase that locks and gun cases inside are locked as well.

    Travel from the south and the west is ok but from liberal democratic controlled notheast locations is a headache because they do not usually know how to handle it. Go to the airline website as well as the TSA website and pull down and print the info and bring it with you.

    Bring all relevent documentation , licenses etc

    Be polite and patient. You may even get a NICS check as well as extra bag fees

    good luck
     
  19. bigdogtx

    bigdogtx Well-Known Member

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    20+ times since 2000. Never a problem, although some anxiety waiting by the baggage claim area when some airports take it to the lost or oversized baggage areas.

    Direct flights are best.

    Be POLITE and RESPECTFUL to both counter and TSA employees. Goes a long way.

    Quality case. I use SKB or Warwick. No additional lock capability, but would be nice. Make sure gun fits tight into whatever case you choose. Remember the gorilla commercials in the '70's of baggage handlers? If your case can't handle them,,,,get a different case. Saving $50 on a case for a $2,000+ gun DOES NOT MAKE SENSE!!!!

    Insurance REQUIRED!!! Replacing a beloved firearm is no fun, but would be MUCH WORSE if you had to put out the entire amount. Diana Crawford at ACE Insurance handles mine. Great lady,,,,pretty too. ;)

    Safe travels.
     
  20. ysr_racer

    ysr_racer Active Member

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    I use a Tuffpak takedown case when I travel. I cram my gun (in a soft case), a ton of other stuff in it.

    Never had any problems, and it's built like a tank.

    [​IMG]
     
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