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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are flying to Tucson for the grand and was wondering if anyone has any tips or suggestions for when we check our shotguns as bags? We are flying on Southwest. ..


Thanks!
 

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Hard lockable case, Show up 30 minutes early for the checkin line as you may have to pull gun out and show it the the ticket agent. You may even have to assemble it in front of the agent.
 

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The early check-in is a definite because you will need to sign a document stating it is unloaded with no ammo in the hard case. Then the slip is put in the opened case and next you put on your lock. It then will go through X-ray and if cleared it goes on the plane. At your arriving airport be careful as sometimes it comes out on the general baggage carousel or you may need to claim it at their luggage office.
 

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I suggest that you check in 30 minutes before the time you normally check in, not 30 minutes before flight time. I like to be there 90 to 60 minutes before flight time.

You should check with SW Airlines policy on firearms. I have had no problems with American and United.

Your hard case should have locking comb or key locks on the end. John Hall cases are questionable, but the plastic is hard so it may be ok but it may not be. The Beretta soft plastic case that only has a combo lock in the middle may not pass TSA.

Jason
 

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Just got back from the Nevada State shoot and flew both ways. My local airport - the airline had to call a TSA agent to take the shotgun and all they did was do some kind of swab test and that was it. Did not check the case as it was in a cardboard shipping box. On the way back in Las Vegas, same drill but TSA cut open the box and checked that the case was locked and they taped it back up with "TSA" marked tape. Everything came back to me fine.
 

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I would suggest a pelican or similar. I flew with the skb(that looks like a pelican case) double shotgun case and it was fine. Looks like the bag guys slid it down the Tarmac for a bit, but everything was protected internally. Be sure to put as many locks as there are places for it. I also bought insurance through SIAI for my two travel cases because I know I'll need it replaced someday. Every time I had to pick it up off the normal baggage carousel. Makes me nervous that they would just treat it as normal baggage. I try to get a seat as close to the front of the plane and make it down to the baggage claim as soon as possible. Airport security didn't even as for my claim checks.
 

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A few thoughts (I just returned to the USA with one of my guns from South Africa, and it wasn't all that bad.)

As noted above, it's a good idea to get there a little early. Some check in agents don't know the ropes and will have to get help from a supervisor.

Good hard side case.

Locks DO NOT have to be TSA locks.

If the check in agent has their stuff together, they'll just ask you to open it and confirm it is unloaded, and you'll sign a card to that effect and it will be put in the case with the gun.

Sometimes a TSA agent is called. But not always. When I got to Atlanta from Johannesburg I had to get all my checked baggage, go through customs, and then put the checked baggage back on a carousel to be loaded onto the plane that took me to Kansas City. It was there that the TSA agent did the "swab" thing.

When you get to your destination, they are NOT SUPPOSED to put it on the carousel, but some places do just that.

Often you will have to pick it up at the same place you go for lost luggage.

Good luck. As with many such things, the first time is a little daunting, but every time after that, it's easier.
 

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All good advice so far. The earlier you get there the better. I took a group of shooters overseas this summer and noticed that the TSA person who x-rayed the cases was inconsistent about locking them so it's a good idea to double check the locks afterward. The big Plano style cases fared the best and as others have noted, sometimes they were dumped on the carousel, sometimes in oversize. I wouldn't even consider flying with the factory plastic Beretta or Perazzi cases, they're just way too flimsy. You might get lucky but take a look at the stock in the thread on high dollar gun damage, no one wants that. You're not going out of the country, there is a property declaration form you want to fill out with the US customs service well ahead of your trip if you ever do that.

Wish I could go!

-Scot
 

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The firearms must be unloaded in a lockable case. Only you may have access to it (this specifically means do NOT use TSA locks). Federal law dictates this - few of the TSA agents are aware of it but you will be held responsible if there is an issue.

Arrive well before the flight for check in, declare that you are flying with a firearm. There is some variability between airlines and airports on this, but you will be asked to prove the firearm is unloaded and then asked to sign a declaration of same. A copy of this declaration will be put into the case before you re-lock it.

Once the case is handed to the baggage system WAIT in the check-in area. If TSA wants to see inside the case you will need to open it for them (typically the TSA agents will give an 'all clear' and you can then proceed to your gate). Do NOT give the keys/combination to anyone - you must open the case yourself. This may mean they have to escort you into the bowels of the airport (something they really don't like to do) but stand your ground on this - as soon as you hand access to the firearms to a third party you are breaking federal law.

Ammo may also be shipped. It must be in factory boxes, or aftermarket boxes specifically designed for ammo. Typically you may carry 5 Kg (11 lbs) of ammo for personal use. This may be in the case with the firearm, or in one of your other bags. NOTE - if flying with handguns the magazines of a semi-auto are specifically NOT allowed to be loaded.

On arrival the case may come up through special handling, or out on the regular belts (again, this varies by airport and airline).

I have found the Pelican cases are the only way to go (IMHO). I do cover the latches with duct tape - there is some kind of belt that likes to catch on them - it won't break them but they can be popped open (not to worry - the locks keep the case sealed) and get banged up - with the tape, no worries.
 

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Here is the text I wrote a few months ago on this topic:

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Two sets of 'rules' regulate flying with a firearm. TSA trumps all here (except Federal law - see below), but the airline will have it's own set of rules.

TSA - Transporting Firearms and Ammunition

Once checked in hang around the check in area until the airline tells you that TSA has cleared the case for flight (they may wish to inspect the inside of the case and you will need to open it for them). NOTE - the more disassembled the gun is the better this will go - shotguns apart, bolts out of rifles, pistols opened.

Now for the 'nitty-gritty.'

First, arrive early at the airport (they suggest adding at least an hour extra) - you will need to check in at a counter (no road side). Tell them right away you are traveling with a firearm - you will be asked to open the case and prove the gun is unloaded (be prepared for stares from the people around you - you will be asked to do this right at the check in desk). You will be given a card to sign that will be included inside the case - this states that the gun is unloaded.

If you travel with ammo it needs to be in factory boxes or ones specifically designed to hold ammo (NOT allowed in magazines, plastic bags, loose, etc.). Typically you are allowed 5 Kg (11 lbs) of ammo. This may be included in the case with the weapon, or another suitcase (check specific airline rules here).

LOCKS - Do NOT listen to the TSA nor the airline here. Federal law specifically states you and only you, must retain control of access to the case (49CFR 1540.111). TSA locks are NOT allowed on gun cases. If the TSA asks to see inside the case YOU need to open the case. If the screening area is by the check in desks this is easy. if in a secure area you need to politely insist that they escort you to the area to open the case for them - do NOT give the key/combination to anyone else.

The airport will matter - no two have the exact same process. Some will ask for ID when you pick the gun up, others - it just comes down the luggage belts.

Good luck.

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NOTE - there was a challenge to this about the 'TSA locks' - here is my reply

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The TSA (which has no authority here - only the safety and security of the aircraft) has stated all sorts of positions on this. None of them matter. There is federal law that YOU must obey, regardless of what a TSA agent may say to you.
____________________

From - How to Travel on Airplanes With a Gun

"Use a NON-TSA approved lock.
While many will tell you to use a TSA approved lock, this is actually prohibited by 49CFR 1540.111, the regulation that governs firearm transportation. It should be noted that the TSA usually allows the use of TSA locks but in reality they are not legal as they are designed to be opened by a TSA master key, which is expressly prohibited by the above regulation."

Here is the relevant law - 49 CFR 1540.111 - Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals. see section c,2,iv

SOooooooo,

While the TSA has decided you may or may not travel with TSA locks (depends on who you ask), if you do YOU are breaking federal law. The TSA has no say in this, and remember, if there is an issue the TSA agent gets to go home that night...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
so as far as cases.... We have two guns that will travel in the factory case (negrini) so I am not to worried about them, the other one is a browning hard side that has two "hinge" style locks...does anyone have any experience using that case on the airlines?

I believe it meets the requirements, hard side and locks...
 

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I am using Tuffpak 1132 Take Down Case | Nalpak with TSA-approved numeric lock - does not look like a shotgun case and works really well. I usually pack all my shooting relates stuff around broken down shotgun in a soft case to protect it from moving around. Very convenient, easy to roll on those wheels too...
 

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I am amazed when I travel with my golf clubs in a hard SKB case how many people ask Me "you got guns in there"

And they to just leave them at the baggage carousel, The honor system so far has worked,

DGH
 

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Not one of the times I've flown with rifles or handguns has anyone (especially airline ticket employees) asked me to open a case to show that guns are unloaded. Not once in dozens of times. After baggage check in, either you or an airline baggage handler (you accompany) will take the case to TSA . There, they may or may not ask you to open the case and swab it for "explosive residue". Gunpowder doesn't seem to count, as dirty, fired guns breezed through just like the freshly cleaned ones.

Here's a link from another shooter. He's not a trap guy, but the same rules apply to all of us. Packing & the Friendly Skies

Big note, NO TSA locks on the gun case itself. And it has to be hard enough that TSA can't open latches, leave locks on and pry open a corner and touch the gun with fingers. Not a law, not a rule, but how they do it.

In Atlanta, the guns went to the "special" baggage area. C-Springs, Denver, Newark and Trenton all came out with other, normal bags.

Surprisingly, Trenton NJ is the easiest airport. The one gal at TSA asked me if the guns were unloaded and then asked me to help her lift the case onto the X-Ray machine. Done! Amazing. Never looked inside, never swabbed, no other questions. Nada.
 

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I am not familiar with the Browning "hinge" lock, but if they are left and right of center and lockable by combination or key it should be ok. As Norm and I pointed out earlier the TSA agent must not be able to pry the corner of the case open and get the gun out.

Jason
 

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Everything here is good advice. As someone who flies very frequently and always travels with one or more handguns, here are some observations:

  1. Every airline has different polices and even within the same airline, attitudes vary from airport to airport, and from check in staff to check in staff. I have had major problems with American on one leg of the trip (regarding ammo storage) and zero problems on the return trip on the same airlines.
  2. Always allow extra time for checking guns (at least 20 minutes or more). I have had to follow the suitcase to a TSA inspection counter and stand around and wait to unlock the gun case for inspection and relock it under the directions of a TSA agent in some airports. I have also been called back from the secure area to a TSA terminal to unlock a case for inspection so check bags as early as possible may save you missing a flight. Make sure the phone number of the mobile phone you are carrying is on the outside of the case, and listen for it.
  3. Always carry a copy of the TSA regulations with you printed out. Some check in agents do not know the rules. I once had an agent insist the "gun tag" had to be on the outside of the suitcase instead of the outside of the gun case. I have also had check in agents insist the guns had to be disassembled instead of just unloaded.
  4. Some gate agents are afraid of guns and react very negatively. Some just hate guns and gun owners. Most know nothing about handling guns.
  5. NYC and Chicago airports will give you the most grief on an average. I have had O'Hare check in staff demand to see my FOID card, which only Illinois residents are required to have (or can get) to own a gun, when checking a gun. I've had JFK airline staff demand to see my "gun permit" for NYC and even twice had NYC Police called when trying to check a gun. Some LEOs are very friendly and some are not, but it can take 10-15 minutes to deal with it if they are called. (The NYC question is always, " Did you have the legal right to possess that firearm in NYC?", which is a serious question unlike the FOID card issue for non-Illinois residents.)
  6. Most TSA employees are "want-to-be" LEOs and are fairly gun friendly as a whole, but once in a while they can be real SOBs.
  7. Make sure you have enough locks to keep TSA from being able to pry into the inside of the gun case. Make sure they are locked before TSA sees the guns. Some TSA agents will make you unlock the case for their inspection and others just check to see they are locked.
Traveling with firearms in the United States is far easier than it is in other countries.
 

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Chance gives some good advice.

I must question his sanity for flying into/out of O'Hare or any of the NYC airports (JFK, LGA, EWR) with a firearm, let alone a hand gun. You've bigger stones than me.

His two points are worth remembering. 1) things vary by airport, airline, and person in front of you. This can make things hard or easy in the blink of an eye. 2) You need to know the rules inside and out to protect yourself - if something goes wrong it will fall on your shoulders...

I actually do a lot on international travel with firearms (long guns - never handguns) and quite honestly, once you have all the correct permits the process is very simple.

I live near PHL and have always flown USAir domestically and BA internationally. In a few weeks I'll be flying on the 'new' American/USAir airline under AA rules (this could be fun). One thing I have found out is that with USAir you just showed up with the firearms, and AA wants to know ahead of time and they put it into your 'locator record.'

Deviant Ollam (Packing & the Friendly Skies) paints a sad picture for AA - Airline Report Cards

I will note that both he and I fly in and out of PHL rather regularly.

I do see that AA's updated web site tends to contradict much of what he states - Firearms and ammunition

Wish me luck...
 

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Locks DO NOT have to be TSA locks.
Good advice. The master TSA key has been compromised and easily duplicated. Any lock can be defeated, but why make it easy for them. Use your own lock.

Also, every airline has posted rules for traveling with firearms and almost everything else you can think of. Check the airlines website, so no surprises.

It doesn't apply in this case, but Air Canada requires a trigger lock (after inspection) and ammunition cannot be packed with the firearm.
 

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Actually DO NOT USE TSA locks.

If you do you are breaking federal law - no one but the person who owns the firearms should have access to them at any point or in any manner during their transportation.
 

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Read this from SW Airlines:

Guns

  • Customers are responsible for knowing and following the firearms laws of the state(s) that they will be traveling to, from, and through.
  • Our Customers must declare the gun to the Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter (no firearms will be accepted curbside) and ensure that the firearm(s) chambers are free of ammunition and the magazine clip has been removed (when applicable). Paintball guns and BB guns are considered the same as all other firearms.
  • Paintball guns are allowed in checked baggage and are not subject to the container requirements of firearms. Customers must declare the paintball gun to the Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter. Compressed gas cylinders are allowed in checked baggage or as a carryon only if the regulator valve is completely disconnected from the cylinder and the cylinder is no longer sealed (i.e., the cylinder has an open end). TSA Security Screeners must visibly ensure that the cylinder is completely empty and that there are no prohibited items inside.
  • Firearms must be encased in a hard-sided, locked container that is of sufficient strength to withstand normal handling, as follows:
    1. A firearm in a hard-sided, locked container may be placed inside a soft-sided, unlocked suitcase.
    2. A firearm placed inside a hard-sided, locked suitcase does not have to be encased in a container manufactured for the transportation of firearms.
    3. The locked container or suitcase must completely secure the firearm from access. Cases or suitcases that can be pulled open with minimal effort do not meet the locked criterion.
    4. Only the Customer checking the luggage should retain the key or combination to the lock. No exceptions will be made.
  • Firearms may be checked and will count toward the two-piece free baggage allowance for each fare-paying passenger. We allow multiple firearms to be transported inside one hard-sided case.
  • Southwest Airlines assumes no liability for the misalignment of sights on firearms, including those equipped with telescopic sights.
  • Firearms are never allowed in carryon luggage.
Ammunition

  • Small arms ammunition for personal use (provided it is properly packed) is permissible in checked baggage only.
  • The ammunition may be placed in the same container as the firearm and must be securely packed in cardboard (fiber), wood, or metal boxes, or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
  • When checking ammunition, Customers are limited to 11 pounds gross weight (ammunition plus container) per person.
  • Magazines or clips containing ammunition must be securely packaged (placed in another small box or in a secure cutout in the carrying case, in order to protect the primer of the ammunition).
  • Make sure guns are unloaded and definitely never transport a gun in your carryon baggage!
  • Gunpowder (black powder) and primers or percussion caps are not allowed in checked or carryon baggage.
  • Loose ammunition or loose loaded magazines and/or clips are not allowed.
  • Paintballs must be packaged in a leak-proof container and will be subject to limited release


Special Luggage

Bill
 
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