Checked baggage containing a firearm.

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JayStation3
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Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby JayStation3 » Sun May 14, 2017 6:51 pm

Hi everyone. I'm Jason. I have done a lot of research on this subject and have found, alot like most other topics regarding guns, a lot of vague info.

The skinny? The skinny is my wife, my 2 year old and myself are flying to the northeast to visit family. I have a single sidearm I intend on checking in my luggage. I have read both the TSA and the Delta websites info regarding travelling with sporting equipment/firearms.

I DO know I must declare the weapon at the first security checkpoint or the ticket counter, whichever is closest to the main entrance upon arriving at the airport. Curbside check in is prohibited.

I DO know I am allowed to carry an UNLOADED pistol and my ammo (up to 11 lbs) in the SAME lockable hardacased container as well as any other items I want that can fit in the lock box and that must be in a checked bag upon declaration.

I am NOT sure if the magazines that are stored in the same lockable container can be loaded or not. I do know that there is nothing on either TSA or Delta websites restricting the cartridges from being inside a magazine... I have read several scenarios on blogs and other forums of accounts where TSA forced a passenger to miss their flight because the loaded mags "raised a red flag". (any clarity on this is appreciated)

I DO know based on TSA federal law that the passenger and the passenger alone must retain the key/combo for the approved locked container and possession of said container and not allow anyone else the ability to open said box out of owners view. I have also read situations where passengers were held up to miss flights because the TSA wouldn't follow the law and allow the passenger in the room while agents clear firearms case. Instead they insist on you giving keys or combo to them and they clear your case with out you present. Which against the federal law. (see below) (also any clarity on this would be appreciated)

****Title 49: Transportation, Part 1540 – Civil Aviation Security: General Rules, Subpart B – Responsibilities of Passengers and Other Individuals and Persons, 1540.111 (c) (iv) - The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger retains the key or combination.

Title 49: Transportation, Part 1544 – Aircraft Operator Security: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators, Subpart C – Operations, 1544.203 (f) (iii) The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the individual checking the baggage retains the key or combination;****

Now more specifically, I heard/read that delta ( as of 4/17 )now requires agents to Tag luggage containing firearms with orange zip ties, therefore also breaking federal law saying "bags containing firearms must not be marked in anyway claiming that they contain firearms". My concern here is not so much with the labels, but more so with the "escorted" part where they will escort.you from the security office to get your bag and then escort you to the exit.

So upon my arrival to the small international airport that ill be arriving at in NEPA at 11pm, with my wife and 2 year old in tow. I am being told I will have to claim my luggage from the security office. Not the normal baggage claim.

I called the Airport and asked the person I spoke with if they had heard anything like this, and she was clueless. Said she had no idea what ideas talking about. She said I would have to pick up my luggage at the baggage claim just like everyone else... Any clarity on this would be appreciated....

I have several websites book marked. I have printed the Delta "special items" requirements and have them in my suitcase. I have the TSA laws and federal laws printed from PDF in case I need them. I don't feel it should be this hard to travel on vacation with your sidearm... I'm glad they have restrictions, but I'm also part.of the pre-screen program. Already cleared. But according to several sources, once I declare a firearm, I forfeit the pre-screen rights.

Again, I have researched and keep coming up short. Any life experiences, recently would be most helpful. Specifically with Delta.

Thanks in advance and sorry if this in the wrong thread. Let me know and I'll move it...
"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools." - Thucydides

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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby tbrown » Sun May 14, 2017 7:10 pm

If they're only tagging bags with guns that way, you're correct they're violating federal law. However, if they tag all "high value" luggage that way, so they get special handling and bypass the unsecured baggage claim area, that's different. In most airports now, nobody checks the baggage claim receipt matches the bag tag. It's a reasonable precaution to prevent a bag with a firearm, high end photography gear, etc. growing legs.

If you're flying into ABE, a checked firearm should be a non issue, particularly compared to PHL.
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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby LimaCharlie3 » Sun May 14, 2017 8:56 pm

I just retired from AA and I fly with a checked firearm every couple of weeks. Yes there are rules but nobody seems to know them. Tsa has agreed that "tsa locks" are ok for firearms and you are not " giving them the key or combo for it." That's what I use and it's best. They rarely need to open a bag anymore. Also, tsa could care less if magazines are loaded. That is an airline rule that most have, but not all. The be legacy carriers, AA, delta, United, etc all require magazines to be unloaded and ammo packed in original manufacturers packaging OR packaging designed to hold ammo, I.e. The plastic storage boxes you can buy. The tagging of firearms is something new and that is so it doesn't go around in baggage claim. I'm kinda ok with that except not every airport follows that rule. IF it is tagged and you see them tag it, then it will most likely go to the baggage office at your destination. What I have noticed is that many smaller airports don't tag it special, and in those cases they go to regular baggage claim. It's a good idea to actually see if it gets tagged that way or not. They also flag your reservation that you are traveling with a firearm. That was a surprise to me too. When you check in you are required to "declare" you are traveling with a firearm. You will sign a document declaring it is unloaded and then that is placed inside the hard case with your gun. So it's a good idea to have the gun case out, or easily accessible with you check in. As always, airlines and tsa make up new rules every day, but that's the way it's been the last couple weeks.

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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby John Galt » Sun May 14, 2017 9:35 pm

Back in 2006 I flew out of DFW with an unloaded handgun in a locked box in my checked luggage. When I arrived at the ticket counter I declared what I had and they sent me to another area where I opened the luggage for the agent to see the locked box. I then closed it and he tagged it firearm. When I arrived at my destination I picked up my motorcycle, purchased my ammo, and headed back.

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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby AJSully421 » Mon May 15, 2017 2:33 am

Last few times I flew, they started doing the "special handling" thing. Nowhere on the tags does it say "FIREARM!!!!!!!!", and they "special handle" other items of value or danger, so no federal law is being broken.

I always unload the mags, no matter what the regs say, it is just the best way to go about it. You might get hassled by some TSA goon who doesn't know better with loaded mags. You will never be hassled about having your mags unloaded.

Every airline and airport is different, but I always do the same thing, ammo in original box, mags unloaded, I have a pistol case that I drilled two holes through and got one of those long shackled locks that comes off the end so I can shove both forks of the shackle through the entire case, then I lock it to a pair of handcuffs and into the metal frame of my suitcase. I keep the keys.

I have flown 18 times with a pistol like that and never once had a problem.
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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby cbunt1 » Mon May 15, 2017 3:48 am

Within the last year I've flown out of both Hobby and IAH with a pistol, and it has been nothing more than an annoyance due to the line. I see you're in Houston, so I'm just assuming you'll be flying out of here.

Easiest way is with a locked hard-sided case that fits in your suitcase. Personally, I use a two-gun box that I picked up at Academy some years ago that looks like a Pelican case. It's big enough to take two pistols and the magazines for them.

As for the ammo, the easiest sure-thing is to unload the mags and put the rounds into an MTM-style (reloader's) case and carry them like that. I have on numerous occasions slipped the loaded mags into a mag pouch and flown that way...but I always carry the extra MTM box on the off-chance that someone decides to blow a gasket at the ticket counter...I just get tired of loading and unloading magazines :)

Houston airports are very familiar with the process, and I'd guess that every ticket agent deals with it daily. Other places, not so much. I've learned to carry a printed copy of the FAA regs and the airline's rules for my return trip. On the rare occasion that there's a hassle, you'll probably know more about the regs than the folks charged with enforcing them.

I've received several "attaboys" from the gate agents for having the case-within-a-case method, apparently it makes it easier on them, and by doing so my gun case gets the "special" tag, and my suitcase doesn't...but it does get flagged as screened...and so it's always one of the first on the baggage claim, and it never picks up extra search tags.

Expect no hassles, a few delays, and be prepared to educate someone if necessary, and you'll be just fine.
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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby JayStation3 » Mon May 15, 2017 7:07 am

tbrown wrote:If they're only tagging bags with guns that way, you're correct they're violating federal law. However, if they tag all "high value" luggage that way, so they get special handling and bypass the unsecured baggage claim area, that's different. In most airports now, nobody checks the baggage claim receipt matches the bag tag. It's a reasonable precaution to prevent a bag with a firearm, high end photography gear, etc. growing legs.

If you're flying into ABE, a checked firearm should be a non issue, particularly compared to PHL.



The federal law states specifically that "a bag containing a firearm may not be labeled, tagged or marked in anyway".

I have a gps tracker. It will be accompanied with my firearm. I won't be loosing anything :)
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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby JayStation3 » Mon May 15, 2017 7:14 am

LimaCharlie3 wrote:I just retired from AA and I fly with a checked firearm every couple of weeks. Yes there are rules but nobody seems to know them. Tsa has agreed that "tsa locks" are ok for firearms and you are not " giving them the key or combo for it." That's what I use and it's best. They rarely need to open a bag anymore. Also, tsa could care less if magazines are loaded. That is an airline rule that most have, but not all. The be legacy carriers, AA, delta, United, etc all require magazines to be unloaded and ammo packed in original manufacturers packaging OR packaging designed to hold ammo, I.e. The plastic storage boxes you can buy. The tagging of firearms is something new and that is so it doesn't go around in baggage claim. I'm kinda ok with that except not every airport follows that rule. IF it is tagged and you see them tag it, then it will most likely go to the baggage office at your destination. What I have noticed is that many smaller airports don't tag it special, and in those cases they go to regular baggage claim. It's a good idea to actually see if it gets tagged that way or not. They also flag your reservation that you are traveling with a firearm. That was a surprise to me too. When you check in you are required to "declare" you are traveling with a firearm. You will sign a document declaring it is unloaded and then that is placed inside the hard case with your gun. So it's a good idea to have the gun case out, or easily accessible with you check in. As always, airlines and tsa make up new rules every day, but that's the way it's been the last couple weeks.



Do NOT use TSA locks on your gun case. This is a misunderstood area of the law and, technically speaking, it’s illegal for you to do so. Per the letter of the law, you alone must maintain possession of the keys or combination to open your gun case. You cannot lock it in such a way that others have access. By using TSA locks on your gun case, lots of people, just about anyone in fact, technically has access to your guns. TSA locks are NOT secure and not even TSA agents are supposed to have access to your case, once cleared, without you being present to unlock the case.

I called to "get more info" on this subject from delta as far policies and there "escorting" part since I will be landing in a small airport...and that's when I learned they actually flag your reservation. It kinda worried me a little but at first because the guy didn't explain what exactly he was going that or why, but he finally explained it properly after I asked why he was flagging me just for asking for information...

There is nothing saying the magazine must be empty in the law or regulations with delta.
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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby JayStation3 » Mon May 15, 2017 7:16 am

John Galt wrote:Back in 2006 I flew out of DFW with an unloaded handgun in a locked box in my checked luggage. When I arrived at the ticket counter I declared what I had and they sent me to another area where I opened the luggage for the agent to see the locked box. I then closed it and he tagged it firearm. When I arrived at my destination I picked up my motorcycle, purchased my ammo, and headed back.


That's how easy id like thisn trip to be... : )
"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools." - Thucydides

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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby JayStation3 » Mon May 15, 2017 7:18 am

AJSully421 wrote:Last few times I flew, they started doing the "special handling" thing. Nowhere on the tags does it say "FIREARM!!!!!!!!", and they "special handle" other items of value or danger, so no federal law is being broken.

I always unload the mags, no matter what the regs say, it is just the best way to go about it. You might get hassled by some TSA goon who doesn't know better with loaded mags. You will never be hassled about having your mags unloaded.

Every airline and airport is different, but I always do the same thing, ammo in original box, mags unloaded, I have a pistol case that I drilled two holes through and got one of those long shackled locks that comes off the end so I can shove both forks of the shackle through the entire case, then I lock it to a pair of handcuffs and into the metal frame of my suitcase. I keep the keys.

I have flown 18 times with a pistol like that and never once had a problem.


Thank you for adding your experience. Very helpful
"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools." - Thucydides

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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby JayStation3 » Mon May 15, 2017 7:20 am

cbunt1 wrote:Within the last year I've flown out of both Hobby and IAH with a pistol, and it has been nothing more than an annoyance due to the line. I see you're in Houston, so I'm just assuming you'll be flying out of here.

Easiest way is with a locked hard-sided case that fits in your suitcase. Personally, I use a two-gun box that I picked up at Academy some years ago that looks like a Pelican case. It's big enough to take two pistols and the magazines for them.

As for the ammo, the easiest sure-thing is to unload the mags and put the rounds into an MTM-style (reloader's) case and carry them like that. I have on numerous occasions slipped the loaded mags into a mag pouch and flown that way...but I always carry the extra MTM box on the off-chance that someone decides to blow a gasket at the ticket counter...I just get tired of loading and unloading magazines :)

Houston airports are very familiar with the process, and I'd guess that every ticket agent deals with it daily. Other places, not so much. I've learned to carry a printed copy of the FAA regs and the airline's rules for my return trip. On the rare occasion that there's a hassle, you'll probably know more about the regs than the folks charged with enforcing them.

I've received several "attaboys" from the gate agents for having the case-within-a-case method, apparently it makes it easier on them, and by doing so my gun case gets the "special" tag, and my suitcase doesn't...but it does get flagged as screened...and so it's always one of the first on the baggage claim, and it never picks up extra search tags.

Expect no hassles, a few delays, and be prepared to educate someone if necessary, and you'll be just fine.



Perfect, yes. I'm flying out of IAH... Thanks for.your input. Very helpful in my research.
"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools." - Thucydides

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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby JayStation3 » Mon May 15, 2017 7:21 am

Thank you everyone for your responses. Very helpful info in each reply. Thanks again and keep em coming...
"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools." - Thucydides

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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby bblhd672 » Mon May 15, 2017 9:13 am

Great info from everyone! The wife and I will be flying out of DFW to Florida in August, and until reading this thread I wasn't planning on taking my Shield with me. Now I think I'll get a good secure gun case to put in our large checked suitcase and take the Shield with us.
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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby jmorris » Mon May 15, 2017 12:08 pm

JayStation3 wrote:....
I DO know based on TSA federal law that the passenger and the passenger alone must retain the key/combo for the approved locked container and possession of said container and not allow anyone else the ability to open said box out of owners view. I have also read situations where passengers were held up to miss flights because the TSA wouldn't follow the law and allow the passenger in the room while agents clear firearms case. Instead they insist on you giving keys or combo to them and they clear your case with out you present. Which against the federal law. (see below) (also any clarity on this would be appreciated)

****Title 49: Transportation, Part 1540 – Civil Aviation Security: General Rules, Subpart B – Responsibilities of Passengers and Other Individuals and Persons, 1540.111 (c) (iv) - The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger retains the key or combination.

Title 49: Transportation, Part 1544 – Aircraft Operator Security: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators, Subpart C – Operations, 1544.203 (f) (iii) The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the individual checking the baggage retains the key or combination;****
....


I flew out of Indianapolis three times (last five years ago ) with a rifle case. After checking it the agent puts it on the conveyor and it disappears into the back. Every time my case has been flagged, I've been paged and asked for my keys. I quote the same regs and the response is it's in the secured area, you're not going there, we're not bringing it out here. Argument was futile. So, I could argue until I missed my flight, leave without my case, or give them my keys.

Filing complaint didn't help.
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Re: Checked baggage containing a firearm.

Postby troglodyte » Mon May 15, 2017 12:26 pm

It's no big deal to fly with your firearm.

Unload your gun, triple check.
Unload your magazines. It may not be necessary but it's one less thing for an unknowing TSA or airline agent to get hung up on.
Carry all ammo in the original box or a MTM-type box.
Lock all in a Pelican or GunVault type case with a NON-TSA lock.
Lock in your luggage with a TSA lock.

At the airport (may vary slightly depending on what airport, counter agent, or TSA agent.)

Declare a firearm at the ticket counter.
Fill out the "unloaded" form and place in with the locked case, not inside the case, just with it.
Take your luggage to TSA screening or follow the escort.
Let TSA do their thing. Sometimes they wonder why you're standing around until they see the x-ray. They'll let you know you are free to go or want you to open the case.

Enjoy you flight.

While I am no world traveler I have flown with a firearm several times. Southwest, Delta, AA doesn't matter. Out of Lubbock is almost a snoozer, like everyone is checking a firearm. DFW and Love are about the same. Hobby was easy and IAH I had a minor hiccup early on (a discussion about the ammo being in the same case. It can be and I was right). Orlando isn't bad and Atlanta I had to walk with the escort to the screening area. I've flown out of a couple of other airports that I don't remember off the top of my head and I haven't had any issues. No problems just a little different protocol. I've never seen any tag or other identifier on my luggage.

Ain't no big deal.


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