Flying to Colorado

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mloamiller
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Flying to Colorado

#1

Post by mloamiller » Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:34 am

I'm flying to Colorado via American in a few weeks and was looking for tips/advice.

I've read through the rules for transporting a pistol via American Airlines - must be in a locked case, separate from ammunition, etc. How cumbersome/time-consuming is this whole process? You check in your bag, declare you have a firearm, then what? Does this typically add a lot of time (i.e. hours) to the check-in process, do you have to unpack your bag at the counter, etc., or is it relatively painless? Does you have to have a lock on your luggage, or just the container the pistol is in?

As far as carrying in CO, I understand there are very few places that are off-limits by statue, and the "gun buster" signs don't have any legal penalty (like the 30.06/0.07 signs in Texas).
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Re: Flying to Colorado

#2

Post by jmorris » Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:47 am

In my travels I've found every airport is different. In San Antonio after checking the bag you must accompany a porter to a TSA checkpoint. In Indianapolis it's sent on through to a checkpoint in the back. One, don't remember where, has a TSA checkpoint right in the lobby where you check it in. Be flexible. They will open the bag and swab the container so try to pack so it's convinced for them and they don't have to take anything out. I found a bag with a flap on both sides so once those were zipped closed the box sat there by itself.
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Re: Flying to Colorado

#3

Post by OneGun » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:02 am

In Denver, my TSA experience was the longest when checking in for our return flight. There is a dedicated TSA screening location for firearms and we were flying when several collegiate rifle teams were leaving after a competition. Added 90 minutes to our checkin.

Other than the wait, no problem. Check handgunlaw.us for local rules, etc. Also, because CO legalized pot, it is not legal here. Do not enter a dispensary even to look around. Your ID is scanned and you will appear in databases. I heard of one person who lost their permit because the were presumed to be a drug user in their state because they looked in CO.
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Re: Flying to Colorado

#4

Post by ELB » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:48 am

The pistol box and the luggage it is in should both me locked. Put TSA locks on the luggage.

Although the law reads that you should be the only one with the key or combo to the pistol box, TSA has said (including in an email to me) that I can put TSA locks on the pistol case. I always put my own lock on, they can come and get me if they need to be inside.

As others noted, different airports do things different ways, although TSA will claim the procedure is the same across the nation.

At the start of the flight, you will have to sign a card stating that you know the law says the gun has to be unloaded and that the gun is in fact unloaded. The only purpose I see of this card is so they can hang you in court later if you forget and leave a bullet in the gun. Again depending on the airport and airline, the agent will have you tape the card the outside of the pistol box, or sometimes put it inside the pistol box. For this reason you will have to open your luggage at the agent's station. Some agents used to require I demonstrate that the gun is empty, but they seem to have gotten away from that in the last few years, they just take your word (by signing the card).

Then the TSA folderol begins. In San Antonio and Austin I've found it's pretty simple: the agent takes the bag to a nearby TSA examination point, or they put it on a cart to be taken later and tell me to listen to the PA system for my name if the TSA wants me to come open the box. When this happens it is to run a swab through the box to test for explosive residue (which apparently is differentiated from the regular ol' gunpowder). They don't mess with the gun. Usually tho the TSA just runs it through an xray machine, gives me a thumbs up, and off we go.

When I flew back from Denver, the airline I was with had a special check-in line for people who had for special luggage, like skis, exceptionally large luggage, … and firearms. It was much shorter than the regular line, and I though GREAT! much faster. But no. Once I signed the gun-is-not-loaded card, I couldn't touch my luggage anymore but I had to follow it all the way across the entire airport as it was trolleyed by an agent to the TSA examination room. The bag and key (but not me) went in for awhile, eventually it came back out, and then I had to follow the agent and my bag all the way back to where we started originally to put the bag on the conveyer belt to go to the plane. Then I could go to the gate.

So all this is a long way of saying allow extra time upfront. I have flown with my handgun quite a bit, and usually it is not too onerous, but once in awhile it take extra time and Denver was one of those places I had to wait around a lot.

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Re: Flying to Colorado

#5

Post by Caliber » Thu Jan 02, 2020 4:48 pm

Took American Airlines from DFW Airport to Florida and back. American Airlines does NOT require ammo in a separate case. But, ammo can't be loaded into mags and the ammo should be stored in the original box or in a box that doesn't allow the ammo to move around loosely. I had one hard Pelican case (with non-TSA keyed locks) inside one suitcase (that had TSA locks). The Pelican case was secured to the suitcase frame with a bicycle security cable. At DFW Airport, the AA rep just asked me to open suitcase and Pelican case so that they can just look at it. That was it, no other person, including a TSA rep, looked at it. You then sign a voucher that states the gun is unloaded and the voucher is taped onto the Pelican case. The entire process took maybe two minutes.

At the airport in Florida, the AA person didn't even inspect anything. They just asked me if the gun was unloaded and then handed me the voucher. Total time was one minute.

Tip: Let them know that you know what you're doing by doing this: Walk up to the counter and say, "I would like to declare a firearm. It's unloaded, packed in a hard case, and is ready for inspection."

From American Airline's website:
Within the U.S., you can only travel with firearms and ammunition, including pellet and BB guns, in your checked bags if you’re over 18 years old. You must check them with an agent at check-in and declare that you’re traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Firearms must be:
Unloaded
In a locked hard-sided container where the firearm is totally inaccessible
Rifle cases require locks on each end

Ammunition must be:
In the original packaging from the manufacturer or in packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition (made of fiber, wood or metal), with a maximum of 11 pounds (5 kgs) per container or customer. Ammunition is not accepted loose or in magazines or clips.


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Re: Flying to Colorado

#6

Post by jb2012 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:06 pm

I flew from Orlando to Houston with a pistol once. Locked, unloaded, in a pelican case, and the lady checking me in had a minor freakout. Her eyes got huge when I told her I had a firearm with me, then proceeded to back away from the desk and get someone else to check me in... after that it really wasn’t a big deal, just another uninformed person working there.

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Re: Flying to Colorado

#7

Post by mloamiller » Fri Feb 07, 2020 9:45 am

Just got back from Denver yesterday. Overall, the experience traveling with a pistol was uneventful, and basically as described earlier (see below). However, there was one unusual event. I was on a business trip, traveling with a colleague. The tickets were booked by our company travel agent, and they put both of us on the same reservation/record locator. When my colleague tried to check-in electronically for the return trip, he wasn't able to. He received a message indicating that since his traveling companion (me) had a firearm in their luggage, he had to check in at the ticket counter. He didn't have to check his bag, and he didn't have to wait for my bag to be x-rayed, but he did have to check-in at the airport, not electronically.

My experience:

* In DFW, the ticket agent asked me to open the suitcase and the lockbox, and even looked to confirm there wasn't a magazine in the pistol (she didn't check the chamber, however), then asked me to sign the "unloaded" card. She also asked that I open the box of ammo, I guess to confirm the ammo was actually in the plastic tray, not just loose in the box. At that point, I was done; she took the back just like any other checked bag. Having a pistol didn't extend this process at all.

* In DEN, the ticket agent had me sign the "Unloaded" card, then took my bag (with me following) to another station to have it x-rayed. To ELB's note, it was pretty close, not across the airport, but that probably depends on which airline you're using. I waited about 10 minutes for that, then they took my bag; I wasn't allowed to touch it, but I did not have to go back to the ticket agent. This process did add about 10 minutes to the normal bag check-in process. The airport wasn't crowded at the time; if it had been, it could have been much longer. One guy I talked to, waiting in the same x-ray line, said most airports are like that; DFW is the exception.
While it didn't take long, it puzzles me what the point was - I had just told them there was a pistol in my bag; did they x-ray it to see if I was lying? If I had something more dangerous than a gun, say a bomb, why would I tell them there was a gun it? Just doesn't make any sense.

When arriving in both DFW and DEN, I had to wait for my bag at the Over-sized Bag counter so they could check my ID; I couldn't just get it off the carousel. This also added a few minutes, since OSBs are usually the last to come off the plane.
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Re: Flying to Colorado

#8

Post by GeekwithaGun » Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:58 am

one of the last times I flew out of Detroit back to DFW, I had packed a 100 rd plastic ammo box in the same locked case as my pistol. They saw a black spot on the xray and needed to open and confirm all was ok. I am now leaving the ammo box out of the locked case to avoid this. I never had any trouble EXCEPT in Detroit.

In Denver I had the same experience, was a long walk and wait from ticket counter to TSA and back, but no issues.

I'll continue to fly with my pistol in luggage where I can, thankfully I don't have any business need to go to CA or NY or any other anti state.
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Re: Flying to Colorado

#9

Post by RoyGBiv » Sat Feb 08, 2020 5:58 am

Departing DFW is usually only 5 minutes extra VS checking a bag with no gun.
Make sure your ammo is not in a magazine. Use a plastic ammo case or the original box.

Departing DEN can take much longer, as described above.

The annoyance of having to keep an eye on the baggage carousel and the baggage office is also problematic. Roughly half of the time the bag comes out on the carousel with the big red tag telling everyone in the know that there's a firearm inside.
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Re: Flying to Colorado

#10

Post by Texas_Blaze » Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:09 am

mloamiller wrote:
Fri Feb 07, 2020 9:45 am
Just got back from Denver yesterday. Overall, the experience traveling with a pistol was uneventful, and basically as described earlier (see below). However, there was one unusual event. I was on a business trip, traveling with a colleague. The tickets were booked by our company travel agent, and they put both of us on the same reservation/record locator. When my colleague tried to check-in electronically for the return trip, he wasn't able to. He received a message indicating that since his traveling companion (me) had a firearm in their luggage, he had to check in at the ticket counter. He didn't have to check his bag, and he didn't have to wait for my bag to be x-rayed, but he did have to check-in at the airport, not electronically.

My experience:

* In DFW, the ticket agent asked me to open the suitcase and the lockbox, and even looked to confirm there wasn't a magazine in the pistol (she didn't check the chamber, however), then asked me to sign the "unloaded" card. She also asked that I open the box of ammo, I guess to confirm the ammo was actually in the plastic tray, not just loose in the box. At that point, I was done; she took the back just like any other checked bag. Having a pistol didn't extend this process at all.

* In DEN, the ticket agent had me sign the "Unloaded" card, then took my bag (with me following) to another station to have it x-rayed. To ELB's note, it was pretty close, not across the airport, but that probably depends on which airline you're using. I waited about 10 minutes for that, then they took my bag; I wasn't allowed to touch it, but I did not have to go back to the ticket agent. This process did add about 10 minutes to the normal bag check-in process. The airport wasn't crowded at the time; if it had been, it could have been much longer. One guy I talked to, waiting in the same x-ray line, said most airports are like that; DFW is the exception.
While it didn't take long, it puzzles me what the point was - I had just told them there was a pistol in my bag; did they x-ray it to see if I was lying? If I had something more dangerous than a gun, say a bomb, why would I tell them there was a gun it? Just doesn't make any sense.

When arriving in both DFW and DEN, I had to wait for my bag at the Over-sized Bag counter so they could check my ID; I couldn't just get it off the carousel. This also added a few minutes, since OSBs are usually the last to come off the plane.
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Re: Flying to Colorado

#11

Post by mloamiller » Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:19 am

Texas_Blaze wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:09 am
Yer a lucky fella to work for a company that allows you to possess a firearm on company business.
I wouldn't say they "allowed" me to. My company doesn't allow firearms in our offices (30.0x posted, employee manual) and they are prohibited at "company sponsored events." If I had asked permission, I'm pretty sure I have been told no. However, my travel is my business, not theirs, so I saw no need to ask.
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Re: Flying to Colorado

#12

Post by mloamiller » Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:23 am

RoyGBiv wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 5:58 am
The annoyance of having to keep an eye on the baggage carousel and the baggage office is also problematic. Roughly half of the time the bag comes out on the carousel with the big red tag telling everyone in the know that there's a firearm inside.
Maybe it varies by airport or who's unloading the plane, but in both cases, my bag did not come out on the carousel. I had to check with the baggage agent to get it. The red tag just says "Pickup at OSB" or something like that; it didn't reference a firearm. I suppose some people might figure it out, seeing a normal-sized bag with an "oversized" tag on it.
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Re: Flying to Colorado

#13

Post by LabRat » Sat Feb 08, 2020 10:11 am

At DFW this morning for flight. Easy check-in with firearm. No delays, no weird employees. Didnt take any extra time. Nice!
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