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Flying with Guns

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Click Here to read the TSA rules on flying with firearms.

This is the minimum you have to comply with*. Airlines are free to add and embellish with their own rules, opinions and variable enforcement. In general however, they are not far different from the TSA requirements.

If you fly internationally on a non-US carrier there are a lot more rules and regulations-- some airlines require you to pre-inform them as many as several weeks in advance that you are carrying firearms and reassure them you have all the proper permits. Some international airlines do not accept firearms at check-in unless you have already notified them. Some countries, airlines and airports have difficult, bizarre and/or costly transfer processes.

* LEOs and the like have a whole different set of rules. If they apply to you, you'll know. If not, do not accept the ticket agent's offer of letting you carry your guns on with you, no matter how tempting.

Here's a start at some FAQ's as well:

Q: What's the limit on ammo I can bring on a plane?

A: Outside the US, the IATA sets the rules at 5 kg, which equals roughly 11 lbs per passenger.

Inside the US, the airlines set the rules themselves. Most US airlines use the IATA amount.

Noted exceptions are Alaska Air and Horizon, which at last check allowed 50 lbs. At one time Continental allowed 11 lbs per firearm but not anymore. As always, check first.

In some (rare) cases, airlines can change or waive the limits if you ask in advance.

Note that the packaging requirements do not list plastic boxes as acceptable. Some airlines may allow them, some may not. Sometimes it depends who is reading the regulations that day. I pack ammo in well-taped factory boxes. Some South American airlines have been known to only allow ammunition packaged in metal boxes. As usual, check with the airline first.

-------------------

Q: Should I put a 'TSA lock' on my gun case? The kind they have a special key for and tell me to use on luggage?

A: No. Use a regular padlock that only you have the key or combination to. You can (and probably should) put a TSA lock on the outer luggage if you put your gun case inside some other luggage.

--------------------

Q: Do I put the 'Firearms Declaration' card the ticket agent gave me inside the gun case?

A: Technically the law says the card should go inside the case. In reality TSA now asks you to put it on the outside of the gun case if the case is inside other luggage. If they do open your luggage for inspection and don't see the card, they'll have to try and find you to open the case and show it to them. If they can't find you... they may pull your guns off the flight.

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Here's a list of previous flying-with-guns threads. Feel free to add additional questions/answers here.

(policies and procedures have changed over the years and what you read in older threads may not be correct anymore)

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=76697&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=72923&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=66173&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=54368&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=53215&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=53168&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=44912&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=38391&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=27033&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=31369&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=20850&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...topic=4366&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=14308&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...opic=10357&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...topic=4386&

http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?...topic=2685&

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Thanks. That's actually the only reason I spent the money on a pelican case. I don't see me flying my weapons out anywhere but I like knowing I can

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I am seeing that the new baggage policy for Delta, Us Airways and AA for oversized baggage imposes a $200 fee. Oversized baggage according to them is anything larger than 62" (L+W+H). I flew Delta in February with a clearly oversized Pelican case and was not charged an oversized baggage fee. I have heard from other people that the airlines are not hassling people as of yet traveling with oversized firearm cases.

Does anybody have experience lately flying with a large rifle case on any of these three airlines? I ask because I am flying to Dallas on Nov 14th, then to Montana on Nov 18th and then back home on Nov 24th. The policy reads $200 oversize baggage fee for each leg of the flight!!!

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Check and see if "sports equipment" (skis, golf bags, rifles, etc) is charged the oversize or not. A lot of the time it is not.

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I've had good luck traveling both domestically and internationally with firearms. I have not been dinged with fees...The only fees I've paid is for insurance...

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just checking in.

i am flying delta next week. i want to use my pelican style case: 53.5″ x 16″ x 7.5″

anyone try this case with delta? added fees?

thanks

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I fly with weapons all the time no big deal, just make sure they are unloaded, all ammo is in an ammo box, and the case is locked with a non tsa lock

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just checking in.

i am flying delta next week. i want to use my pelican style case: 53.5″ x 16″ x 7.5″

anyone try this case with delta? added fees?

thanks

Deltas going to charge you with a regular bag fee, first $25 second $35 and third is $100+

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I understand the checked bag schedule.

I wanna know if they consider a 53.5″ x 16″ x 7.5″ gun case oversized. Anyone tried that case on delta in the lasts 12 months?

Thx

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it's been a while since I've traveled with oversized bags when I was doing a lot of tuna fishing out of California but I'm pretty sure 54" is oversized .... golf bags are always oversized asnd that's about how tall they are ...

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I understand the checked bag schedule.

I wanna know if they consider a 53.5″ x 16″ x 7.5″ gun case oversized. Anyone tried that case on delta in the lasts 12 months?

Thx

The policy posted on their website says yes. Local enforcement varies.

Edited by peterthefish

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Help me out here gentlemen, I'm still on the fence wherever I should fly or drive to a match in US (from Canada). It's going to be a very long and boring drive, but I'll get to bring all my toys with me and the time spent travelling is NOT a constraint for me.

My problems with flying are:

1. Either very short (1 hour) connection or an overnight stay in Toronto, where I'll need to clear US customs & immigration. The former is probably not enough time the latter is an extra expenditure on the way.

2. One of the more reasonable flights includes a connection in San Francisco on my way back home -- I'm not sure if my gun is on the CA-approved list (although all my magazines are 10-rounds) and don't want any problems with the local LE. Is this going to be a problem?

When flying to matches within Canada, people sometimes mail their guns and ammo (thru separate carriers) to themselves, address of the hotel where they'll be staying and it's cheaper/less inconvenient than flying with the firearm/ammo.

So I have a (maybe naive) question -- do all inter-state firearms shipments have to be to/from FFL or can I mail the gun/ammo myself to myself? Myself to an FFL?

Any tips/suggestions?

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I've flown with firearms for several years now and I have found the following to be useful:

1. Dress nicely as to appear respectable.

2. Have guns field stripped to be obviously unloaded and incapable of harm. Not everyone working the counter knows their way around guns but can tell when something's in pieces it obviously can't function.

3. Have a spare combo lock just in case, and a different brand and/or color to tell them apart.

4. Put combos to locks in a notepad file in your phone AND someone else's if you're traveling with someone.

5. Count your mags and ammo both coming and going.

6. Clean your guns before flying each way, and wash your hands! (Powder residue...need I say more?)

Disassembling long guns to make them fit in shorter cases is very, very handy.

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I have a 28" hard-sided roller suitcase, and a Pelican case that fits inside. I have a cable and lock that threads through posts inside the larger suitcase so that it cannot be removed without making a scene.

Since TSA no longer inspects each declared firearm case, I'm finding the airline check-in agents to be totally untrained. Some try to past the orange tag to the outside (for the world to see), and I had one that wanted me to open the LOCKED container (while on the ticket counter scale) to show her it was unloaded.

Yeah, I'm going to wave my gun around in the airport.

Carry the TSA info with you for reference (to show the agents), but if anything is out of the ordinary, have the gate person get a TSA agent over to resolve the clown show.

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I have a 28" hard-sided roller suitcase, and a Pelican case that fits inside. I have a cable and lock that threads through posts inside the larger suitcase so that it cannot be removed without making a scene.

Since TSA no longer inspects each declared firearm case, I'm finding the airline check-in agents to be totally untrained. Some try to past the orange tag to the outside (for the world to see), and I had one that wanted me to open the LOCKED container (while on the ticket counter scale) to show her it was unloaded.

Yeah, I'm going to wave my gun around in the airport.

Carry the TSA info with you for reference (to show the agents), but if anything is out of the ordinary, have the gate person get a TSA agent over to resolve the clown show.

I fly to 3-gun matches about once a month. Having to open the case at the ticket counter is the norm.

Always impressive to the people in line behind you when you open a case like this....

904D9A8E-C148-43AA-80AB-FBFB6519E1F1_zps

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I have a 28" hard-sided roller suitcase, and a Pelican case that fits inside. I have a cable and lock that threads through posts inside the larger suitcase so that it cannot be removed without making a scene.

Since TSA no longer inspects each declared firearm case, I'm finding the airline check-in agents to be totally untrained. Some try to past the orange tag to the outside (for the world to see), and I had one that wanted me to open the LOCKED container (while on the ticket counter scale) to show her it was unloaded.

Yeah, I'm going to wave my gun around in the airport.

Carry the TSA info with you for reference (to show the agents), but if anything is out of the ordinary, have the gate person get a TSA agent over to resolve the clown show.

I fly to 3-gun matches about once a month. Having to open the case at the ticket counter is the norm.

Always impressive to the people in line behind you when you open a case like this....

904D9A8E-C148-43AA-80AB-FBFB6519E1F1_zps

Who did your foam? that is a great layout.

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Returned from South Africa last year with a couple of firearms. (2015) Upon re-entry to U.S. there were several plane loads of passengers (300-400) lined up to go through Customs. Found the nearest officer an declared I had firearms. He lead me around the group and I went through in less than 5 minutes. They looked at the Customs and Border Protection form (CBP Form-4457) and that was it.

Ranger6

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I am so hesitant from shooting matches outside of driving distance from where I live...seems like a real pain to fly...i would rather not get hassled

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Thank you for this resource I am just now getting into competitive shooting and have my first out of town match coming up!

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When you fly with guns have your act together; have your stuff locked, don't bring a loaded gun, don't bring more ammo than you are allowed, etc.

Many of the airline and TSA people are just fine; there are some that don't know the rules.

If you talk nice and use charm you'll almost always be fine; act like an arrogant tool and start waving their rules in their face and, rest assured, you'll be That Guy. Your goal is to get on the plane with your stuff; not "educate" the poor ignorant peasant who doesn't know every nuance of travelling with guns.

Some of the airports do it differently; doesn't make sense but that's the deal.

I've travelled probably 100-ish times with guns and ammo post 9/11 and never had a real problem.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, konkapot said:

When you fly with guns have your act together; have your stuff locked, don't bring a loaded gun, don't bring more ammo than you are allowed, etc.

Many of the airline and TSA people are just fine; there are some that don't know the rules.

If you talk nice and use charm you'll almost always be fine; act like an arrogant tool and start waving their rules in their face and, rest assured, you'll be That Guy. Your goal is to get on the plane with your stuff; not "educate" the poor ignorant peasant who doesn't know every nuance of travelling with guns.

I agree with this, but I should emphasize sometimes you have to stand fast and no compromise on important things. During the last trip I took the counter lady tried to do get me to do things that violated not only common sense, but federal law.

But I remained polite but stood fast and insisted that I wasn't going to do that. Eventually she brought me to the TSA and they agreed with me.

Edited by PPGMD

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Never ran into something that egregious but I agree 100% on something like breaking the law.

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Be wary of a TSA goon who doesn't know what they're doing - I've had them several times want to put my gun case on the conveyor belt (after everything was checked) without me putting my lock back on the case.

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has anyone flown using glock handgun cases (the one-piece case with the carry handle, with a lock preventing the handle/case being opened)?  they don't have specific holes for locks but an adjustable lock can certainly go over the handle.

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