Accounts of Flying with Firearms
How have specific airlines and airports treated people who have flown with firearms?

Deviant Ollam

Have you traveled by air with firearms? I would love to hear, in detail, how it went for you. If you'd like to tell me about it, please just send an email to deviant@deviating.net and i'm more than happy to publish your account here. All i ask is that you follow the format of the questionnaire below when summarizing the details.

 
Air Travel Accounts
The follow overviews give you a basic rundown of people's experience flying with firearms on different carriers via different airports. Air carriers should, in my opinion, take responsibility for errors that their employees make and that the TSA should work much harder to standardize airport operations and train their staff in the proper handling of firearm policies and procedures.
Click any of the passenger names below to read their full story...

 
Deviant Ollam
A bounce around California takes me through both LAX and SFO without any real difficulties. Each airport still uses stupid procedures, however.
PHL --> ORD --> LAX
2014-02-27


LAX --> SFO
2014-03-01

SFO --> PHL
2014-03-04
 
Deviant & Lady Merlin
To Denver and back... on the last flights we will EVER take with Delta.
PHL --> DTW --> DEN
2014-01-23


DEN --> ATL/MSP --> PHL
2014-01-27

 
Deviant & Lady Merlin
A trip down to visit family for the holidays went smoothly each way.
PHL --> ORD --> HSV
2013-12-17


HSV --> ORD --> PHL
2013-12-21

 
Diablo
Here's an email that I received from a friend, in his own words.
XXX --> LAS
2013-11-15


LAS --> XXX
2013-11-18

 
Deviant Ollam & friends
Into and Out of Chicago for Locktoberfest... with only Flare Guns to keep it legal.
PHL --> ORD
2013-10-11


ORD --> PHL
2013-10-13

 
Deviant Ollam
Down to DerbyCon in Kentucky with lots of training gear.
PHL --> ORD --> SDF
2013-09-24


SDF --> CLE --> PHL
2013-09-30
 
Paul
A decent, simple experience
LAS --> MSY
2013-09-13


 
Bubblewhip
A long, detailed account from someone's first time
2013-08-12
 
Deviant Ollam
Plenty of guns going out to Black Hat and DEFCON, without any real troubles.
PHL --> LAS
2013-07-28


LAS --> PHL
2013-08-06
 
Roy
First time checking a firearm and it couldn't have gone smoother.
CHO --> ATL --> TUL
2013-07-02


TUL --> ATL --> CHO
2013-07-15
 
Russ
This fellow's first time flying with a firearm went swimmingly.
COS --> DEN --> TUL
2013-07-15


TUL --> DEN --> COS
2013-07-20

 
Deviant Ollam
Problems with one of my Abloy locks in Dayton caused a change of flight plans.
PHL --> CLE --> DAY
2013-07-12


DAY --> IAD --> PHL
2013-07-14

 
Deviant Ollam
Into and out of SFO, with the customary silliness. The crash of Asiana 214 sure made SFO different when I flew home.
PHL --> SFO
2013-07-03


SFO --> OMA --> PHL
2013-07-05

 
Chuck
No alerts on the swab test, despite luggage that once carried TNT and RDX.
DET --> ANC
2013-06-15


ANC --> DET
2013-06-26

 
Jesse from Pennsylvania
A great write-up of a traveler who had a fantastic trip and learned a lot.
PHL --> IAH --> LAS
2013-06-12


LAS --> IAH --> PHL
2013-06-19

 
Deviant Ollam
An error by a United staff member leads to PHL Airport Police stopping by, then an errror by the TSA in HNL leads to destruction of Abloy padlocks!
PHL --> IAD --> HNL
2013-06-23


HNL --> SFO --> PHL
2013-07-03
 
JBT
"I'd give Alaska 5 stars if possible on my homebound journey"
SEA --> LAS
2013-06-13


LAS --> SEA
2013-06-17
 
SJ
"I found your site useful when planning my recent trip so I thought I’d give a report to add to the database. Keep up the good work spreading the word."
DFW -> PHX -> RNO
2013/06/12


RNO -> PHX -> DFW
2013/06/15
 
JKP
For his first time flying with firearms, this trip went well
PIT --> PHX
2012-09-30


PHX --> PIT
2012-10-06
 
Deviant Ollam
To Florida... the land of the best Carry Permit in the country!
PHL --> CLT --> MCO
2013-03-07


MCO --> PHL
2013-03-12
 
Deviant Ollam
A quick bounce into and out of California with no trouble this time
PHL --> IAH --> SFO
2013-03-01


SFO --> PHL
2013-03-04
 
Arkay
Delta was excellent, but pack well and beware in Cleveland
PDX --> MSP --> CLE
2012-12-20


CLE --> MSP --> PDX
2012-12-28
 
Deviant Ollam
Getting to go behind the scenes in Alabama in order to lock and unlock the luggage myself
PHL --> ORD --> HSV
2012-12-07


HSV --> IAD --> PHL
2012-12-10
 
Deviant Ollam
A simple and short trip, with the fastest check-in i've ever had... firearms or not
PHL --> EWR --> PWM
2012-11-30


PWM --> EWR --> PHL
2012-12-02

 
Dave
A first-time flyer, at least with a firearm.
DTW --> FLL
2012-11-25


FLL --> DTW
2012-11-27
 

Older Entries

 

 
Air Travel Ratings
If you don't have the time or the desire to read the full text of someone's account of air travel, you can simply refer to the rating shown at the conclusion of each portion of that person's journey. The following criteria are used in assigning these ratings...


Four Stars
  

check-in - no hassle, no delay
screening - in full view, lock and unlock yourself
luggage - all on time and intact


Three Stars
  
check-in - some delay or mild hassle
screening - somewhat obscured, locking and unlocking yourself or it's done directly in front of you
luggage - all on time and intact

Two Stars
  
check-in - major delay or major hassle
screening - in a room or area that you could not enter and could barely observe
luggage - luggage opened non-destructively

One Star
  
check-in - flight missed or passenger delayed from flying, properly packed items denied as luggage
screening - luggage unlocked and opened totally in another area fully removed from you
luggage - destructive entry into luggage and/or tampering with firearms

Zero Stars
  
This is a special category for outright theft, loss, or damage of firearms during air travel
half-star results are possible... naturally, they involve partial or mitigated problems that somehow fall in-between the above categories

 

Firearm Air Travel Questionnaire
 

Have you traveled by air with firearms? We would love to hear, in detail, how it went for you. If you'd like to tell us about it, please just send an email to deviant@deviating.net and we're more than happy to publish your account here. All we ask is that you follow the format of this questionnaire when summarizing the details for us.

* PGP key on major keyservers if you wish to secure your traffic

Background Details

1. Your Name - We can accept nicknames, initials, or just your first name if you'd like to remain a bit private.

2. Your Itinerary - This is your booked route and planned travel dates when you arrived at the airport, whether a simple round-trip or some other combination of stops. Mention of delays or re-routings can be done later when discussing specific legs of your journey. Airport codes are more helpful than city names (and are more respectful of your privacy... we only care about air travel, not where you spent the 4th of July or which family you visited for Thanksgiving.) Please feel free to specify any scheduled layovers, despite the fact that these typically do not affect firearm-related travel.

3. Your Airline(s) - On which carrier(s) was your flight booked? Please feel free to mention any reasons why you chose these airlines, as well as any partnering or "dual-carrier" flights that happened (that is so common these days, we understand it's difficult to keep track)

4. Luggage and Locks - What brand (or what style) of luggage did you use when flying with firearms? How were they packed? In what manner were they secured? (We are especially interested in what brand or style of locks you used.)

Outbound Departure Experience

5. Airline Check-In Staff - From the time you stepped from your airport transportation (car, cab, shuttle, train, etc) to the moment you received your boarding pass, how were you treated? How did the airline staff (both ticketing agents as well as any additional people like baggage staffers) react when you declared your firearms? Did they seem accustomed to this? Did they follow all the rules? Of particular interest to us...

i. Locked Bags - Did the check-in staff make any criticisms of your desire to lock your checked bag(s)? Did they inform you that you had done anything incorrectly? Did you have to escalate the matter to a supervisor, etc?

ii. Firearms Indication - Did the check-in staff attempt to mark your luggage in any way due to the presence of firearms? That would include... affixing the "declaration" tag to the outside, writing on the printed luggage tag, the computer marking the printed tag with special characters (a row of "F" characters has been reported in the past), or (we realize this is hard to discern without asking outright... something we encourage) any special indicator on your passenger record in their booking system.

6. Secondary Screening Area - Was there a secondary area for your checked bags? How far was it / what was the experience of getting your bags there? Our key interest... Were you able to observe your luggage during screening (was it right in front of you on a table, behind a rope or low partition designed to keep people back, or behind a wall/in another room such that you could not observe your bag at all during screening)?

7. Departure TSA Screeners - How available were TSA screeners when you arrived (did you have to wait)? Was the TSA familiar with proper policy and law concerning air travel with firearms or did they give you any attitude or cause difficulty? To the best of your knowledge, what techniques were used in screening your bag (x-ray, explosive residue test, etc.) Our key interest... Did the bag screeners have to open your luggage for any reason and, if so, were you (not the screeners), the one who performed the unlocking and subsequent re-locking?

The Flight(s) Out

8. Flight Experience - Strictly from a firearms perspective, did anything of note happen from the time that you left your bags at the departing airport until you claimed them again at your ultimate destination? (We are not asking about your experience at passenger screening, changes to seat assignments, or how bad the in-flight movie was... but if something happened requiring you to speak to the gate agent about your luggage or if an announcement was made paging you back to speak with the TSA again, we'd surely be interested.)

Destination Arrival Experience

9. Baggage Arrival and Condition - This is fairly straightforward... Did your luggage arrive on-time? Was it in good condition (we aren't asking about normal wear and tear... we want to know if it was tampered with in any way)? Our key interest... Were your firearm-bearing items still locked and were there any signs that someone had opened or accessed them in any way?

Homebound Departure Experience

10. Airline Check-In Staff - Same as above... did the airline staff seem to know the rules and treat you with respect or did they show confusion, have a bad attitude, or present difficulty? Again, our primary interest is...

i. Locked Bags - Were you able to lock your bags properly without difficulty?

ii. Firearms Indication - Did anyone attempt to mark any of your bags marked on the outside in any way?

11. Secondary Screening Area - Please describe the secondary screening area, if it was part of your process, specifically mentioning how well you could observe your bag(s) any time they were being opened.

12. Departure TSA Screeners - Did screeners at this airport have to open any of your luggage for any reason and, if so, were you the one who performed any unlocking and subsequent re-locking?

The Return Flight(s)

13. Flight Experience - Anything worth reporting from a firearms perspective, say it here. Again, we're not asking about the dismal portions and exorbitant price of your in-flight "meal" or the cleanliness of the airplane's lavatories.

Return Arrival Experience

14. Baggage Arrival and Condition - Did your luggage arrive on-time? Were your firearm-bearing items still locked and were there any signs that someone had opened or accessed them in any way?

Final Details

15. Post-Flight Matters - If your story as recounted to us involved damage to luggage, cut locks, loss or theft, or incompetence/rudeness so extreme as to necessitate contacting superiors or customer service departments (and you have our sympathies if that was the case) please feel free to let us know how any follow-up was/is being handled. Did anyone admit that they (or their staff) were in the wrong? Were you compensated? Have you received any satisfaction after a wrongdoing? You can include this now or follow-up with us later and we'd be happy to update your entry in our list of air travel accounts.

One Last Note... Contact Preferences - As a matter of policy, we do not publish your email address anywhere on this web page. However, we will on occasion receive email from 3rd parties asking if they can follow-up with a particular traveler who has published an account here. We will never divulge or give out your email, even in such instances, but we will sometimes pass along that 3rd party's inquiry and contact details to you privately. If you already get enough email and do not wish us to do so, please let us know so we don't bother you.