Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
Will folk accept a bare AR receiver as a "firearm" to be declared? Thus far, it's worked.
PHL --> ORD --> MSP
2015-05-11


MSP --> DEN --> MSO
2015-05-15


Luggage & Gear
On this trip, I had long Pelican cases with gear for an Elevator Hacking presentation with Howard Payne, and other Peli gear for my personal effects. All had Abloy Protec PL330 and PL321 padlocks... but I also had a couple TSA compliant locks, just in case someone gave me static about one of the "firearms" i was declaring. In addition to my H&K USPc and my 1911, I had intentionally tossed a bare, stripped AR-15 receiver into one case. Legally, it is a firearm, but I wanted to test the system and see what people would think. :-)

 

Outbound Travel
Hugh McGlynn at United's PHL desk checked me in, along with help from Mike, a Prime Flight 3rd party airport contractor. There was a brief question about the receiver, but nothing significant. No static or hassle.

Five minutes after the cases went back, Tyrone from Prime Flight came out saying I was all good. Nothing needed to be opened. All gear arrived easily in Minnesota.

 

Homebound Travel
The check-in process at MSP was a total zoo. With on one policing the lines, regular fliers were tying up the Premiere kiosks. Erica Rork, the agent handling the Premier check in desk for United, was totally overwhelmed and tied up badly with some hapless passenger who was having issues. I finally made it up front to her and went through a few rounds of nonsense trying to get tags affixed to my cases. About 4 minutes later, I was sent back to a TSA screening room behind the Delta Oversize counters. Behind what looked like a secure doorway, I was invited to send my cases through a CTX machine. They cleared (a miracle) and required no opening) and I was on my way to a 6AM flight. Ugh.

 

Final Details & Thoughts
I'm going to keep trying the bare receiver, both because it's a lot smaller and lighter (not to mention cheaper) and also because it might provide a good story one day. Just not today. ;-)

 

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