Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
Always be prepared to encounter people who don't know proper policies and help them to hit upon the proper information.

COS --> ORD --> PHL

Luggage & Gear
This trip to meet with clients in Colorado was one where I had loads of demo gear, but much of it was being shipped to the destination. So, thankfully, all I had to tote around was my one suitcase with clothes, my laptop, and so forth... and of course my H&K USP Compact was in there at the time. Abloy PL330s on both hasps had me all set.


Outbound Travel
Check-in was super fast at MSO. They wanted to check me in at the counter (there was a trainee learning) but I had already completed things at the kiosk faster than they could ask me to step aside. ;-) They didn't check my ID at all and instead asked if I was with the Secret Service. All in all, I was over at Passenger Screening in under 5 minutes... the TSA didn't even need to open my case.


Homebound Travel
The airport staff in Colorado Springs seemed a little unsure of things but overall it went well. Lisa Mertz from 3rd party airline SkyWest was checking me in, and when she was almost done (about five minutes after I had approached the counter) she placed a phone call and stated, "hey it's Lisa at United. I have firearms," supposedly to alert the TSA of the need for a screener at the bag checking area outside of the back room. I noticed that at this airport, there were very clear size indicators as to what constitutes an "oversize" bag... probably due to the popularity of skiiing out this way. luggage was not oversized, however. Anyone with a Pelican case can easily determine how an airline will classify their luggage. Right by the front windows there was a small screening area. There was no sign of a CTX machine, however. So they just open the cases and do a swab test.

Within minutes, TSO Gonzales arrived in order to process the bags of both me and a retired Baltimore Police officer. We talk about going through LGA with firearms, and other odds and ends about gun travels. TSO Gonzalez spent two or three minutes tearing that police officer's bag all apart, she turned to mine. Then began talk of what constituted a "hard-sided case" and if my Pelican case qualified. I explained (clearly, I thought) that the Pelican case itself WAS a hard-sided container. She continued to be confused, but then three minutes later LTSO Robert Tuck arrived and instantly said the case was fine. They only swabbed the outside, no opening was needed.

I was on my way moments later.


Final Details & Thoughts
Always be prepared to encounter people who don't know proper policies and help them to hit upon the proper information.


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