Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
Taking a flight the following day netted me a grand.
PHL --> DEN --> MSO
2015-08-13


MSO --> DEN --> PHL
2015-08-25


Luggage & Gear
This was immediately post-DEFCON so I was pretty beat from all that travel, but I was glad to be getting back to family and -- mercifully -- very little luggage. One Pelican case was all I needed. Abloy PL330 padlocks with my small Walther PPS inside was it for me.

 

Outbound Travel
Check-in in Philadelphia was pretty easy for me. Robert Carls with United was nearby but ultimately someone named Kimberly filled out the declaration form with me. Their ticket machines were being iffy and their phones were ringing endlessly, but staff at the counters didn't seem to want to pick up, as it was busy in the terminal that afternoon. My luggage went back and I was told a few minutes later that things were all good. (This was nice, given that I had a laptop and some other items in my case which sometimes alert.)

Things went smoothly and my arrival in Montana was easy as pie.

 

Homebound Travel
The check-in counter staffer, Elle, seemed a bit new to the process. Still, she was super fast with all that, and I was off to the TSA screening area which is right by the check-in counters. A three-stripe TSO, Miller, was loading my case into the machine and asking all passengers who approached as to whether their bags were locked and if they were flying with guns. I like that... that this is a question which applies to everyone by default. ;-)

It turns out, my luggage alerted in the CTX machine. Interestingly, it was my clay poker chips (a long sleeve of them) that alarmed. I unlocked and opened the case for them and TSO Brewer did a swab test on things. He relocked it, all right in front of me, and I was off to passenger screening.

It turns out that the flight was highly oversold that day. The 50-seat aircraft was booked with 52 passengers. That's such an oversell that I couldn't have even force-bumped someone else off if I was a latecomer. As it turns out, I didn't need to fly very badly that day. I was happy to take a later flight and wound up getting quite a nice future flight voucher in the process. Suhas & Meaghan from United were terrific in terms of getting everyone sorted out. They couldn't hold on to my luggage since it was a firearm case, but I didn't mind going back to my place in town, sleeping another night in Montana, and checking in quickly tomorrow.

Suhas processed me easily and the TSO screener Darmon remembered me and my poker chips. STSO Holdkamp was there, supervising another screener (Pamela Cooper) who needed to open my case, check around my chips and my laptop. Three minutes after walking up to the TSA station, I was re-locked and done. My travels home went smoothly and I was back in Philly.

 

Final Details & Thoughts
Always hold out for the best deal possible if you get bumped from a flight. I got myself a $1,000 voucher on this one. ;-)

 

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