Account of Flying with Firearms

Keith
"I hate inconsistency" was his main point
CLT --> MDT
2015-05-12


MDT --> CLT
2015-05-14


Here is Keith's account, in his own words...

 

Luggage & Gear
Pelican 1610 and Abloy locks.

 

Outbound Travel
My baggage tag had already printed out, and the lady behind the counter(I didn’t get her name) assumed I was just checking my bag. I told her I needed to declare a firearm. She was going to let a trainee handle it, but the trainee got the willies and said let me do this other person and you do the firearm. She filled out the little orange card and asked me to sign it. During this time, another guy comes up who had checked in at the curb, and the skycap tell the agent that this guy has a firearm to declare. I’m thinking here in North Carolina, this must be just a regular thing. While I was signing it, she asked was it unloaded. After this, she asked me to open the case. At first I thought she was just going to place the card in the case, but then she asks me where are the guns. I reached down and touched my pistol rug and Glock case and said here and here. She picked up the pistol rug, unzipped it and looked at my Ruger LCP and then said this has to be in a hard case. I said the whole thing (pointing to the Pelican is a hard case) she said “oh, okay.” She then re-zipped the pistol rug and placed it back in the Pelican along with the declaration card. I then locked everything back up. She took the case and placed it on the conveyor. I asked was that it, and she said yes. I was a little nervous that I might get called by TSA over the intercom and that I wouldn’t hear it. I made it to my destination, and saw my bag was one of the first ones to come out. Both locks were intact, and all was well with the firearms.

Homebound Travel
I checked in (declaring my firearm and all) and the ticket agent instructed me to take my bag to the oversize area. It's not really oversize and no bigger than any other large suitcase. Anyway, I placed it in the oversize belt and away it went. I asked was that all and he said yes. So I proceeded to the security checkpoint. I was a little leery to leave the area, and for good reason. It was early and even though there were only a few people at the airport, only one lane was open for security screening. No sooner had I shown my boarding pass and ID to the TSA agent do I hear my name being called over the intercom. I was still in the line to go through the X-ray machine and the TSA agent that checks your ID told the agent asking for me over his radio "he is here.” After about a minute of them going back and forth over the radio they decided I should go through security and go the TSA booth to speak to officer Knaub on the phone. Once I got to the booth, they called him and he asked if I had other things in the case. I said yes. He then asked was my pistol inside another case. I told him I had a pistol inside a hard and a soft case. He said he would need the key to check it. I really didn't want a hassle so I said ok. While waiting the agent at the booth explained to me that since I had other things in the bag they would have to search the rest of the bag.

About 20 minutes later he comes back and tells me that I had an exposed primer and they had to remove the rounds from the magazine and place it in the box. He also said he couldn’t do it, and had to have an employee from the airline to do it. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized they only unloaded the rounds for my Ruger LCP, but did not touch the two Glock magazines. When I landed at the airport, it took about 25 minutes for my luggage to make it to the baggage claim area. While waiting I noticed a sign that said all gun cases should be picked up at the baggage claim office. I was quite sure that was only if they realized it was a firearm case. My picture of my pelican case in front of the sign on the baggage claim system confirms that.

 

 

Final Details & Thoughts
My thoughts after the whole process:

 

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