Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
A change in flight plans didn't cause problems for my guns, but sure was a headache for my itinerary.
PHL --> MCO
2015-08-31


MCO --> DEN --> MSO
2015-09-03


Luggage & Gear
This was a trip with Pelican cases, Abloy locks, and my usual carry piece plus whatever else I wanted to toss in there to make the trip fully compliant.

 

Outbound Travel
I was checked in by Marie B from United, assisted by Michael Dunn. She wanted to see the case open, etc. It took them almost five minutes to get a firearm form for me to sign. As I was packing things up, Michael stated "you'll wanna remove those locks because they're not TSA locks." Uh, no. I sent the cases back locked, of course. After talking with another staff member about a small delay of the aircraft, I learned four minutes later that the bags had cleared. Because of the flight delay, however, United opted to reroute me on a direct flight via US Air. Andrei came by to help supervise and Michael Dunn proceeded to retag the bags. I was on my way about ten minutes later, no hassle and no fuss.

 

Homebound Travel
Checking in at Orlando, the kiosk informed me that I had to see a representative, presumably because either (a) the firearms were noted in my reservation or (b) the change to US Air on the outbound flight had caused a blip in my itinerary.

Deborah Gordon from United remarked "Holy cow" upon seeing my itinerary notes on her screen. "They showed your ticket as exchanged somehow," she stated, "I'm fixing it. Don't get me started." Yes, somehow United had dropped the rest of my route when Janette and Andrei in PHL adjusted my ticket. Deborah proceeded to over sell my flight so I could get home properly. As she was on the phone I heard Deborah remarked, "I need you to open flight 1740 from Denver, please... Thank you." She spent another three to four minutes talking to another staffer at the counters then was back on the phone again.

"All lines are currently busy," she mumbled to a co-worker, Michelle. Then Deborah wrote down the phone number 303-348-4133 and called there. It sounded like she was speaking to Denver operations. She was given a different number to call, 303-348-4159, the Planner office in Denver. She was again asking them to open the flight. She was really trying, we kept exchanging pleasantries.

A little later she said "OK alright, thank you very much" and hung up. All Denver flights were already overbooked by two passengers (the max allowed, allegedly). She kept trying. She checked routes through Seattle, of which there were none. Her associate (or supervisor?) Sandra Sawyer got involved almost ten minutes further into the process. They were laughing at my knowledge of Denver ops and their software, etc. (They were still running Shares for their United terminals)

Five minutes later I was being checked in as a standby booking. That didn't take long. The TSA screening took place at the usual "oversize/special" baggage area nearby. Bags ran through in less than two minutes. They still have their big-ass wooden pole with tape wrapped around the end like a giant Q-tip. Nothing needed to be opened and I was on my way.

My status gave me the ability to bump people around, apparently, because I made it home on this trip. :-D

 

Final Details & Thoughts
I am super glad to be a high-status flier. That's the only way to travel if you want to avoid headaches.

 

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