Account of Flying with Firearms

Five stars to Frontier and Trenton. Four stars to Atlanta. It was good, just no one told me their policy of special handling.


Luggage & Gear
Norm flew with a Pelican 1750 containing an M1 Garand and an AR-15. He used keyed-alike padlocks from the Home Depot. He also reportedly put his name, contact number, and information prominently on the top, bottom, and inside the case itself.


Outbound Travel
In Norm's own words... "Trenton is a small airport with only two stations at a single ticket counter and one TSA person at the X-Ray machine. I waved to the TSA gal as I was standing in line for the ticket counter and she gave me a thumbs up. I'd purchased ticket online along with declaring two checked bags. I told the ticket counter person that I had unloaded firearms and she handed me the usual orange tag to fill out & put inside the Pelican case. I carried the case the whole three feet to the X-Ray belt, the TSA gal asked me if they were unloaded and then asked me to help her get the case on the belt. That was it. No open & look, no swab for explosive residue, no hassle. It was the easiest check-in ever.

Nothing inflight regarding my firearms.

Landing in Atlanta, I waited at the carousel until all bags were out. Not my guns!! I asked a wandering airport security looking person if that was it. She asked if I had firearms in the bag and that it would go to the "specials" office. No prior indication that was the policy. Wandered in there and saw my case. The only person was blah blahing on the phone, all personal stuff. I patted my case and pointed to my chest. She gave me a wave and turned away. No baggage ticket check, no nothing to be sure the obvious gun case actually belonged to me. Still locked, no evidence of tampering."


Homebound Travel
In Norm's own words... "Coming back through Atlanta, all was per the rules. Airline people were knowledgeable, TSA people were businesslike and it went smoothly.

Destination back at Trenton is almost third world. Walk from the airplane ladder (no jetway) to the baggage"shed" and wait inside. When the bags arrive, a side wall opens up and the handlers toss the bags inside onto a sloped surface. Mine was with all others. No damages, fine shape. Grabbed it and went out to meet my ride."


Final Details & Thoughts
In Norm's own words... "I've used your URL as a reference on several different forums when people ask about flying with guns. All responded positively. Five stars to Frontier and Trenton. Four stars to Atlanta. It was good, just no one told me their policy of special handling."

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