Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
Even during SFO's slow period, prepare yourself for a bit of a delay
SFO --> DEN --> MSO

Luggage & Gear
I had a pair of Pelican cases on this trip -- a 1620 and a smaller 1510 -- both with pistols and both with Abloy locks. My standard compromise on weight, cost, etc, these days is to apply a PL330 on one hasp and a PL321 on another for each case.


Outbound Travel
Technically I don't have "outbound" travel notes for this trip to the Bay Area, since this is a write-up of my travel back home to Montana.


Homebound Travel
J Landry Stewart was assisting me at the United counter in SFO and he was super fast. Even while asking me odd questions about airports, being confused over what was my destination versus my connection, and having to replace the printer stock for the bag tag machine, he still got me out of there in about three minutes. An airport assistant rolled my cases through the check-in halll...

... and down to the bag claim level, where the QuickPak freight office is located...

... even though I already know the way by heart. =) Nine minutes after I had left J Stewart at the check-in counter, the TSA finally showed up to screen my luggage. I asked him if things were busy right now with the screening (since I was curious what took him so long) and he didn't catch my meaning. "No, we're not busy yet," he replied. "Things really pick up after 13:00."

Two minutes later we were done. The TSO only did a swab test, no opening or unlocking necessary.


Final Details & Thoughts
All told, even though SFO takes a little longer in terms of getting to the screening area, I like that you can observe what's happening and that they seldom open gun cases. Just be prepared for that extra walk and the time it takes to wait for the TSA to show up. I've had delays of 15 minutes or more sometimes.

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