Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
San Francisco never quite seems to have their shit together.
MSO --> SLC --> LAX
2016-05-27


LAX --> SJC
2016-05-30


SFO --> SLC --> MSO
2016-06-06


Luggage & Gear
On this series of chained trips I presented at LayerOne and then ran at training at Triple Aught Design in the Bay Area. A couple Pelican 1620s were with me the whole way.

 

First Leg
This was the first time someone from Delta explained to me what "CAGPT" means... Check and Give Protection To. At this time, it was still only being printed in very small letters on luggage tags. All my checked luggage cleared quickly but something of mine alerted at passenger screening. A woman there also was being checked and it was discovered she accidentally had a knife in her bag. I gave her one of my pre-stamped envelopes so she could mail it home. It's nice to be neighborly. :-)

Second Leg
Five minutes after first setting foot in line at LAX and Dennis Myajima had my bags all sent back. He didn't want me to wait to learn if things had cleared. I pushed back hard. He said there was no way of knowing. I waited ten minutes then came back up to his counter and asked again. Again he said he had no way of knowing and no way of calling the TSA. I wasn't about to leave, though. I insisted they call a Red Coat supervisor. He called on his radio and Arena Nicole the supervisor showed up. She asked him why the heck he didn't have me go to oversize for luggage screening. Next time I'll be sure to do that! After a moment she was walking away with my PNR in her notes. Six minutes later I saw her coming back toward me through the check-in hall with a look on her face that told me I was right to stay. Sure enough, she said the TSA needed my key.

She and I walked down past the oversize area to door 2203A. She took my key (she offered to meet me afterward at the lounge, so nice) and I stayed at Passenger Assistance waiting area #1. About 12 minutes later Arena came back out with my key. She informed me that STSO Adam Chang did the luggage screening. I was on my way.

 

Third Leg
Ashley from Delta already knew that I was flying with firearms, apparently having seen it on her screen when she pulled up my PNR. She called Prime Flight, saying they had to "take" the bag down for me. I was used to walking down to the Cargo screening office in SFO when I flew in and out frequently on United. She said that someone had to come with me. Raoul from Prime was going to meet me. About 5 minutes later a fellow whom I've seen many times before arrived. He and I walked very far away, past the Southwest Air counters... and found a closed door and an unattended screening room.

We waited for a full five minutes, with me encouraging Raoul repeatedly to find out what was going on. He wandered off to find Ashley and ask why she hadn't called down to the TSA yet. Ten minutes later he was back... and now placing calls to the TSA on his own phone. Still no one was coming to the door. Raoul asked a passing TSA employee if they had the number for downstairs. They did not. In the end, Raoul asked if just wanted to accompany him downstairs. "YES!" I exclaimed, exasperatedly, given that this is what we should have goddamn done in the first place (and it's what I've done every other time I've flown out of SFO)

We were down at the usual cargo door where I've been plenty of times before. Raoul operated it they keyswitch to open it. He started asking where anyone from the TSA was. A woman asked where he got the key to operate the door. "I got it from Delta," he said. At this point, it was now nearly a half hour after I had checked in. It turns out, due to construction the airport wasn't using this screening station. After even more conversations with folk, we got back into the elevator which conveyed us down here and went back upstairs. He started working more of his call sheet, trying more phone numbers.

Finally we arrived back at the same door where no one would answer earlier and someone from CAS was present. They asked for my luggage key right away, opened the Pelican case, and took my firearms out. They were handling the guns, moving things around, and generally being idiots.

Finally, 36 minutes after having checked-in at the counter, my case was all locked and I was set to leave. What a nonsensical ordeal.

 

Final Details & Thoughts
San Francisco never quite seems to have their shit together. It's always a fucking ordeal with them, it seems.

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
  

wheels up - luggage screened directly in front of you; you were certain the firearms cleared
wheels down - luggage arrived promptly and undisturbed


Three Stars
  
wheels up - luggage screened relatively near you you; you were fairly sure the firearms cleared
wheels down - luggage arrived with little delay but possibly bearing zip ties or other nonsense

Two Stars
  
wheels up - luggage screened somewhere totally removed from you; only indirect assurances that your firearms cleared
wheels down - luggage was very slow to arrive and/or you had some difficult interactions with airline staff

One Star
  
wheels up - luggage screened somewhere totally removed from you; no one could assure you that your firearms cleared
wheels down - luggage was misrouted or mishandled and had to be delivered to you later

Zero Stars
  
This is a special category for irreparable damage to luggage, locks, or your firearms... or outright theft or loss of them.
half-star results are possible... naturally, they involve partial or mitigated problems that somehow fall in-between the above categories