Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
Down to Florida and back again was easy... but watch out for those code-shared flights!
PHL --> ORD --> MCO
2014-04-11


MCO --> IAD --> PHL
2014-04-17


Luggage & Gear
This was a brief trip down to SANS Orlando and I had one large Pelican case and one small Pelican Storm case. Abloy PL321 and PL330 lock were protecting my Walther PPS carry pistol as well as a spare 1911 that I just tossed into the other case in order to lock it up. ;-)

 

Outbound Travel
Check-in at PHL was simple, and Ellen enjoyed my sharing of the "stubby trick" with her. For those who do not know, more and more airline agents are choosing to not use a pen and fill out the flight details manually on firearms declarations. Instead, peeling off one of the very small stickers from the luggage tag (these are called "stubbies" and you may have seen them peeled and affixed to the outside of a hard case, so that the luggage isn't lost even if the main bag tag rips off) and sticking it onto the orange card is now a common tactic.

Seven minutes after sending the bags back, the TSA asked to have my key (because of the aluminum unibody laptop) and I gave it to them. Five minutes later it was returned. All luggage arrived in Florida without any trouble.

 

Homebound Travel
Coming home from Florida, we averted some major difficulty. Somehow, despite booking on United.com, our first leg of the journey out of Orlando was due to be on Silver Airways... a dogshit regional carrier who does not honor the Star Alliance baggage policy rules. Despite both my calling them as well as United reps calling them with me on the phone, too, Silver repeatedly insisted that Lady Merlin and I would be charged fees for all of our bags. The fact that the cases were large and heavy made things even worse. Thankfully, a United rep was able to re-book us at no charge to an alternate itinerary and we were on United metal the whole way.

Check-in at MCO with Nick R was fast and easy. We walked right acoss the way to a CTX machine (eXaminer 3DX 6000) where the TSA asked to open one of the cases. The screener looked inside for just a sec, relocked it, and we were gone. TSA PreCheck and TSA Shoulder Syndrome made for fast passenger screening, and we were homeward bound.

All luggage arrived in Philly just fine.

 

Final Details & Thoughts
This was an easy flight, but one must watch out for those tricky code-shares! I'll never make the mistake of almost booking with Silver Airways again.

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