Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
Tiny wires in a bag? Let's call the Explosives Specialist.
PHL --> IAD --> GSO

GSO --> IAD --> PHL

Luggage & Gear
On this very brief trip to Greensboro, where I was doing lock instruction, I had a lot of gear with me. Two large Pelican cases full of locks and tools and all kinds of things were packed along with my lightweight summer carry pistol (Walther PPS .40) and a flare pistol which folk down at the conference really liked seeing. Abloy PL321 and PL330 locks on the outside and off I went.


Outbound Travel
On this most insane of early-morning flights, I was helped by Richard C. from United who made some jokes with me about pepper spray and other things while i checked-in. Three minutes after sending the bags back, i was told that the TSA wanted to open one. I explained to Richard that I would hand the key to them, but not to a United employee. He pushed back a little, saying that they "had enough time today for this, but normally [I] would have to just give [United] the key." Yeah, not so much, pal.

Three minutes later, Kyle Gary from the TSA came around to where I was and took the key from me. In seven minutes, he had returned. Handing the key back to me, he asked, "Philly police?" I responded simply, "No. Private sector." Somewhat surprised, he looked at me and said, "Oh... Bravo Sector? Hmm." I have no idea what he was thinking I had meant, but I was all prepared to fly, so off I went to passenger screening.

All luggage arrived with no difficulty in Greensboro, North Carolina... which has one of the most beautiful airport grounds I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.


Homebound Travel
In Greensboro airport, Amy C. from United wanted to see each pistol in my luggage cases... going so far as to actually begin unzipping the smaller, internal cases themselves. No thank you, ma'am. I showed her everything was cleared and unloaded and then the bags were locked and sent back.

Six minutes later I was informed that they wanted to open them. I initially expected to just hand a key to the TSA, but there seemed to be confusion and delay for a bit of time. Five minutes later, TSO Slaughter came out and said he would lead me back to where my cases were. Fine by me... i followed through a security door.

Ten minutes later, I was still standing in the bowels of the airport while the TSA was confusedly pawing through my belongings...

... At issue appeared to be the fact that some small segments of wire were present, mixed in amid my bags of locks, clothes, and such. The TSA screeners were so perplexed about the presence of tiny wires that they asked for their Explosives Tech to examine the luggage, as well. He showed up from some back office, immediately stated that there was no concern, and then the TSOs spent even more time moving items around, swabbing, and repacking. It was all rather bizzare, but my items were not harmed.

Ultimatey, a little over 40 minutes after checking-in I was at my gate... which at a larger airport can be common for someone who isn't even checking anything special at all.


Final Details & Thoughts
While some folk would be pretty upset at having an "Explosives Tech" come to inspect their items, I generally chalk this up simply as "weird" as opposed to anything else. So the TSA is wasting a little of my time... they were polite and respectful of my belongings the whole while. I do not excuse their foolishness, but I see no malice in it and therefore I am not all that upset.


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