Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
Speaking at the University of Montana and teaching some new folk about firearms... a great trip to the northern part of the American West.
PHL --> DEN --> MSO

MSO --> DEN --> PHL

Luggage & Gear
I was invited to speak at the University of Montana and I was also planning on introducing some folk to shooting, so this trip involved a few Pelican cases of substantial size containing some of my AR-platform rifles, my Springfield M1A, a shotgun or two, and a whole mess of pistols and revolvers. One Abloy PL321 and one PL330 lock was on each case.


Outbound Travel
Charlie Mosley from United checked me in and was very happy about the process, laughing it up with Nafis from Prime Flight about all of the firearms. Many of the Prime Flight contractors recognized me, actually. It was before 6AM, so things weren't too hectic there at the airport. Seven minutes after I had arrived, all bags were sent back. Six minutes later, Nafis mentioned that the TSA wanted the key but he remembered me and the fact that I only hand my key to the TSA. As we laughed a bit more with Mr. Mosley, eventually a TSA screener, Sue, came around from the back.

Sue stated I could just hand the key to a Prime Flight employee, but I explained how this was not all that feasible. She stated that it's very far for the TSA to walk, around from the back. I stated politely but clearly that this really can't be helped because that's not my concern. She said the screening would be a little bit of time, and I was fine waiting. Twelve minutes later, Sue returned with they key and was very pleasant. I was on my way.


Homebound Travel
In Montana, Stephen and Heather checked me in. Stephen was a bit new at processing firearms. He joked about my M1A, saying that if I cared to just leave that one with him, that'd be fine. LTSO Brennan performed a check of my bags by doing a chemical swab. Only one case was opened, and it all went well and quickly. I was on my way easily.


Final Details & Thoughts
Montana is a great place to visit and they're very gun-friendly. They have a coupe of screwy carry laws, but beyond that it's a terrific place!


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