Account of Flying with Firearms

A dissappointing experience in Spokane, Washington
GEG --> LAS --> ABQ

This account is presented in GetLost's own words...


Luggage & Gear
Pelican 1560 with 2x Master padlock (model M115XTLF)


Outbound Travel
CHECK-IN STAFF - Knowledgeable about airline policy, understood airline limitations in dealing with TSA, competent and familiar with firearms check-in process.

LOCKED BAGS: No criticism of locked bags, affixed the declaration card to the inside of my locked luggage.
FIREARMS INDICATION: No attempt, luggage tag does not include any indicator, no FFFFFFFF lines, etc.

SECONDARY SCREENING AREA - No secondary screening area. My options were to relinquish my key, leave the luggage in GEG, or send my firearm home in a cab. I handed over my key, violating federal law in the process, and had my key promptly returned. I was not permitted to view my bag at all while it was being processed.

DEPARTURE TSA SCREENERS - Screeners readily available. TSA not familiar with laws or policy surrounding relinquishing my keys, became very standoffish. The TSA agent, Joe, said that there was no way to allow me to be present when inspecting my baggage. The TSA agents unlocked and relocked my luggage out of sight, but they did inspect everything per the "we inspected your luggage" card I was so graciously provided with in my case. I am sure the bag was x-rayed, but unsure of any other non-invasive screening techniques.

Case arrived intact and locked with all possessions intact.


Final Details & Thoughts
POST-FLIGHT MATTERS - The BATFE will be notified of the TSA's violation of federal law on Monday at 8AM, with a detailed report of my interactions with the TSA. The TSA was not aware of the laws and refused to read any legal documents presented to them. The airline staff was courteous, kind, and understanding, but completely useless; they have no control over the TSA. I will email an update after my interactions with the BATFE.

This is not the first time this has happened to me at GEG flying on Southwest. This is the SECOND time I have had to relinquish my key for my luggage to be inspected. Thanks a ton for your advice, pamphlet, talks, and general guidelines, they have been a huge help.

If you have any suggestions for my conversation with the BATFE, please don't hesitate to let me know.

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