Account of Flying with Firearms

Deviant Ollam
Knowing names of supervisors is helpful if the TSA gets out of line with you.
SEA --> SLC --> PHL

PHL --> SLC --> MSO

Luggage & Gear
A short hop back east was relatively simple with one Pelican case full of personal effects and my "road cooking case" into which i tossed an old revolver. We visited NYC for a conference but left the guns at my old house in Philadelphia at that time.


Outbound Travel
Kathryn L showed me a remarkably useful trick when filling out the orange declaration cards... not only can a stubby tag (the very small peel-off stickers at the bottom of conventional luggage tags) be applied to the declaration form so that the check-in agent doesn't have to write out your flight and date information, but a sticker like that can also help to hold the declaration in place atop the rest of your possessions. TSA screener Rios recognized me, did a swab test of the cases, and I was all cleared to go.


Homebound Travel
When departing Philadelphia, Josephine was super fast at the check-in counter. Minutes later I was at a TSA screening area down at the end of the check-in hall. The screener wanted the key for my Road Cooking Case, then kept asking me to back up when I observed him unpacking things. I would step back maybe an inch. He would look at my things, then ask me to back up. I would step back another inch. I kept this up dilligently until, annoyed, he resigned himself to the fact that I was going to monitor how he handled my belongings.

It wound up being a good thing that I was observing him, because after pawing through all of my cooking tools and liquor, he then proceeded to begin utterly cramming everything back into the case. Noticing that he would damage things if he tried to shut it, I spoke up loudly.

"You haven't repacked that properly. Things are going to break if you do it like that."

"I know how to do my job, man," came his surly reply.

I became more forceful when it seemed he was determined to ignore me. "I am telling you to stop what you are doing!" I said, much louder. "You are going to damage my possessions!" Then, remembering a key name from my years living in Philly, I continued, "Is Robert Ellis still the CSM here at PHL? No, wait, they bumped him up to FSD, didn't they? No matter, I'm sure someone still answers the phone in his office."

That got the screener's attention. He stopped, harumphed bit, and then found the time to properly arrange and nestle everything together, occasionally having to pause and follow my orders regarding what goes where in the case.


Final Details & Thoughts
Knowing names of supervisors is helpful if the TSA gets out of line with you.

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