Keith's Account of Flying with Firearms
A trip in Keith's own words
Luggage & Gear
On yesterday I received Pelican's new carry on size 1510. It is perfect for trips that are only a few days. I have a pair of Abloy locks that I use exclusively for flying. For this trip I am only taking my Ruger LCP because I would be in business meetings the majority of my trip and pocket carry would work the best. I also have a 2 magazines loaded with Hornady Custom, an extra box of ammo and a pocket knife.
Outbound Travel As usual checking in at CLT was mostly uneventful. The first agent I went to said I needed to go to another area because she didn't have any paperwork. She took me to Joe S who told me to place my bag on the countertop. I opened it up for him and he asked where was my firearm. I told him it was in the soft case and he said ohh, wait a minute. He literally disappeared for a few minutes. When he came back I asked what was the concern and he said most people usually have a hard case inside their luggage. I had figured that was what he was checking on. He said everything is ok. I signed the card, placed it in my luggage and locked it up. As is the custom at CLT, they send your bag back and you have to keep an ear out for your name. This particular airport is extremely loud and I always have a hard time hearing the announcements. I just hope that they don't need to access my bag and then I miss hearing my name.
The time from when you get to the baggage claim area and you actually get your bag is a little stressful. Since my firearm is in the bag, there is a little more at stake than the typical luggage. After what seemed to be an eternity my bag came up and it was one of the first ones on the belt. All in all a very good flight.
Homebound Travel I took a cab to the airport and the cabbie's credit card machine was down. Took me about 15 minutes to settle up. I had the cash but wanted to hold on to it. If I were in a hurry I would have been forced to use cash. Fortunately, the airport was not very busy today.
I was checked in by Meron D. She was very polite and understood exactly what needed to happen. She asked the usual questions like is it unloaded and then she asked to see it. I opened the Pelican and pointed to my soft side Ruger case. It was then she actually paid attention to the luggage and said "oh," realizing the entire case was hard sided. She said you have locks right and I said yes. Of particular notice was the fact that she asked if I had ammo and I showed her the box. She then asked if each round was individually separated. Again I said yes. I had ammo in my magazines too, and I was prepared to put it in the box if necessary, but she didn’t ask any more questions.
I knew from reading previous accounts that I should expect to wait 20 minutes before going through security at LAS. Meron asked if my locks were TSA locks and I said no. She then l said I should hang around and wait to see if their are any issues. She even took time to confirm my cell phone number to make sure she would be able to contact me in case any questions about my bag came up. I really like the fact that she did that. I wish that was standard policy. After 20 minutes, I went back to the counter and spoke to Meron and asked if everything was ok. I could tell by her reaction that she was surprised to see me again. I guess most people just leave after the minimum wait time. I figure better safe than sorry, She said yes, by now everything is fine. I thanked her and made my way through security without a hitch.
Final Details & Thoughts
Probably one of the least eventful trips I've taken with a firearm. Here are a few things I have gleaned from this experience. Arrive plenty early. Anything can happen even on the way into the airport.
Always use the box the ammo came in for traveling - it will make the entire process a lot easier.
Don't be surprised when the agents don't know what to make of your pelican case - it will work itself out.
Relax and let the process work its way through.
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...
hassle, no delay
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
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
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
|This is a special category for outright theft, loss, or damage of firearms during air travel