Airline Report Cards
How does your favorite carrier measure up when it comes to flying with firearms?

Deviant Ollam

While all domestic airlines, as of the time of this writing, allow passengers on US flights to transport firearms in their baggage (which I believe to be their obligation under common carrier status, although some people disagree with me) the actual manner in which these airlines implement such travel provisions varies a great deal from one carrier to the next.

Airline policies, public statements, and of course actual real-world practices of their employees can differ more than one might expect. This page is a guide that aims to serve as an overall summary of each carrier's stance on flying with firearms. In addition to making special note of any airline policies that differ from or go beyond the federal standard* as mandated by the TSA, i have sought to include any comments that travelers have shared along with any public statements made by the companies themselves.

In the end, for simplicity's sake, a simple and basic letter grade is assigned to each carrier.

If you are planning to travel with firearms via a specific airline in the near future, check their rules summary here. If you have plans to travel with guns in the future but have yet to book your flight, consider voting with your wallet after consulting the facts on this page... expressing ourselves in the marketplace is one of the best ways that we can make our voices heard.

* NOTE - The federal standard is simply packing firearms and no more than eleven pounds of ammunition in hard-sided luggage that is locked in a manner where no one else has the key or combination and declaring the presence of these guns and ammo when checking said bag at the airline counter. For the sake of simplicity, this page does not repeat such text for every airline but instead only makes mention of specific deviations or additional facts that some carriers have included in their written policies.

Click any airline logo to jump directly to their section below.

The factors that most typically result in poor markings in this overview are nonsensical policies that are in place as a means to artificially penalize armed citizens with increased baggage fees or those which have the appearance as "rules simply for rules' sake" with no other meaningful purpose. Limitations on how many firearms a passenger may transport are chief among such unnecessary rules that are sometimes seen. Language hostile to firearm ownership and use (either in the text of their rules or in public statements issued by a given air carrier) are also grounds for slightly lowered scores. Very open, welcoming policies and a lack of additional regulations imposed beyond the federal standard yield good marks. Feedback as seen in stories of travel by average citizens similarly affect an airline's score in either a positive or negative way.

Grade: A-

SouthWest Airlines
as specified on their web site...

Firearms must be encased in a hard-sided, LOCKED container that is of sufficient strength to withstand normal handling, as follows:

1. A firearm in a hard-sided, locked container may be placed inside a soft-sided, unlocked suitcase.

2. A firearm placed inside a hard-sided, locked suitcase does not have to be encased in a container manufactured for the transportation of firearms.

3. Only the Customer checking the luggage should retain the key or combination to the lock. No exceptions will be made.

We allow multiple firearms to be transported inside one hard-sided case.

Southwest Airlines assumes no liability for the misalignment of sights on firearms, including those equipped with telescopic sights.

Customers who have traveled SouthWest and posted their stories online usually report the procedures to be very painless and straightforward, although a very good friend of mine was hassled a bit in Philadelphia with demands that he give his key to airline staff as well as TSA, since there was no secondary screening area at the check-in location. He stood his ground and they demurred, however. There are multiple tales of success with having curbside attendants take a passenger and their luggage past long check-in lines, thus saving additional time and hassle.

Grade: A-
SouthWest's written policies are not only unencumbered by excess restrictions, but they even take the additional step of explicitly stating that multiple guns can be transported in a single case and that no one other than the passenger shall have the ability to open said baggage. SouthWest alerts customers that misaligned sights can happen if firearms are improperly packed, a nice demonstration of the passenger's own responsibility to stow things properly and intelligently. Their only failing there is allowing customers to place a small locked case inside of a larger unlocked bag... a bit of foolishness that it would be nice to see them discourage. Interactions seem to be a bit hit or miss with their staff... some people report smooth sailing while others encounter people who are not properly trained in the law.


Grade: C

American Airlines
as specified on their web site...

American Airlines will no longer accept firearms in checked baggage to/from the United Kingdom (except for military/government personnel with proper documentation).

The information shown below pertains to travel within the United States only... For information on the transportation of firearms and ammunition to international destinations, please contact Reservations.

Ammunition must be packed in its original packaging. Loose ammunition or clips will not be accepted.

Pellet and BB guns are not considered firearms, and therefore, do not require any special handling or documentation.

Maximum per case is three rifles/shotguns or five pistols/revolvers, five lbs. ammunition ... There is no limit on the amount of cases allowed.

Ammunition is limited to 11 lbs. per passenger

There are a number of customer comments that confirm American Airlines' unwillingness to make transport of fireram-bearing luggage easy for international travelers. Why this is remains a mystery to me. It is the responsibility of passengers, not the airlines, to comply with the laws in any nation where they are traveling.

Grade: C
In addition to their difficult international travel policies, American has put in place rules and regulations that are patently and brazenly designed for no other purpose than to squeeze additional money out of their customers' pockets. Limiting the number of guns contained in a given piece of luggage is one such issue. In the very next sentence, they actually have the gall to remind passengers that "there is no limit on the number of cases allowed" (read: "please keep laying your luggage on us... we can't wait to give you repeated punches in the wallet for as much as you'll bear paying.) Beyond this, they explicitly state that the federal allowance of eleven pounds of ammunition is ok as long as no bag has more than five pounds of ammo. Thus, a person flying with the maximum allowable allotment would have to check, at a minimum, three bags. That's $140 right there at a minimum. They are also a little over-restrictive on how ammo must be stored.


Grade: B-

Delta Air Lines
as specified on their web site...

Maintain entry permits in your possession for the country or countries of destination or transit
Ensure small arms ammunition is packed in the manufacturer's original package or securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes

Delta will accept gun cases containing up to a total of four rifles or shotguns, plus shooting materials, and tools

Delta will accept gun cases containing up to five handguns, one scope, and tools

An excess baggage fee will apply to cases containing more than two rifles

An excess baggage fee will apply to cases containing more than two shotguns

An excess baggage fee will apply to cases containing more than five pistols

There are a number of positive firearm-transporting customer experiences with Delta recounted on the web.

Grade: B-
While Delta is not openly hostile to gun owners, some of their policies are clearly designed simply to generate revenue. While they explicitly state that a case may contain a total of four long guns, in subsequent sentences they specify that anything more than two rifles or two shotguns will result in an extra baggage fee. While Delta does not mandate "original manufacturer packaging" for ammo like some airlines, their policies are still restrictive enough that a holstered magazine is not allowed.


Grade: B / B+

United Airlines
as specified on their web site...

Firearms in checked baggage must be packed in a locked hard-sided bag or gun case.

Ammunition is allowed in checked luggage in the original manufacturer's box or securely packed in a fiber, wood, or metal box to prevent movement of cartridges.

There are a handful of stories concerning problems with United losing firearms but these accounts are all unsubstantiated. In the past, United would infamously print a row of "F" characters on baggage tags. I have confirmation that they did this consistently prior to 2000 or 2001, although now the practice appears to have been stopped. One thing that is for certain, however, is that the company continues to speak out publicly against the arming of airline pilots.

Grade: B or B+
United is flexible about how guns and ammo can be packed, as long as it's secure. They appear to even be accepting of the use of loaded magazines to secure ammo... since they specify "no movement" of cartridges as opposed to "separation" of the rounds. Pending confirmation that the row of "F" characters is absolutely no longer part of their operation (I personally have never seen this) i've rated them in B range. If that outside marking is still used, even in some instances, then i'd switch United to a B- or C+ even.


Grade: A+

US Airways
as specified on their web site...

US Airways will allow passengers to transport firearms in accordance with Federal Law.

Firearms must be packed in a manufacturer’s hard–sided container specifically designed for the firearm, a locked hard–sided gun case, or a locked hard–sided piece of luggage.

Handguns may be packed in a locked hard–sided gun case, and then packed inside an unlocked soft–sided piece of luggage. However, a Conditional Acceptance Tag must be used in this case.

Ammunition may be checked in the same piece of luggage as a firearm. No additional documentation is required.

There is no limit to the number of items contained in rifle, shotgun or pistol case, up to 50 lbs/23 kg, 62 in/157 cm in maximum.

A passenger who presents a firearm to be checked to an international destination must be in possession of all required import documentation for their international destination city and any international transit points. It is the responsibility of the passenger to acquire the required documentation from the applicable government entity prior to travel (usually a consulate or embassy).

Full Disclosure - I am a member of the US Airways frequent flyer program and attempt to use this carrier whenever pricing and air routes make it possible.

My reasons for choosing US Air are reflected in how they treat passengers who are transporting firearms. All of my experiences flying on this carrier have gone swimmingly. In addition to being friendly to passengers who own guns, US Air also participates in the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program, allowing armed pilots.

Grade: A+
US Airways explicitly states in their policies that customers are free from any arbitrary limits which can be seen imposed by other carriers. Any number of firearms can be packed, and as long as the bag itself weighs less than 50 pounds and is under 62 inches in length there are no overage fees. All types of lockable luggage are permitted, and of particular note is the fact that passengers who place small, locked gun cases (typically, handgun cases) inside of larger unlocked larger pieces of luggage are required to sign conditional acceptance paperwork... the airline recognizes that this is unsafe and discourages the practice. I'm a bit on the fence and would consider giving them simply a grade of A due to their "separation of rounds" ammo requirement (which would technically not permit magazines to be used, even if they are holstered, although i have never encountered trouble with this) but their stance overall, including their support for the FFDO program, has me totally in love with US Air.


Grade: D+

Northwest Airlines
Northwest no longer exists, having merged with Delta, but i keep this entry here for archival purposes.

Northwest accepts one of the following in lieu of one piece of baggage included in the baggage allowance: One rifle case containing no more than four rifles/shotguns... One pistol case containing no more than five handguns

Guns and ammunition may be in the same piece of baggage. However, ammunition must be within its own packaging. Ammunition counts as one of your allotted firearms in the above packing scenarios.

for international travel you must obtain and comply with regulations governing the transportation of firearms for *ALL* countries you are traveling to, including those where only flight connections occur.

Due to TSA regulations, gun cases must be properly locked. Often gun cases require further TSA inspection.TSA approved locks are approved for checked baggage only. They are NOT approved for bags containing firearms.

Northwest does not accept liability for loss, damage, or delay of firearms, handguns, and ammunition. Excess valuation insurance may not be purchased for transport of firearms, handguns, and ammunition.

Northwest participates in the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program, allowing armed pilots. They used to have a $300 "gun case fee" but that was allegedly repealed in 2007. There are reports of no excess length/width fees on gun cases, yet Northwest (along with all other carriers) do have size limitations on baggage. This is confusing to me, i must say. Lastly, it is reported that Northwest is allegedly a major sponsor of the Million Mom March.

Grade: D+
While i'll grant them points for their participation in the FFDO program, Northwest is a truly disappointing carrier. Limits on what types and how may guns can be packed in cases, a willingness in the past to slam armed customers with massive fees, and support for anti-gun causes all are exceedingly disheartening. Most painful of all, however, may be the fact that Northwest explicitly states that they will not reimburse passengers for lost or damaged firearms and forbids the purchase of additional insurance by armed travelers.

Utterly pathetic, all around.


Grades: A, C

Continental Airlines
Continental no longer exists, having merged with United, but i keep this entry here for archival purposes.

Continental accepts one item of shooting equipment per customer as checked baggage. One item of shooting equipment is defined as one hard-sided shooting equipment case containing up to five firearms, with or without scopes, 11 lbs (five Kgs.) of ammunition and articles used in the firearm sport.

International firearm regulations vary by destination and transiting country. Contact appropriate consulates or embassies to obtain specific entry requirements applicable to destinations. Firearms are not accepted to/from Israel. Firearms are not accepted to/from Denmark. For travel to/from the United Kingdom, pistols, rifles and shotguns must be packed in a hard side rifle case. Customers traveling to/through Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS) with checked firearms/ammunition must obtain permission from the Netherlands Consulate/Embassy

Proof of registration is not required.

Ammunition must be packed in the manufacturer's original package or securely packed in fiber, wood or metal containers. The ammunition inside the container must be protected against shock and secured against movement. The ammunition may be packed in the same container as the firearm or in a separate container.

Customers report that Continental treats airsoft and BB hardware the same as other conventional firearms. While this can be nice if you're attempting to leverage firearm policies to your advantage, it has made for some serious headaches on international flights. Most foreign nations do not have import paperwork for airsoft guns. Continental staff has insisted on said nonexistent paperwork in the past, hassling and delaying customers who were not at all in the wrong.

Grade: Domestic A, International/Military C
Domestically, this carrier seems pretty alright... they even specify that no special paperwork is needed on flights within the 50 states. However it seems that travel abroad, particularly if you're in uniform, can be a headache.


Grade: F

AirTran Airways
this text used to appear on the AirTran web site...

Laws governing the ownership, possession and transportation of firearms vary based on county, city and state of residence and/or origin. For this reason, AirTran Airways flight must meet there [sic] requirements, and in addition are responsible for checking local laws to ensure they are in compliance.

Details may be obtained by contacting local law enforcement authorities, and by consulting the State Laws and Published Ordinances of Firearms.

Small arms ammunitions for personal use must be securely packaged in the original manufacturer's packaging, or in a fiber, wood, or metal box specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Ammunition must be packed in baggage separate from the firearm.

50 caliber for rifles/pistols are Not allowed. 8 gauge shells for shotguns are Not allowed.

Customer comments confirm that AirTran's nonsense policies concerning ammo being in separate luggage is often a problem. One customer whose large luggage contained a small pistol case and, separate from that, a box of ammo was told that these items could not be in the same bag and was ordered to check his small handgun case as a separate luggage item. For reasons passing sanity, he flew with his small pistol case locked and checked separately. I'm stunned that it reached his destination.

UPDATE: In December of 2012 I was notified by a Twitter follower that AirTran's site appears to have changed. I checked and indeed they have removed all language concerning firearms from their pages. Even the "sporting equipment" section seems to have been edited. We have reached out to AirTran in order to check and see if this means that they are no longer permitting firearms on their flights, but until we hear back I am not certain what to think about this carrier.

Grade: F ?
The general silliness of "local laws vary" is disconcerting, given that it is not an airline's responsibility to monitor your compliance with local laws. The fact that AirTran is spooked by large-caliber guns is also quite annoying. In the past the AirTran web site was so awash in unclear language and grammatical errors that any interpretation is possible. This, plus the unnecessary"keep ammo separate" policy that once was published online originally earned them a low C grade.

UPDATE: Now that the AirTran web site has removed all language concerning firearms and they have failed to respond to public demands for clarification concerning how or why their rules may have changed, we are forced to give them an F rating by default. I would not recommend that anyone book flights with AirTran if you will be flying with guns, at least until they publicly respond to this matter and go on record with some details of what their policies and procedures are.


Grade: D+

JetBlue Airways
as specified on their web site...

There is no additional charge for shooting equipment. However, one piece of shooting equipment will count as one of your checked bags.

Ammunition for the firearm cannot be placed in the same container as the firearm. Ammunition must be housed in a separate container that is completely separate and distinct from the firearms locked box. The ammunition must be packaged in a fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal box specifically designed for carrying small amounts of ammunition. Ammunition is limited to 10 pounds per customer.

One item of shooting equipment is considered: one rifle case containing no more than two rifles with or without scopes,... or one shotgun case containing no more than two shotguns, or one pistol case containing no more than four pistols

Please note: BB guns and air guns are also consider as shooting equipment and will be treated as such.

While not explicitly stated on the main luggage page of their web site, i have seen numerous citations of policies against the checking of any firearms on international flights. The ban is all-encompasing and explicit. In the press, the CEO of JetBlue has spoken out against firearms for pilots.

Grade: D+
The placement of ammunition in a separate container is an inane requirement that JetBlue conveys with the most extreme language ever seen. NOTE - For no explained reason, this carrier limits passengers to ten pounds of as opposed to eleven. This, plus the limits on how many guns can be placed in cases and their ban on international travel with firearms, is exceedingly disheartening. Of tangential but rather relevant interest is also the fact that JetBlue made the news for denying the right of travel to a passenger whose shirt bore Arabic writing. Seemingly, the folks at this company are scared of their own shadow and wet their pants at every occasion.


Grade: B+
(pending confirmation)

Alaska Airlines / Horizon Air
as specified on their web site...

The term "firearm" describes any weapon that will or is designed to or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive, or the frame or receiver of any such weapon. This includes: Sporting rifles, shotguns, and handguns; handguns of authorized law enforcement officers while traveling on official duty; starter pistols; compressed air or BB guns and flare pistols; antique firearms.

Handguns must be unloaded and packed in a hard-sided container locked with a key or lock combination only in the traveler's possession. The locked hard-sided case can be placed in a soft-sided case.

Rifles, shotguns, and other firearms must be unloaded and carried in a locked hard-sided container where only the customer retains the key. We also recommend that the bolt be removed and the slide locked open. All parts of the firearm must be packed in the same container as the firearm itself.

The following items may be included in your normal baggage allowance...
1. One rifle case with rifles, scopes, one shooting mat, noise suppressors and small tools, or
2. One shotgun case with shotguns, or
3. One pistol case with pistols, noise suppressors, one pistol telescope and small pistol tools

Up to 50 lbs.(domestic) and 11 lbs. (international - where permitted) of ammunition may be checked, if securely packed in the original manufacturer's package or in a container designed for ammunition and of sufficient strength to protect it from accidental crushing or discharge (i.e. wood, fiber, plastic, or metal). The projectile must be no larger than 11/16" in diameter, the size of a dime. Ammunition may be checked with or separately from the firearm. Spent ammunition shells will be accepted in checked baggage provided they meet the same acceptance procedures as live ammunition (e.g. packed in a crush-proof case).

It is your responsibility to obtain all the necessary permits for any firearm checked between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Chemical repellents can be carried in checked luggage if the volume is less than 4 ounces and has less than a 2% active ingredient. Most bear repellant exceed these limitations. We suggest buying such items at your destination and leaving them behind upon return.

Pepper spray may be transported in checked baggage if it is less than 4 ounce and a cap, case or other mechanism is in place to prevent accidental discharge.

Grade: B+ (or D, if non-sporting guns are banned... but that is unlikely)
Interestingly, this carrier specifically allows (in other text on a different area of their web site) the dispatching of firearms and ammunition to oneself via their Air Freight service. This, in conjunction with their rather generous allowance of fifty pounds of ammunition, is clearly geared towards serving the needs of seasonal hunters and other sportsmen. The focus on sporting gives me one small concern, however. Among their list of what firearms are allowable are "sporting rifles, shotguns, and handguns" and separate from that is mention of "handguns of authorized law enforcement officers while traveling on official duty." Is this to indicate that law enforcement officers are the only individuals who are allowed non-sporting (i.e. personal defense) firearms?


Grade: C

Frontier Airlines
as specified on their web site...

For everyone's safety, we ask that you familiarize yourself and comply with our rules when requesting transport of firearms and related equipment. Firearms, ammunition, and firearm parts may be transported in checked baggage on flights operating in the U.S., but are prohibited from being carried-on. In other words, you'll never make it through security, so if you want your equipment to arrive at your destination, you have to check it.

Ensure your firearm is unloaded before packing in a hard-sided, locked case and arriving at the airport. Declare your firearm with a Customer Service Agent at check-in. You will be asked to sign a tag declaring that the firearm is unloaded.

Your firearm must be screened by TSA. You may need to accompany the firearm and unlock the case if requested. When the TSA is done screening, you need to re-lock the case. Frontier will then take your firearm as checked baggage. Depending on the size of the case and the airport facility, the firearm may arrive in the oversize area at your final destination.

Firearms are not allowed on any other international flights even if checked.

One passenger is allowed to check up to 11 pounds of ammunition. Any ammunition transported must be securely packed in the original manufacturer's packaging, fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Loaded ammunition clips and magazines must also be securely boxed. The ammunition may be located in the same hard-sided locked case as the firearm, as long as it's properly packed as described.

the above text comes from the "firearms" page of their site, however on the overall "baggage chart" page one small note appears under the firearms heading which is NOT mentioned in the above text...

Frontier does not accept fully automatic weapons

After various phone calls and conversations with a number of representatives from Frontier, i have more or less determined that Frontier does not...

  • Educate their employees well on matters relating to firearms
  • Understand the definition of an assault weapon
  • Believe that citizens have any reason to own and transport full auto hardware

One of their staff members had this to say, after conferring with her superiors.

OK sir, we got a hold of somebody who kinda clarified that. They're referring to like more like an assualt rifle machine gun... and the reason, uhm the person i spoke to said, well i don't know if this is the exact reason, but i guess what Frontier is thinking is that's not really the kind of weapon that your average person needs to be flying with. You know we accept your regular shotguns, rifles, you know, pistols... fully-automatic weapons, assault rifles, are not gonna be transported by air on Frontier.

Audio from that segment of the phone call can be heard here.

One traveler on Frontier Airlines reports confusion over how small-sized gun cases may be packed, including arrival at his destination with a small pistol case actually removed from his luggage and (still locked, thankfully) arriving at the destination and coming around the baggage belt by itself.

Grade: C
While Frontier states that they do not accept firearms on international flights, there are some reports that guns are allowed on flights to Canada. However, their restrictive policies concerning what types of firearms can be transported within the united states along with the one passenger's story of a small gun case traveling on its own are highly disappointing.

On the plus side, they specifically state that magazines and stripper clips are an acceptable means of transporting ammunition (keep in mind that to follow the spirit of the federal standard, the mag must be holstered or covered up somehow) and they explicitly allow ammunition to be in the same luggage as the firearm(s). Frontier's web site contains a more detailed account of the "flying with firearms" process than any i've seen elsewhere, so it seems this carrier is committed to educating the public and preparing them ahead of time for the whole process.


Grade: C+

Hawaiian Airlines
as specified on their web site...

An item of shooting equipment is defined as...

  • one rifle case containing not more than two rifles, with or without scopes, 11 lbs of ammunition, or
  • two shotguns and two shotgun cases and 11lbs of ammunition, or
  • one pistol case containing not more than five pistols

Firearms must be packed in...

  • a manufacturer's crush-proof type container, manufactured specifically for the firearm, or
  • a hard case

Baggage containing handguns must be locked with a key or lock combination in possession of the passenger only, and the bag must be of hard side type.

Ammunition must be packed in the manufacturer's original package or securely packed in fiber, wood, or metal boxes.

Firearms will be included in determining the free baggage allowance, and when in excess each item will be subject to the excess baggage charge for a single piece, whether or not presented as a single piece.

Hawaiian Airlines has allegedly made flying with firearms difficult for some passengers traveling internationally to Sydney, Australia.

Grade: C+
These limits on how many guns may be placed into a single case are typical for airlines looking to make a quick load of extra cash when customers are caught in a pinch. The nature of their wording when they talk of multiple baggage fees "whether or not [the firearms were] presented as a single piece" makes it clear that squeezing additional funds from passengers is the goal of this policy. That, plus the details of some international hassles reported by gun owners, is hardly offset by the fact that they require even handgun owners to use hard sided luggage. (The prohibition of handguns, even if they are in locked pistol cases, from soft luggage is a very sensible policy that i'd like to see encouraged more often.)


Grade: A ?

Midwest Airlines
Midwest no longer exists, having merged with Frontier, but i keep this entry here for archival purposes.

Firearms may be transported in checked luggage if declared to the agent at check-in and packed in a locked suitable container. Boxed small arms ammunition for personal use may be transported in checked luggage. No more than 11 pounds of ammunition per person may be transported in checked baggage.

I could find absolutely no reports, good or bad, from passengers who have flown with firearms on Midwest Airlines.

Grade: A ?
The "firearms" section of the Midwest Airlines web site reads like a near-verbatim retelling of the federal standard. There are no restrictions specified, and perhaps that means that their policies are fully open-ended and passengers may transport guns and ammo however they wish as long as things are sensibly boxed and locked. Pending further details or other feedback, i'm inclined to believe that they're a decent carrier.

It is perhaps fitting that we end this list with Midwest, a carrier about whom i have no direct knowledge and could find virtually no information online. With this air travel provider, as well as with all the others, i am eager to supplement my own research with any additional details that you may wish to offer. Please email me and inform me if i have gotten anything incorrect or if you have your own personal stories and feedback to add concerning any of these (or other) airlines.

Sometimes people ask me what policies i should like to put in place if i had the power to change the laws on this subject and impose standards that all airlines would have to follow. I certainly know what i would consider appropriate and good...


A "firearm" is any device that expels a projectile by means of a combustible propellant. This includes conventional guns, flare guns, starter pistols, and blank/stage firing replicas. Serialized parts for any of these items (for instance, stripped receivers) are also treated as firearms.

The Right to Travel with Firearms

It is the right of American citizens to travel with firearms that they legally possess, and as such firearms are permitted on all flights to and from any destination, either domestically or internationally. It is the passenger's responsibility to research and comply with all relevant laws wherever their travels will take them; the airline shall take no responsibility for a customer's failure to comply with the rules of any state or nation.

Secure Luggage

Firearms and ammunition can only travel in checked baggage. Luggage that is suitable for such a task must be hard-sided and lockable. When secured, an individual should not be capable of inserting a finger anywhere into the firearms case by means of prying or bending its housing or material.

Sizable Luggage

Small handgun cases can be useful tools for securing a pistol or revolver against damage and mishandling, but they are not suitable for protection against theft. Handguns cases should be inserted into larger hard-sided luggage which is itself locked in order to be safe from theft during air travel. (Naturally, i would revise my opinions here further if we would get our heads out of our asses an mandate security cameras in the non-public areas of airports, with specific focus on areas of baggage handling.)

The Passenger's Locks

TSA-compliant (a.k.a. "SearchAlert") locks are NOT allowed to be used when transporting firearms... a proper lock must be used and only the passenger traveling with firearms (along with members of his or her traveling party, if they are part of a group) are ever allowed to be in possession of the key or combination to said luggage. Should a luggage inspection be necessary for any reason, the passenger must be directly present and they alone shall be the one who unlocks the luggage in question. Again, ONLY THE PASSENGER may ever unlock and open firearms-bearing luggage. The passenger must remain present to observe such proceedings, and then will verify that all their firearms and ammunition are still present and properly packed before re-locking the luggage at the conclusion of the inspection. At no time will passengers ever be separated from their key or combination, nor shall firearm-bearing luggage ever be opened out of their presence once it has been secured.

Additional Fees

There are no limits concerning how many firearms shall be packed with a piece of luggage, however no special provisions are made for baggage weight. If luggage is over the fifty pound limit, additional fees maybe imposed by the airlines as they see fit. However, airlines may not impose any specific "gun case fees" or in any other way penalize passengers who are traveling with guns and ammunition.

Additional Designations

Passengers must fill out the declaration card [in my ideal world, the card would be standardized and available both at airline counters as well as via the web so customers could fill it out in advance] stating that their firearms are unloaded and this card will be kept inside the luggage during the flight. At no time will this or any other indicating tag be affixed to the outside of firearms-bearing luggage. Furthermore, the airline's printed baggage tracking tag will not display any markings or characters used to designate a bag as containing firearms. A passenger's entry in the airline computer shall also not contain any special details indicating their travel with firearms.


There are no limits for how many rounds or what size caliber ammunition a passenger may pack aside from a maximum weight limit of fifty pounds. Ammunition must be packed in a manner that protects against crushing or the rounds becoming loose. The original box, or an after-market vessel designed to carry ammunition, or clips and magazines are all appropriate ways to pack ammunition provided that it is completely enclosed and there is no exposure of the rounds. Ammunition may be packed in the same container as firearms, as long as it is packed in accordance with these standards.


Passengers are responsible for verifying that their firearms have arrived safely at their final destination. Upon arrival at their final destination, an air traveler will have the right to briefly open and inspect the contents of their luggage in order to assess if things are safely in order. Passengers have a duty to report lost or damaged firearms and ammunition as soon as such a situation is discovered. Airlines are fully liable for loss, theft, or damage caused by non-routine handling of firearms and ammunition that they are transporting. Passengers traveling with firearms shall never be prohibited from purchasing additional insurance coverage for their luggage, but such coverage is not mandatory. In the event of theft or loss, it will be the airline's responsibility to contact law enforcement and fill out all reports. If lost firearms are not recovered within thirty-six hours of a passenger's arrival at their destination, the airlines must compensate the aggrieved party accordingly.

Perhaps i'm reaching a bit too far with some of those provisions of my hypothetical "flying with firearms" law... but a man can dream. Good luck to all who travel with firearms. Stay safe out there!

- dev