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I know others have posted their experiences with flying with their gun here, but I did it for the first time this week and thought I'd share how it went.

The US Airways lady at SLC airport gave me a funny look when I said I needed to declare a firearm. She quickly recovered and quizzed me about it being unloaded and in a locked hard case. I filled out the orange card, and she made me put it inside the case. So I had to open my luggage right there, open the gun case, and slide the card in with the handgun. Other than that, no problems.

I was teaching a class in Texas in front of 100 people for two days. The first morning I left it locked up in my hotel room because I was worried they might notice it in my pocket. I felt more comfortable after lunch, so I retrieved it, put it in its pocket holster, and carried in my pocket like normal. It's a fairly small gun (Rohrbaugh R9), so it isn't very visible in my pocket. But if you look right at it, you can see its outline printing slightly through the little pocket holster. No one ever noticed, even though I was up in front of a lot of people. I carried it the rest of the trip.

I just checked in at the Texas airport to come home, and this time I simply said "I need an orange firearm card". I think this was a better approach because I seemed more confident with the statement. The guy said "no problem" and grabbed one for me. He also made me put it right inside the locked case. When I opened the case, he peered over and checked the pup out. Then he asked if it was a Walther. So he was actually pretty interested in it. He was impressed it was a 9mm in such a small package.

That's it. I was surprised how easy it was. I checked the TSA and US Airways regulations beforehand, but the basic rules seem to be 1) be sure it is unloaded, 2) keep the ammo in the original box (not in the mag), 3) have a locked, hard gun case, 4) tell them you need an orange firearm card.

Overall a great experience.
 

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Yep, that's about how it goes for me too, except that I always just say, "I need to declare a firearm." That works for me. Sometimes it seems to give the person behind the counter a bit of pause as they shift mental gears to follow the proper procedures. Mostly, they don't bat an eye and just get the little orange card for me to sign.

Incidentally, I just did this today when I flew back home from an out-of-state trip.
 

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Last week I flew to SLC and then back to St. Louis. I've done this several times before and have never had a problem -- but I have noticed that every airline and airport seems to have a different way of doing it. So far nobody I've dealt with hasn't known how to process declared firearms. Of course, I've managed to stay away from anti-gun areas so far.
 

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For the record, I've only had a few incidents where I had problems flying with my firearms. ALL of the incidents were here in HI. Go figure. :( The phrase that has worked with me at every airport with every airline I flew on was "I have unloaded firearms to declare". Key thing is that you use the words "declare", "unloaded" and "firearm(s)". The "orange card" phrase is nice, but it's not always an orange card. It's sometimes a sheet of paper of various colors (happened on two smaller airlines) or a half sheet of paper (happened on one small airline here in Hawaii). Be certain that your firearms are UNLOADED BEFORE you get to the airport. I've seen a couple of folks lead away in silver "Chanel Bracelets" for having loaded firearms at the airport. Different airlines have different policies, so to be safe, I always pack my ammo seperate from the firearms (believe it or not, FAA rules allows you to put ammo in a gun case). Ammo needs to be in the original packaging OR BETTER . My hunting rifle shoots reloads, so all of my hunting ammo is in plastic reload boxes. I've never had a problem traveling with ammo in reload boxes. You can have ammo in the mags provided that the mags are in a mag pouch that encloses the entire magazine, and the rounds are not exposed. I've actually transported shot shells in Tupperware on two occasions. (Original box got wet, acquired a Tupperware container to replace the damaged fiber board box. :wink:

I found that if I have a printed copy of the current TSA AND airline regs in hand, as well as being able to assert the rules, I have no problem with firearms and ammo while traveling.

gf
 

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One other thing we should all remember to do: Fill out the "How are we Doing?" cards at the airport. In most airports there is a "suggestion" box of some sort...usually TSA box. We all sit in the airport and wait for our flights. While waiting take 2 minutes and fill out one of the cards expressing appreciation that we can fly with firearms and complimenting the agent that handled your check in.
 

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I've seen a couple of folks lead away in silver "Chanel Bracelets" for having loaded firearms at the airport.
That may be the law in Hawaii but it is not illegal to have a loaded gun at the airport in Utah, as long as it is not in the secure portion of the airport.
 

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Car Knocker said:
I've seen a couple of folks lead away in silver "Chanel Bracelets" for having loaded firearms at the airport.
That may be the law in Hawaii but it is not illegal to have a loaded gun at the airport in Utah, as long as it is not in the secure portion of the airport.
I was going to make the same point. It's probably still a good idea to unload before, though. Standing at a crowded airline checkin counter seems like a bad place to be unloading your gun. I unload in the parking lot.

Also, note that airlines often have more restrictive requirements than the TSA with respect to ammunition. Delta, for example, basically requires that the ammo be packed in the manufacturer's container. HOWEVER, if you don't put the ammunition in the gun case, it's unlikely that the airline will ever look at how you have it packed. The TSA agent will look at it, but it seems reasonable to expect the TSA to enforce its own policies, not the airlines.

I decided to test this theory this week (I'm in Florida right now), and put my loaded magazines in a closeable magazine pouch. It worked fine. The Delta agent glanced at my gun and didn't ask about ammunition. The TSA agent searching my bag had no problem with it. He opened the mag pouch, pulled out one magazine, looked at the JHPs loaded in it, and packed it back up. I did have the manufacturer's box in my bag, with enough empty spots in case someone complained, but there was no issue.
 

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Car Knocker said:
I've seen a couple of folks lead away in silver "Chanel Bracelets" for having loaded firearms at the airport.
That may be the law in Hawaii but it is not illegal to have a loaded gun at the airport in Utah, as long as it is not in the secure portion of the airport.
This didn't happen in Hawaii. One of the "good" :huh: things about Hawaii law is that firearms need to be transported unloaded. We don't have normal folks "carrying", so this makes it a little more difficult for certain absent minded folks to slip up. What happened is that the folks tried to check in LOADED firearms. It may not be illegal to possess a loaded firearm in the unsecure part of the airport, but once you attempt to check it in, it becomes a FAA violation (Federal Law), and you will most likey get into some serious trouble. Hence the declaration form (usually orange card) you sign stating that the firearms are UNLOADED.

I saw a uniformed LEO in WI arguing :bicker: with a TSA supervisor once saying "I didn't know I couldn't check in a LOADED gun". It was amusing at first, then once I thought about the severity of the situation, it actually got kind of scary. :shocked:

It's a good thing that Federal Law is the same everywhere. :wink:

gf
 

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this is a dumb question, but when you put the orange card and the gun in the locked case, do you also have to lock the case in front of the check in guy? i heard from some guy that it has to be in a lockable case but you dont actually lock it, because the flight people sometimes open your luggage for random checks and if there's locked case, they'll break it open.
 

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No, it has to be locked so that it cannot be accessed by airport/handling personnel. They will run it through the x-ray before just breaking it open. AFAIK law states that the firearm must be in a locked case to which only the passenger has the key.
 

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ahh.. that's good to know.
 

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1 of 2 things happen.

1. They open your bag and do a complete search of contents usually accompanied with an explosive swab test. Then they seal it up and it doesn't go through the Xray machine.
Or
2. They simply run it through the xray machine. If this happens you need to stay by the machine until they have xrayed your bag at which point you are done. They will tell you your bag is through and you go your merry way. If during the xray they want to search the bag (maybe you forgot to tell them you had a gun) you then unlock it for them and they search your bag, then seal it up and send it on.

During the search you will be standing there watching them and will either unlock the gun case for them or hand them the key so they can unlock it.

Its really no big deal either way.
 

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Car Knocker said:
explosive swab test
Isn't this dangerous? Do they have to wear that special bomb-squad suit? What if it destroys your laggage? :ROFL:
What's "laggage:???? Looks like the joke's on you pal. :wink:

gf
 

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Laggage is what's left after the luggage has been slagged by the explosive swab test. :oops:
 

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Car Knocker said:
explosive swab test
Isn't this dangerous? Do they have to wear that special bomb-squad suit? What if it destroys your laggage? :ROFL:
:lol2:
 

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Is there anything different I should know about checking a rifle? I might pick up a .22 my dad has when I'm visiting over Memorial day. I'll buy a locking case while I'm there and fly back with it, but only if it's not too much of a hassle. From what I've heard, it's pretty straightforward.
 

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gramps said:
Is there anything different I should know about checking a rifle? I might pick up a .22 my dad has when I'm visiting over Memorial day. I'll buy a locking case while I'm there and fly back with it, but only if it's not too much of a hassle. From what I've heard, it's pretty straightforward.
Same procedure as with a handgun. Be sure you have locks for each point where a lock will go. Some of the "economy" have 4 or even 5 places that a lock will go. At certain airports, TSA will make you lock each lock point. This is mainly because the case is made of plastic and can flex and a firearm can be tampered with if each lock point isn't secured. If you have room in your luggage, I'd take a case with me, or if not purchase a decent quality one while you're picking up the firearm. JMHO

gf
 

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gramps said:
Is there anything different I should know about checking a rifle?
Just make sure the Firearms Declaration goes INSIDE the locked gun case. As mentioned above, stick around until it is entirely through the TSA screening process and they give you the OK to leave. If possible, I'd put a cable lock through the action as it facilitates the airline's and TSA's ability to tell it is unloaded.

The only other issue that may arise is if you have ammunition. Some airlines don't allow ammo in the same case (TSA does, but some airlines don't). In this case, you MAY need to declare the ammo separately and MAY need to have it also locked up in a separate checked bag.

And it will probably show up in the oversized luggage rack at your destination.
 
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