Trust me when I say this: it really behooves you to do your own research on these issues. The reason is that if someone else tells you the rules and it turns out to be wrong , you can't go back and say "well, so-and-so told me I was OK doing it this way!"
That being said, however, here are all the links you SHOULD need to read the rules yourself. It's pretty easy reading, and the rules are pretty simple.
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/ ... ems.shtm#5
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/ ... _1666.shtm
DELTA AIRLINES: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/ ... _1666.shtm
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: http://www.southwest.com/travel_center/guns.html
(If you are travelling by another carrier, just search their website for their policy regarding travelling with firearms and ammunition)
Additionally, here are some pointers that I learned from my last trip... again, you should still do your own research but this will help you get started:
1) First and foremost, read and follow:
a) the TSA
b) the guidelines of the airline
you are flying on.
2) Consider the states you are flying:
The reason it is important to have a general understanding of the firearms laws in all the adjacent states in your flight-path is b/c some states are very gun-unfriendly and may not be too happy if you land there with a firearm (even though it's unloaded, secured, and checked)... what happens, for instance, if you plane gets re-routed and lands somewhere other than where you intended??? Unfortunately there is at least one instance where this occurred on the East coast and the individual was charged with transporting a firearm into that state (even though doing such was NOT his intent... you can search the forum for the details, it's here somewhere). There are several good sites that will give you good info regarding state's views on firearms... here is one of them: http://www.nraila.org/gunlaws/
3) As an *EXAMPLE* of my experience flying from UT to WA on SouthWest with no layovers:
a) I packed my firearm in the basic plastic case it came with when I bought it. It was fully unloaded. I locked the case with *NON-TSA* key-lock. I placed the case in my luggage roughly in the middle tucked amongst my clothing.
b) I then placed my ammo in it's original cardboard box, sealed it inside a plastic baggy, and placed it within my clothing as well.
c) I then locked my luggage with a *TSA* lock.
d) Upon arriving at the airport I went to the check-in counter to check my luggage and told the attendant that I needed to declare that I was checking in a firearm. She had me fill out a form which she had me place inside my luggage.
e) She then escorted me to the TSA handlers who asked me a "?" or two about my firearm (that it was unloaded and locked) and that was it.
4) The important things to keep in mind:
a) Stow your firearm per the guidelines
b) Lock your firearm case with a lock ONLY YOU have a key to (as opposed to TSA-certified lock -- do NOT use a TSA-cert'd lock on your gun case!)
c) Lock your luggage with a lock that TSA CAN ACCESS -- this is all so that they can search your luggage without you being there but not access you firearm unless you are present.
I hope that all makes sense and helps! But PLEASE make sure to read the rules for yourself, I might have missed something! Also, be CERTAIN of the rules of the various states involved so you don't get in hot water from an innocent mistake.
Don't be afraid to ask "?"s if you still have them!
Oh yeah, and happy flying!