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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm taking my first flight with a handgun out of Fort Lauderdale to Texas and I'd appreciate any up to date info on how to pack. I have the airline's Contract of Carriage document which is pretty clear, though reading previous posts on this topic it seems ammo handling rules are not quite as strict -- but the most recent forum comment on this topic I could find is over a year old. The airline (AirTran) references a keyed or combination lock, but TSA simply says "locked" and later makes reference to a key. Must the container be a keyed lock or can my vLine simplex lock box like the below meet the regulations?
Product Furniture Box Table

I plan to pack the ammunition in its original container, outside the magazines, locked inside the box with the handgun.

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I fly every few months with multiple handguns. Everything you said seems good. It's pretty simple as you will find out. Gun has to be in a locked container. Container doesnt matter but I'd use one made for guns (not a plastic box you drilled a hole through and put a lock on). Your box should work great. Ammo can be in the container and you need to declare it when you check your bag.... That's it. Ammo has to be under 11lbs for Southwest not sure about other airlines....

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suggest you take a hard copy of both the airline's policy page regarding firearms in checked luggage and a copy of the TSA rules as well just in case you get a butthead for a ticket agent (there are a few of them around.)

If only going to TX and FL you probably won't need it but when I traveled a lot with handguns I always had a copy of the purchase receipt for the guns I had with me on the trip to show (if I had to) that I had legally acquired the guns in my home state and had not illegally acquired them while on my trip...

Once you've been thru the process of flying with your guns it won't be as scary next time, I promise...


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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Great info, thanks. The scary part isn't bringing it, it's going to be checking a(ny) bag instead of just carrying on! I hate lines and feeling like cattle.

Birdman -- thanks for the advice on the receipt. I have a scanned copy of it I just shrunk down, printed, cut small and folded, and taped it to the back of my CCL. It's an easy thing that would seem to make sense at all times, not just out of state, and confirm a little more to an inquisitive LEO that I'm on their side.

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I use a Center of Mass safe with combination lock all the time. No issues.
And I lock it to the suitcase somit cannot disappear.

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Gun on Commerical Plane/Train Trip

Having traveled a number of times, here's how I go at it:

  1. Review http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1666.shtm to understand TSA policies and procedures. Have a copy with you when you reach the airport.
  2. Put the unloaded weapon(s) in a lockable hard-sided case with locks only you have the keys/combination to open. TSA locks are not allowed.
  3. Steps that will make it easier to show that the weapon is unloaded - especially when x-rayed.
    • If the weapon is a:
      • semi-automatic
        • lock the slide open
        • put a cable tie through the barrel and out the breach to show that the chamber is empty
      • revolver, flip the cylinder out
    • Do not put the magazines in this locked case with the gun(s):
      • it invites questions about them being loaded
      • if the gun case is "liberated" from the checked bag by a Criminal Entrepreneur, the lack of magazines frustrates the "Liberator", since the weapon is now initially a single shot one
  4. Check the airline(s) you are flying on:
    • To determine if the ammo
      • MUST be in boxes (plastic reload boxes work)
      • can fly in loaded magazines
    • If loaded magazines are permitted, make sure the pouches fully cover the magazine top where the cartridges are visible.
    • The round(s) from the chamber(s)/cylinder(s) must be in a box, not loose
  5. Secure and protect magazines (separately from the weapon) and ammunition boxes from possible damage.
  6. Put the lockable hard-sided case with the weapon and the ammo/magazines into a cheap, non-descript bag - with clear labeling outside and inside - for checking in.
    • If possible, develop a way to attach - in a lockable way - the hard-sided case to the piece of luggage it has been placed into.
    • The labeling should be limited to:
      • Your Name
      • Your Cell Phone - if you have one, or your home phone if you do not
      • Your personal email address - if you have one
  7. Other stuff - like shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc, could be in this checked bag also.
  8. Have the rules for the airline in hand when you check this non-descript bag at the airport.
  9. Make sure you have the keys/combinations to the lockable hard-sided case with you and you alone (Per Federal Regulations 49CFR § 1540.111 Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals - http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/tex...v8&view=text&node=49: at all times. You will have to open the lockable hard-side case:
    • to demonstrate to the airline that the weapon(s) are not loaded at check in (a signed form/tag indicating that will go in with the weapon(s))
    • if the TSA wants to see
  10. Have the serial number(s) and descriptions of your weapons on you, so if they "disappear" you can report the loss/theft immediately to the:
    • airline - NOTE Some airlines - Delta and US Air being 2 - now allow you to track your checked luggage on your I-Phone/Android if you are a Frequent Flier
    • FAA Regional Office
    • ATF Regional Office
Other things to consider:

  1. Check www.handgunlaw.us and/or http://www.usacarry.com/concealed_carry_permit_reciprocity_maps.html to determine:
    • If you can possess the weapon at all your stops
    • Where and how you can carry at all your stops
    • What are the deadly force rules in each state you are visiting
  2. Have a copy of the Don Young Transportation Letter on hand - http://www.handgunlaw.us/documents/doj_doc_nyc_air.pdf. This covers changing modes of travel - car to plane to car - in a single journey.
  3. AMTRAK (http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am/Layout&cid=1248542758975) is similar to airlines. Key differences include:
    • You must notify the departing station 24 hours before departure.
    • There must be baggage handling of checked baggage at both ends of your trip.
    • Ammunition must be boxed.
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