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I just completed my first flight with a handgun and wanted to share some experiences and ask for input.

The airport was a breeze, with one logistical exception. Since you must declare the firearm to an agent, you have to use the ticket counter, not the curbside check-in or the speedy check-in with the computers. We had to wait in line each way, which could have caused a huge delay had the wait been long. It worked out to be no problem for me, but it's something I'll save time for next time. The conversation at the ticket counter was short and sweet. I told them I had "something to declare" and one of even just said "where is the handgun?" They checked visually that there were no rounds in the mags and no mag in the gun. They did not touch the weapon or have me safety-check the chamber. They had me show them the ammunition in its original packaging in a separate pocket. Then they gave me a tag to put inside it, I shut everything up, and went on my merry way.

Upon landing in Texas, after I collected my bag, we got on the rent-a-car shuttle, got to our car, and began the 30 minute drive to where we were staying. My wife tolerates my carrying without understanding it, but not so much that I wanted to make a special stop along the way just to load rounds into a mag. Consequently, everything stayed unloaded for the trip to the house. It seemed foolish to be driving on one of the longest legs of the trip with a gun present but unloaded. Next time, airline policy permitting, I will leave the mags loaded so I can just unlock the box and insert a mag.

When we went out to meet friends, unlike home, I didn't really know the details of where we were going. Texas has similar CC laws to Florida prohibiting carry in bars, or within the bar in the area primarily for alcohol. Sure enough, when I walked inside our destination, it was all bar, so I had to make a trip back to the car to unpack and hide my pistol. This again felt silly, being out in a strange part of town late at night walking back and forth a parking lot, but the law is clear.

On the way back to the airport, we had to stop to fill up with gas before turning the rent-a-car back in. Here, while filling, I opened the trunk and used its floor to conceal my activities of removing and unloading my pistol and locking it securely in its carrying case. I thought this was less than ideal as someone walking by could have seen it "unconcealed" -- though in my case the place was empty. No way was I going into those bathrooms, and I wasn't going to wait until the clean ones inside the airport terminal.

Can anyone comment on these steps of my trip and give me some pointers on how to make it smoother next time?
 

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sounds like you did good.
The hardest part for me was waiting at the luggage carousel for my suitcase to come around.

Tip:
I added a trigger cable lock through the frame of the suitcase and the gun case handle - just to make it hard to grab the case out of the luggage.
 

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You seem to have done the right things.
The biggest item;leave lots of time for baggage check-in.
You did not mention the procedure had TSA wanted to open the hard gun case. How would they reach you to get the key?
 

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nice report, there really is nothing that needs to be added other than in TX like FLA you can carry inside a bar unless there is a TABC sign or a 30.06 sign. the TABC sign means that the bar is a bar and not a bar in a restaurant. and the 30.06 sign is a legally binding no gun sign.
 

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sounds like you did good.
Tip:
I added a trigger cable lock through the frame of the suitcase and the gun case handle - just to make it hard to grab the case out of the luggage.
+1 I do this as well. The number of guns that go "missing" while in airline possession is high. The cable lock makes it impossible for the gun case to accidentally "fall" out of your suitcase.
 

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+1 I do this as well. The number of guns that go "missing" while in airline possession is high. The cable lock makes it impossible for the gun case to accidentally "fall" out of your suitcase.
I agree with the lock. Do you have any statistics for the ammount of guns that go missing from luggage? I would be interested on some factual support of this vs people just stating what they believe is true. (Not saying this is what you were doing).
 

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I agree with the lock. Do you have any statistics for the ammount of guns that go missing from luggage? I would be interested on some factual support of this vs people just stating what they believe is true. (Not saying this is what you were doing).
X2 id like stats as well.
 

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+1 I do this as well. The number of guns that go "missing" while in airline possession is high. The cable lock makes it impossible for the gun case to accidentally "fall" out of your suitcase.
Hmmmmm I'd love to see this "stat" as well.....
 

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"I have something to declare" sounds a bit odd to me. I simply say, "I need to declare an firearm."

Yes... plan for more time for check-in.

To my knowledge, none of the airlines will allow you to pack loaded magazines.

Here's my set-up:



 

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"I have something to declare" sounds a bit odd to me. I simply say, "I need to declare an firearm."

Yes... plan for more time for check-in.

To my knowledge, none of the airlines will allow you to pack loaded magazines.
Wrong, Southwest does...
 

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Wrong, Southwest does...
another one posting absolutes that are wrong!

the last time I flew american my mags were loaded and enclosed in the lock box.
however it is wise to be prepared because the rules can change on the whim of the clerk so I in the spirit of just moving things along I comply and I bring an empty bullet box along in case they demand the mags be unloaded.
 

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That's why I prefaced with, "to my knowledge." I don't fly Southwest or American airlines... ever. But, I just looked and it appears that Southwest does allow loaded mags as long as they are protected. However, my interpretation of the rules posted on American's website is that they do NOT allow loaded magazines.

At any rate, I don't feel the need to have my mags loaded during airline transport. As you can see from my photos, I have chosen a method that is the least "alarming" to ticket counter personnel. I field strip my pistol and arrange it such that it doesn't even look like a gun to the agent or any casual observers. Just my way of doing it. I've flown many, many times now with my pistol, and not one problem.
 

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That's why I prefaced with, "to my knowledge." I don't fly Southwest or American airlines... ever. But, I just looked and it appears that Southwest does allow loaded mags as long as they are protected. However, my interpretation of the rules posted on American's website is that they do NOT allow loaded magazines.

At any rate, I don't feel the need to have my mags loaded during airline transport. As you can see from my photos, I have chosen a method that is the least "alarming" to ticket counter personnel. I field strip my pistol and arrange it such that it doesn't even look like a gun to the agent or any casual observers. Just my way of doing it. I've flown many, many times now with my pistol, and not one problem.
I think what you do is a bit of over kill but if it works for you there's nothing wrong with what you do
 

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I think what you do is a bit of over kill but if it works for you there's nothing wrong with what you do
Yep... overkill. But, the last thing I need / want when traveling is being delayed for arguably stupid reasons. So, I make my firearms declaration as "sheeple-friendly" as possible. And, it works.
 

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Racer88, when and where do you take the time to reassemble and load? And on the return trip, to break everything down?
 

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That's why I prefaced with, "to my knowledge." I don't fly Southwest or American airlines... ever. But, I just looked and it appears that Southwest does allow loaded mags as long as they are protected. However, my interpretation of the rules posted on American's website is that they do NOT allow loaded magazines.

At any rate, I don't feel the need to have my mags loaded during airline transport. As you can see from my photos, I have chosen a method that is the least "alarming" to ticket counter personnel. I field strip my pistol and arrange it such that it doesn't even look like a gun to the agent or any casual observers. Just my way of doing it. I've flown many, many times now with my pistol, and not one problem.
Yep... overkill. But, the last thing I need / want when traveling is being delayed for arguably stupid reasons. So, I make my firearms declaration as "sheeple-friendly" as possible. And, it works.
I completely agree with you... I see no need to bring loaded mags. Seems like only problems could occur. You're a smart man :thumsup
 

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could you elaborate? what kind of problems could arise from a loaded mag that is not loaded into a weapon?
Just because their rules online state it's "OK" to have loaded mags, doesn't mean tsa/airline will allow it. They have the final say at the airport and reserve the right to refuse ANYTHING they do not want on their aircraft.

For example, my girl was bringing my G21 and a few boxes of WWB. They would not let her bring the ammo because the factory cardboard boxes were not "sufficient" from keeping the primers "safe." They said if she could fit it in the box with the gun, then she could take it (2 or 3 WWB, can't remember, does not fit in a Sig factory gun case). So, she argued for 2 hours till her flight left and she lost. Luckily, her dad was able to pick it up. Now, I fly with my ammo in an ammo can to avoid that potential problem.

Moral of the story, do everything you can to prevent a potential problem. It's ONLY YOUR DAY/TRIP THAT CAN BE RUINED, not theirs.
 

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Just because their rules online state it's "OK" to have loaded mags, doesn't mean tsa/airline will allow it. They have the final say at the airport and reserve the right to refuse ANYTHING they do not want on their aircraft.

For example, my girl was bringing my G21 and a few boxes of WWB. They would not let her bring the ammo because the factory cardboard boxes were not "sufficient" from keeping the primers "safe." They said if she could fit it in the box with the gun, then she could take it (2 or 3 WWB, can't remember, does not fit in a Sig factory gun case). So, she argued for 2 hours till her flight left and she lost. Luckily, her dad was able to pick it up. Now, I fly with my ammo in an ammo can to avoid that potential problem.

Moral of the story, do everything you can to prevent a potential problem. It's ONLY YOUR DAY/TRIP THAT CAN BE RUINED, not theirs.
I think the problem your girl encountered was the amount of ammo she was trying to transport, I only travel with 25-35 rounds, enough for 2 mags depending on caliber. as for the mags if a ticket agent wants the ammo boxed, I box it. NBD
 

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I think the problem your girl encountered was the amount of ammo she was trying to transport, I only travel with 25-35 rounds, enough for 2 mags depending on caliber. as for the mags if a ticket agent wants the ammo boxed, I box it. NBD
Negative sir.... You're allowed 11lbs. She was under that and they never mentioned anything about the weight. I talked to corporate about it and the airport while she was there and it was just a mess. Corporate said I was right, but there's nothing they could do because there were not there to examine it. Corporate did keep the airport from throwing it away though. Just a mess and now it's avoided like the plague.
 
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