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Flying with rifles - anything to know?

Alexx1401

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People talking about rampant theft are giving me the heebie jeebies. I’m going to have damn near $4k in one case...:-(
Sadly this is something that happens. Again this is why when I fly I send them ahead of me common carrier and send them back when I leave same way. It' s bit of money but makes me rest much easier for the flight there and back.
 
Sadly this is something that happens. Again this is why when I fly I send them ahead of me common carrier and send them back when I leave same way. It' s bit of money but makes me rest much easier for the flight there and back.
The UPS website is estimating, for a rival size case weighing in for two rifles and two handguns...~$400 for overnight. While it might make me feel better...that's a hell of a price to pay for peace of mind (especially because I would like the guns back!)

Next phone call: USAA. Gotta make sure these are insured.
 

Alexx1401

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The UPS website is estimating, for a rival size case weighing in for two rifles and two handguns...~$400 for overnight. While it might make me feel better...that's a hell of a price to pay for peace of mind (especially because I would like the guns back!)

Next phone call: USAA. Gotta make sure these are insured.
I do not use the over night. I use the normal, takes several days. When I am going out I send what I want many days ahead. It's there when I get there. Last day I am there I ship them back, they get here several days after we get home. Now we have plenty of guns so we don't care if some are in transit for days. If you only have what you want to take, well you have no choice but to hope the airline does not lose them one way or another.
For anyone who wants to do this do not walk in and tell the carrier you want to ship a firearm. Chances are it will not go well. Many of their employee's are worse than some of the airline employee's.
 
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FYI, they will throw your rifle case like a cheap suitcase.

I was in CO waiting for a connecting flight, there was a bunch of kids probably young high school age apart of some shooting team waiting in the seats next to us, as they were loading the plane the kids were losing their minds watching the baggage handlers just tossing their cases.
I was watching too.
They were obviously rifle cases, but those guys were throwing and dropping the cases.
It was hard to watch.
 
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I've been thinking about picking up a GPS luggage tracker for the times I fly with guns. Just a thought.

Note that they're starting to hold gun cases at the oversized desk where they require ID. At least some airports are...It seems to vary by airport so check both the carousel and desk.
 

DLS

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Most carriers will "hand carry" your baggage to their office if you request. Sometimes there is a small fee. It doesn't hurt to ask and might keep your case off the open conveyer belt.
 
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I flew American PDX to PHX but I’m sure it’s very similar.
Went to the check in counter then they send you down to the south end of the airport PDX.

You open the case and they swab for explosives

Make sure you pack it in a way that you can lift the foam and allow them to inspect the interior of the case without having to remove everything

I used 2 masterlocks with keys don’t use the cheap locks (TSA Approved Style) they can cut off easily. those are for normal baggage. You want them to call you if they are going to inspect your case. They have bolt cutters and can cut any lock I know that but don’t make it easy.

Case will be in airline baggage office upon arrival like Colefoz stated.

My experience was smooth. I took loaded magazines with my guns and there wasn’t any issue. Just make sure it’s packed good and won’t shift during the throws it’s bound to encounter.

Make sure firearms are unloaded and check if your case is oversized because there is a fee for that. They didn’t measure my case but better to be safe than sorry. American was $200 oversize fee.

-Aaron
It's not always at the oversized baggage. Depending on the size, it may come with the regular bags.
 

11Charlie

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FYI, they will throw your rifle case like a cheap suitcase.

I was in CO waiting for a connecting flight, there was a bunch of kids probably young high school age apart of some shooting team waiting in the seats next to us, as they were loading the plane the kids were losing their minds watching the baggage handlers just tossing their cases.
I was watching too.
They were obviously rifle cases, but those guys were throwing and dropping the cases.
It was hard to watch.
Which is why I will be driving my stuff when the time comes.
 
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No one actually has to see what is inside, the guys who you leave it with (in my experience) Have no desire to, just to know that what is inside is complying with the unloaded rule.
So for background, I have over 150 flights with a firearm in the past 7 years. There is a page and half above with hit a miss info. Based on your location guessing PDX, good. Southwest, better. Unless something has changed in the past week, declare you have a firearm in you luggage at the ticket counter and as noted prior, they will give you a card to fill out, sign declaring your guns is unloaded, etc. This goes inside your case. (You can usually place it there during the next steps below.)

From here you go to the oversized TSA area. Now head's up for everyone, if you didn't know PDX is beginning a five year renovation plan and things are going to change and move around so this is subject to modification. The TSA folks here are almost always very polite and helpful, especially is you have your stuff together. At PDX they will open you case so have your key ready. This began early this year (I was traveling the first day it began) and they advised every airport is supposed to be doing it (they are not).

Here is a tip, for my shotgun case, I found a large duffel type bag and I place the case in it. Now is screams "gun case with giant locks" slightly less, and other airports (who don't open you case normally) are less likely to. Most of my travel is with handguns, in a hard case, inside my suitcase.

SWA does not have special handling for guns, they just go on the carousel. I think this is great if your gun is in another case, not so much if you have a rifle case. Not sure if they see it is clearly a gun case if some locations may take it to the baggage office.

From talking with dozens of TSA agents / airline folks here are the biggest issues:
  • Too flimsy of a case
  • Not enough locks (you can pull open a corner and guns fall out)
  • Ammo not properly secured (avoid magazine, it's kinda allowed but too much of a grey area, stick with ammo in original boxes. Not had any issues with plastic reload boxes but have heard others have)
  • Being a douche (I think that word is allowed here) be nice to the TSA and counter folks, they have a job to do

Cheers and hope this helps
 

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