Washington SEATAC Travel with Arms

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Has anyone flown in or out of SEATAC lately with checked firearms? With all of the craziness, I want to avoid a hassle if possible but prefer to take a favorite home for the holiday. Let me know your experience good or bad. Thanks.
 

DLS

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And spend a few minutes checking the TSA website as well.

Print hard copies of the TSA rules and the individual airline rules. They are only a page or so each. Have them handy in the off chance you get a counter agent that does not know the details (with is pretty rare these days compared to the 80's and early 90's). If the paperwork does not straighten them out just politely ask for a supervisor. They will show up and straighten things out in a few minutes and you will be on your way.

Very easy when you know and follow the guidelines. Thousands of firearms fly every day in the US, so it's not really a big deal to either the airlines or TSA. Believe me, with the situation as it is they want your fare and your butt in a seat!
 

mrchris

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I travel a lot out of Sea-Tac and unless I'm going to New York or internationally I always travel with firearms.

A group of buddies always meet every October at a cabin in Northern Wisconsin that one of the guys in the group owns, 80 acres, middle of nowhere. Lots of shooting going on. I just made the trip again this October, flew Sea-Tac to Minneapolis and then drive 3 hours from there. Experience was exactly the same it has been every previous trip before or during the pandemic, at least as far as the firearms were concerned.

One large Pelican case with 3 semi-auto subgun/PCC/9mm pistols with braces, 3 handguns and just enough ammo to stay right at the 50lb luggage weight limit for Alaska Air. Large suitcase with a smaller Pelican case nested inside, one handgun and some more ammo. Because of weight limits shipped a lot of ammo ahead of time. Couple holsters in the smaller Pelican as well.

Walked up to the check in, told them very politely that I have UNLOADED firearms to declare, was handed the little form to sign and placed the duplicate inside each case. Was instructed, as always, to the TSA large bag check/firearm check just across from the Alaska ticket counter. They swabbed the outside of each Pelican case for explosives, asked if the guns were unloaded, put the little slip in from TSA showing everything was in order and I locked it all up with non-TSA locks and an Alaska agent took the bags to be loaded on the plane.

I use Tile Trackers on my suitcases and gun cases, after they were finished loading the plane I double checked the cases were on board via the Tile app. Upon landing in MSP both my regular suitcase and the Pelican case were already waiting for me at the luggage office. They checked my ID and luggage ticket number to make sure it was mine (which is reassuring as sometimes particularly with Delta they just show up on the carousel). Only took half a minute and I was on my way to the rental car counter before most of the luggage from my flight hit the carousel.

Checking in at MSP was the same thing essentially, though they have you take your bags to a central "oversize and special handling" office. The TSA folks there said I could wait while they checked the bags, never opened them just put them inside a sniffer machine. I should note guns were filthy from thousands of rounds and I didn't have a chance to clean them, total non-issue. Everyone working in that room was a gun person, we talked for a good 10 minutes and they explained what they look for and why, talked about favorite guns, etc. Once bags were cleared they went right on a conveyor next to the sniffer machine and off to be handled with the rest of the luggage.

Landed in Seattle and again bags were waiting at the luggage office, checked ID to confirm they were mine and I was out the door, again faster than most people with normal bags.

Very easy process after you do it a few times. Once in a while checking in at Sea-Tac can be a little slow if there are numerous travelers with firearms as there is usually only one guy processing them for Alaska, once I was number 5 in line waiting and it took about 25 minutes. 99% of the time I walk up and am the only person there and it takes less than 4 i or 5 minutes.

Despite what the TSA regulations state about ammo containers, they want to see it in the original packaging not reusable plastic containers. It's been a problem despite the fact that the plastic containers like the Berry Boxes are probably safer and sturdier. No issues with ammo in the same locked case as the guns, as long as the guns are unloaded and the mags are unloaded.

TSA strongly suggests NON TSA locks for firearms, you will be present when or if they open it and can unlock for them, if that happens they will watch you lock it and then take possession of it. The TSA locks are easily opened by baggage handlers and such. Use the best locks you can get. While Pelican cases can scream "gun case" they get used for a lot of other things too. So resist the urge to put gun stickers all over it. While some might still deduce it has guns in it, it does help keep it from screaming "guns" especially to other passengers as you wheel it through the airport. The average joe who knows nothing about guns is of the belief that you cannot have a gun in the airport, on a plane, travel with it, etc, at all. Least attention possible is a good thing.

Every airline has different rules/procedures. Alaska allows 2 gun cases with an unlimited number of guns and a maximum 11lbs of ammunition, but the cases must be under the standard 50lb weight limit or it will be charged as overweight/oversize and its like $150 for an overweight checked bag vs.$50. Other airlines have different rules, one of them and I can't remember who is one gun case with no more than 1 rifle or 2 handguns and 5lbs of ammo. Every airline has their rules posted and its not a terrible idea to print them off and carry with you as sometimes you'll get someone who's never handled firearms before and doesn't know the rules. So you have not only the TSA regulations but the airline rules to fit within. Generally though its not much of an issue. Alaska Airlines transports a LOT of firearms and generally have the process working smoothly. Jet Blue seems to handle very few firearms and the few times I've flown on them has required getting a supervisor involved because the ticket agent had no idea what to do. Delta is fairly smooth for the most part but ever since the incident with the passenger, checked firearm in bag, opened it up in the luggage claim at Ft. Lauderdale and started shooting, they will take whatever the guns are in and put these giant super heavy duty zip ties around it so it will take a heavy duty knife and 15 minutes of work to get the case open. Kind of a hassle but I understand why they do it.

But other than doing all the check in with TSA with a mask on, nothing has changed because of the pandemic in terms of flying with firearms.
 
Just got back from Texas via Alaska Air. Flying out of PDX thru SEA to San Antonio I was directed to the TSA guy who did all the inspection then put it on the belt. He told me they don't check the ammo, just the guns. Ammo can be in your locked suitcase but preferably in original boxes. I taped the ends of mine.

Return flight I put my locked Pelican pistol case into my bag. I showed the agent my empty guns and closed my suitcase. The agent then took the bag and she put it on the belt telling me that the TSA would run it through a sniffer. Boom! Done.

Traveling with a firearm on my first try and it couldn't have been easier. Follow the rules and carry a copy with you
 

IOM

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October 2019 I flew out of seatac with handgun .
Hard case locked no problems at all .
Just follow the rules they have .
I flew Nov 2019 last year, no issues Ga and back...

In Ga I thought the security was very lacking on picking up bags though...

JMHO...:eek:
 

FourTeeFive

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I travel a lot out of Sea-Tac and unless I'm going to New York or internationally I always travel with firearms.
Good post by mrchris above. All you need to know.

I flew on American Airlines last month with two longarms. No problems at all. I've never had them actually want to see what's inside the case.
 
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I'll just add that I always say "This bag has a firearm to be checked", to avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as "I have a gun".

Alaska and American are great to deal with. Some other carriers seem less familiar/more confused about the process. Once, an agent wanted the case opened; she picked up the (fortunately cable-locked) pistol gingerly with two fingers, and put it back. I won't name the carrier, but I got a chuckle out of it.

SeaTac's TSA are usually very professional and courteous. Just follow the (frequently baffling) rules to the letter.
 
Allegiant Airlines is easy-peezy, too!


Two UNLOADED pistols and ammo in a locked metal “gun vault” type case (you use in your car) that was packed and cable locked to the internal frame inside my larger checked bag from Eugene airport to Phoenix and back..... like poop through a goose.
 
OP
H
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Thanks everyone for your help. The trip went OK, you just have to go to an extra check in point.
I did learn that if you are carrying an auto, make sure the magazine is empty. If the magazine is in the same container and has ammo in it, it can be considered loaded. I stored my ammo in a separate, hard box and had no issues.
 
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Just got back from Texas via Alaska Air. Flying out of PDX thru SEA to San Antonio I was directed to the TSA guy who did all the inspection then put it on the belt. He told me they don't check the ammo, just the guns. Ammo can be in your locked suitcase but preferably in original boxes. I taped the ends of mine.

Return flight I put my locked Pelican pistol case into my bag. I showed the agent my empty guns and closed my suitcase. The agent then took the bag and she put it on the belt telling me that the TSA would run it through a sniffer. Boom! Done.

Traveling with a firearm on my first try and it couldn't have been easier. Follow the rules and carry a copy with you
I’ve traveled out of SeaTac many times and have never had to open my gun case for inspection on either end of my flights.:s0092:
 

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