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Old June 2, 2012, 08:43 AM   #1
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Flying with pistol in check-in luggage

Hi Guys,
I'm planning on helping my son move from San Antonio to Fort Worth were he will be starting medical school. I have CHL. I'm planning on flying back from Fort Worth to Houston.

The question is this: Is it OK if I disassemble a pistol and place it in my check-in luggage to travel home? Has anyone done this recently?

Sorry guys I found my own answer at the TSA web site. The answer is yes, must declare it at check-in
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Last edited by Eppie; June 2, 2012 at 08:49 AM.
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Old June 2, 2012, 08:52 AM   #2
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I think the rule is it has to be in a hard case. I think a hard case in your luggage is OK. These rules can be found in each airline's baggage policy.
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Old June 2, 2012, 08:52 AM   #3
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No need to dis-assemble it.

Check the TSA rules and the rules of the airline you will be flying. I just
did a Las Vegas and back trip from PDX with 3 handguns--no problems.

Guns were in a locked hardcase inside a softside suitcase.
You MUST declare them (and ammo) at check-in.
You may be asked to unlock the case or show that they are unloaded.

Read and understand the rules--keep a copy of the rules with you.
Flying with guns isn't a big deal but it can be a bit of a pain in the butt
if you run into an agent that doesn't know the procedure.
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Old June 2, 2012, 09:48 AM   #4
Willie Sutton
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When you check in at the luggage check, look at the gate agent and say "I have an item in my baggage that I need to declare". There is ONLY one item that ever needs a declaration, and they know exactly what you mean.

This is sort of an aviation code-phrase so you do not need to use the terms "Firearm", "Gun", "Pistol", etc., in a location where use of those words might attact unwanted attention of bystanders. Funny... the last time I did this the gate agent (Southwest), said "Oh, you mean a GUN" and handed me the paper. Go figure. At least she whispered.

The gate agent will hand you a TSA form so that you can declare your "Item". Fill it in and hand it back and forget about it.

Make sure your bag is locked with a TSA accessable lock so that it can be opened without them needing to cut off the lock if they do decide to inspect it once it's checked. This lets them relock it... which is what you definately want. Pistol needs to be in a hard case inside another suitcase. Ammo "legally" needs to be in it's original packaging... but a loaded magazine (not installed in a pistol) seems to pass the test at least in my experience. They DO NOT want loose ammunition anywhere in the shipment.

Fly SouthWest in Texas... you will have no hassle.


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Old June 2, 2012, 09:52 AM   #5
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Make sure your bag is locked with a TSA accessable lock so that it can be opened without them needing to cut off the lock if they do decide to inspect it once it's checked. This lets them relock it... which is what you definately want.
I use anything BUT a TSA lock on my firearm. They inspect it before it's sent to the back, so there's no reason for them to open it again. If they need to reopen it, they come find you.

Q. What is the proper lock that I should use to secure my hard-sided firearms case?
A. Travelers can use a single key or combination lock to which only the traveler has the key or combination, or a TSA-recognized lock. For more information about traveling with firearms, please read our Firearms and Ammunition Web page.
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Old June 2, 2012, 10:17 AM   #7
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The hard sided case that contains the gun should NOT have a TSA lock on it.
If TSA wants to open it they have to come and get you.
They are prohibited from opening the gun case except in your presence.

'Qui tacet consentit': To remain silent is to consent.
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Old June 2, 2012, 10:43 AM   #8
maestro pistolero
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Ditto, no TSA lock. Every miscreant and their mother working at the airport can open a TSA lock.
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Old June 2, 2012, 11:19 AM   #9
Glenn E. Meyer
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Congrats on your kid. I've flown from TX airports with a locked case (not TSA lock) and followed the procedure. Not a problem.
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Old June 2, 2012, 11:20 AM   #10
Willie Sutton
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The advice I received, to be "mo-clearer" than my first post:

TSA lock on the SUITCASE, which is just as subject to inspection as any other suitcase. If they want to open it, they will cut off any lock... and the last thing you want is an unlocked SUITCASE with your (locked) pistol case inside. If you want to use a non TSA lock, you can. No worries. You might just find it's been removed though. Or you may not. What you do is based on your own rationales, and not mine. I use a TSA lock. If you don't... you'll probably not find it's been cut off and you'll probably be as happy as a clam too.

Non-TSA lock on the PISTOL CASE, you retain the key (or combination), and put a note with your cellphone number on the side of the case so they can call you if needed. This case is NOT subject to further opening without you present.

Essentally, the form that you use to "declare your item" is really a paperwork tool to permit you to have a "locked case inside a locked case" that is not subject to normal "open without permission" TSA rules. If you view it that way, it's actually a system for your benefit.

Sorry if I was not as clear as I might have been in my first reply.



Last edited by Willie Sutton; June 2, 2012 at 11:29 AM.
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Old June 2, 2012, 11:25 AM   #11
Mr. James
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Just took a trip from Dulles (Virginia) to Phoenix, passing through Dallas-Fort Worth. No problems at all either way. I printed out both the TSA web pages, and the airline's firearms policies, and placed them on top of the case, so I'd have them in hand if I ran into any grief. I did not.

At Dulles, the gate agent just walked around a corner to the dedicated TSA x-ray belt just for this purpose. The TSA guy smiled and winked at me and said, "well, I can tell you one thing, it ain't a Glock!" Nope, a 1911.

Phoenix was weird. They took me and the bag to a back room, where a TSA goon swabbed every inch of every seam and pocket of my multi-compartment suitcase. That had me a little nervous because I know nothing at all about that technology, and what it might pick up. He then swabbed the locked pistol case. I guess I passed!

No one asked me to open the case, either way.

Funny story of the first time I checked a handgun, going to Seattle from Dulles. When I declared to the obviously harried gate agent that I had a firearm in my luggage, he slapped down this rather long form. What th'. . ? But, being new to this, I just started filling it out. At one point, I'm asked if I'm transporting a prisoner, and a little farther on, what agency I work for. The guy assumed I was an LEO, and was about to let me board the plane with a pistol on my person. Kewl!

He 'bout stroked out when I gently told him I was just an average Joe trying to check a bag.

All's well that ends well!

Safe travels to you, Eppie, and all the best for your son!

Bob James
"...A humble and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Ps. li

"When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law." —Frederic Bastiat
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Old June 2, 2012, 12:50 PM   #12
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I use a security cable to secure the firearm hard case to my luggage by running the cable with a combo lock through the handle extension tubes inside the suitcase. That way even an unlocked suitcase is pretty secure as far as having the gun case removed from your bag. I stopped putting TSA locks on my luggage. TSA cuts the lock off for reasons I can't understand. They are supposed to use the TSA key for that purpose.

But it doesn't need to make sense. It's TSA.
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