Yeti

Flying with firearm (any airlines to avoid)?

woods89

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 27, 2021
Messages
239
I've had good luck with Southwest STL-DEN and back twice. Both times with a firearm, one time with meat on the return trip.
 

mdhunter

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 13, 2009
Messages
1,312
Location
Maryland
My experience is you are at the mercy of the agent checking the firearm and the TSA agent checking the locking bag. I have had agents refuse to check the bag to final destination so I had pick the bag up and recheck it between flights...I have had TSA inspectors refuse to fly bags without a lock on every possible spot. Other times I have flown with only one lock on the entire bag. I now lock every possible place and bring extra locks as I have had locks disappear post TSA inspection. Save yourself from the airport scramble of not having enough locks.
 
Last edited:

woods89

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 27, 2021
Messages
239
My experience is you are at the mercy of the agent checking the firearm and the TSA checking the locking bag. I have agents refuse to check the bag to final destination so I had pick the bag up and recheck it between flights...I have had TSA inspectors refuse to fly bags without a lock on every possible spot. Other times I have flown with only one lock on the entire bag. I now lock every possible place and bring extra locks as I have had locks disappear post TSA inspection. Save yourself from the airport scramble of not having enough locks.
Good points.
- have enough locks for all points.
-I carry copies of the TSA and airline regs with me.
-allow plenty of time in the airport.
-be polite.
 

wllm

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
14,970
Location
Boston
My experience is you are at the mercy of the agent checking the firearm and the TSA agent checking the locking bag. I have had agents refuse to check the bag to final destination so I had pick the bag up and recheck it between flights...I have had TSA inspectors refuse to fly bags without a lock on every possible spot. Other times I have flown with only one lock on the entire bag. I now lock every possible place and bring extra locks as I have had locks disappear post TSA inspection. Save yourself from the airport scramble of not having enough locks.
The reg says only you can have the key so I don’t use TSA locks, and I get ones that would be a PITA to cut.
 

nettereo16

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 1, 2017
Messages
163
Location
NC
I've flown Jetblue/United/Delta/American/SW with firearms. None are really better than others, it's always an adventure but I follow the rules and it works out. Give yourself a bit of time in case you get agents (either airline or TSA) that don't know their own rules and need some explainin'

My favorite is SW just because of their 2 free checked bag policy and I like their special boarding process.

The biggest difference is your departure airport in terms of how used to firearms they are. I flew out of Memphis one January coming back from a duck hunt and the lady at check-in said I was the 10th firearm that day for her.
 

Keep on

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 9, 2021
Messages
108
Seems to have more to do with the airport than the airline. Back East they make more of a deal with it than out West.
Always have more hassle flying out than returning from Bozeman or Rapid City.
 

F250

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2011
Messages
1,402
Location
Vermont
United list a rifle of mine for 12 hours once. Air Canada lost one for two days 🤬🤬
 

wllm

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
14,970
Location
Boston
Seems to have more to do with the airport than the airline. Back East they make more of a deal with it than out West.
Always have more hassle flying out than returning from Bozeman or Rapid City.

My experience has been the opposite… kinda, I think big airports are easy and small ones are a box of chocolates.

I’ve never had an issue out of Denver/Boston/Anchorage, had really annoying experiences in Ketchikan and Kalispell.

That’s been generally been true for me flying with firearms or not. TSA typically aren’t as agro as the rentacop TSA in rural areas. I’d 100% rather go through security in Denver than Bozeman.
 

jwatts

Active member
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
64
I have flown with a firearm using Alaska and Southwest. No issues with either airline. I will say that the differences were with the airport TSA agents themselves.

New Orleans- The TSA agent never opened the case, didn't inspect the locks or anything, and didn't even run the gun through a scanner with me present. He told me to go on and they'd call if there were any problems? When I landed on my return trip my wife met me to pick me up. We were at the baggage belt and I told her that I would grab my luggage then we'd have to go to baggage claim to get my gun. The first bags out were 2 gun cases for a couple that were flying in from a caribou hunt. The next was my gun case, then all of the other baggage. That was quite the surprise.

Denver- Denver was straightforward on the flight in. We went to baggage claim, grabbed out guns, and were good to go. On the return trip we checked our firearms and other bags. We were escorted to the TSA counter and waited in line. The TSA agents completely disassembled our gun cases, removing everything including the foam. They were nice, but very thorough to the point I was wondering if they would be able to get it all reassembled.

Anchorage- These folks see a ton of firearms and have their stuff together. Very painless check in. The agents were very nice and professional. They opened the case, verified everything they needed to see, asked a few questions, and I was on my way.

I do print out the TSA regs as well as the airline's firearms regs before any trip. I keep a copy in my carry on, as well as a copy in the gun case. I keep a non-TSA lock on every spot that can accept a lock just to eliminate that being an issue. I'd definitely make sure to use a good quality case. When I flew to Anchorage I swapped planes in Seattle. I had several stickers on my gun case. I am pretty sure the baggage handlers in Seattle tried to remove every sticker off my case by dragging it on the asphalt. Holy crap it was beat up. The gun was fine, but the case literally looked like the drug it down the runway.
 

OntarioHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
4,020
I fly Air Canada when hunting in South Africa. They belong to Star Alliant Group and I make sure I book through on associated airlines. That way the guns don't have to be rechecked in Europe during stopovers. I check them in at my local airport and never see them again till I get to Johannesburg. Dealing with guns at European airports can be a huge and expensive pain in the ass. Some airlines flat refuse to carry guns so be aware of that. For a while British Airlines wouldn't but recently started again. Curiously, some of the small airlines in Africa won't carry guns. It can be difficult to find gun info on their website. Usually under "sporting equipment" in baggage regs. Everyone tells me to absolutely avoid Air France or landing in France. Swiss Air is very gun friendly as is the country. I usually book through Europe with them or Lufthansa. The only problem I had was returning last time my gun along with everyone else's baggage was delayed in Toronto due to a "slowdown" initiated by the apes' union over vaccinations and masks. I missed one flight waiting for my rifle and the ammo box never showed up. It came to my house a couple days later and a fifty dollar check a few weeks afterwards.

Always go to the oversize baggage area FIRST to get your gun. Most airports throw it out in an unsecured area with no supervision. Anyone could walk off with it. If two are traveling together, one can watch the carousel while the other goes to pick up the guns. Try to pick a gun case that is not terribly obvious (as in shaped like a gun). And DEFINITELY do not put gun related branding stickers on your gun case! Antigun baggage apes will mess with it. Be discreet even though airline will usually put a special firearms tag on the gun case (dumb!). Outside of the US, no airlines will allow ammo in the same case as the gun (makes sense to make it more difficult for someone working baggage to go postal at the airport). Some airlines require the ammo to be in separate locked container and some allow it inside other checked baggage. No one will allow ammo carryon. I have a key fob made of dummy 12 gauge shell and have lost several to airport security when trying to board. Again, that makes sense as folks on the plane might freak if they saw me pull what appeared to be a loaded shell out of my pocket at 30K ft over the Atlantic. No big deal. I just make another when I get back home.
 

OntarioHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
4,020
I have flown with a firearm using Alaska and Southwest. No issues with either airline. I will say that the differences were with the airport TSA agents themselves.

New Orleans- The TSA agent never opened the case, didn't inspect the locks or anything, and didn't even run the gun through a scanner with me present. He told me to go on and they'd call if there were any problems? When I landed on my return trip my wife met me to pick me up. We were at the baggage belt and I told her that I would grab my luggage then we'd have to go to baggage claim to get my gun. The first bags out were 2 gun cases for a couple that were flying in from a caribou hunt. The next was my gun case, then all of the other baggage. That was quite the surprise.

Denver- Denver was straightforward on the flight in. We went to baggage claim, grabbed out guns, and were good to go. On the return trip we checked our firearms and other bags. We were escorted to the TSA counter and waited in line. The TSA agents completely disassembled our gun cases, removing everything including the foam. They were nice, but very thorough to the point I was wondering if they would be able to get it all reassembled.

Anchorage- These folks see a ton of firearms and have their stuff together. Very painless check in. The agents were very nice and professional. They opened the case, verified everything they needed to see, asked a few questions, and I was on my way.

I do print out the TSA regs as well as the airline's firearms regs before any trip. I keep a copy in my carry on, as well as a copy in the gun case. I keep a non-TSA lock on every spot that can accept a lock just to eliminate that being an issue. I'd definitely make sure to use a good quality case. When I flew to Anchorage I swapped planes in Seattle. I had several stickers on my gun case. I am pretty sure the baggage handlers in Seattle tried to remove every sticker off my case by dragging it on the asphalt. Holy crap it was beat up. The gun was fine, but the case literally looked like the drug it down the runway.
They pulled the foam looking for drugs. It was your turn. I always tell them I'd be happy to strip naked and subject myself to a cavity search if it makes the flight safe and helps the war on drugs.

The last time I flew out to Africa the gal at special security counter here did not even have me open the chamber when I opened the case for her. Perhaps I should do that? "Not necessary. We can see if it's loaded when it goes through the scanner." Not sure about that but I guess she figured if I wanted to keep my rifle and my federal possession license, I'd be smart enough to not show up with a loaded gun.
 

jwatts

Active member
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
64
They pulled the foam looking for drugs. It was your turn. I always tell them I'd be happy to strip naked and subject myself to a cavity search if it makes the flight safe and helps the war on drugs.

The last time I flew out to Africa the gal at special security counter here did not even have me open the chamber when I opened the case for her. Perhaps I should do that? "Not necessary. We can see if it's loaded when it goes through the scanner." Not sure about that but I guess she figured if I wanted to keep my rifle and my federal possession license, I'd be smart enough to not show up with a loaded gun.

I just found it funny how different those 3 experiences were, considering they are all operating under the same guidelines. I guess a lot is left up to the agent's discretion.
 

wllm

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
14,970
Location
Boston
They pulled the foam looking for drugs. It was your turn. I always tell them I'd be happy to strip naked and subject myself to a cavity search if it makes the flight safe and helps the war on drugs.

The last time I flew out to Africa the gal at special security counter here did not even have me open the chamber when I opened the case for her. Perhaps I should do that? "Not necessary. We can see if it's loaded when it goes through the scanner." Not sure about that but I guess she figured if I wanted to keep my rifle and my federal possession license, I'd be smart enough to not show up with a loaded gun.

Some drug smuggler- “Oh let’s definitely put those in a gun case, they definitely will go unnoticed in a case that will 100% be opened and searched.”

It’s like Canadian border patrol searching US college students for drugs and alcohol going into Canada… guys, this isn’t how any of this works.
 

woods89

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 27, 2021
Messages
239
I have flown with a firearm using Alaska and Southwest. No issues with either airline. I will say that the differences were with the airport TSA agents themselves.

New Orleans- The TSA agent never opened the case, didn't inspect the locks or anything, and didn't even run the gun through a scanner with me present. He told me to go on and they'd call if there were any problems? When I landed on my return trip my wife met me to pick me up. We were at the baggage belt and I told her that I would grab my luggage then we'd have to go to baggage claim to get my gun. The first bags out were 2 gun cases for a couple that were flying in from a caribou hunt. The next was my gun case, then all of the other baggage. That was quite the surprise.

Denver- Denver was straightforward on the flight in. We went to baggage claim, grabbed out guns, and were good to go. On the return trip we checked our firearms and other bags. We were escorted to the TSA counter and waited in line. The TSA agents completely disassembled our gun cases, removing everything including the foam. They were nice, but very thorough to the point I was wondering if they would be able to get it all reassembled.

Anchorage- These folks see a ton of firearms and have their stuff together. Very painless check in. The agents were very nice and professional. They opened the case, verified everything they needed to see, asked a few questions, and I was on my way.

I do print out the TSA regs as well as the airline's firearms regs before any trip. I keep a copy in my carry on, as well as a copy in the gun case. I keep a non-TSA lock on every spot that can accept a lock just to eliminate that being an issue. I'd definitely make sure to use a good quality case. When I flew to Anchorage I swapped planes in Seattle. I had several stickers on my gun case. I am pretty sure the baggage handlers in Seattle tried to remove every sticker off my case by dragging it on the asphalt. Holy crap it was beat up. The gun was fine, but the case literally looked like the drug it down the runway.
Interesting. Flying out of Denver has been very smooth for me. I had the same tech at the scanner both times. He scanned it, had me open the case for a quick look, and I was good to go.
I agree with the general sentiment here in that practice is highly variable from airport to airport.
 

targetpanic

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 24, 2017
Messages
669
Location
Phillipston, MA
We've flown Delta 2X Hartford - MSP - Billings and Hartford - MSP - Rapid city both times without a hitch. We have flown JetBlue with Archery equipment more times than I can remember with absolutely no issues.
 

WNC2500

Well-known member
Joined
May 28, 2018
Messages
624
Location
North Carolina
I have had great success with Delta. Agree with what everyone said. I have all of my points available with master locks, and I have the keys on me.
Also second the comment about being polite and respectful.
 
Use Promo Code Randy for 20% off OutdoorClass

Forum statistics

Threads
101,713
Messages
1,627,271
Members
31,806
Latest member
Micheal Kimberly
Top