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Airline travel with rifles experiences

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Unread 06-30-2004, 10:40 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 2,369
Airline travel with rifles experiences

After reading the thread about a bag to carry a rifle I got to thinking about my recent experiences with rifles at the airport(s).

Here's a few inconsistencies/anomalies (apparently) I have experienced.

First few airline trips (pre 9-11) I needed to insert the "Weapon is unloaded" and loack the case and all was good.

Post 9-11 things changed a bit.

In DC I needed to insert the "unloaded" tag, lock the case and then subsequent to that unlock the case for the security folks (as I watched) and they verified the rifle and case contents and once again lock the case.

Upon return to DC my rifle case was held at "special" baggage until it was verified I was the owner of the baggage.

Last trip out of the DC area I still needed to insert the "Unloaded" tag and lock the case. The rifle was then placed on the baggage conveyor and away it went. A short while later I was paged to come to security. Upon arrival at baggage security (cipher lock door) I was asked to provide the key for the rifle case. I told them I'd open the case and the reply was "It's behind this door and you don't have access". So I gave the fella my key and he presumably open my rifle case, inspected it and then closed and locked it once again (out of my sight).
After arrival at the hunting area my rifle was held in "special" baggage for me to pick up.

On the way back from this last trip I once again needed to insert the "Unloaded" tag and loack the case. This time my bags were NOT x-rays or screened at all, they were purposely placed onto the baggage conveyor behind (after) the security check. No second check by security personnel. Upon arrive back in the DC area my rifle was just dumed out on the conveyor and presented as any other piece of baggage.

I don't feel too good about our airport security system in the first place but ir sure seems amiss when things are purposely NOT screened and my rifle(s) are left for anyone to claim.

Stories anyone??
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Unread 06-30-2004, 03:11 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Tampa
Posts: 3
Re: Airline travel with rifles experiences

I have flown with guns about 10 times, both pre and post 9-11. I have had similar experiences in Airports (Tampa, Pitt, Denver, Mpls); except I have never had someone hold my gun case waiting for me to show ID and prove it's mine. I wish they did. Granted I haven't flown with'm in the last 9 Months.

I do have one funny story that occurred in TPA just after 9-11. At check in I did the SOP, open case, show it is unloaded to supervisor, sign ticket lock case. Then I went with ALL of my luggage on a cart, (under my control) to another line where everything was X ray'd.

So I am standing there and the gun case goes throug first. The belt stops and they are stairing at the screen. They call me over and ask I open the case. I oblige, get the nod of approval and it is closed. My next bag to come out they decided to search. Within the bag were my shells. The guy, who was of Arab decent which is total irony, opens the box, takes one out, holds it up and asks...

"what is this?"

I literally said "are you kidding?". He continued to ask what it was. I finally got him to understand that those are the things I put in the gun he just looked at, to make it go boom. Needless to say I had a chuckle and wondered how this guy would ever spot a bomb. He obviously missed the tactical training for the local sleeper cell...

[ 06-30-2004: Message edited by: Bullethead ]
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Unread 06-30-2004, 03:24 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Detroit, MI USA
Posts: 82
Re: Airline travel with rifles experiences

Out of Detroit, all they did was inspect that it was unloaded and place the unloaded tag inside and they checked it in like normal luggage, but they carried it personnally to the plane. When I picked it up in Phoenix, I had to go to special baggage and show i.d.

On the way back in Phoenix, it was a different story. They x-rayed it and then inspected it. Out of the x-ray machine it flew too. Airborn about ten feet before it impacted the opposite edge of the roller table. They then put DTSB sticker on it that had shown that it was inspected. But back in Detroit it was thrown out there on the carousel with the other luggage. Figures. Boy you should have seen the eye brows at baggage pick up when a rifle case goes careening around the carousel.

Spent thousands on long range gear only to take a mule deer at 128 yards.....
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Unread 06-30-2004, 07:50 PM
Posts: n/a
Re: Airline travel with rifles experiences

I just ship them first......too much hassel!
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Unread 07-03-2004, 06:03 AM
Posts: n/a
Re: Airline travel with rifles experiences

Recently I flew from Erie to Pittsburgh, to Atlanta, to Cape Town (South Africa) and onto Port Elizabeth (South Africa) with 2 firearms.

In Erie my gun case was unlocked and they "looked" inside the hard case, never removing anything. I signed the card and they inserted it inside the hard case and they then locked it and forwarded it to Atlanta. I was "asked" if the rifles were unloaded. I answered yes. The rifles were never removed from the hard case. I picked up the gun case at baggage claim the same as my suitcase - in Atlanta.

We spent the night in Atlanta.

The next morning we went to Atlanta airport where my case was opened, I signed the card and it was inserted in the hard case. Again no rifles removed, they simply "asked" if the rifles were unloaded. I locked the hard case and it was tagged to go to Cape Town. I was asked if I had ammo, I said: Yes, the ammo is inside my suitcase. I was never asked to open my suitcase (which was locked). They did inspect the suitcase with their machine but I was never asked to open it.

In Cape Town we have to go to a special location to fill out the paperwork for a temporary import permit. The local police filled out the forms and inspected the firearms to be sure our customs forms matched the serial numbers on the firearms. I signed their form and locked the case and it was checked to Port Elizabeth.

In Port Elizabeth, again we had to go to a special location to claim our firearms. The case was unlocked and the contents checked so that the serial numbers matched the temporary import permit. I locked the hard case and collected my suitcase and went outside to meet our PH's.

Basically the same process on our return flights. I found security to be rather lax in the USA.

When we returned to the USA via Atlanta the customs agent had me open my hard case and he then verified the serial numbers against my customs form. I then locked the case and they checked it through to Erie. It was sort of weird in that my hard case was checked through right there but I had to take my suitcase and re-check it through via the ticket counter.

I found the entire process to be rather simple.

Don [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
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Unread 07-09-2004, 06:48 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Livonia, MI
Posts: 108
Re: Airline travel with rifles experiences

Just out fo curiousity have any of you had your firearm lost by the airport. How is your firearm insured??? Is it covered by airline insurance or personal property insurance?

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Unread 07-09-2004, 07:04 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 2,369
Re: Airline travel with rifles experiences


I don't try to insure the rifle(s) for anything extra, just standard baggage. I may have considered it once but there was a little SNAFU if I recall correctly. If they're lost I'd try the airline first then perhaps homeowners insurance... after that I'd consider it the cost of education.

I'm a little superstitious so I won't comment any any other portion of your post. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
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