19 May 16
“I’d like to help you out. Which way did you come in?”
On the subject of transportation of guns and ammunition in checked baggage on domestic flights, you’ll find airline web pages do their best to hide the information. What they do have is imprecise, mealy-mouthed, and thus mostly worthless. Some, like Jet Blue, avoid the subject completely. TSA’s is only slightly better.
When you call airlines directly, you’ll likely talk with someone who wouldn’t know a gun from a waffle-iron, and they’ll awkwardly attempt to recite from their own poorly-written web-page text, obviously not having a clue what half the terms mean. They’ll be utterly unable to answer your questions with any specificity. When you get to the airport, many will attempt to make-up “rules” as they go along. They couldn’t care less, of course, but their ignorance, or even a gun-hating, personal agenda, may cause you to miss your flight.
AA is the only Airline whose web page specifically and clearly says that ammunition in checked baggage may not be inside of magazines. As noted above, other airlines address the issue vaguely or not at all. Yet, when I’ve flown AA, I have not found the foregoing to be the case. Ammunition within magazines was transported without question.
I fly routinely with both rifle and pistol magazines, fully charged with ammunition. M4 magazines are Magpul, and have their wonderful “cap” in place, so that no ammunition is visible from the outside (except through the “window” on the side). They are, in turn, packed into a rectangular, padded gun-rug, secured within my range bag.
Pistol magazines are inserted, head-first into Hi-Viz’s excellent “magazine socks,” and subsequently into a gun-rug, again so that no ammunition is visible from the outside. I addition, I usually have more ammunition in factory boxes.
I mostly fly Southwest, United, Frontier, and Alaska, with no issues. I have rarely flown AA and Delta, but I’ve had no issues with them either, as noted above. I fly out of DEN, PIT, SEA, OKC, VCT, IAD, ABQ, AUS, MDW, CMH, DFW, PHL, RSW, HOU, LAS, MSN, BNA, SLC, AVP, SBN, PBI, YKM, et al.
I have noticed that when you’re a TSA/Pre, both airline ticket agents and TSA people ask far fewer questions than when you’re not. For me, TSA/Pre status has been all positive, so far.
Either way, I don’t recommend flying out of any airport in NJ, nor NY, under any circumstances, particularly NYC!
Guns need to be unloaded and in lockable (and locked), hard cases. Hard cases are then placed within checked luggage, which also needs to be locked. Guns need to be “declared” to the airline upon check-in. All airlines have “tags,” which you sign, and that are then placed on the outside of the hard case that contains the gun(s).
By contrast, ammunition need not be “declared,” nor even mentioned, and they rarely ask about it, nor want to see it, and I, for one, don’t answer questions that weren’t asked!
This from a friend who just flew out of ORD yesterday:
“I told the American Airlines counter clerk that I had a unloaded pistol in my checked baggage. She gave me the tag, and I filled it out normally. When asked about ammunition, I answered in the affirmative. I had two pistol fully-charged magazines, one in each of a pair of sneakers in my checked bag.
The TSA guy subsequently told me that AA didn’t allow charged magazines in checked baggage. They asked me to take the rounds out of the magazines. The AA clerk said she would get me a box for the ammunition, so I could fly with it. She never did!
A CPD officer was summoned, took the ammunition and said to me, ‘Why do you have these?’ I replied, ‘… for the same reason you do!’ He obviously didn’t like my answer, departed with my ammunition, and I never saw him, nor it, again.
I made my flight. My pistol, my now-empty magazines, and I arrived at my destination safely.
However, I’ll never fly AA again!”
Comment: As this unique election season continues to heat-up, I suspect many, probably most, of our inner cities will be burning by this fall. Travel to, even through, those area will not be a good idea. Traveling anywhere, via any means, without guns and ammunition, will also not be a good idea!
Be prepared to precipitously alter travel plans when necessary. You may have to drive to places to which you used to fly. When flying, don’t be surprised when airlines, and/or TSA “changes rules” suddenly, and without warning!
As always, be polite but boring. Do the drill as best your can. Pay attention. Maintain a low personal profile. Never volunteer information, and don’t expect others to care about your welfare more than you do.
Even then, there are no guarantees!