Jet-Set with Your Firearm: A Comprehensive Guide to Safely Fly with Your Gun
Traveling can pose various concerns, especially for those who want to protect themselves. As a gun owner or concealed carrier, you might wonder if you can bring your firearm with you on a commercial flight. The answer is yes, but you must adhere to specific guidelines set by the airline and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This guide outlines the steps and precautions you need to take.
1. Familiarize Yourself with Airline and TSA Policies
Before anything else, check both the airline’s and TSA’s firearms policies. Most airlines follow the TSA’s general guidelines, but some may have additional requirements or restrictions.
TSA Transporting Firearms and Ammunition Policy Link: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition
Airline Gun and Ammunition Policy Links:
- Southwest Airline
- American Airlines
- Air Canada
- Allegiant Air
- Jet Blue
- Spirit Airline (page 27)
- United Airlines
- Sun Country Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
2. Unloaded and Declared
When flying with a firearm, it must be unloaded. Moreover, you are required to declare your firearm to the airline when checking in. This usually entails filling out a special card verifying the gun is unloaded, which is then placed inside the case.
3. Proper Packaging
Your firearm should be stored in a hard-sided container that is locked. The container must be sturdy enough to prevent unauthorized access. It should be completely secure so that nobody can pry it open easily.
4. Selecting the Right Safe
When choosing a safe or case:
- Material: Hard plastic or metal cases are the most popular options. They offer strength and durability.
- Locking Mechanism: TSA regulations mandate that the case must be locked. Only the owner should retain the keys or combination; do not give these to the airline.
- Size: The case should snugly fit the firearm and any additional items, like magazines or ammunition. This minimizes movement and potential damage.
5. Ammunition Storage
Ammunition also has specific storage requirements. It should be packed in its original box or a container specifically designed for ammunition. Some airlines might let you store ammunition in the same container as your firearm, but it should never be loaded into the gun.
Loose ammunition is not allowed. Either use the original factory box and lock with your gun or other appropriate containers that keep it secured. It must also be locked up.
6. Checked Baggage Only
Firearms can only be transported as checked baggage. They are not allowed in carry-on luggage under any circumstances. When you arrive at the airport, go to the airline’s ticket counter to declare your firearm and check it in.
7. Gun Laws When Traveling
You must be fully aware of the gun laws in your destination country, state and city. Each location has its rules regarding firearm possession and importation. Even within the US you must know if your firearm and ammunition is allowed. Be sure to check magazine limits, ammunition types, and other regulations before traveling.
Some countries may not allow you to bring a firearm at all, while others might require a specific permit.
The USCCA has a great guide to the firearm and self-defense laws within the US. It is a great recourse to use when traveling.
8. Be Sure to Collect It
Upon arriving at your destination, go straight to the baggage claim area and check for your gun case. If it’s not on the carousel, it might be held in the airline’s office for security reasons.
9. Practice Discretion
While it’s essential to declare your firearm, it’s equally crucial to do so discreetly. You don’t want to draw unnecessary attention. Keep your firearm case nondescript to avoid potential issues.
Many people travel with firearms so you don’t have to whisper to the travel agent when declaring. But you also don’t want to advertise to everyone that you have a gun in your checked luggage.
Traveling with a firearm on a commercial airline is entirely possible, as long as you meticulously follow the guidelines. Prioritize safety and legality, and always remain updated with the latest regulations from both the airline and TSA. With proper preparation, gun owners and concealed carriers can protect themselves even when on the go. Safe travels!