If you’ve never transported your gun on an airplane before it’s a piece of cake if you follow these simple tips. In fact, I fly with my gun often and I’ve never had a problem. First off, before you leave your house to go to the airport, make sure the gun is unloaded. I would double and triple check this. Next, the gun needs to be locked in a solid case. Personally, I just use the cases my guns came in when I bought them and I use a padlock to secure them.
Once you’re satisfied that the gun is unloaded and locked up, simply throw it in your checked baggage (not your carry on.) As far as your ammo, I just leave it in the box and throw it in my suitcase too. However, I’ll put the ammo at the bottom of my suitcase and the gun at the top. I like to make sure they’re separated by several layers of clothes, but that’s just my own personal preference.
Once you get to the airport, you’ll walk up the counter and tell the representative that you need to declare a firearm and ammunition. And if I were you, I would use those words exactly. I would not advise walking up to them and saying “I have a gun.” That probably won’t end well and you might end up surrounded by airport police who’ll ruin your day and make you spend the next eight hours in a small dark room explaining yourself.
After you declare your firearm to the counter representative…
They’ll hand you a small card – about the size of a 3×5 index card – which you need to read and sign. The card basically says that your gun is unloaded and you’re following all safety regulations and that if for some reason you’re lying you could get a big fine and/or prison time.
Once you’ve signed the card, you open up your gun case, throw the card in the case and secure it again. Then you give your luggage to the representative and you’re all done. In all of the times I’ve flow I’ve never had anyone look at the gun or even ask me if it was unloaded. All they do is hand me the card, tell me to sign it and put it in my case.
Of course, I usually fly Southwest or Delta and I know their respective regulations. So before you fly you should go to your airlines website or give them a call to see their requirements. However, I’ve heard that almost all airlines are the same with guns. But, one thing I have heard is that airlines are different when it comes to how much ammunition you can bring on a plane.
For instance, my brother just graduated from a police academy in Utah.
While he was in the academy one of his instructors said that they could order a couple thousand rounds through the academy and get a big discount. So my brother called me up and asked me if I wanted some ammo. (Do I want some ammo? Does Charlie Sheen want crack?)
Of course I told him I wanted ammo, and when I was in Utah a few months ago, I decided to pick it up. However, 3,000 rounds is a lot of ammo and there was no way I could carry it all back in my luggage at once. So I gave Southwest a call to see how much ammo I could carry on the plane and they told me 11 pounds.
Since it was a few months ago, I don’t remember how many rounds that added up to, but it sure wasn’t much. I think it was something like 350 rounds. I realize I could ship the rest, but right now I’ve got plenty of ammo in my house. Plus, I’m getting ready to head to Utah again soon, so I’ll just bring another 350 or so rounds home with me then, and continue this for the time being.
The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to fly with your gun and if you plan to carry a lot of ammo, know how many rounds you can bring. And, if you happen to be traveling from Utah to Virginia anytime soon, let me know if you’re interested in adding 11 pounds to the weight of your luggage.
About the author:
Jason R. Hanson is a former CIA officer. He’s also an NRA Certified Instructor, a Utah Concealed Firearms Permit Instructor and an Eagle Scout. Jason believes there are few things in life as important as being able to protect yourself and your loved ones. That’s why he’s giving away a free report titled, “Insider Secrets of Buying Your First Concealed Carry Firearm” at www.ConcealedCarryAcademy.com.