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Thread: Air travel with a gun (Record breaking long post)

  1. #1
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    This post of mine is ridiculously long, but it might be entertaining reading and informative about my experience with the airline. It even has cute girls in it.

    Went to Vegas a few months ago and took some time to go to a shooting range with my brother. I studied the airline regulations in and out. Packaged up my .357, 9mm, and .22 rifle in a hard-sided rifle case with a custom cable and a nice big fat Master lock and headed to the airport.

    DW and DD2 were on a later flight so DD1 and I go inside and see a huge line is and opt for curbside check-in. It is ******* cold so I've got my arms around DD1 as we move through the line, keeping my cases close, including The Case.

    We get to the counter and the guy asks how many bags to check. I say two and point to the one and hold up The Case, because, I'm buggered if I'm going to just walk up to the counter and say, "HI, I HAVE A *GUN*!" no matter how much I smile.

    I give DD1 my coat and put on my gloves hoping things go smoothly so we can get inside quickly. He goes through the registration and says, "Okay, the first bag is free, but it'll be $25 for that one", gesturing toward The Case.

    I'm about to get into my rehearsed oversized baggage fight when I realize the amount is not an oversized fee, it's a second bag fee. I say, "No, they should both be free, one for each of us."

    "Yes, the first is free [because we bought our tickets before the fee on the first bag was instituted] but there's a fee on the SECOND bag."

    "Right, but there's two of us." He looks at me blankly. I smile and say, "I have another passenger down here," pointing behind the counter and trying not to be rude that I told him her name already. He stares at me like I'm speaking Martian so I pick DD1 up. "She's traveling as well, one bag is on her ticket."

    "OH! Ok! Same last name?"

    "Sort of, I'm G, she's G M."

    "Ok, here she is."

    Then he asks about The Case. "What's in this one?"

    Resisting the urge to tell him a "WTF do you THINK is in it??" I lower my voice slightly and say matter of factly, "Firearms."

    "Oh, you're going to need to take that inside..." and proceeds to tell me the different lines I need to go in blah, blah, blah. I'm thinking, "You couldn't say that at the beginning before I froze my hind-end off and held up your line and risk missing my plane???"

    I go to the "Additional Services" line and the woman asks for my boarding pass. I explain to her that I was sent inside "because I have this," pointing at The Case.

    "What's in it?"

    "WTF DO YOU THINK IS IN IT??" No, no, I suppressed that urge again and said "Firearms," a little more matter of factly.

    "Oh, you'll first need to get your boarding pass and then come here."

    We manage to move through the line quickly. Frontier is moving to some automated kiosk system. The people ahead of me need some counter help, one of the kiosks is broken, and they're short-staffed.

    They motion me to a kiosk and I say, "I'm going to need some help with this," gesturing to The Case. The guy tells me just to check in and we'll go from there. I put in my info and it prints DD1’s boarding pass but not mine. *groan*

    I tell the guy and he grumbles and starts to check me in. I wait patiently and he finally asks.

    "What's in this?"

    "WHAT THE....oh, to heck with it...Firearms."

    "Ok, you're gonna need to open it, and then need to be escorted to CTX, blah, blah, blah...."

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, I pull out my keys and am can-we-get -on- with-it-ing. I unlock the case and wait to open it in the interest of discretion. He's busying himself asking for all the things I tried to let them know they were going to need long before that.

    He says, "Um, you need to open it."

    "WAITING FOR YOU, BUDDY...." I think to myself, 'cause, you know, I really don't need to get strip searched while accompanied by my daughter.

    I open it and he glances at everything and says, "Um, yeah, everything's unloaded right?" as though he knows what he's looking at. Specifically, he doesn't check the cylinder of the revolver nor wonder where the action for the rifle is. "Yep, all empty and trigger locked," I reply. (Trigger locking is not required but I always transport them locked unless it's one live on my hip.) He tosses an orange tag in and says I can lock it back up.

    So, he gets the lady I talked to at Additional Services over and she puts The Case on a cart and we move onto The Room. There's a TSA lady there, quite cute I might add, as well as one of those big cool explosives snoopers.

    We're standing back behind the doorway to the room and DD1’s asking lots of questions and I'm trying to not use the "G" word too loudly, because I don't need her repeating it all the way through the terminal. I finally kneel and tell her in a low voice they need to make sure my guns are okay.

    After I give her my keys, the cute inspector hands me back the orange tag, which I was apparently supposed to sign at the counter. She goes through the case including checking behind all the foam backing and opening all the ammo boxes. "That's clever," I thought. Be pretty easy to hide a block of C-4 in something that's going to render a duh- positive on an explosives snooper.

    She tosses a TSA sheet in the case and goes to lock it back up. I advise her on how to cable it back up since I had it made to be snug. Smiled at me the whole time, oh, bestill my heart. Damn I wish I had time for HER to strip search me.

    Additional Services lady tells me she'll escort it to the cargo and I'm free to go.

    Barely make it through security on time, but we get there and get off in Vegas to go to baggage claim. I think, "Ok, A) The Case is long and would probably come through oversize, and B) they'd be bleeding stupid to let that go round a carousel with it being so bleeding obvious what it is."

    I go up to a guy at the Frontier counter and say, "Hi, I've got a rifle case coming out (again not using the G word)..." He points toward the carousel. "Okay....," I think.

    We wait, and then I see a guy obviously just off the tarmac come and stand with The Case. I walk up, move my jacket and reach to my back pocket for my ID. Which was really a bad motion to make I thought as I did it, so I smiled. I said, "That's mine, I think."

    He nods and takes my ID. I see that he believes me but wants to cover his bases and asks for my claim ticket. I say sure and go back to my carry-on. I hand it to him and he says, "Just gotta be sure, you know." I agree and thank him and OFF we go.

    Have a good time at the range with my brother blasting the holy hell out of some silhouettes.

    On the return trip, there's hardly a line and we have time, but I'm done pussyfooting this time.

    The guy asks how many cases and I say, "Three, including a firearms case," holding up The Case. It's obviously his first time for this, and later we would find out, several other things.

    He calls so and so and asks a bunch of questions and asks me to open The Case. He looks and then calls Question Lady back and asks a bunch more questions about the ammo. I had a box of 40 rounds of .22 left as well as all my spent brass for the larger calibers.

    He starts to tell me I can't have the ammo in the same case as the guns. I'm like, um, BS, but don't need to fight about $2 in ammo and $5 in brass. He suggests I put it in one of my other cases. I point out to him they're not hard sided, nor do I have locks, and I don't want TSA to have to go through everything in them in order for the case to pass inspection, additionally, I don't want it to set off any snoopers.

    He's on the phone with Question Lady and he's also asking about the brass. He says to her "it doesn't have the, um, tops, it's just the shells". Tops? Are you bleeding kidding me? "And what is this?" he says pointing to an empty clear ammo box, "Just an empty box?" Um, yes, that's why it's clear, so you can see it's empty. Or no, it's holding an invisible, magical, shrinking, loaded .45 that will teleport into the cabin.

    He asks if the brass has any "residue". Umm, lemme's been fired, YES it has RESIDUE! I start to contemplate how live rounds are okay but not SPENT brass with "residue" and decide I don’t really want to think about it.

    "I don't care, it's a few bucks, confiscate it, dispose of it, whatever." I'm not going to fight over a couple bucks of leftovers. The amount I had brought coming in was a different question.

    He calls question lady and asks how to "dispose" of it. Keep in mind that after he misrepresented the policy about carrying the ammo in the same case as the guns he told me they'd have to "dispose" of it. He then relays they can't confiscate it or anything, I'd have to dispose of it. I stare at him like "What, do you want me to just go to the bathroom and toss it in the wastebasket??"

    He asks if anyone could take it for me. I turn my brain back on and relinquish some of my control freak to hand the boxes to my mother to put in her purse.

    He then hands me the orange tag to sign that I affirm everything is unloaded and we're both visibly relieved that he's done ONE thing right. I lock it up and he says something about putting it on the conveyer. "Um, don't I need to escort it until it's been TSA inspected first?" I say.

    "Ummmm....lemme check...." and it's back to call Question Lady. "Ok, yeah, they'll check it and then let you know when it's ok." Uh, won't you need my keys? "They'll let you know."

    I find myself disappointed that I won't get to go to The Room again. Whether it's in hope that another cute inspection lady will frisk me or to see The Machine, I'm not sure.

    I mention that on the way out of Denver all the ammo boxes were full and we had no problem, either from the Frontier agent or by TSA. He says, "Well, that is Frontier's policy so those people weren't doing their job." Honey, I think, you're WAY obviously WAY new at this so let's not talk about who's not doing their job. Don't MAKE me ask you to pull out the policy or show it to you myself on my damned Crackberry!

    I'll spare you the details on the checked bag fees or his call to Question Lady about whether an infant and toddler can be in the same row.

    Geez, this was simpler when I was rushed!! Karmic balance, I guess. They finally okay us and off we go to Denver.

    We get to Denver and I watch the oversized carousel as well as the Frontier office at baggage claim. I see someone take my case in so I go to the counter.

    "Hi, I have a rifle case that just came in."

    "Okay, name?"

    "N G."

    "Nope, that's not it!" Big smile on her face, mind you. Actually, quite cordial. "But we'll let you know when it comes through."

    I look around the desk and say, "No, I'm pretty sure that's my case, but here's my ID and claim checks." Yeah, two cases with the same 10 year old lock and custom cable design, yeah.

    "Oh, this is under S M," she says as she matches the tags.

    "Ah, he put it under my wife's name. Ok, thanks!"

    After all that, he put The Case under the wrong NAME!!


    DW asked at some point if it was worth it. To go shooting with my brother, yeah. To go hunting someplace interesting, yeah. Just to carry? Ack, I'll DRIVE next time!

  2. #2
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    Nov 2007
    Castle Rock, Colorado, USA

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    DIA is usually cool with that stuff. Think of all the boomsticks that come in and out of that airport from NonRes hunters during any given big game season.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, it was more the airlines' regular inefficiency than DIA as a whole. I had visions of walking through the lines with people gasping and clutching their pearls while LEOs mumbled into their collars and cautiously circled me.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2007
    Tucson, Arizona, USA

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    Next time, before leaving, print out and carry a screen-shot of the airlines rules and TSA rulesfor firearms and ammo. If the counter staff starts to get silly, set it in front of them.Actually, print out two sets in case they try to keep theone you pull out.I usually also put a set in the firearms case or suitcase itself.

    And as you found out, you can't do curbside check in with guns. Sorry about that, I would have said something if I'd known...

    For the record, I've never had any problems at the 'ports I do most of my flying through: Tucson, Pheonix, Salt Lake City and Manchester N.H. And you can actually carry in the non-secure portions of those.

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