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Flying with a handgun 101


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I am planning to vacation in Southern Florida next week and would like to take a pistola with me, as I'm planning on spending some time solo fishing in the Everglades.  I've flown quite a bit, but have never taken a gun with me.  In the times that we live in I don't want to make a mistake, so I wanted to review everything befrore hand.  IF it matters I will be flying Spirit Airlines.  I've reached out to them because I could not find any specific information pertaininhg to checking a firearm on their website.  I plan to print out the TSA policy, along with anything Spirit sends me and carrying it with me.  From what I understand, I need to pack my pistol in a hard sided box.  Would a hard box that pistols typically come packagged in suffice for this (liike a Glock box)?  Its my understanding that I must then lock that box with my own lock and the baggage that I pack it in with a TSA lock.  As far as ammunition, it is my understanding that It must be in the origional package, but may be packed in the box with the pistol, is that correct?  Finally, the obvious, I know that it must be unloaded and I declare it when I check in for my flight.  Am I missing anything here?  I did do a search but the latest information was 5 years old and I wanted to make sure that I was getting up to date information.  Thank you all in advance!

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That’s pretty much it. Only thing I would add is that make sure the box is sufficiently strong sided enough that it cannot easily be pried open from the sides. My M&P came with a good enough case, the one I got with my CDHP doesn’t work as well. If the case isn’t sufficiently secure, you can be turned away. 

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4 hours ago, peejman said:

 

You should definitely bring it up and get resolution if Spirits policy says anything significantly different. 

Each airline may have different/more restrictive regs, even to the point of not allowing any firearms.  Be sure to check their website.  A common mistake is a flimsy, pryable box, such as a factory box to house the firearm.  Needs to be a quality box, even one of the metal security boxes.  Ammo can be included in the same box as the firearm.  Loose rounds are prohibited, but one can pack loaded magazines in a mag holster and be good to go.

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You got it all except that the ammo doesn't have to be in the original box. You can use any ammo box.

https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition

  • Small arms ammunition (up to .75 caliber and shotgun shells of any gauge) must be packaged in a fiber (such as cardboard), wood, plastic, or metal box specifically designed to carry ammunition and declared to your airline.
  • Ammunition may be transported in the same hard-sided, locked case as a firearm if it has been packed as described above. You cannot use firearm magazines or clips for packing ammunition unless they completely enclose the ammunition. Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, whether loaded or empty, must be boxed or included within a hard-sided, locked case. 

Spirit's specific rules can be found here on Pages 27 & 28 https://content.spirit.com/Shared/en-us/Documents/Contract_of_Carriage.pdf

Edited by monkeylizard
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As above, but always check with the airline in both your departure and your arrival airports. True story: We visited TN from ID a couple of times before moving here. Flew SW Airlines both times. Called SW in ID found out what I needed. Was a very smooth process. Declare CCW, get tagged at counter, over to TSA desk, cleared, and on the way. Didn't think to talk to SW in Nashville though. Spend my 2 weeks in TN and go to the airport to return home. SW agent there rejects the very same box/lock setup I flew in with. Was all legit per TSA but the counter lady would have none of it. Asked to speak with TSA and was told they are in the back and will not come up front unlike ID where you go to a TSA counter for clearance. SW ticket counter refused to let me clear my CCW. Luckily, my buddy who we visited was hanging out so I sent the CCW home with him and got on the plane. What would I have done if he wasn't there? Toss the gun in the trash, hand it to the closest thug I could find? The counter people could care less what TSA rules you show them, it is all based on thier own mood/interpretation at the time.

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50 minutes ago, DO-TN said:

but the counter lady would have none of it.

Bet my last dollar how she voted and anti 2A.

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I’ve always had less than exciting experiences. The only advice I have is to carry extra locks with you. I bought a pack of  6 and I’m down to my last 3. Lots of banging and dropping goes along with checked baggage.

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Another point is to be aware of laws at any stops along the way. You should be ok going to FL, but I recall the story of a guy who got diverted to NJ and had to stay overnight. He took possession of his luggage and was arrested when he came back for his flight the next day.  

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Does anyone remember when the rules required you to whip your gun out right there in line and prove to the airline attendant that it was unloaded? That was awkward. I think I did that twice before they changed the rules. 

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Had it happen to me in Vegas.  My signed affidavit is all that is required.  Very busy, surrounded by other passengers.  Corse of least resistance, pulled out my 1911 and worked the action about 5-6 times.  Sure it caused some bug-eyed reactions 🤪

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AFAIK, Florida still prohibits open carry. Some have been arrested for the weapon printing thru their clothing ! Some nib-nose or anti-2A LEO claimed they could see it through the clothing, and that was all that was necessary to hook 'em up.

 

Just make darn sure you plan ahead. Tough adjustment when you come from an OC state like TN.

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1 hour ago, docachna said:

AFAIK, Florida still prohibits open carry. Some have been arrested for the weapon printing thru their clothing ! Some nib-nose or anti-2A LEO claimed they could see it through the clothing, and that was all that was necessary to hook 'em up.

 

Just make darn sure you plan ahead. Tough adjustment when you come from an OC state like TN.

Thanks for the heads up, normally when I'm flying, I don't sweat it, but I'm planning on heading into the Everglades solo to do some fishing, and I don't really care for going into remote areas unarmed. 

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After looking through my rather vast collection of factory pistol cases, I didn't have anything I liked.  This Apache brand Pelican knockoff was $12 and change at Harbor Freight.  The 4 piece fishing pole and Pflueger reel were substantially more.  They will fit nicely in the suitcase though and in my opinion are well worth the money.  These days I seem to be able to make time to fish during lunch breaks and whatnot, and that's about it, so I need to be prepared. 

0129211956_HDR.jpg

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On 1/28/2021 at 6:29 PM, monkeylizard said:

Requested to speak to a supervisor. They would have cleared that up quickly.

You don't I didn't do that rather than ditching a Sig320 in TN? 

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May be of interest to those in Florida:

When Is Open Carry Legal?

There are under Florida Statute 790.25 certain limited conditions in which open carry is legal. Such conditions would be if you are;

  • Traveling to or engaged in camping
  • Fishing
  • Hunting or
  • Lawful target shooting
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On 1/30/2021 at 6:39 AM, DO-TN said:

You don't I didn't do that rather than ditching a Sig320 in TN? 

In that case I'd have been on the horn to the home office raising holy hell over it.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 1/29/2021 at 8:03 PM, 10-Ring said:

After looking through my rather vast collection of factory pistol cases, I didn't have anything I liked.  This Apache brand Pelican knockoff was $12 and change at Harbor Freight.  The 4 piece fishing pole and Pflueger reel were substantially more.  They will fit nicely in the suitcase though and in my opinion are well worth the money.  These days I seem to be able to make time to fish during lunch breaks and whatnot, and that's about it, so I need to be prepared. 

0129211956_HDR.jpg

I've used the exact same case for travel and it has been fine.  Good choice not using a big box that says "GLOCK" on the front.  One other word of caution it seems that if you have TSA PreCheck you will still end up going through normal security if you have checked a firearm, not a huge deal just a note if you typically cut it close on your times.

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10-Ring,

How did it go?  I'm headed to Southern Florida via Southwest Airlines next week to do some fishing and would like to carry my weapon.   I have never flown with a firearm before and want to make sure I have all the bases covered. 

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17 minutes ago, ac3boyz said:

10-Ring,

How did it go?  I'm headed to Southern Florida via Southwest Airlines next week to do some fishing and would like to carry my weapon.   I have never flown with a firearm before and want to make sure I have all the bases covered. 

It went off without a hitch.  The agent in Nashville asked me to show her the pistol so that she could verify that it was unloaded.  I already had the slide locked back on it so I didn't have to handle it.  She complimented me on the pistol (Kimber Micro) and told me to enjoy my trip.  The agent that I dealt with on my return flight in Fort Lauderdale wasn't nearly as friendly, but didn't give me a hard time.  He told me that it was not necessary to open the box, he just had me sign the form saying that it was unloaded.  

Other than that, I found it handy to keep my key on a caribener type keychain inside my backpack that I carried on.  

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13 minutes ago, 10-Ring said:

It went off without a hitch.  The agent in Nashville asked me to show her the pistol so that she could verify that it was unloaded.  I already had the slide locked back on it so I didn't have to handle it.  She complimented me on the pistol (Kimber Micro) and told me to enjoy my trip.  The agent that I dealt with on my return flight in Fort Lauderdale wasn't nearly as friendly, but didn't give me a hard time.  He told me that it was not necessary to open the box, he just had me sign the form saying that it was unloaded.  

Other than that, I found it handy to keep my key on a caribener type keychain inside my backpack that I carried on.  

Good to hear.  I'm planning to go to Harbor Freight tomorrow to pick up an Apache case.  Where did you pick up your TSA compatible lock?  And more importantly, how was the fishing?  We're planning on mostly surf fishing at Fort Myers.

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6 minutes ago, ac3boyz said:

Good to hear.  I'm planning to go to Harbor Freight tomorrow to pick up an Apache case.  Where did you pick up your TSA compatible lock?  And more importantly, how was the fishing?  We're planning on mostly surf fishing at Fort Myers.

I got this one off of Amazon, it was about $6.  Honestly, the fishing wasn't anything to write home about, I did all of my fishing in the Everglades.  Had a good time, caught some bass that wouldn't have impressed me here, and got to see to see a bunch of alligators.  This was my first venture staying in Southeast Florida.  Gotta say I don't much care for it.  I've been to the Ft. Myers area a couple of times and like it much better.  

Screenshot_20210225-214724.png

Edited by 10-Ring
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It’s not necessary to use a TSA lock on a gun case. I didn’t use one last time I flew and won’t use one. Outer luggage yes, but not the gun case. 

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8 minutes ago, 10-Ring said:

I got this one off of Amazon, it was about $6.  Honestly, the fishing wasn't anything to write home about, I did all of my fishing in the Everglades.  Had a good time, caught some bass that wouldn't have impressed me here, and got to see to see a bunch of alligators.  This was my first venture staying in Southeast Florida.  Gotta say I don't much care for it.  I've been to the Ft. Myers area a couple of times and like it much better.  

Screenshot_20210225-214724.png

Thanks!

 

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