You plan a family trip that requires air travel, and although you have a reciprocal concealed carry permit for your destination, you have never traveled with your handgun. Frankly, you are somewhat intimidated by the process.
Although you consider taking your weapon to protect your loved ones, you make the conscious decision to leave it behind. Travel goes well and everyone is looking forward to a special family dinner on the first night. You are at the hotel, and while everyone is getting ready you turn on the local news station and hear repeated segments about violent crime occurring in the area. You use your phone to conduct further research about local crime activity, and in addition to having a heightened sense of awareness, you now have a pit in your stomach.
You had planned on walking with your family from the hotel to the local restaurant. You now realize that although you did a good job planning the trip you failed to take all legal options available to you to help ensure your family’s safety. You failed to conduct a threat assessment in advance. Although it was a legal option, you made the decision not bring your handgun as a defensive countermeasure.
Despite your significant misgivings, off you go, walking with your family to the restaurant, hoping for the best. But…hope is not a good plan!!
Simple tips and information to make air travel with a weapon easy!
- Prior to travel, research all local, state, or international laws of your destination regarding firearms, specifically understand the local concealed carry restrictions and storage requirements. This includes when you retrieve your bag containing the weapon and while traveling in a vehicle or rental car.
- Prior to travel, research your specific airline rules and regulations. Visit the airline website for information or call directly if expectations are unclear to you.
- Prior to travel, ensure you have all required credentials such as concealed carry permit and/or LEOSA/IROCC. Make a paper copy in the event you lose the originals, packing the copies separate from your originals.
- Prior to travel, purchase a TSA-approved lockable, hard-sided weapons container. The container can use hard locks, cable, or either key or combination configurations. Purchase TSA-approved locks.
- Be aware that each lockable area on a hard-sided weapons container requires a lock. This applies to long gun boxes as well.
- Prior to entering the airport terminal (i.e., at home or in another safe location), follow all weapons handling and unloading safety procedures and unload weapon and magazine. Place and secure both in your container. Do not store ammunition in the same container as weapon.
- Ammunition should be stored in the manufacturer box. Some airlines require a separate locked TSA-approved container.
- Prior to entering the airport terminal, place safely stored and unloaded weapon containers in baggage to be checked at the airline counter.
- Upon arrival to the airport go directly to the airline ticketing counter and declare the weapon and ammunition to the airline agent. Do not attempt to pass security with the weapon and/or ammunition!
- The airline agent will give you a weapons declaration card to fill out – PRINT LEGIBLY.
- The airline agent will tape the declaration to container, place it inside the container or place it loosely in checked bag.
- Once the declaration and check-in process is complete, the agent may ask you to wait a few minutes for clearance from TSA or advise you to proceed past security and they will call if needed.
- Replica, molded, and training weapons can be transported in checked bags only.
- Upon arrival at the destination airport be aware that weapons containers may come out at a different location than the luggage carousel. Some airlines divert baggage with weapons to secure areas, requiring identification to retrieve. If traveling with a long gun container it will likely arrive in an area reserved for larger cargo such as skis and golf clubs.
Remember you don’t pick the time; the time picks you, so pursue peace but prepare for righteous havoc!