I’ll admit it can be a little frustrating, particularly if you don’t know what to expect, but the folks over at the Beretta Blog have put together a great article called “10 Gun Tips You Need To Know About Flying With Guns”. It’s not a step-by-step guide to the procedures, but rather a collection of great information about making the process smoother.
The author, who flies with guns on a regular basis, speaks from experience. As he reminds us, you have to follow the rules to the letter — and there are two sets of rules! The TSA has their set and each individual airline has theirs; you need to be aware of, and scrupulously adhere to, both of them if you expect to get through the experience relatively unscathed.
I’ll add that the worst situations always seem to occur with a counter agent who isn’t familiar with their own airline’s rules, and the problems are compounded of that person doesn’t like (or is afraid of) guns. In those cases you need to have a great deal of patience, but having a printed copy of the airline’s rules — with the pertinent sections highlighted — seems to help. That, and a polite but firm attitude!
Some airlines seem to be more comfortable with this process than others. Not surprisingly, the eastern seaboard regional airlines are the worst; they seem to believe that only criminals have guns, and there’s no reason why a law-abiding citizen would need to take a firearm traveling! On the other hand, the best airline I’ve experienced with regard to their firearms policies has been Alaska. This may be because a lot of people fly into Alaska (and other western states, which is their home territory) to go hunting. Where you have hunters, you have firearms and I’ve never seen an Alaska agent so much as blink when someone says “I need to check a firearm.”
(One more thing: never fly with a handgun into any New York airport, even if it’s just a connection point — they’ve been known to arrest people for the guns in their checked luggage. You can Google for the sordid details.)
Read the article, read and understand the TSA and your airline regulations, and you’ll most likely encounter no issues.
-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-