There’s no two ways about it: airline travel can be stressful. Between tracking down connecting flights and tracking down your luggage, it’s rarely easy. And traveling with a firearm can introduce all kinds of potential bumps in the road to complicate your journey.
The good news is that you can keep this stress to a minimum by following these four simple guidelines of flying with a firearm.
Pack It Properly
Just as you do with your suitcase, spend time at home carefully creating a checklist to properly pack your firearm. Home is the best place to carry out this step, as you have the privacy to do it safely.
It’s imperative that your gun is completely unloaded when you pack it. That means that neither the chamber nor any of the magazines have anything in them.
By making sure your gun is packed the right way, you eliminate all kinds of hassle at the airport, where you’ll already have to deal with getting to the airport, finding your gate, etc.
Double Check All Rules
You already know that the TSA has rules about flying with guns. But it’s not only the TSA rules you need to be aware of. Each airline has its own set of rules regarding flight with guns, so take the time to check the relevant information on their website ahead of time.
The easiest way to do so is by searching the section of their website with baggage policies using a keyword like “firearm” or “gun.”
In addition, it’s smart to read up on the laws governing firearms in the state or country of your destination.
A Word About Ammunition
Per the TSA, ammunition must be transported in your checked luggage. You cannot place it in your carry-on.
Be sure to securely box any magazines or ammunition clips (either loaded or empty) in a hard-sided lockbox along with your unloaded weapon.
If you’re transporting ammunition for a .75 caliber or a shotgun of any gauge, you must package it in a wooden, cardboard, or metal box specifically designed to carry ammunition.
If you do opt to transport your ammunition in a magazine or clip, it must completely enclose the ammunition. It’s a good idea to check with the airline ahead of time about any limits on quantity.
If your case is small enough, it’s likely to come right out on the carousel with other luggage from the flight. However, if the case was large or required any special handling, then you’ll need to go retrieve it at your airline’s special luggage area.
You can locate this by looking for signs in the regular baggage claim area. Take off your headphones, put your phone away, and focus on any announcements about where to collect baggage from your flight.
This may be the most vulnerable moment of your journey, and you need to be prepared.
Once you’ve retrieved your firearm, check carefully to make sure that everything is there and that nothing is missing.
Airline travel can be stressful. But with the right preparation, your firearm does not have to be the cause.