So after a decade of traveling commercial air, you pick up on a few things. Add the dramatic changes in airline security and it can be a bit confusing. Here are a few tips for traveling with a firearm.
First, know the law where you are going and when in doubt call ahead and if that comes up with some shady information then leave it behind. There are way too many horror stories so forewarned is forearmed. Yes it does suck, but it is a reality we will have to live with for some time to come.
Get there early, the early bird gets the worm. I know that time is always critical, I wish I had some spare time not that I would know what to do with it, but being rushed definitely doesn’t help. Believe me it is worth getting up a few extra minutes early rather than freaking out if you are running late.
Be nice; smile and realize that not everyone is out to get you. Sure, there are some that show their dislike, but a smile goes a long way along with a reminder you appreciate their opinion, but doubt it is the opinion of the airlines. It is a great way to disarm their silliness.
Be familiar with the airline, airport and TSA regulations for traveling. Don’t take my word for it and while I was going to post some links, it is far better your do your own homework. Calmly saying to the ticket agent you would like to “declare and UNLOADED firearm” starts the process. Make sure you fill out all the necessary paperwork and have them check it before placing it in your bags.
Invest in a quality hard sided case that meets the minimum requirements for airline travel. The last thing you want is to worry about whether it meets the standards. There are a lot of different types of travel cases, everything from the super tough travel vaults to the smaller mini-vaults. Make sure that you have spare keys with you as well as in your checked bags. Believe me, it sucks having to cut a lock off when you arrive at your final destination because you lost or forgot them. Been there, done that.
When you drop your bags off with TSA politely let them know you have declared firearm and follow any instructions. Each airport is a little different so if you don’t know the procedure then plan for a little extra time. Most of the time they will want you to stick around and in truth it doesn’t hurt to wait to make sure thy don’t have any questions. If there is a question, make sure you understand what they are asking before answering. If you did your homework you should know the regulations and requirements. If there is an issue that you cannot resolve then politely ask to speak with the supervisor. Again, if you planned for some extra time this is where it will pay off.
Listen for your name over the public announcement system just in case, but at some point relax and enjoy your trip.
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