Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Airline Transportation of Firearms

Friday, August 1, 2003

To answer questions new airline security procedures have raised for NRA members transporting firearms in their checked baggage, NRA-ILA staff contacted the Office of Security Regulation and Policy at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

You can transport a firearm in your checked baggage subject to state and local restrictions, but you should first check with your airline or travel agent to see if firearms are permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. Ask about limitations or fees that may apply at this time. NRA-ILA is working toward achieving uniformity and fairness in the rules and regulations that law-abiding gun owners face in their travels.

While surely few NRA members could forget this, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants to remind all travelers that attempting to bring firearms onto a plane in carry-on luggage is a serious federal violation. This is a “strict liability” offense, and TSA says violators can be, and have been, convicted regardless of criminal intent, or even if they simply forgot they possessed a firearm. TSA is obliged to enforce all the existing laws within its jurisdiction and will do so vigorously.

Firearms carried as checked baggage must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container and declared to the airline at check-in. Only the passenger may have the key or combination. Small arms ammunition must be placed in an appropriate container: "securely packed in fiber, wood, or metal boxes, or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. " Under TSA regulations, ammunition may be packed in the same locked container as the unloaded firearm, but airline rules may differ.

Some airlines, as private businesses, have imposed additional restrictions or requirements, such as limiting the number of guns that can be transported in a single case, or providing different standards under which gun cases may or may not be exempt from excess baggage limitations. Especially for international flights, many airlines follow industry guidelines that limit ammunition to 11 lbs. per passenger. Again, NRA-ILA is working to secure fair and uniform rules.

Following Congress`s mandate that all checked baggage must be screened for explosives, many travelers have become concerned by announcements that passengers should leave bags unlocked to allow hand inspection. This suggestion, the TSA made clear, does not apply to baggage containing firearms. All gun containers must still be locked after they are declared at the ticket counter.

Checked bags—including those containing firearms—will then be screened for explosives by various means. Depending on the airport, methods may include high-tech "sniffers" that analyze chemical vapors, X-ray machines, trained bomb detection dogs or a combination of these systems. Not all of these methods can differentiate explosives from the gunpowder residues on a fired gun or in loaded ammunition.

If the screening detects explosive materials other than those associated with ammunition, or if screeners can`t determine the exact nature of the alarm, and if all means available (such as X-rays) cannot rule out the possible presence of explosives, TSA screeners, working with airline representatives, will make every effort to contact the passenger so that the passenger can supply the key or combination to open the case, eliminating the need to break locks.

Cases will not be labeled as containing firearms. That practice was outlawed almost 10 years ago. Federal law now states: "No common or contract carrier shall require or cause any label, tag, or other written notice to be placed on the outside of any package, luggage, or other container that such package, luggage, or other container contains a firearm." [18 USC Sec. 922(e)] TSA will warn any airline that is marking cases that it is in violation of the law.

As always, since some airline counter clerks may have little training or experience in these procedures, gun owners should contact the airline in advance, obtain a written copy of the airline policy from a reservation clerk or the airline`s website, and bring it to the airport in order to answer any questions that arise at check-in. For further information, see: www.tsa.gov.

Below are links to information from specific airlines.

United Airlines

Continental Airlines

American Airlines

U.S. Airways

Delta Airlines

For more information about transporting firearms see the NRA-ILA Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms


Also, see information about the New BATF Form For Nonimmigrant Aliens
TRENDING NOW
NY AG James Sends Threatening Letter to Ammunition Sellers

News  

Monday, November 21, 2022

NY AG James Sends Threatening Letter to Ammunition Sellers

In a move that surprised absolutely nobody, anti-gun New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) announced last week that she would expand her assault on the Second Amendment by targeting ammunition sellers. AG James claimed, ...

Maryland: Montgomery County Passes Carry Restrictions

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Maryland: Montgomery County Passes Carry Restrictions

Maryland’s most anti-gun county has continued its tantrum, lashing out against lawful carry in the only way it thinks it can. Yesterday, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to pass Bill 21-22E, to remove the exemption ...

Hawaii: Honolulu Seeks to Severely Restrict Carry

Monday, November 28, 2022

Hawaii: Honolulu Seeks to Severely Restrict Carry

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 29th, the Honolulu City Council will hear an ordinance to prohibit citizens from exercising their right-to-carry in many places. This is an attempt to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s NYSRPA v. Bruen ...

Emboldened, Opportunistic Biden Continues to Promote Gun Bans

News  

Monday, November 21, 2022

Emboldened, Opportunistic Biden Continues to Promote Gun Bans

Whatever else can be said of Joe Biden as a politician, he has been consistent and unwavering on at least one point: he wants to take your guns. Make no mistake: Left to his own ...

Recent ATF Action Shows Need for Suppressor Reform

News  

Monday, March 14, 2022

Recent ATF Action Shows Need for Suppressor Reform

As we reported last week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) denied approximately 850 Form 1 applications for prospective makers of suppressors on February 28. These denials were apparently made due to ...

California DOJ Awarded Participation Trophy for Losing Bruen Brief

News  

Monday, November 21, 2022

California DOJ Awarded Participation Trophy for Losing Bruen Brief

Those of earlier generations used to chuckle when small children were presented trophies merely for participating in organized sports. When this practice began, few could have predicted that this effete custom would someday extend to ...

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

ATF Mass Denial of Suppressor Form 1 Applications

News  

Monday, March 7, 2022

ATF Mass Denial of Suppressor Form 1 Applications

On February 28, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) denied approximately 850 Form 1 applications for prospective makers of suppressors. These denials were apparently made due to a change in ATF policy ...

Déjà vu: Biden Taps Operation Chokepoint Veteran to Again Lead FDIC

News  

Monday, November 21, 2022

Déjà vu: Biden Taps Operation Chokepoint Veteran to Again Lead FDIC

Of all the scandals of the anti-gun Obama/Biden administration, Operation Chokepoint was perhaps the most insidious. NRA-ILA covered the story at the time, explaining how federal regulators – including the Department of Justice and the ...

Give Thanks, Not Overbearing Ideology This Thanksgiving

News  

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Give Thanks, Not Overbearing Ideology This Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims of New England were intrepid settlers who sought to carve out an existence in the North American wilderness. They were men and women of profound faith whose religion strictly ordered all aspects of ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.