For about two weeks before the big Colorado vacation, I more or less worked myself into a frenzy. I'm not what you'd call a good flyer to begin with - a nasty takeoff ahead of a hurricane out of Tampa, FL combined with a landing in Boston where they tried to mate us with another plane have left me on the skittish side about flying. Combine that with the absolute farce that is TSA and modern airport security, and I'm already pretty damn tense just pulling up to the airport. From December 2000 until December 2011 I flew exactly once - took the family to Disney. This year I've flown four times.
This time, though, was different. I was bringing firearms with me to CO. I had never traveled with firearms before, either traveling to destinations where I wasn't permitted to carry (like the WI trip where I flew into Chicago...) or being so busy that it wasn't worth the hassle (SHOT Show). This time, though, a good chunk of the trip revolved around guns and shooting, and I planned on bringing firearms with me - especially considering the K-Yote and the possibility of popping prairie dogs.
So, I resigned myself to flying with guns. How bad could it be, I wondered - and then was treated to horror story after horror story. Guns went missing. Guns mysteriously escaped their cases. TSA agents played cops and robbers with custom 1911s. People getting arrested for taking possession of their guns in unfriendly cities. I did my due diligence, though - I made copies of the TSA regulations as well as the airline's (by sheer luck I chose Southwest, who are pretty reasonable when it comes to transporting firearms).
And then I went ahead and did it. I put four firearms into a carbine length rifle case - one AR-based rifle which was taken down for the journey, one revolver, and two semi-autos. All were unloaded. The pistols were in individual pistol rugs (to lessen the chance of scratching); the rifle was separated into upper and lower, with each piece in a separate section of the case. The hard-sided case had four locks - two Master locks on the end and two locking clasps:
It was apparently sufficient, because neither Logan nor Denver had any issues with the case nor the storage.
In fact, the entire experience was entirely too reasonable. At Logan, the counter person at Southwest had me fill out the declaration card and open the case. The card was put in the case, it was locked back up, and I moved down-counter to the TSA screen. Case was opened again, checked for ammo (one box, in factory packaging), and then swabbed for hidden explosives. The situation repeated itself in Denver. Both airports had a secure area where I needed to show ID to retrieve the case, too.
The only "glitch", and it's a minor one all things considered, is that I saw them putting this on the luggage sticker:
It's a quarter-sized "TSA inspected" sticker that lets other agents know that the case with non-TSA locks has already been cleared. I understand why it's there, but to me, it's a giant neon sign that says GUNS INSIDE. Now, yeah, anyone that would know what the sticker meant would also know what a gun case looked like - but I did have a woman on the ride to the Denver airport ask me what instrument I played...
Overall, though, the process was a lot better than I thought it would be - pretty much what it should be for hunks of metal and wood/plastic...
That is all.