Tips for Airline Travel with Guns


People who travel with their firearms are realizing that it’s easier than they thought. If you aren’t following these tips you could be in for a very long day. Review these guidelines and do your research so that air travel with a firearm is easy and smooth.

There are two essential things to remember when traveling with a firearm. First, know how to pack and check your firearm at the airport. Then, learn the laws about the state or country you’ll be visiting.

Before you purchase your tickets, confirm the laws in each state or country you’ll be visiting. If you carry concealed, review that state’s requirements to check reciprocity. Review the customs requirements for international travel to specific locations, since firearms law varies widely by country.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has clear guidelines for how to ready your firearm for air travel. Firearms are not permitted in carry-on luggage. They can only be placed on an airplane as checked baggage. Before you even start packing for your trip, make sure you’re able to meet these basic guidelines.

  • Use a hard plastic case that is fully secured and locked. If the case can be opened with a little effort, it won’t be allowed on the plane. Use a tough, high-quality case with foam cut-out sections to protect your firearm from rough handling or turbulence.
  • Use strong, reliable locks. Carry the keys with you throughout your travels. Use a lock that allows you, and only you, to have access to the case.
  • The firearm must be unloaded. A loaded magazine but a clear chamber is still considered a loaded firearm.
  • Ammunition and magazines must be secured in sturdy cardboard, metal, or wooden cases and may be included in the hard plastic case with the firearm. Containers should be secure and able to withstand rough handling.
  • Parts of a firearm, like frames or magazines, are not permitted in carry-on baggage.
  • Gunpowder, including black powder and percussion caps, are not permitted in carry-on or checked luggage.
  • Check with your specific airline and review their regulations on firearms, ammunition, and destinations as well.

When you arrive at the airport, calmly inform the agent that you are traveling with a firearm and need to check it. You’ll be required to fill out an informational declaration form. Be prepared to put up with some scrutiny of your case. If they ask why you have the firearm, you can politely respond that it’s for hunting, target shooting, or for a gun event. As with all things run by officials and agents, remaining respectful and agreeable at all times helps the process tremendously.

Don’t leave the area until the agent can confirm that your case has cleared. The agent may ask you to open the case for inspection. Keep the keys or combination in your possession and open it for them and let them see that you’ve met all requirements.

Travelers frequently pack firearms as checked baggage. If you carefully follow the TSA guidelines and check with your specific airline before you pack, you should not run into problems. Be respectful and calm if agents have questions about your firearms. Do your research about where you’ll be landing. As long as you’ve done your homework, you should have no problems.