“Steal Me” : American Airlines & Guns

By John Farnam

American Airlines Firearms Red Tag saying “Return To Baggage Office"
American Airlines Firearms Red Tag saying “Return To Baggage Office”
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- American Airlines

I flew out to the East Coast last weekend. Back to CO yesterday.

I flew on American Airlines. One connection on each leg of the round trip.

In all fairness, flights were comfortable and mostly on-time.

There was one problem:

AA now insists on putting a bright, red tag on all checked luggage that contains guns. The tag says:

“Return to BSO” (Baggage Security Office)

At AA, luggage containing guns does not go out to the carousal, as it does with most other airlines I fly. It is delivered directly to the AA baggage-claim office and must be surrendered personally to the legitimate claimant (after showing identification). I notice that it arrives at the baggage-claim office after all other luggage is out on the carousal, so you can now add at least ten minutes to your stay at the airport.

I guess I can understand their concern, but I don’t like this latest version of “steal me” tags hanging-off my luggage.

SW doesn’t do this to me, and they also don’t gouge me with luggage fees!

Again, in all fairness, both I and my luggage made both legs of my trip safely, and we both arrived at our destinations, mostly on-time. My checked bags contained my customary complement of guns, magazines, and ammunition, and none of that was any kind of problem.

However, as long as they insist on putting bright, red “steal me” tags on my checked luggage, I won’t be flying American Airlines!


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Karl Reiser

How are airline employees able to leave work with loot ? My supermarket grocery warehouse job has exiting employees screened and lunch coolers emptied. Airports are fenced, patroled, and under tower observation.
Are they mailing loot from some postal facility on airport ?


Say what you want about the vitures of flying SW, but its really the worst airline out there. Pretty much the public buses of the skies.


I love buses. What’s wrong with buses.

Vietnam vet

Rules on firearms were put in place for safety reasons. A military traveler had a loaded handgun in his duffle bag until declared. The eastern airlines agent threw the bag on the conveyor belt. It discharged killing one employee. The airline policies differ but it’s for employee safety in the terminal and on the aircraft.it’s to encourage special handling when loading and transfer to connecting flights it has nothing to do with the passenger. The way t.s.a. works you’re lucky to be able to have a gun at all. By the way I would not advise you to go to… Read more »

Mike the Limey

I can’t seem to find any reference to the Eastern Airlines shooting you mention.
I know it must have been a while back but I’d have thought it’s out there somewhere.
Could you supply a link to your source?

I don’t think anyone is suggesting standing in the restroom & pulling out their gun. That’s what you use a cubicle for.

Edward McCormick

I had a similar experience with AA this week to Key West and back with my firearm. I called AA and was told that the red tag is used for 3 circumstances: firearm being transported, oversize luggage and expedited luggage ( I.e., lost luggage). My bag had to be claimed in person with claim check in Key West but was put out on the carousel in Denver. That was a big problem according to a baggage supervisor and should not have happened. There is more follow up to be done. Will post results.

Jim in Conroe

Oversize and expedited luggage may be tagged, but it is against federal regulations to tag a bag containing a firearm.
18 U.S.C. § 922(e) provides:
“. . . 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.”



Actually, all of you are idiots…As a fleet service employee I appreciate knowing there is a gun and or ammo in a bag, That way I can be especially careful with the bag, and not get shot cause some passenger idiot diidnt unload it like they should of…Hence the employee at Southworst who didnt know there was a firearm in the bag, and it went off and shot him…Keep up the good work American and Delta, love your concern for safety..


Jerry; that is the stupidest reply I have see here yet! First guns do not shoot themselves. Second TSA checks if the gun is loaded when they make you take if out of the case at check in. Third I am guessing you are just one of the fleets service thugs that steal all our property from our luggage and you want the tags so it is easier to find high value guns. Your Southwest comment is total BS, and one can google and see that he was killed by another SW employee in a parking garage nowhere near luggage.… Read more »

Mike the Limey

Oh lookee here; a lying liberal making shit up.
Guns don’t just go off on their own & are checked to ensure they’re unloaded in front of TSA.

Frequent Armed Flyer

Not the brightest bulb out there.

Actually, I’ve never had to open the case up for TSA however, I have had to open the case and show empty to each ticket agent that I have checked in with. The process is to check in with the ticket agent and declare the firearm and show empty if asked. TSA does have the option of having you open the case (provided you are using real locks on the gun case) for inspection although I’ve never been through that.


Any time I have flown with checked handguns, declaring to ticket agent instantly has me rerouted to a TSA check area….. and yes, the HAVE, every time, demanded I unlock and open the cases. One silly female at SeaTac (SEA) also demanded I open the box with the ammo. I did, she actually opened EVERY ONE of the factory cartons, slid the tray out, and checked that every round was live, and in its prooper place. Watching her go through a fifty round box of .22 LR was torture… HAD to make certain they were all there? No clue. She… Read more »

Mark Ethridge Woodward

Jerry, you’re a Libtard…


at least it wasnt United. theyd probably shoot you with your own gun

Jim in Conroe

I had heard that it was “illegal” (or against FAA regulations) to specially mark luggage containing firearms. This used to be a requirement and routine, but it did result in a rash of thefts.

18 U.S.C. § 922(e) provides:
“. . . 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.”



I thought TSA regs mandate that the luggage containing firearms are not to be marked as containing firearms. Did this change? Funny thing most folks don’t realise.. I KNOW both Seattle and Atlanta do not restrict firearms from the baggage claim area in any way. I’ve gone into both airports to collect inbound passengers, and have been armed both places… walk right on in, no metal detectors, no security, walk in from the car park or the street… armed… right up to the carousels, help my arriving friend with their luggage…… and we walk on out together. So WHY the… Read more »

Jim in Conroe

You are correct. Google 18 U.S.C. § 922(e).

Frequent Armed Flyer

Delta is doing the same process that AA does with tagging luggage that contains a firearm. Delta also will strap the luggage with a fairly thick tie to prevent access to anything inside the piece of luggage. Makes it difficult to see if your forearm actually made it to its destination.

On a good note, each time I have flown with Delta and a firearm, the check in was hassle free and the firearm arrived within the luggage. I still like the way SW does it with no identifying tag on the luggage.

Frequent Armed Flyer

The strapping doesn’t happen until the luggage arrives at the destination when you pick it up at the airline luggage office.

Mike the Limey

American Airlines refuses to carry my hunting rifles from the UK to the US & back on the grounds that UK laws are ‘too complex’.
No they’re not. they may be onerous & restrictive but they in no way affect the airline itself.
Delta have no issues flying me & my firearms, either internationally or domestically within the US.
needless to say, AA has seen none of my $ in the past 12 years.


Except, under UK law, weapons are not permitted to transit. Perhaps the airlines are simply trying to avoid being drug into a legal problem as an accessory to a violation to the law(s).

Jim in Conroe

I am taking a firearm from Houston to South Africa via London and flying BA. BA requires that they be notified at least 72 hours before the flight that you are transporting a firearm, and they will enter this information on your itinerary. You will also be required to show them Form CBP Form 4457, which documents that Customs and Border Control have approved the export of your firearm. Lufthansa has a similar requirement, if you are flying them and connecting through Germany. You are not allowed to take possession of your firearm in the UK, which should not be… Read more »

Mike the Limey

If you mean they can’t transit the UK onwards to another destination, you’re wrong.
Three years ago, I flew to the US for my elk hunt, then back through LHR on my way out to Zim for a plains hunt with no difficulty or break in the journey, then back to the UK.
I was accompanied by two American friends & their rifles came through just fine too, both coming & going.
There’s a lot of myths about UK firearms legislation – all the way to us not being allowed to have any guns at all.


Do they allow you to remove the tag once they give you your bag or do they require you to leave it on the bag until you leave the airport? If they require it to remain on the bag until you leave the airport it is even worse.


Frequent Armed Flyer

I will remove the tag immediately upon getting my luggage but won’t cut the strap off until I’m outside loading my luggage in a rental car or my car. That way people won’t freak out in the luggage claim area thinking is another Ft Lauderdale incident about to happen.


Take your luggage into a restroom stall, cut the strap with nail clippers, and put your concealed firearm on. No one sees it and you have your protection with you. Provided it is legal to carry outside of security.


Tough luck buddy. If you want to travel with
your firearms, you’re going to have to respect
the airlines policies for safety. I think we’re fortunate to even have the opportunity to travel abroad
with firearms to begin with.


“Policies for safety”??? I thought that I was reading doublespeak from “1984” for a moment.

Real safety might be achieved by not leaving people helpless and defenseless in the event of a mass shooter.

This sort of event happened 1 (one) time, and the entire process of traveling with firearms now needs to be adjusted. That’s a bit of ‘closing the barn door after the hours has left’ or the US military’s ineffective habit of ‘fighting the last war’.


Advertising the presence of an item often stolen that is not under constant security surveillance is stupid, not safe. Most of the items stolen from luggage are stolen by employees in the airport when an opportunity presents itself. Flagging the most desirable pieces to steal is idiotic.

Perhaps we should put the same restrictions on your free speech rights…more wars are started because of the exercise of that right than from shipping unloaded firearms in the cargo hold of an aircraft. Of course, liberal socialists like you don’t have to be logical and sensible.


policies for safety are fine, but this is not that, and its not fine. clearly

No Fly Zone

Spot on, Touché….

VE Veteran - Old Man's Club

Anything to out the legitimate law abiding gun owner.