Report on Flying American Airlines with Firearms, Reagan National to Phoenix

Virginia Citizens Defense League member W.B. sent me this email on his experience flying American Airlines while bringing along a firearm:

American Airlines Firearms Red Tag saying “Return To Baggage Office"
American Airlines Firearms Red Tag saying “Return To Baggage Office”

Virginia – -(Ammoland.com)- After seeing another Virginia Citizens Defense League member’s experience flying American Airlines in a recent newsletter, I would like to add my own, as it differs from the rosy picture they painted.

I recently flew American Airlines from Reagan National to Phoenix and back, with a firearm in my checked baggage. The experience could have been better. When checking in with American at both airports, I had to wait in the same very slow line as all the people who were rebooking flights or doing other special time-consuming things. Once I finally got to the desk, the practices diverged.

The agent at Reagan was content to have me sign the “unloaded firearm” card, place it in the bag, and walk me over to the TSA baggage inspector. In Phoenix, the American Airlines check-in agent insisted that she had to inspect my locked firearm case, and claimed that if she could pry it open enough with her hands to slip a finger inside and touch the gun, the case was not allowed. Indeed, she started prying away at my case and claimed it “technically” did not meet her unpublished standard, but I was able to convince her that since it had flown from Reagan National to Phoenix without a problem. It would also be acceptable to fly the return trip.

Sure enough, the TSA in Phoenix didn't have a problem with my case.

Arizona “No Guns” Signs

One other thing I saw on this trip is the folly of giving business owners the ability to post “no guns” signs that have the force of law. In Arizona, businesses that serve liquor may post special “no firearms allowed” signs and it's a violation of the law to simply carry a gun inside (as opposed to trespassing if you're asked to leave). This gives anti-gun restaurateurs the opportunity to make a statement, and quite a few restaurants had such signs, which are much more obtrusive than the “no guns” signs you sometimes see in Virginia. I avoided those businesses.

One final unfortunate thing was the gun ban in National Park Service buildings, which in one case effectively blocked access to armed citizens wanting to visit beautiful and historic sites. Even the privately-operated lodges and motel rooms at the Grand Canyon ban guns, which may go above and beyond the requirements of federal law.

Virginia Citizens Defense League

About Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL):

Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). Virginia Citizens Defense League is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.

For more information, visit: www.vcdl.org.

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Jim in Conroe
Jim in Conroe
2 years ago

Last September I shipped a rifle on British Airways from Houston, TX, through London to Johannesburg, South Africa. I will save detailed comments for a comment on a post on international shipments. But let me say that the keys to success are knowing the requirements of the US for export, the airlines for check-in, and the arrival country process. Although there are agencies that will handle this for you, it is not a difficult process to do yourself, as I did. Some key points are having the firearm registered by Customs and Border Patrol well before you depart, notifying the… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
2 years ago

I flew on Spirit airlines with a lever action rifle from LAX to Ohare to MSP. Having read the airlines rules for checking in, I felt confident it would go OK. Aside from the ticket agents who never learned their own policy concerning my “cowboy” gun and their manager who finally called the TSA agent. The ordeal took roughly 25 minutes with everybody and their brother avoiding the line I was in. Having all my ducks in a row and knowing their rules made the process go smoothly. I was more concerned about my layover in Chicago and my checked… Read more »

Clark Kent
Clark Kent
2 years ago

Why, exactly, is it a ‘folly’ to let business owners determine the rules regarding their business? If you don’t like their rules then GO SOMEWHERE ELSE and they WON’T GET YOUR MONEY. Simple enough?

Kevin
Kevin
1 year ago
Reply to  Clark Kent

If I don’t like the color blue can I put up a sign, and not allow anyone wearing the color blue in.

kelly king
kelly king
2 years ago

The problem is 2 out of 10 passengers lie about the gun being unloaded or leave the ammunition in a clip.I know I have had Military personal leave guns loaded .Just a fact not everyone is perfect .We are all human …this is why we check
or make you open the case.

HankB
HankB
2 years ago

Funniest experience I had with airport security was in Frankfurt, Germany, when I was headed out on safari. For some reason they wanted to check to verify my gun (properly declared and checked all the way through!!) was unloaded, and to do this an agent escorted me to the tarmac under the plane where they’d taken my bag off the luggage truck. So I opened it up and the agent’s eyes got wide because my bolt action rifle had a synthetic stock. He asked if he could handle it and I said “sure” . . . and handle it he… Read more »

BJI
BJI
2 years ago

If GOD had meant man to fly HE would have given us wings!

Nick L
Nick L
2 years ago

I fly a few times monthly on AA. When traveling to free America, I always bring my firearm. Over 10 years time I have had maybe 2 or 3 bad experiences. Some airports, usually the bigger ones will send you to TSA, others will ask if the gun is unloaded and secure, they look at my case have me sign the document and they send the bag on it’s way with the BSO tag.

Michael Muckraker
Michael Muckraker
2 years ago

When you check a firearm you might as well put a bullseye on your “secured” case that states “please steal me.”
Any sticky fingered dimwit can easily get a few hundred bucks on the street for your expensive firearm. Send it UPS along with your dangerous toothpaste and buy a box of ammo at the other end. Who needs the aggravation?

Charles
Charles
2 years ago

I have flown many times with weapons. There were a few times that I had to tell the TSA agent what to do when inspecting the case. Not the sharpest pencil in the box for sure. Other times I told them that if they were going to open my case they had to do it in front of me per their regulations. They don’t like that!

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles

, the TSA is a Democrat jobs program for otherwise unemployables.

Jim in Conroe
Jim in Conroe
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles

Your firearms case should be locked with a non TSA lock, and you should have the only key. If they want to inspect the firearm, they need to call you to unlock the case.

Larry Brickey
Larry Brickey
2 years ago

Haven’t flown since 1993 and don’t want to.

Robert Mcgill
Robert Mcgill
2 years ago

Simple I am a gun owner and always fly alaska. If not able to fly alaska will not ever fly american airlines. Spend your money with gun friendly businesses

Tionico
Tionico
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Mcgill

I booked a RT flight to St. Louis Missoiry a while back, on American cause I’ve got air miles. Out was fine… back turned ugly. Checkin at St. Louis was fine…. TSA were a simple look see, in reality a joke but not offensive. THEN I was told by AA folks that since the second leg of the return was actually ON an Alaska plane, I’d have to recover my checked bag at LAX, then schlep it to Alaska where it would have to be RECHECKED. WHAAAAT??!!?? If it didn’t have the arms inside it, it would have simply been… Read more »

Kyle
Kyle
2 years ago

Seatle airport was a blast. 3 different lines before finally being sent to TSA. Once there she never inspected my locked gun case, she only swabbed my bag and underwear for explosives residue. Make sense?

JS
JS
2 years ago
Reply to  Kyle

TSA are a bunch idiots – and those are the good ones

Tionico
Tionico
2 years ago
Reply to  Kyle

Your Seattle experience was far better than my most recent. Can’t remember whether it was Delta or AA, no matter. Declared at checkin, directed to the TSA area. Some silly cutesey pie TSA agent inspeceted everything inside the offending bag…. demanded I OPEN the locked hard siced cases with the guns and ammo, separate, of course. This idjit clearly did NOT know how to handle a handgun, but oh well I knew they were both safed. She DID condesced to letting me repack them. THEN she demanded the case with the ammo be unlocked. This twit insisted in opening EVERY… Read more »

AmericanExercisingHisRights
AmericanExercisingHisRights
2 years ago

I live outside of Atlanta and fly out of and into Atlanta-HJ-Nat.-Airport. I always bring a firearm and declare it to the airline agents, who direct me to the inspectors who will inspect my baggage.
Without question, the process is always slower and more complicated at Atlanta than at other airports. The inspectors project the “unfriendly cop attitude” and do their best to let you know that they have power over you.
This has never been the case at any other airport I’ve flown through. I think I know why but to say it would make me a racist.

Charles F
Charles F
2 years ago

Those “no firearms” signs on the doors of Arizona businesses that sell alcohol don’t mean SQUAT unless they are posted adjacent to their liquor license. Hard to tell if it is until you are inside and find the liquor license posting though.