Airline Carrier Transportation of Firearms
The following is a guide to legal transportation of personally owned
firearms for hunting, competitive shooting, vacationing, and changing
residence between states. This guide does not cover the lawful carriage
of concealed firearms.
Federal law does not restrict individuals (except convicted felons, persons
under indictment for felonies, mental defectives or incompetents, illegal
users of controlled drugs, illegal aliens, veterans dishonorably discharged,
those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship, fugitives from justice,
persons convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, and persons
subject to domestic violence restraining orders) from transporting firearms
across state lines. Thus, there is no federal interstate
transportation permit for firearms.
Many states have laws governing the transportation of firearms. Also,
many cities and localities have ordinances restricting their transportation.
Travelers must be aware of these laws and comply with the legal requirements
in each jurisdiction. There is no uniform state transportation
procedure for firearms.
Firearms and Ammunition
Firearms - There are specific
regulatory requirements to transport a firearm:
The firearm must be checked with the air carrier as luggage. Firearms
are prohibited from carry-on baggage.
The firearm must be declared orally or in writing in accordance with the
air carriers procedures (contact your air carrier for their specific procedures).
The firearm must be unloaded.
The firearm must be carried in a hard-sided container.
The container must be locked and only the passenger may retain the key
All checked baggage is subject to inspection. If during the inspection
process it is necessary to open the container, air carriers are required
to locate the passenger and the passenger must unlock the container for
further inspection. The firearm may not be transported if the passenger
can not be located to unlock the container. If you are traveling with
a firearm, pay close attention to airport pages and announcements. If
requested, provide the cooperation necessary to inspect your firearm.
Ammunition - Ammunition is likewise prohibited
from carry-on luggage. Ammunition may not be carried loose. It must travel
in the manufacturer's packaging or other packaging suitable for transport.
Consult your air carrier to determine quantity limitations or whether
the ammunition must be packed separately from the firearm.
Airlines Firearm Rules
The following is a list of some of the major airline rules for transporting
firearms as checked baggage. We recommend that you confirm the airline’s
rules prior to traveling as these rules may change at any time without
notice. It is also recommended that you print a copy of their particular
rules from their website to have on hand when checking and reporting firearms
as their own employees at ticket counters may not be fully aware of their
own rules. If their rules are not available on their website you should
request them in writing from the airline directly.
America West Airlines
America West will allow passengers to transport firearms in accordance
with Federal Law. The following conditions must be met:
- Items of shooting equipment will be accepted as checked baggage only.
- A passenger who presents baggage containing a firearm must declare
and demonstrate that the weapon is unloaded.
- All firearms must be in a hard-sided container for transport and the
- A Firearm Unloaded Declaration form must be signed and placed inside
the bag or gun case.
- Ammunition must be packed in the original manufacturing package or
metal/wood box, with a maximum of 11 pounds per passenger.
- Ammunition and firearms must be placed in separate bags.
- The number of firearms is limited to
- Not more than two rifles, with or without scopes, one shooting
mat, noise suppressors, and small rifle tools or
- Two shotguns and two shotgun cases or
- One pistol case containing not more than five pistols; noise suppressors,
one pistol telescope, and small pistol tools or
- One bow and quiver of arrows and maintenance kit enclosed in a
container of sufficient strength to protect the bow and quiver with
arrows from damage.
Firearms and Ammunition may not be carried by a passenger on an aircraft.
However, unloaded firearms may be transported in checked baggage if declared
to the agent at check in and packed in a crush-proof container manufactured
specifically for the firearm or a hard-sided suitcase. Firearms must be
in a locked container. Properly packaged small arms ammunition for personal
use may be transported in checked luggage. Amounts may vary depending
on the airline.
ATA (American Trans Air)
Federal regulations permit the transportation of firearms as checked baggage
only. Firearms must be unloaded, in an approved case, and declared in
writing at the time of check-in. Contact ATA for regulations regarding
transportation of firearms.
Continental accepts one item of shooting equipment per customer in lieu
of one piece of free baggage. All items must be properly encased in a
suitable container. One item of shooting equipment, whether presented
in a single container or not, is defined as one of the following:
- Rifles - 1 rifle case containing not more than
2 rifles (with or without scopes), 11 pounds of ammunition, 1 shooting
mat, noise suppressor and small rifle tools.
- Shotguns - 1 shotgun case containing not more
than 2 shotguns and 11 pounds of ammunition.
- Pistols - 1 pistol case containing not more
than 5 pistols, 1 pistol telescope, noise suppresser and small pistol
The following are firearm restrictions:
- Firearms are not accepted to/from Israel.
- For travel to/from the United Kingdom pistols must be packed in a
hard side rifle case.
- Firearms will be accepted only from a customer who is 18 years of
age or older.
- Curbside check-in of a firearm is not permitted.
- Customer must demonstrate in an isolated area that the firearm is
- The firearm must be packaged in a hard-sided container capable of
being locked. The container must be locked and the key or combination
must remain in the customer's possession. If a hard-sided container
is needed, see the container section of this site.
- For travel to/from the United Kingdom, pistols, rifles and shotguns
must be packed in a hard side rifle case.
- The firearm will be transported in a section of the aircraft that
is inaccessible to the customer. Proof of registration is not required.
- Firearms carried in addition to the free baggage allowance will be
assessed at the current excess baggage charge.
- No more than 11 pounds of ammunition may be carried. The ammunition
may be packed in the same container as the firearm or in a separate
container. Ammunition must be packed in the manufacturer's original
package or securely packed in fiber, wood or metal containers. The ammunition
inside the container must be protected against shock and secured against
movement. The ammunition may be packed in the same container as the
firearm or in a separate container.
- For domestic travel, no more than 11 pounds of ammunition may be carried.
The ammunition may be packed in the same container as the firearm or
in a separate container.
- Continental is not liable for damage to firearms that are not contained
in hard-sided cases.
Excess Valuation may not be purchased for firearms that are not contained
in hard-sided cases.
NOTE: Continental employees will not physically handle any firearm during
the inspection. After inspection has been completed, the customer must
sign a Firearm Declaration Tag.
The items below are considered hazardous and, by federal law, are prohibited
from all Delta flights. If you have questions or concerns about a specific
item, please contact Delta Air Cargo at 800-DL-CARGO (800-352-2746).
- Ammunition (accepted if boxed small-arms ammunition, less than 11
pounds, and in checked luggage).
- Firearms (accepted if unloaded, declared to agent at check-in, and
in a suitable container in checked luggage).
NWA accepts handguns/BB guns/rifle/shotgun type firearms only as checked
luggage, with certain limitations and requirements. KLM accepts sports
guns only, handguns are not accepted. Passenger must obtain and comply
with regulations governing the transportation of firearms for all countries
on the itinerary. All firearms must be in a suitable container/crush proof
container manufactured specifically for firearms or in a hard-sided suitcase.
Passenger must verbally declare firearm is unloaded. NW requires firearm
unloaded tag be signed by passenger. Tag must be placed inside of luggage
containing firearm. No exterior tag nor notice of firearm may appear on
case. Case must be locked and only the passenger may retain the key or
combination. NW/KLM personnel will not unload or handle firearms. Gun
and ammunition may be in the same piece of luggage. However, ammunition
must be within its own packaging which should be in factory carton or
rigid shock proof shipping container. Note: gun powder is not permitted
as checked luggage including propellant charges for muzzle loading firearms
such as pyrodex, etc. Maximum ammunition per passenger: 11 pounds or 5
International shipment of arms/ammunition:
Passengers must obtain and comply with regulations governing the transportation
of firearms for all countries on the itinerary. Passengers should check
with Northwest or KLM for current policies, requirements and restrictions
on firearms and related items in checked luggage when traveling in the
U.S. or internationally.
- Customers are responsible for knowing and following the firearms laws
of the state(s) that they will be traveling to, from, and through.
- Our Customers must declare the gun to the Customer Service Agent at
the ticket counter (no firearms will be accepted curbside) and prove
that the firearm(s) chambers are free of ammunition and the magazine
clip has been removed (when applicable). Paint guns and BB guns are
considered the same as all other firearms.
- Firearms must be encased in a hard-sided, LOCKED container that is
of sufficient strength to withstand normal handling, as follows:
- A firearm in a hard-sided, locked container may be placed inside
a soft-sided, unlocked suitcase.
- A firearm placed inside a hard-sided, locked suitcase does not
have to be encased in a container manufactured for the transportation
- Only the Customer checking the luggage should retain the key or
combination to the lock. No exceptions will be made.
- The Customer is entitled to check sporting firearms in addition to
his or her normal free baggage allowance. We allow multiple firearms
to be transported inside one hard-sided case.
- Southwest Airlines assumes no liability for the misalignment of sights
on firearms, including those equipped with telescopic sights.
- Firearms are never allowed in carryon luggage.
- Small arms ammunition for personal use (provided it is properly packed)
is permissible in checked baggage only.
- The ammunition may be placed in the same container as the firearm
and must be securely packed in cardboard (fiber), wood, or metal boxes,
or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
- When checking ammunition, Customers are limited to 11 pounds gross
weight (ammunition plus container) per person.
- Magazines or clips containing ammunition must be securely packaged
(placed in another small box or in a secure cutout in the carrying case,
in order to protect the primer of the ammunition).
- Make sure guns are unloaded and definitely never transport a gun in
your carryon baggage!
- Gunpowder (black powder) and primers or percussion caps are not allowed
in checked or carryon baggage.
- Loose ammunition or loose loaded magazines and/or clips are not allowed.
Federal regulations require that firearms in checked baggage or in their
own shipping case be unloaded and declared. Firearms are not allowed in
carry-on bags. Firearms in checked baggage must be packed in a hard-sided
bag or gun case. A maximum of 11 lbs. of small arms ammunition is allowed
in checked luggage in the original manufacturer's box or securely packed
in a fiber, wood, or metal box to prevent movement of cartridges.
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
Few gun owners 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.
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,
DISCLAIMER - This information
is provided by Fuerte Cases ~ The Waterproof Case Company for informational
purposes ONLY. We are not responsible for anyone’s interpretation
of federal, state and airline rules and regulations and any consequences
thereof. We encourage anyone using this information to confirm any and
all information from its source directly. Rules and laws can change at
any time with little or no notice.
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