Summer is coming and a lot of us are already planning to travel to major matches. Some people will need to fly with their gear and it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Here’s a quick guide on how to fly with firearms. These are tips based on my previous research and personal experiences.
Check with the Airline Companies
First of all, you’ll want to check with the different Airline companies available on their politics about flying with firearms. Most of them will allow it, but some will charge you handling fees while others won’t. You should be able to find this info pretty easily on all airline companies website. As for the requirements on how they should be transported into your luggage’s, they are all pretty much the same.
Arrive early for the check-in at the airport
You never know how the Airline company is going to handle the paperwork at your check-in. So, make sure you arrive ahead of your flight to avoid any additional stress. Most of the time, the check-in goes smoothly, and you’ll be up your way in no time. But, sometimes they might not necessarily know what the actual procedure is. So, just be patient and keep smiling, they’ll eventually figure it out!
Firearms must be locked in a hard case
Luggage’s doesn’t always get handle with much care. That’s why you’ll want to lock your firearms in a good quality hard case. You can then put your locked case inside your regular suitcase with clothes and other goods. Your firearms must be unloaded and locked separately from any ammunition or magazines. Though, the empty magazines can be stuffed in the same checked luggage as the hard case and the rest of your gear.
The firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard case. This Nanuk 910 fits both my handguns and keeps them safe!
Ammunition must be checked in a different suitcase
Most Airlines will have you check your ammunition in an additional suitcase, separate from the one with your firearms. You’ll mostly only be allowed to bring 5kg of ammo with you. Quick hint: this rule is per passenger, so if you are traveling with someone, this person could be able to bring an additional 5kg as well, as long as you are traveling together. The ammo cannot be loose in boxes nor in magazines, they need to be stored in ammo boxes that won’t accidently open. I recommend taping your ammo boxes to make sure they are secured.
Tape the boxes together and put the ammo in an additional suitcase, with the clothing.
Take extra precautions to avoid the loss of your gear
The case containing your firearms should be locked with non-TSA locks as it can only be opened under your direct supervision. You may want to take extra precaution by locking your hard case with a steel cable that goes through the frame of your suitcase, this will simply make it more difficult for someone to just walk away unnoticed with your firearms. As for the suitcase, you’ll have to lock it with a regular TSA lock.
Passing a steel cable through the frame of the suitcase and the locks of my Nanuk Hard Case.
Make sure you have the proper paperwork if traveling to a foreign country
If you travel to a competition in another country, make sure you’ve done your homework and looked at the regulations regarding firearms ownership over there. Some countries will only require you to have an official match invitation, some other will require you to fill up documents prior to your arrival there. Also, be careful if you are transiting through another country that isn’t your final destination. Even though you’re staying at the airport and don’t have access to your luggage, the security might ask you questions and this could cause you delays or worse: the seizure of your firearms. So, if possible, avoid transiting through different countries.
Documents to temporarily import my firearms and ammunition for a competition in Czech Republic.
Travel as light as possible
All of your gear will add up in weight, so try to travel as light as possible. Having a portable scale with you is mandatory if you want to avoid overweight luggage fees. I also like to use a good backpack as a carryon luggage, which will then serve me as my range bag for the competition.
So, it might sound like a lot, but flying with firearms is relatively painless when you follow simple guidelines. You have more tips?