Airline travel and the ideal Pelican/Hard case

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by RMF308, Mar 3, 2019.

  1. RMF308

    RMF308 Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    Planning a trip for a training class that will require me to travel on an airplane with two handguns and support gear (cleaning gear, holster rigs, misc. accessories). I want to travel as discreetly as possible so here are my thoughts/current thinking on what I’ll do. If you have advice bag choice etc... please comment.

    I will house my two pistols and gear in a medium/small Pelican (thinking a Pelican 1500). I’ll enclose all the TSA paperwork inside this Pelican with the pistols and gear and double padlock it. I’ll then put the Pelican inside a larger hard sided suitcase to masquerade to the airlines baggage handlers that I’m traveling with guns, and check it. Some thoughts, is there a Pelican type case out there that comes with an outer case that allows me to discreetly travel with guns? I’m thinking that I’d like to use the same Pelican for a range bag at my training class so that I don’t have to bring a dedicated range bag, and if that’s the case I might need something larger than a Pelican 1500. Am I over thinking this. Thoughts/advice on hard cases that I need to consider?
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
    Xring likes this.
  2. Smokewagon

    Smokewagon Well-Known Member

    Apr 16, 2016
    I recently bought a Pelican Vault Series V100 Handgun Case to travel with a firearm. This case would easily fit two 1911’s. It is deep enough with layers of foam to include other items.

    Your plan sounds good. I think you do have to leave your larger bag unlocked for potential inspection.
    ZoidMeister likes this.

  3. Raylan Givens

    Raylan Givens Never Forget

    Aug 18, 2015
    First. If you have never flown with handguns you will have to fill out a card at check in and put it inside the approved container. This says that the firearms are unloaded. They will usually tell you to listen for your name on the intercom system if they have any problems. I have also had them call the TSA firearms officer over to look at my case. Most of the time though they will send it to oversize baggage to go through the X-ray machine.

    I suppose you could try and mask the identity but most airlines have started putting a red "Return To BSO" tag on the case. So the baggage handler will pretty much know what it is anyway. When you get to your destination your case will be carried to the baggage service office by a baggage handler and then released to you with your identification.

    I use this brand. But mine is the 4 pistol with accessory area. It has been on every major airline in North America and a few rinky dink ones..... Zero problems....
  4. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Consider my signature line before replying . . . .

    Dec 4, 2014
    Yup, no chance that the contents will be clandestine. They will be tracked throughout the journey.

    This should prove to be better protection than a bag whose contents are unknown.
    FWoo45, isialk, RMF308 and 1 other person like this.
  5. Raylan Givens

    Raylan Givens Never Forget

    Aug 18, 2015
    To clarify. When I say "mask the identity" I mean by you putting them in a second container. Either way they will be tagged Return To BSO. As Zoid pointed out they will be tracked the entire way. The airline gate agent will give you a ticket similar to a paper boarding pass with the tracking number on it. This will correspond with the tracking sticker placed on the bag that is scanned by the baggage handlers during loading, connecting, and unloading.

    The system is actually better now than just a few years ago. I have flown with some pretty expensive items and only once had a problem with my bag being put on the wrong connecting flight. It is best to photograph your guns the contents of the case and the exterior of the case. If you have to make a claim of a lost bag the airline agent will need you to give them a description of the container. It's easier to just show them.

    To add. Be well versed in the TSA rules and your chosen airline's rules about flying with firearms. As long as you do everything correctly in the beginning you will be covered. I have experienced numerous gate agents that were not very knowledgeable about the rules. If they tell you something that you know is incorrect, kindly explain the rules to them. They also have the ability to pull up the rules on their terminal. If this does not work have them contact their supervisor, the TSA, or in my case one time, the on duty local police. As long as you remain professional they will get everything sorted out in a timely manner. Good luck.
    FWoo45, isialk and RMF308 like this.
  6. RMF308

    RMF308 Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    This is great information, much appreciated. We will definitely have all the TSA rules with us and be well versed in the do’s and don’ts before we arrive at the airport.

    By putting it in a second case I was hoping that it would be clandestine to at least the average baggage handler or causal observers once the bag leaves my sight after check in. With this information you provided now in hand, it sounds like I might as well get a bright colored wheeled case (say a yellow or orange Pelican) so it won’t easily be left someplace, and that it’s obvious when someone moves it.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  7. Greg45acp

    Greg45acp Double Secret Banned Supporting Addict

    Oct 31, 2016
    Raylan nailed it.
    Raylan Givens likes this.
  8. Ethank

    Ethank Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2017
    I just got back from the east coast and had my baggage sent to the wrong airport. They couldn’t deliver it to my hotel (2 days later) because it contained a gun. It all worked out in the end, and is the only time I’ve had an issue.

    When I checked it in Ontario, American Airlines wasn’t quite sure of their policy. I took a hard copy of both TSA and American Airlines policy and they were very polite and happy to help from there. I’d suggest carrying a copy of it, as not all people working the ticket counter have dealt with checking guns before.
    FWoo45 and Raylan Givens like this.
  9. farmer

    farmer Well-Known Member

    Feb 15, 2013
    I'm an airline captain. I travel quite a bit for backpacking and take a .357 most of the time. Here's what I've learned:

    TSA rules apply federally, but every airport has slightly different procedures. Some won't inspect the contents of your case, most will. Some will have you pick up on the baggage claim conveyor, some at the office, etc.....

    Here's what I do: Pelican 1720 small rifle case. All gear that can't get on the plane with me. Gun, knife, tent stakes, whatever. Two padlocks which cannot be opened except by me. TSA is not allowed to open your case in transit. Unlike regular bags.

    The larger Pelican 1720 (small rifle case) is what I'd use, even for a single handgun. Hard to steal, hard to lose, has wheels. I had a problem once. Case got lost during transfer through Denver. Located the next day. I will say that I have not done this in the last 3 years, but plan to soon again. Regs could be different, but I don't think so. Also, TSA has never been anything but helpful with me and the gun. No raised eyebrows, just look, lock it back up, give it to them and off to wherever you go.

    Now.............since I helped you out so much, sell me your Pachmayr Combat Special! I want it. I'm serious. Really........the closest I've come is a Paul Liebenberg Combat Special. Yours is a beautiful gun, love it.

    FWoo45, 1L26, isialk and 1 other person like this.
  10. WC145

    WC145 Every day is Saturday and every night's a party!

    Jan 1, 2013
    Whatever kind of case you choose, figure out a way to attach it to the suitcase you're putting it in. TSA will check inside your bag and others will also have access/opportunity, you don't want the gun case to be able to just walk away. I flew from Maine to Newark to Atlanta and back last week with a carry gun in my luggage inside a small locking case that holds my gun and knives. It has a cable that I ran through the pull handle frame inside the suitcase. It won't stop someone determined but it keeps someone form just slipping it under their coat and walking off with it. I've traveled with guns this way for years and have never had a problem.
    FWoo45, John Deere and RMF308 like this.
  11. Capthobo

    Capthobo NRA Endowment member Supporting Addict

    Nov 9, 2016
    Here in SoFla since the Delta baggage claim shooter incident , most airlines now pull the baggage prior to the belt and ask you to retrieve it from the baggage office of the carrier.
    A bit of advise if you fly Jet Blue airlines. They will not allow ammunition within the same case as the gun. They want ammunition in a separate lockable container. This created a big hassle for me in my first circumstance flying Jet Blue. Since I didn’t have a second lockable carrier they allowed me to stow ammunition in my toiletries bag. Go figure.
    I had even asked that a TSA person advise the Jet Blue counter agent that TSA allows ammunition in the same container as the gun provided the ammunition is in a separate container such as the cardboard box the Ammo comes in. The head TSA Government agent said that it’s Jet Blue aircraft and they have the right to establish their own rules. This caused my bag to be a day late to my destination and of course they will not deliver the bag if it contains a firearm. You must retrieve it in person at the baggage office.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  12. tarosean

    tarosean Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2013

    This is the only use I have ever had for our free trigger locks included with our firearm purchases. I run the lock through the handle of the case and through the rails of the suitcase.
    FWoo45 and WC145 like this.
  13. RMF308

    RMF308 Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    Thanks for your advice and guidance Pete! Also thanks for checking out my post about my Pachmayr Combat Special, it’s not for sale right now but you never know :) BTW- I (and I’m sure the rest of the forum) would really love to see pics of your Liebenberg CS if you decide to post pics of it.

    FWoo45 and isialk like this.
  14. farmer

    farmer Well-Known Member

    Feb 15, 2013
    I wish I could still post pics of my Liebenberg CS. I sold it here on the forums years ago. I'll look for some old ones.......

    found an old thread. I'm posting it on your "Combat Special" thread.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
  15. RMF308

    RMF308 Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    I ended up picking up a Nanuck 935 ‘6up’ case. The foam is already cut for storing/transporting up to 6 pistols. 5 inch guns fit perfectly. The cut outs come out too so you can carry an assortment of gear vs guns. Bought this one in orange so I wouldn’t lose it :) but they come in many colors. It also has wheels and a retractable handle.

    75A488D1-8E87-4E19-AC1B-2107E1A534BB.jpeg CAD89FCC-6A23-4AFB-8E2B-9485C7F7A7C5.jpeg
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
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