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Transporting a Firearm by Air - How do I travel with my CCW while flying?

how to travel with ccw on plane

Getting ready for summer? Nothing beats getting out there and traveling to new locales. No matter where your travels take you – here are some good tips about flying with your concealed carry firearms.

Know the TSA Guidelines on Concealed Carry Firearms

Want the good news? The good news is that the Transportation and Safety Administration has absolutely no problem with firearms. Plenty of people bring their firearms with them all over the country each year.

Bad news? There's virtually no legal chance TSA or any large private airline will allow you to transport your concealed carry firearm in a carry on bag let alone an inside a concealable holster.

    Here's a summarized checklist for all the steps that need to be taken before a firearm can fly with you to your final destination:
  • Firearms and ammunition have to be declared at the check-in counter.
  • All firearms must be stored unloaded.
  • All firearms and ammunition must be checked in as baggage.
  • Firearms and ammunition have to be transported in a locked, hard-sided case.
  • Ammunition has to be stored in a cardboard, fiber, metal or other specifically made box suited for ammunition.
  • Ammunition can be stored with a firearm.

Good news – you can transport your rifle scopes and other optics as carry-on.

Bad news – if your hard-sided case box is equipped with alarms, the TSA will make a reasonable effort to notify you and that means waiting in the screening area of whatever airport you're in until they can bring the box out for you to disarm the alarm.

The takeaway? Concealed carry aboard civilian passenger jets is not approved by either the TSA or most airlines. Check the airline you have booked your ticket to ensure that there are no further issues. For a full disclosure of TSA rules and regulations surrounding checking firearms and ammunition – check out their site HERE..

Check with the Airlines for Firearm Transportation Compliance

Because the United States is that – a republic of individual states – each state, county, and municipality is open to interpret the 2nd Amendment and how it applies. That's why it's important to check with the airline ahead of time to make sure there are no issues with transporting your firearms.

For instance, taking a passenger jet from North Carolina to Alaska does leave the possibility of having a layover in any number of states in between – such as Illinois – which have specific prohibitions on the transportation of firearms. This especially gets tricky for airports located close to bigger cities. Logan International Airport, in Boston, is governed by the Greater Boston municipal laws in addition to the rather draconian anti-gun laws of Massachusetts. Having a layover there or having it be your final destination could be problematic.

Silver lining? While some states may have an issue with CCW reciprocity, it's amazing how many states are perfectly fine with open carry. So while your ability to conceal a firearm in an inside the waistband holster may be hindered – outside the waistband holsters may be perfectly fine. Check with the state and city first.

Check CCW Reciprocity Prior to Rearming

Never take the firearm out of the box until certain that the state you're landing in acknowledges your state's concealed carry weapon permit. Using Massachusetts again as an example – sorry Massachusetts – there are extremely strict laws and guidelines surrounding the transportation of firearms. And states like New York rarely acknowledge anyone's right to carry at all. So landing in JFK or Logan with intent to travel to, say, Vermont or New Hampshire, is dangerous ground for the concealed carrier.

In conclusion, while the TSA and most major airlines are completely alright with the transportation of firearms in checked baggage, transporting them out of the airport is tricky territory. Check out our article on CCW reciprocity and CCW on trains for more information about getting around the country with a concealed carry firearm.

Have you dealt with TSA and your carry weapon before?
Let us know what happened in the comments below

James England

About The Author

James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.