Two things you don’t want in your carry-on luggage are a gun or a cast-iron skillet.
Alex English, spokeswoman at Northwest Arkansas National Airport, and Patricia Mancha, Transportation Security Administration media spokeswoman based in Texas, had those words of wisdom and more for hunters preparing to fly out this fall to faraway hunting destinations
Guns are a no-brainer. Cast iron skillet? More on that later.
Hunters are welcome to bring firearms and archery gear on flights by following rules set by the TSA and individual airlines, English said. Firearms, as well as bows and arrows, need to be in a hard-shell case that locks. They are to be brought to the ticket counter, unloaded with no ammo in the barrel or magazine and declared by the hunter that the case contains a firearm. They’re to be transported only as checked baggage.
“Some airlines require that a rifle case have a lock on each end,” English added. It’s important to check the website of the airline in advance to read its rules for flying with firearms.
“Checking the website is best, because, if you try to call, you could be put on hold waiting to talk to someone,” she said at the airport last week. As she spoke, it only took seconds on her laptop to find flying-with-firearms information for different airlines.
It’s important for hunters to check the TSA website, tsa.gov, and read carefully the section “Transporting firearms and ammunition.” The website has a TSA Contact Center to answer questions and for clarification of what hunters may or may not transport in carry-on or checked baggage.
Hunters taking guns need to get to the airport earlier than the usual two hours because declaring the firearm is an extra step in the check-in process, English advised.
Mancha said hunters must fill out and sign a firearms declaration form at the counter. It can’t be done online in advance. The form contains personal information about the hunter in case something is awry and he needs to be contacted by TSA.
As far as ammo, Mancha said ammunition can be included in the hard-shell case with the firearms as long as the ammo is in its original packaging or in an ammo case. With archery, arrows are allowed in the locked case with the bow.
Hunters may want to pack a hunting knife or folding saw to use afield. Mancha said these cannot be transported in the same case as the firearm, but can be transported in other checked baggage.
Double checking is key in planning a trip, both women said. Double check to make sure a gun is not loaded, that there is no ammunition in the chamber or magazine. Double check airline and TSA websites. Double check the carry-on bag to be sure there is no firearm or anything that can be used as a weapon, like a cast iron skillet.
“This is something we find almost weekly,” Mancha said. “Think about it. You’re flying out to visit grandma and she makes the best cornbread in the whole world.” If taking that skillet is a must, it goes in checked baggage.
Mancha noted that TSA workers nationwide are seeing an increase in novelty items, like salt and pepper shakers shaped like hand grenades. Anything that looks like a bomb or explosives is forbidden even in checked baggage.
TSA officials inspect all checked baggage with high technology x-ray after it leaves the ticket counter. Finding something that looks like a bomb can lead to the evacuation of an entire terminal, Mancha said.
Travelers flying out to hunt and visit grandma might check on that cornbread. We’ll wager grandma has her own cast iron skillet.
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Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org