Contributors to this thread:
Over the years I have seen an occasional post on the Bowsite and other hunting related talk sites about issues hunters have had while traveling via airlines with bows and/or firearms. I never expected to be one of those posting another post about the topic, but while saving you my horror and lengthy details, please take my advice and DO NOT FLY WITH American Airlines especially if you are flying through Minneapolis. What a nightmare. They are not hunting, archery or sportsmen/women friendly. STAY AWAY!
Really? You have 12 or 13 guys on pins and needles who want a story.
AA doesn't like black folks either, NAACP earlier this week.
I will second the thought that American Airlines SUCKS BIGTIME !!! They hit me for $200.00 extra fee to check my bow that was in a golf case for a one way flight from Phoenix to JFK, and that was with a frequent flyer credit card membership. NEVER AGAIN !!!
Huh? I’m on AA all the time with both bows and my AR-15’s. Only problem I ever had was forgetting a TSA lock on my gun case.
It is the luck of the draw. Any one of the major carriers can suck at any given time. In my experience United sucks more than American.
United can be a real pain for sure.
I will say that every time I've flown Alaska Airlines it's gone smoothly for me.
We flew AA this spring with bows and arrows and no issues whatsoever. Not even an oversized baggage fee.
Flying on Delta, I was traveling from DEN to ATL last week...I told the ticket agent that I had a firearm in my luggage, she got a frightened look on her face and told me that she didn't have any money. Trying to suppress my laughter, I told her that I was just trying to check my luggage and follow Delta's rules about declaring an unloaded firearm in checked luggage. I'm still laughing!
May I make a suggestion? Treat airline counter people as you do a cop when they pull you over. Some are real a-holes and can make your life a living hell so don’t inflame the situation by bickering. You won’t win.
I fly 100k a year and am writing this from O’Hare at this moment . I am well familiar with dealing with the challenges of flying.
Your attitude and demeanor have more influence than you can imagine. Treat the counter people with respect and generally you get the same in return. And I’m not directing this at the OP, just speaking generally.
Used to fly with the bow, until I decided to try shipping it....assuming you have a good sturdy case it's much less headache. I understand it's a hassle to ship a firearm, but for a bow I'll take shipping a locked case over flying any day.
Sorry you had a bad experience, OP. It is never fun- travelling with firearms can be stressful.
I fly Alaska Air the most regularly, both guns and bows. Knock on wood, but I have NEVER had an issue with them. When flying with a bow sometimes they still make you put a certificate declaring an unloaded firearm. Sometimes they don't. I don't care either way. Only takes 1 minute to open the case and toss in the piece of paper. And I ask them to coat the bow case with fresh FRAGILE stickers. Maybe the loading dock people will pay attention to them, maybe they wont. But it doesn't hurt. IMO Alaska Air has the best customer service.
Flew with Delta last year from DEN to ANC. Although everything went fine, their process was more involved (made me bring it to TSA, they open it, inspect it, etc.) Haven't had that happen with AlaskaAir yet, but maybe I've been lucky.
I second Pat's comment about demeanor and attitude. It makes a world of difference, and sometimes they won't charge you overweight or extra bag fees just for being cordial......
Pat is spot on, but in my particular case nothing would have changed the hell I caught from this anti bitch that worked for American Airlines. I always go out of my way to be polite and friendly to everyone that I make contact with in the airlines industry when I travel. I looked more like a golfer than Tiger Woods on a good day with my near formal attire. I have traveled numerous times around the country with my bow in a golf case without issue. The $200.00 fee was charged to me because of an American Airlines policy regarding archery equipment in a golf case for which there is no charge if the same case contained golf clubs. That gentleman, is a pure and simple example of discrimination against the transportation of archery equipment. That bow and arrows is no more of a weapon than the 9 iron that Tiger Woods ex wife used to trash his Cadillac Escalade. From my point of view, sporting goods are sporting goods and discrimination is discrimination. As far as flying with archery equipment, I stand by my original statement that AMERICAN AIRLINES SUCKS BIGTIME.
Flew on Air Canada on Sept 23 of this year. Flew to Fredericton NB. Spent 3 nights and 2 days waiting on them to get my sons bow to us and released by customs. We had to pay for our motel rooms and food out of our pocket, they offered $150. voucher.... They all suck! Also, they charge a $150. "bounty fee" to ship antlers. They charge $104. per 68 lbs cooler to ship meat back. All airlines basically suck. FM
I may be dating myself but I can remember when traveling on the airlines system was a fun part of the adventure of travel. Just when I think travel couldn't get any worse, FOX 10 news announced today that Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix has a BED BUG infestation. Terminal 4 is where American Airlines flights are operated. Oh joy !
Pat said: "Only problem I ever had was forgetting a TSA lock on my gun case."
I assume you didn't mean that you put a TSA lock on your gun case. I NEVER do that as they would then able to open your case in the back room and break or steal something. It is certainly not required and they always inspect the gun in your presence and then you lock it. I use a simple combination or key lock but not one that they can open. A TSA lock should only be used on luggage.
the only policies that's apply are those of the person you deal with in the moment. Good luck, be nice, and pray.
TX, yes that’s what I said. Had too many guys tell me they are required and wouldn’t let it fly without TSA locks and had to run around and buy them at the airport.
Part of the problem is nobody understands the rules or their own policies but good luck arguing that point with them. If you’re really opposed to TSA locks then carry a set of both or else be prepared for them to reject the case.
Bou nailed it! The person at the counter is the only one who knows how much your bag weighs, what's in it, or if your $250 animal antlers can be called an "extra bag".
Pat...The ONLY rejection of a gun case I've seen came in New Mexico, when the airline rejected ALL gun cases with TSA locks, sending just about everyone but me scrambling. Some missed their flights. TSA rules are NO TSA locks, however you may have some gate agent say otherwise. When I have, I've simply asked for a TSA representative or manager and it has been cleared up immediately. With that said, I carry both just in case. 99% of the time, if you're nice to people, they respect you and you will not have problems. I travelled with a firearm on the airlines 6 times this fall with Air Canada, Delta, United and American. Lucky for me I had NO problems. The key is be ready for anything and be flexible with your options.
Here's the verbage from TSA:
"Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock unless TSA personnel request the key to open the firearm container to ensure compliance with TSA regulations." With a TSA lock, you are not the only one with a key or combination.
I am not sure I would allow my firearm to transport by airline with a TSA lock. I realize that could mean a big hold up and possibly missing a plane in some instances, but I carry a copy of those regs about the TSA locks just in case, including the ones on that particular airline's website. And I would be suspicious of any agent that demands that you put a TSA lock on it. He could be an antihunter that wants to do damage to your gun/scope, etc. I have heard stories that those things have happened when a TSA lock put on the guncase. Broken scopes, etc that could have only happened with the case open.
But being polite, but insistent is the way to go. Getting mad or loud does NOT work with these guys. It does depend on where you are I guess. In San Antonio, the last two times I have flown, the guy who checked out my gun was a concealed carry instructor. And flying back from Durango, they had me sign the form, open and put it in the case up at the front counter and no one even looked at it.
I just got back from flying with a firearm. I had master locks on my case. I also had TSA approved locks in my carry on just in case, but also carried the print out on TSA website stating only I should have the key or combination to the lock. I did however have to go to a TSA checkpoint for whatever reason in Minneapolis to open the case for them on my way home.
Of course you guys are right. Good luck with that flying out of CT like I have to. F’n nightmare. Nobody here knows the rules about transporting guns. Last year the TSA guy told me I couldn’t fly my ‘machine guns.! I tried explaining they were registered and compliant AR-15’s for coyote hunting and he got a superior who understood they were legal, then asked me for my TSA locks. I seriously doubt printing regs off would help in the commie states in the NE and West coast.
Dang, its good to be a Texan!
I just flew American this week and only issue I had was that they rape you on your 3rd and 4th checked bag. But they all do so what can I say
I flew out of one of the larger NYC airports with my .54 Roundballer one time. Was pretty sure I would have been arrested but for my friendly & helpful attitude. Poor kid who had to check to make sure it was unloaded was USMC but had never seen one before.
Should’ve just mailed the damn thing USPS. That’s how I sent it home.
Flew outta Newark with the wheelbow in a “slightly” oversized 2-rifle Pelican case w/no excess bag fees - that was kind of the counter guy, since it was just a hair out of spec. Maybe I looked military enough to deserve a break?
But next time - for about $15 - I’m mailing the longbows in advance and packing the TD recurve some other way, I think.
I'm looking for advice and clearly you guys have done this a lot.
. Next fall I'll be traveling with bows in a golf case (because I heard about it here on BS a month ago). I found a good deal on an SKB case on Craigslist and will modify it to carry a bunch of hunting equipment including bows.
Should it have TSA locks on it? Or non-TSA locks on it? Any other advice?
any other advice? Bring both sets, short money to be sure you are good. I fly with non-TSA locks, but have TSA locks in the case just in case.
Actually a bow case should have TSA Locks if you are interested in following the rules. (Rifle case=Regular padlocks - Bow Case=TSA locks) But like the poster above says: Carry both and be prepared.
I dont know if it is needed or not but i also taped a big piece of paper with my name and cell number if TSA needed to get in and not cut my locks. That helped when i did not hear the overhead page by a delta agent that TSA needed in. Like alway be nice and more than likely you wont have a problem
I always make sure that I have a printed copy of both the TSA Regs and the specific airline Regs with me. I'll be as friendly as I possibly can be until they try to force me to do something I can't live with (that is also against their written policy). Then I'll politely ask for a Supervisor and explain the problem while showing them their own policy. I have only ever had a couple of problems, and never actually missed a flight due to the delays. I have flown out of the CT Airport a bunch, but not with those scary black rifles Pat brings with him.
Once at an NYC Airport, I was escorted to a basement room so they could have a Port Authority police officer inspect a rifle I was flying with. When they finally sent someone down, they didn't even want to open the case, They had me do it, looked at it from across the room and said, "lock it up".
I flew on a rifle hunt shortly after 9/11. One guy in our party thought it was funny to keep calling me Osama (ahh friends). For years, dark hair and a beard made certain that I was always the guy who got picked for the "random check". Now that I have more grey hair, I must not look so dangerous.
Well Crap Bowbender77. I fly out with AA Saturday morning into O'hare. I sure hope the issues you had dont hit me as well. And Bed Bugs?? seriously?? I have flown with AA to O'hare every year for years with my bow case. its the only bag I check. most of my gear is in with the bow, the rest is in my back pack. The only thing I have ever had happen is my bow didn't show up until last in the oversize office area here in Phoenix. That made me a little nervous. Other than that all has been pretty good.
To Pat's point re demeanor and general attitude.
I always keep in mind that the person at the computer behind the counter has the power to push ANY key on that keyboard. That means that even if you are right about which lock to use, your stuff could "accidentally" go to China instead of Chicago!
My policy is to be nice to all of them. And extra nice to the overly-officious stupid ones! They all have the Power of the Key Stroke...!
American Airlines..... " Archery Expand Allowance and requirements
You can travel with:
1 bow and quiver Arrows A maintenance kit
You’ll be charged the same fee as the 1st or 2nd baggage fee of your destination. If you have excess baggage, you’ll be charged the excess fee for each item you travel with. Maximum weight and size
50 lbs. and 62 inches"
Note that 50lbs and 62" (length + width + height) is exactly the same as regular luggage. no exception has been made whatsoever. Good luck with your bow case fitting that.
" Golf clubs Expand Allowance and requirements
You can travel with 1 golf bag with up to:
14 golf clubs 12 golf balls 1 pair of golf shoes
Please note that you cannot travel with swingless golf club load strips. Cost
You’ll be charged the same fee as the 1st or 2nd baggage fee of your destination. If you have excess baggage, you’ll be charged the excess fee for each item you travel with.
If you are traveling to, through or from Brazil, you’ll be charged $42.50 for your golf equipment.
If the golf bag contains anything other than the approved items then additional oversize and overweight charges will apply. You may be asked to open your bag at the airport. Maximum weight and size
You will notice no size restrictions..... but they will search your bag and if NOT golf equipment you will be charged oversize. Currently $200 plus normal baggage fees.
When they pulled me among several others from the LONG check in line with my bowcase flying home from AZ...... I think it was 72" (48+16+8)..... hit me for $150 on top of regular fees. They hit another hunter with a SKB bowcase that was around 68" if I recall. People with tape measures cruising the lines.....this was not some ticket agent. They have increased the penalty charges since.
AA sucks. Some must be on some Premier Club or some such. Peons get hammered. It will be a cold day in hell before I fly them again. The way I was treated when I filed a complaint they would have to personally apologize.
United OTOH states they wave size regs for archery gear. Technically Alaska Air can hit you oversize on a bowcase but apparently seldom do. And I recall their oversize was $50-$75 or something.
I fly out Saturday with them at Sky Harbor. Bed bugs, Yikes!!. I have been doing so for years and have never heard of these issues. I do have a good hard case for the bow and i have had it searched with me right there. If I have any issues I will come back to this thread and give my 2 cents on the matter. Note, my bow is the only thing I check as baggage and it is full of clothing and my knives, Broad heads etc.etc.. My optics stay with me in my back pack. other than that I have a small duffel bag that goes in the over head.
The TSA lock deal is the most problematic issue I have encountered.
Yes, TSA rules say don’t use TSA locks - but at least half of the airline employees will tell you they require TSA locks.
I always use TSA locks but carry a spare set of non-TSA locks in the case itself. I have actually had to put the TSA locks on at the check-in counter and then get lectured by the TSA security people to put the non-TSA locks back on.
Having two sets is easier than arguing with them.
Always carry copies of both the TSA rules and your airlines’ rules with you.
Always be friendly and patient with airlines folks, TSA folks, and Customs folks. That will help you have a smooth trip more than anything.
Wow! I never expected that this thread would create so much conversation.
My issue was with the case, the extra contents in the case (my hunting gear, clothes, etc.) and the fact that the airline employees didn't know the AA rules. I was direct with them but not at all rude - however, they weren't nice too me.
I have flown many times with firearms and archery equipment with this same case, gear, etc. (estimating 20 to/from flights during the last 10 years) and have never had a problem or was charged an extra fee. When I bought this case, I researched the major airlines rules for flying with a firearm and/or bow, researched TSA.gov AND did a freedom of information act from TSA to get additional information. I have done my homework on this topic and my recent experience was a disappointment to say the least.
I have contacted AA customer support vie email (there is no way to call them!) and have exchanged three emails since Tuesday - its still not resolved. So, I just hung up the phone with my credit card company (Cabela's Club Card) and they are contacting AA on my behalf. I will let you know what happens (could take up to 90 days).
Just flew out of DEN on Alaska Air and it went smoothly. TSA did inspect rifles and that took probably another 10 minutes. Regular locks, not TSA. I'd be really frustrated hearing these stories. I did bring TSA locks if required and did print out TSA and airline regulations, but luckily didn't need them.
I contacted AA customer support vie email to dispute the $200.00 fee they charged me. They would not even discuss the issue of archery gear in a golf bag and told me there would be no refund because there records indicated that my bag was overweight. That is a total crock of crap cause I weighed my bag at home and on there scale at check in and it was under the required 50 lbs. Oh, and did I mention that AMERICAN AIRLINES SUCKS BIGTIME, and that they are anti hunting, and I have proof that they LIE also. Just sayin.
bowbender77. This will make me take a picture of my bow case on AA official scale and the actual weight. Glad you said something.