Domestic Commercial Air Travel

Most importantly, per Federal law, an individual may not have a weapon on or about the individual’s person or accessible property when entering or in a sterile area of an airport or when attempting to board or onboard an aircraft for which screening is conducted.

However, per the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) website, when traveling domestically, you may transport unloaded firearms,

  • In a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. The rules require that only you have the ability to open the lock. If you choose a padlock which requires a key, be sure to keep the key in your possession at all times. You may use any brand or type of lock to secure your firearm case, including TSA-recognized locks.
  • Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter.
  • The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.
  • Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage.
  • Ammunition is prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage. Small arms ammunitions may be stored in the manufacture’s packaging and must be securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition (ask the airline about limitations). While federal regulations don’t prevent you from storing a loaded magazine which is not attached to a firearm, many airlines prohibit this practice in their own policies.

You must declare the firearm at the check-in counter.  The agent will likely request to inspect it to verify it is not loaded. Once that inspection is complete, you will need to lock your hard-sided container and, if it requires a key, be sure to keep that key with you as you travel. You are allowed to take firearm scopes in carry-ons.

In addition, be sure to comply with any magazine and ammunition restrictions that may be in place at your destination.

*If you encounter an unexpected travel complication that results in your aircraft landing in a state with no reciprocity and strict possession laws such as New York or New Jersey, do not take possession of the luggage where your firearm is stored.  Request that the airline forward that luggage to your final destination.

Contact the TSA Contact Center with questions you have regarding TSA firearm regulations and for clarification on what you may or may not transport in your carry-on or checked baggage.

Links to the major domestic airlines firearms policies.

If you are traveling internationally with a firearm, see our International Travel page for information.

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Best Practices for Traveling With Firearms

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The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. We make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed.