On my recent hunting trip I had the chance to travel and fly with firearms. Here's the quick run down. I flew out of Atlanta, Kodiak, and Anchorage on Alaska Airlines.
First up, Georgia. I took advantage of recent legislative changes that now permit open carry and OC'd through Georgia. I hopped out of my car for gas and lunch (Chik Fil A, yum!) with a holstered GP-100 4" bbl stainless revolver. I'm ashamed to admit that it was in a cheap Uncle Mike's holster but I did have a retention device and a good belt so it carried ok. I'm just spoiled by nice beautiful Dragon Leatherworks holsters or utilitarian polymer ones so Uncle Mike's felt... tawdry. No issues, a few folks noticed (the stainless revolver is pretty high profile) including the store manager but no problems at all.
Flying out of Atlanta was fairly painless. First off, I did my reading ahead of time and had everything packed properly. Next, Alaska Airlines is awesome and their check in agents deal with this all the time. Atlanta has a separate screening point for oversized baggage including firearms. TSA originally just wanted me to drop off my rifle case and luggage with pistol inside but I opted to stick around until they screened it. So, they sat around for a few minutes in a silly battle of wills then sighed and got around to doing their jobs.
They didn't even need to open the cases, just did a quick swab for explosives which turned up negative. They then wanted me to be on my way again, but I again opted to wait until the bags were on the belt and into the bowels of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
In Kodiak, Alaska Airlines held onto the highly obvious pelican case full of rifles and made me show my baggage ticket and ID to claim it rather than tossing it out on the baggage area with the other items. Excellent, I appreciated the security. It was also unloaded really quickly -- Alaska Airlines actually guarantees to have your checked bags out in 20 minutes. By the time I had my rental car the bags were ready.
When departing Kodiak, again, the process was painless. No issues. Alaska Airlines was helpful and non-plussed. They actually let us check our bags a few hours early when there was no rush then we just went to get lunch.
In Anchorage the process was also straightforward. We were technically on a different airline but Alaska was servicing the route so we used their agents to check in. Similar to Atlanta there was a centralized check-in for baggage but this time TSA was much faster and more professional than in Atlanta. They cut my zip tie to get at my handgun case inside a larger piece of luggage but replaced it.
Arriving on the other end, I was upset to see that the rifle case got dropped off with all the other oversize luggage (coolers and golf clubs and such). No supervision, no ID check, nada. Luckily we were waiting to pounce on it immediately once it came out (it was a bit slow, too). I cannot get upset at Alaska though as this leg was serviced by American Airlines, who I will dime out as having inferior baggage handling.
So, overall pretty painless. Alaska Airlines is one of the best airlines I've flown with as far as firearms go. I've flown for business and pleasure with weapons on other airlines and some of the agents just totally freak out or are unfamiliar with the procedures. Not so with Alaska, where I've consistently found the agents to be knowledgeable and professional, and I've also noticed they have great awareness of baggage security. TSA was obnoxious as always -- especially in Atlanta -- but got the job done without having to open everything up which was nice.
1 hour ago