Airlines are notorious for loosing everything, from people to pets and misplaced luggage. How can I trust an airline to get my firearms and me to the correct locations at the same time? Is there a true chain of custody and how do you resolve a lost or misplaced firearms by airlines? What laws hold them accountable?
Lots of questions here and I’m not a lawyer to begin with, but: an airline is a common carrier, and as soon as they take on a declared, locked, unloaded firearm in checked baggage, they’re legally responsible for it until such time as you claim it. Neither they nor the TSA have the key to the locked container that you pack into checked baggage. Now, that means that if they send one of their baggage handlers to wander through the length and breadth of IAD with your bag instead of delivering it directly to the security office and holding it there for you (as happened to me recently), they could be in a whole lot of trouble if someone steals the bag while it’s in their custody.
Supposed to be, anyway.
Another little gotcha is that if your flight from one of the United States to another is diverted and you end up landing in, say New York, and the airline puts you up for the night - do not claim your bag until you have landed back in the United States, unless you know for a fact that it’s legal to possess there. Have the airline hold onto it as a common carrier, then fly out the next day to your destination and take possession there. If you retrieve your checked bag, you are now in possession of a prohibited firearm and do not have constitutional protections there like you would in the US. The airline, on the other hand, does.
If I EVER have to land or be diverted to a communist state, I will jump, with or without a parachute! I will NEVER step foot in a communist state without a belt fed weapon!
Actually, funny you mention this. Apparently about 8 years ago, the New York Times wrote an article on travelling suggestions and one was to pack a starter pistol to “ensure” your package reaches the destination intact. Now, a lot has happened in 8 years but when you declare that you have a firearm, most airlines work hard to track the package and the contents so that they aren’t responsible for losing a firearm. Most people who have in the past said an airline lost their firearm…eventually got it back. I don’t know how many cases there are where someone loses it for good so I can’t speak to that. Only that I looked it up before I travelled with a firearm and it seemed like the vast majority of cases the airlines got the firearm and luggage to the owner. Does that mean I trust them…no…only that they certainly don’t want the bad publicity of losing a firearm which might fall into the wrong hands and kill someone.
I’ve heard (anecdotally) of people with expensive photography equipment packing a firearm specifically because that way the Pelican case has to be locked and sealed and the TSA can’t go poking through it either.
So, what I’m getting is, as long as it’s legally in THEIR POSSESSION, THEY ARE WHOLLY RESPONSIBLE!
What are the ramifications if I travel to Alaska and my firearm ends up in Communist New York?
They must have read the same NYT article.
In that case, it would be the responsibility of the airline to sort it out.
Worth pointing out is that I’ve never had a firearm recorded by TSA or an airline while being checked in. They look to see that it’s unloaded and that the ammo is in original boxes. They never record serial numbers or even make/model - not even how many are in a case. So what happens if they lose it, and it is found and used by a criminal, or if it’s lost or destroyed and they’re on the hook to compensate you?
I have no idea.
Come on, Its a Crap Shoot. If you brought something you wanted to lose it would be there on time and in perfect shape. LOL.
Just remember to insure it for 2 to 3 times what its worth.
I flew once with guns and other stuff. I lost some stuff but the guns were still there. A torque wrench is harder to trace as stolen than a gun. Plus you can get in big trouble getting caught with a stolen gun, from a airline, in another state.
I can’t find the term, but it’s my understanding that there is a law making shipping companies responsible for the items in their care during the shipping process… “bailee” or “bailment” maybe? I think there is carryover to airlines: Tremaroli v. Delta Airlines.
However, it seems like a vetted travel insurance agent/policy might be worth the extra cost when transporting expensive items: “Everything You Need To Know About Lost Luggage Coverage On Travel Insurance.” Forbes, 2020.