Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Egypt Air Firearms Incident: Differences Between Checked Baggage & Carry On Baggage

PistolThe recent JFK to Egypt incident where a passenger transported firearms and ammunition in their checked baggage has many wondering if TSA missed these items. Firearms, knives, and ammunition are allowed in checked baggage – they’re not on the checked baggage prohibited items list.

When passengers are checking luggage with firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition, they’re required to declare the items with the airline and ensure they are packed properly. TSA has no role in the declaration process. However, if a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) has to search your checked bag and comes across weapons or ammunition that have not been properly declared or packed, they will have to notify a law enforcement officer as well as an airline representative. Depending on the laws of that state you’re in, you may be fined or even arrested.

Ammunition
Unlike the checkpoint where our officers are using X-ray machines to search for a variety of dangerous items (guns, knives, explosives), in checked baggage, our focus is on finding explosives. If you have a gun or knife in your checked bag, you’re not going to be able to go into the belly of the plane to get it (Unless you’re Samuel L. Jackson). That’s why the prohibited items list differs between checked and carry-on baggage.

We have state of the art explosive detection systems (EDS) in many of our checked baggage locations which work like the MRI and CT scan machines you see in the hospitals. EDS machines can quickly determine if a bag contains a potential threat or not. If our machines alarm on an item, we have procedures combining explosive trace detection and bag searches to help us clear those alarms. In locations without the EDS, we use explosive trace detection in conjunction with bag searches.
We have state of the art explosive detection systems (EDS) in many of our checked baggage locations which work like the MRI and CT scan machines you see in the hospitals. EDS machines can quickly determine if a bag contains a potential threat or not. If our machines alarm on an item, we have procedures combining explosive trace detection and bag searches to help us clear those alarms. In locations without the EDS, we use explosive trace detection in conjunction with bag searches.
Our officers find all sorts of things during checked baggage searches. Frozen monkey heads, kitchen sinks, goat heads and yes, guns, ammo, and knives of all sizes. So make sure you properly declare your guns and ammo, or you might incur an unexpected layover.

Advice From TSA.gov on Traveling With Firearms, Firearm Parts & Ammunition

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TSA Blog Team