John Farnam writes [via ammoland.com]

I flew out to the East Coast last weekend. Back to CO yesterday. I flew on American Airlines. One connection on each leg of the round trip. In all fairness, flights were comfortable and mostly on-time. There was one problem . . .

AA now insists on putting a bright, red tag on all checked luggage that contains guns. The tag says: “Return to BSO” (Baggage Security Office)

At AA, luggage containing guns does not go out to the carousel, as it does with most other airlines I fly. It’s delivered directly to the AA baggage-claim office and must be surrendered personally to the legitimate claimant (after showing identification).

I notice that it arrives at the baggage-claim office after all other luggage is out on the carousel, so you can now add at least ten minutes to your stay at the airport.

I guess I can understand their concern, but I don’t like this latest version of “steal me” tags hanging-off my luggage. SW doesn’t do this to me, and they also don’t gouge me with luggage fees.

Again, in all fairness, both I and my luggage made both legs of my trip safely, and we both arrived at our destinations, mostly on-time. My checked bags contained my customary complement of guns, magazines, and ammunition, and none of that was any kind of problem.

However, as long as they insist on putting bright, red “steal me” tags on my checked luggage, I won’t be flying American Airlines.


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc

As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

36 Responses to American Airlines: “Steal Me” Tags on Bags With Guns?

  1. In the hypersensitive anti-gun era we live in today, I dont even like going to airport, let alone on a plane.

    Anything under 1000 miles is car distance.

      • Yep. The security theater mechanisms at airports and border crossings have become so mindlessly obnoxious that they actively discourage travel for anyone who believes in the 4th Amendment as well as the 2nd. I don’t know that there’s much hope for sanity, intelligence, and respect for the Constitution to return to governmental agencies in my lifetime (if at all), but unless and until it does, I can at least be grateful that there’s plenty to see & do in our own country.

  2. My checked bag has been sent to baggage office only once in the 5 times it has been tagged. The rest of time my bag was placed on the carousel with the rest of luggage still with the “steal me” tag. I don’t dawdle and rush straight to baggage claim because I’m paranoid someone will snatch it before I get there.

    • Paranoia, by definition, is an UNREASONABLE fear of something occurring. There’s nothing paranoid about your fears of having your bag stolen if it has a bright red “STEAL ME” tag on it.

  3. When JWT and I flew to NH to visit SIG HQ earlier this week, we went Delta and they do the same thing. While not a red tag, there’s a second luggage label that goes on the bag and it says something like “no carousel: return to baggage office.” Pretty obvious what’s going on for anybody working the baggage handling system.

    By the way, there were gun writers from like 6 other publications there and it sure appeared as though the two TTAG writers were the only ones who showed up armed! WTF. And in NH, which is a permitless carry state so anybody who isn’t a prohibited party can CCW if they want. Very confusing.

  4. I used to fly more when I traveled. But with all the hassle and made-up rules some ticket counters come with (a united moron told me I had to clear my pistols so she could witness them unloaded and then check my case UNLOCKED since that’s what TSA required), I drive everywhere, now.

    It’d be nice if fedex or ups would let me ship my guns to myself where i was going without the FFL (hey, if ATF says i can send a handgun to myself without an FFL, why won’t they? maybe we should boycott one until they change their policy.?!?

    • Hmm, I wonder if airplanes use the same “technically a firearm” rule about receivers as the ATF; if not, you could, potentially, ship all the other bits to yourself (they are just mechanical parts) and bring only the receiver with you on the plane (probably checked still, but not declared as a steal me bag).

      • MeRp, if you want to ship ANY gun part (except an optic) from a UPS Store, you are out of luck. Note: I said UPS Store, not UPS. You might be just as OOL at the UPS hub (or with the F-word), I don’t know for sure. I only know what I am not allowed to ship from the UPS Store where I work.

        • Shipping from a UPS hub is zero problem. I do it all the time. It’s the stores they don’t trust.

          They have a policy of demanding ID from firearms shippers, btw. Yet they’ve never once asked me. But all the customers are interfering with their goofing off, at least at my local office, and they’re always in somewhat of a hurry to get back to doing nothing. NE Atlanta hub.

    • Why is this an issue, exactly? Does your local shipping office require you to leave all packages unopened so they can visually inspect the contents? No? Then there’s no issue. And don’t say anything fun-shaped is gonna raise red flags. They don’t monitor shit that closely, and even if they did, well, replicas can be shipped with zero legal issues. I’ve shipped dozens of airsoft guns, pistols and rifles, with no issues. Identical shape and comparable weight. Look, be discrete and don’t perjure yourself, and you’re fine.

      • Red, you are correct. I’m sure I have probably shipped some corporate-contraband items. When the customer calls tobacco products “spices,” alcohol “barbecue sauce,” gun parts “machine tools,” or magazines “plastic storage boxes,” how the heck am I to know? Now, if the package gets damaged and they try to file a claim… I believe “SOL” sums up their position.

        Edit: Oops, I just noticed your “Don’t perjure yourself…” comment basically rendering my comment Moo… y’know, like a cow’s opinion.

  5. Delta also makes you pick up from the baggage office. My last experience did not really delay me more than maybe three minutes, though. They don’t use an external luggage tag, however.

    • Yes they do. TTAG covered this month’s ago. How would the baggage handlers know to take your bag to the BSO if there was no conspicuous tag on it?
      This process is a violation of federal law. I have informed DAL and the news media but no one gives a shit.

    • Yes, they do use the “office” tag, which otherwise they would not. Look again at your bag…

      Or you somehow got lucky.

  6. American Airlines has a history of mishandling firearms.

    Guns Stolen From PM’s Bodyguards’ Lost Luggage
    Amos Harel Jul 08, 2010 12:54 AM
     The Shin Bet security service yesterday confirmed reports in the U.S. media that four pistols were stolen from security agents protecting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to Washington, but would not offer any more details.
    According to NBC News, Netanyahu’s bodyguards could not account for four Glock handguns, which were apparently stolen en route to his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
    One of the suitcases belonging to the official Israeli delegation was mistakenly transferred by American Airlines from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to LAX in Los Angeles, according to the report. The bag, which was sent as checked luggage as required, was eventually found – minus four handguns.
    The bag apparently belonged to the security team sent to Washington ahead of the visit. Netanyahu’s security does not appear to have been compromised at any point.
    A Shin Bet spokesman said yesterday it was not clear whether the guns disappeared before or after the luggage was put on the wrong flight.
    Port Authority police in New York are investigating whether the weapons went missing before or after the suitcase was transferred to LAX.
    One source told NBC that the suitcase was inspected and cleared for shipment by Transportation Security Administration screeners who put a seal over the bag at Kennedy Airport.
    American Airlines did not comment on the incident.
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/guns-stolen-from-pm-s-bodyguards-lost-luggage-1.300650

    • Netanyahu’s bodyguards carry Glocks? LOL…..I would have guessed Jericho’s or something made by IWI. Maybe they use Glocks as a diversion, while they smuggle their Jericho’s through in their Diplomatic pouches. Better to lose some Glocks, rather than some good pistols. 😉

      (Just a joke Glock fanboys. Please no hate mail!)

  7. Flew Delta last week. BS “deliver to office” “steal me” tag; no zip-ties. Very little delay, I am happily surprised to report.

    • I don’t mind the BSO or the tag that routs the bag there. My beef is with the zip tie deal. Haven’t flown armed since the new policy but will fly next month.
      I assume 1 of two things. They ran out of zip ties or the agents got tired of fucking with passengers luggage.
      This was nothing but a political back slap in the first place. Front line employees realize this and unless they are dicks, and there are a lot of company ass kissing dicks, they won’t bother with zip ties. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

      • I had two cheap knives in two different outside pockets, in case they put on the ties. I’d just them off and hand them back.

        Used to keep a Spyderco in an outside pocket, till someone stole it. Now I carry cheap knockoffs.

        • Pro Tip:
          Only use outside zip pockets for anything you don’t mind losing. In checked baggage, stealing isn’t the problem. EVERYTHING falling out of those pockets is.
          The biggest problem baggage handlers have isn’t finding shit to steal. It’s trying to guess which open bag this iPhone charger fell out of. Or who is the owner of the pocket rocket vibrator. You might get home with something extra in your bag if you don’t seal it properly.

  8. Oh, it makes sense once you realize you are no longer the customer. They don’t make their policies & procedures to give you what you want. Rather they’re appeasing other constituencies, confident in the belief that you’ll put up with it, because you have no other choice.

    I flew with a chef’s knife roll some years back & could get no useful answer at all. Can’t carry on, of course. Don’t pack it, as somebody might get cut rummaging around in the bag. Seal the roll, or warn “sharps” and they can’t get in it, so that’s bad. Etc. What, exactly am I supposed to to, to transport this not-banned personal gear, that is required for the reason I’m taking the trip?

    It’s worse than that. Anybody else ever get one of those “don’t pack these” notes left in your checked bag? Nothing banned or dangerous. Just bothered some uniformed, unsupervised authoritarian. Got on once from just a closed folding pocket knife, well under everybody’s blade length limit.

    Perhaps I’m situationally a tad sour; I had several interactions with the medical “system” this past week.

  9. Back in the old days when I flew with my guns, the red tag was placed inside the baggage containing the guns (at my insistence), so there was evidence that I did declare the guns, as required.
    That way, there was no advertising of the contents of my luggage to tempt any thief. It looked like all the other bags, and it was like hiding a tree in a forest.
    Now, these idiots want to expose firearms to theft by advertising their presence in luggage for “special handling”, advertising the guns inside to thieves from point to point in the journey.

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