Brilliant Travel Tip
Last year I saw a great travel tip, and completely forgot about it until I rediscovered it today via NotCot. Apparently, traveling with weapons entitles you to use a proper lock on your bag, and subjects your baggage to extra levels of tracking (TSA doesn’t want weapons floating around lost).
Now, I’m not suggesting every traveler carry a handgun (well, I guess I sort of am)… in fact, most states have stringent regulations on their purchase. However, starter pistols (like you hear at the beginning of a race) are not required to be registered in any US State, and they fall under TSA’s definition of a “weapon.” They look like a gun, but merely fire blanks. They are loud, but so are the screaming babies they let on airplanes.
As a photographer I travel with many thousands of dollars in gear regularly, and unfortunately I can’t avoid checking certain items. I’ve had stuff go missing, and wind up broken (every time because it was improperly repacked when searched by TSA). There is no airline compensation to be had (especially since photography and video equipment is excluded in the fine print of the airline baggage liability jargon). The idea of the whole process becoming more secure with a sub-$100 psuedo weapon is enticing (one like the one above can be had for about $70).
A “weapon” is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols – those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets – are considered weapons…and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.
That’s the procedure. The case is extra-tracked…TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.
I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare…I’m given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.
While a starter pistol is still capable of inflicting serious injury, or causing death, so is a pencil if used innappropriately. I use pencils all the time, even though they are extremely dangerous.