With flight regulations and laws becoming ever more restrictive, airsoft enthusiasts may find themselves in a bit of trouble if they are not well-informed when they arrive at the airport. Taking airsoft shotguns on a plane without preparation seems like a good way to get oneself shot at by an air marshal. So to keep airsoft practitioners out of the (real) line of fire, it is important to be familiar with all current air travel laws and regulations.
There are two main organizations or governmental bodies that establish flight rules – the TSA and the FAA. The TSA, or Transportation Security Administration, is made up of security officers, inspectors, directors, air marshals and managers who protect the nation’s transportation systems so you and your family can travel safely. They’re the guys at the metal detectors and scanners in the airport asking you to take your shoes off and checking for guns and bombs. They’re also the guys who will take you down if they find a weapon in your carry-on.
The most important thing to know when traveling by plane is that all guns are treated equally – airsoft guns, real guns, and even paintball guns are treated with the same level of severity and security.
Current regulations state that all arms (this includes all airsoft equipment) can be taken onboard the airplane, but must be packed in your checked luggage. That means you cannot have any guns, airsoft pellets, canisters or anything else in your carry-on luggage. Storing these items in luggage that you intend to carry onto the plane and have access to throughout the flight will result in some pretty unpleasant face-time with the TSA agents. Not to mention the risk of missing your flight!
It is also necessary to declare your gun (airsoft or otherwise) at the ticketing counter as any undeclared arms that are found in checked baggage will be considered a threat and may result in damage to your luggage or at worst, your arrest. Stored weapons that will be dispatched in checked luggage will be identified by specific tags on the bag or suitcase.
Additionally, pump and spring airsoft shotguns must be dismantled before being packed away in your luggage and all CO2 canisters must be emptied and detached from the gun. To check whether your gun is allowed onboard the plane, check the TSA site and be sure to talk to your carrier as each airline has their own rules.