Monday, September 25, 2006

How to make cumbersome airline security procedures work for you: The Bruce Schneier blog describes an ingenious way to make sure that valuable items (such as high-end camera and electronics equipment) in checked luggage never get lost or stolen. First, one person summarizes the current TSA rules for transporting firearms:
All firearms must be in checked baggage, no carry on.

All firearms must be transported in a locked, hard sided case using a non-TSA approved lock. This is to prevent anyone from opening the case after its been screened.

After bringing the equipment to the airline counter and declaring and showing the contents to the airline representative, you take it over to the TSA screening area where it it checked by a screener, relocked in front of you, your key or keys returned to you (if it's not a combination lock) and put directly on the conveyor belt for loading onto the plane.

No markings, stickers or labels identifying what's inside are put on the outside of the case or, if packed inside something else, the bag.

Might this solve the problem? I've never lost a firearm when flying.
Then Schneier observes that another poster "has the brilliant suggestion of putting a firearm in your camera-equipment case":
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.

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.

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.

It's a great way to travel with camera gear... I've been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problems whatsoever.