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Joshua Anthony




Location: The Redneck Riviera
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Oct, 2010 12:48 pm    Post subject: Air Travel with a Sword         Reply with quote

I'm curious what experiences sword owners have had when traveling by air with a sword. I'm thinking of using a rifle case to pack it in before checking it with the airline, which of course will get me the hairy eyeball as soon as I get to the airport.

Anyone travel with a sword much? What has been your experience? Any tips or things to avoid?

"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Hadrian Coffin
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Oct, 2010 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,
Hard golf cases are generally less conspicuous, in my experience. While it is perfectly legal in many countries to fly with an unloaded and declared firearm (providing correct paperwork, etc.), the general public is quite unnerved seeing a person carrying a large gun case about an airport. The golf cases are slightly more expensive, most are over a hundred dollars... but you can get then for as low as fifty. They come un-padded, so I would suggest adding a little padding.
Cheers,
Hadrian

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Oct, 2010 2:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the US, your only concern is theft. There are no laws of any kind prohibiting or restricting checking swords into baggage.

Just don't try to take it on the plane with you. Happy

I like to use a plastic rifle case inside a cheap golf bag. Cheap is important, so it's not a tempting target.

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Douglas S





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PostPosted: Fri 22 Oct, 2010 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I used a rifle case once. The baggage handlers didn't trip, even when I said: "Don't worry, it's not a rifle, it's only a sword." Wink
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Michael B.
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Oct, 2010 4:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I used a hardsided rolling golf bag. I had two longswords, an arming sword, a mortuary sword, daggers, bucklers and gauntlets all in in it. Traveled well.
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Michael Bergstrom
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Maurizio D'Angelo




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Oct, 2010 6:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua,
the important and not to go to Rome, they arrest you if it is sharp. Eek!

Ciao
Maurizio
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 22 Oct, 2010 10:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When I flew to the US with my swords, I had them placed in a rifle case, and taped my name and mailing address onto the case. I explained what was in the case to the people checking the luggage, and the reason I was taking them into the States. There was very little hassle involved. However, the US is more tolerant than most countries about flying with weapons.
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Harry J. Fletcher




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Oct, 2010 11:02 pm    Post subject: Travel with swords         Reply with quote

If I travel and take a sword(s) I plan on using a metal rifle case, the kind that uses a steel rod sliding thru all the locking latches and the L shaped end goes between two slolid projections. It locks up like Fort Knox. The one real problem is that National Transportation Security Authority or whatever it is called these days might want to take a look inside. The locks that one can buy that NTSA can open are somewhat flimsy in my opinion. But the case is built like a tank and does protect the swords very well. If I am going to pay a $1,000 plus for a sword I want it protected. The plastic rifle cases work very well for most travel but are too easily broken into for airline travel IMHO. I have two of these metal cases made in Utah, one for two scoped rifles, and one for a single scoped rifle. They cost around $229 for either one and are a good investment.

Pelican cases are also rated very well but very bulky. The foam I have heard may promote rust but I may be wrong because it depends on the type foam the case uses, closed or open cell foam. Pelican cases are somewhat less conspicuous because they are used by just about everyone for packing telescopes, camera equipment, guns, scientific measuring instruments, etc. These cases also cost around $229 to $269 but make a good investment.

Regards,

Harry

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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Oct, 2010 5:22 am    Post subject: unusual event         Reply with quote

I'm just back from a two week holiday in Florida, and I drove down, so no air travel and I am partially off topice, but... for the first time in a long life of travelling down to the States, I had a problem with a US bored border guard because of a sheathed Buck hunting knife in my glove compartment. The time he took to decide whether or not he would confiscate it, while giving me a sermon about being a potentail threat to american citizens, who had no business being confronted by a threat from abroad, because as a foreigner I had no right to arms in the US... the time he took backed up the line behind me at the Thousand Island crossing about to kingdom come..
At one point in the conversation, I did point out that I have been crossing at the same place forever, and have been going to Pennsic since 1989, with swords, spears, axes and so on without problem. Wrong strategy ! I thought he was going to burst.
Anyway he finally consulted a colleague of his and came back with his decision : as the ''weapon'' was only sharp on one side he would let it pass and I should feel lucky that he wasn't going to take the time to call ahead to a state trooper on the road ahead to intercept me and check if transporting such a ''weapon'' as in fact legal in NY state....he would have confiscated a dagger.
By the way, I am a lawyer by trade, and have been an immigration appeals judge dealing with removal cases of criminal elements from Canada, not quite the profile of a potential dangerous offender, and the only thing I could do was cross my fingers and hope that the jerk didn't keep my Buck, which I have had for over forty years.
For purposes of comedy relief, I had to shuch my wife before she said in english what she had said to me previously in french, which was : tell the young man that they surely have these models of knife for sale in the US, there is no need to conficate ours...

Bon coeur et bon bras
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Julien M




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Oct, 2010 5:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just came back from the US with a couple of Albion blades, sharp, and did the same last year with a tinker Norman. Just secured the cardboard box with tape, and notified these box contained blades at the airport. They were opened and resealed by customs I suppose. I was lucky when landing in the UK every time, because I could have been subject to import taxes but I just walked through customs without any hassle with my big box under my arm like if having a handful of swords in there was as normal as carrying a bag of groceries.

Maybe not so lucky next time! We'll see Happy

Cheers,

Julien
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Oct, 2010 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just pack them wrapped in a towel in my suitcase or backpack. I've used a wooden plank for extra reinforcement.

The longest I've traveled with was about 80cm's I guess.
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Joshua Anthony




Location: The Redneck Riviera
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PostPosted: Sat 23 Oct, 2010 7:55 am    Post subject: Re: unusual event         Reply with quote

Jean-Carle Hudon wrote:
and the only thing I could do was cross my fingers and hope that the jerk didn't keep my Buck, which I have had for over forty years.
For purposes of comedy relief, I had to shuch my wife before she said in english what she had said to me previously in french, which was : tell the young man that they surely have these models of knife for sale in the US, there is no need to conficate ours...


Hard to imagine they almost confiscated a Buck. Good Lord! Over zealous federal employees can sometimes be a little pompous, and I say this as a former employee of the FBI.

Thanks all for the great thoughts. I certainly won't cheap out on a hard case, I think I'll go with a metal one mentioned above for $229.

"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Joshua Anthony




Location: The Redneck Riviera
Joined: 17 Sep 2010

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PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2011 5:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Would love to hear anyone's thought about international travel. For instance, I'll be flying to the UK soon. Are there any laws or problems bringing a sharp sword through British customs if arriving from the U.S?
"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2011 5:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My grandmother caused quite a buzz when arriving in Frankfurth airport and security discovered a large knife in her baggage, while at the check in in Buenos Aires they didn't even bother about it. So whatever you do, there's room for surprise.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2011 5:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've flown to both the UK, Germany, Canada and of course The Netherlands with sharp swords and knives in my (checked) luggage. Even with lot's of both. I think my record was about 15 knives and 4 swords Big Grin Never gotten any comments, or found any evidence of tampering. Since I mostly used a backpack, locking wasn't really possible, so I didn't. I did write down my name, address and mobile phone number on the bag to give customs officials a chance to get into contact, but it was never necessary.
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Mark T




PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You might find some useful ideas from a similar thread over at SFI from not long ago: http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...ht=airline

Here was my contribution, from a context of travelling with Japanese swords:

Quote:
    Hardshell cases are the only way to go ... sword bags, no matter how padded, don't stand up to airline abuse.

    Rectangluar, and plain looking, rather than a more obvious rifle case can also help, both in not raising eyebrows or thief interest.

    'Martial arts sporting equipment' or 'Japanese fencing equipment' will raise less eyebrows than 'swords', 'weapons', etc. When asked what they're for, saying 'Kendo' can help: in my experience, most airline security and customs officers have not heard of Iaido, Aikido, etc ... but, for some reason, they all seem to have heard of Kendo. I've seen this a lot travelling with bokken: a couple of times, I was trying to explain to one overzealous officer what wooden swords were used for, when another leaned over and said, 'Oh, like Kendo sticks - yeah, they're fine'. The second time this happened, I realised 'Kendo' was like a magic word - Kendo equipment either must be common to these folks, or it's on lists that they cover during training. I've since used it for Shinken with the same effect.

    Related to this, I was amazed at the difference of airport security once I started teaching: apparently, to study martial arts can draw some suspicion, to teach them brings with it either a level of 'cool' or genuine respect ... or something.

    Make sure you use a lock that airport security can open without having to cut it. Locks that indicate when security have opened them will then let you know to check everything's in order.

    Inside the case, I include a prominent note on top: 'Dear security and customs officers - please do not touch blades, as this causes them to rust. Thank you.' I started doing this out of bitter experience - and believe it or not, it works!

    Also include your name and address on the inside of the case, in case it goes walkabout. A note about reward for return could help, although I've not done this.

    Having a prominent, bright, 'FRAGILE' sticker on each face of the case helps a lot.

    Many airlines will ask you to take sporting equipment to an oversized luggage area, or personally hand it to security - I like this option, as it means I personally get to see it go from the concourse to a 'secure' area - just don't just put it on the conveyor and leave, though, even if there are security present - gun cases have proven tempting for enterprising thieves hanging around oversized luggage areas in the past!

    Even if the case is not heavy, some airlines will require the case to have an 'oversized luggage' tag due to its length. On arrival, some airlines remove items with fragile or oversized tags first - this can save you a lot of time, but also means you need to get off the plane early to prevent theft. If you like this option, then you can be bit sneaky and just use your own oversized luggage tag - just keep one from the first time you fly with your gear and re-use it. So, even if an airline doesn't require you to put one on, using your own can sometimes mean you get your gear off quicker.

    Check that your insurance policy covers your swords. Some policies will require them to be separately stated/declared.

    For that matter, make sure your personal insurance covers you for 'dangerous sports' - many don't, and going with a sports-specific / sports-friendly insurer is the safest way to go.

    One last thing: a waterproof case is critical ... I've lost count of the time my bags have sat out on a tarmac in pouring rain.
    Hope that's of some use,


There's also a lot of great ideas in the WMAW 2007 Travel Advice document: http://www.wmaw.us/2011/Media/WMAW%202007%20Travel%20Advice.pdf

Mark T

Chief Librarian/Curator, Isaac Leibowitz Librarmoury

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Joshua Anthony




Location: The Redneck Riviera
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 3:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not understanding this statement:

"Make sure you use a lock that airport security can open without having to cut it."

Wouldn't a lock that security can open defeat the purpose of having a lock? Sorry for the confusion on my part, can you explain what that would be?

"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua Anthony wrote:
Wouldn't a lock that security can open defeat the purpose of having a lock? Sorry for the confusion on my part, can you explain what that would be?


Airport security authorities (the TSA) will often need to open luggage for inspection. If they find it locked, they will be required to cut the lock (or zip-tie or what have you) to gain access. This of course renders the bags open and lacking any form of security once they are done with them. As a workaround for this issue, the TSA has developed locks that can be opened by "master keys" which they possess.

See here: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/locks.shtm

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Joshua Anthony




Location: The Redneck Riviera
Joined: 17 Sep 2010

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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 3:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, revelation! For the federal gub'mint, that's actually an idea that makes sense! Thanks for clarifying that for me.
"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Mark T




PostPosted: Fri 29 Apr, 2011 5:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua: If you do a quick search for 'TSA lock' on Amazon and you'll find some; most major aiports now stock them also ... Master do one of the better ones. As Harry mentioned earlier, all the ones produced so far are a little on the light side (at least, all the ones I've seen are) ... but, as Nathan said, some customs/security officers in various countries will simply cut any other lock - even nice, expensive ones - without asking you. So, if it's a choice between locked with a 'light' lock, or not locked at all, I'll go with locked. After all, you're only really wanting to deter somone from opening it who shouldn't be ... a really solid lock won't prevent someone from just walking off with your case to take it home to meet their angle grinder!

One tip I think I left out of my earlier post is that some countries have 'Security checked' stickers or the like: when they inspect your items upon check-in, they'll apply the sticker to the outside of your case, and this means those down the line don't have to open it. I'm not sure exactly how this works, and if its a panacea in all scenarios (if you have connecting flights, for example), but it's worked when I've encountered it ... I doubt you can request that they put these stickers on, as each country and airline varies, but I guess if you see some at the check-in, you can make sure they use one - and that it's applied in a way that's clearly going to stay on.

As an aside: last year, I travelled with three pieces of mail (armour) in my luggage ... my bag was opened not only before the international flight, but also on every flight internally in the US - after I'd checked in, and without my knowledge, except for the TSA lock flagging that the bag had been opened - another handy feature, and reason enough to use them, I reckon ... this meant that I knew to do a quick 'light fingers' check on arrival at each airport, as well as to make sure that things were still repacked well and padded (they never were). Getting tired of having to repack my bags, I finally asked at one check-in counter if they wanted security to have a look in my bag with me present, as it had seemed to be a problem, and I wanted to make sure that things were packed well. They introduced me to the friendly security guard - who, at this particular airline, was far behind the counter, and usually didn't deal with the public. He scanned the bag, and said 'Well, it's those three lumps of metal there - what the hell are they? They'd make anyone suspicous of your bag!'

He then gave me a great demonstration of how security would take them out to inspect them: dump out everything else that was on top, and then just shove it all back in. The irony, of course, was that I thought that by asking to show it to him, I could re-pack it - but because he'd already screened and checked it, I wasn't allowed to touch it ... so everything went back in to get squashed and jumbled again, just like all the other times!

Lesson learnt! I thought I'd save money on posting mail internationally by taking it home with me, given its weight. In future, I'll just have it shipped.

Chief Librarian/Curator, Isaac Leibowitz Librarmoury

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