Delta Rolls Out New Policy for Traveling with Guns

The new Delta policy at a glance.

Delta Airlines has quietly rolled out a new policy for travelers who place firearms into their checked luggage, according to NBC 6 News.

Under the new policy bags with firearms will no longer be placed onto the general carousel for pick up but will instead be tagged with a special zip tie and sent to a service agent who will then perform an I.D. check on the passenger under the supervision of a police officer.

“Now, there’s a police presence there when there’s a weapon that’s checked and the police officer can monitor the weapon leave the building satisfactorily,” said aviation consultant Scott Patterson.

This new policy comes in the wake of a Jan. 6 shooting at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport that left five people dead and six others injured.

The gunman, since identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, retrieved a firearm from his checked luggage in a restroom before the killings occurred.

“Delta is committed to the safety of our customers and employees. Every day we look for ways to refine processes and procedures with the goal to improve safety and the overall travel experience,” said the airline in a statement.

Thus far, only Delta has made an adjustment to their travel policy with respect to firearms. No other airlines have made changes.

Time will tell whether this “extra level of security” is merely a PR move or an actual deterrent to bad guys with guns. One can argue that Santiago chose the airport terminal as a target because it was a soft target aka a gun-free zone.

In fact, following the shooting, Florida state Sen. Greg Steube and state Rep. Jake Raburn introduced legislation to allow permitted concealed carriers to carry into airport terminals, schools, college campuses and other areas where guns are currently banned.

“Those with mental illness and terrorists specifically target locations where they know law-abiding people like myself aren’t carrying,” said Sen. Steube in a Jan. interview with Yahoo. “They go to places they know where they can do as much damage and as much terror as possible until law enforcement arrives. I don’t think that should be the law of the state.”

Steube went on to argue that the status quo only prevents good guys from carrying firearms into gun-free zones.

“The law not permitting those from carrying at the airport sure as hell didn’t stop the criminals and the terrorists from walking in and starting shooting people,” he said. “It’s only stopping law-abiding citizens’ ability to defend themselves.”

It’s not clear at this point whether Steube and Raburn’s proposed legislation is making any real headway in the Legislature. But if and when it does, we’ll be sure to update the story.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

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  • Greg August 22, 2018, 2:32 am

    I found this article while researching the CAGPT tag on my luggage and my recent experience with flying Delta Airlines. I’ve traveled with firearms for more than 30 years and found the regulations are quite arbitrary depending upon the carrier and the airport. Until they started charging for each checked bag I used to put my firearms in a separate Pelican case, but this trip I used a smaller case that came with my S&W revolver that would fit inside of my normal checked bag. On the outgoing flight (from Orlando to Detroit and back) I used Spirit (AKA Walmart Air) and had no issues. Leaving Detroit, I got a switched-on DAL representative that, rightfully, gave me a hard time for using the OEM case for my revolver. It only locked on one side and he demonstrated how someone could pry open the other side to gain access. But the hard case was then locked inside of my checked bag, so I did not see the problem. When I got back to Orlando my bag did not show up on the carousel, I observed a baggage handler come out of the side door towing my bag and walking into the Delta Baggage Office. I followed him in and was asked, “Can I help you?” I responded, “Yes, that is my bag, is there a problem?” They proceeded to tell me about the Fort Lauderdale shooting and told me they had to zip tie it before giving it back to me. After showing my baggage tag I walked outside and while waiting for the shuttle bus to my offsite parking used the toenail clippers I keep in the outside pocket to cut off the cable ties I always use to secure my zippers anyway (in addition to a TSA approved lock). Sometimes TSA will cut off my cable ties and replace it with their orange one, so I have always kept a set of clippers handy.

    The CAGPT tag just screams, “STEAL ME” to any thieving baggage handler.

  • Jim E. August 25, 2017, 2:08 pm

    Flew into LAX on Delta on Wed, 23 August 2017. Yes, VERY OBVIOUS gun case (since when was a locked gun case not obvious…) was assigned to the “large” checked baggage area, but no police were anywhere in sight when they checked my ID and sent me on my way, case ‘n all. Actually, years back at SNA my gun case was also taken to a separate site. In both situations it added at most 10 minutes to leaving the terminal.

    Frankly speaking, there’s a lot of paranoia wrt/checked firearms. I’ve flown periodically over the last 20 years w/checked firearms (both pre- and post-TSA) and NEVER had a bad instance. What’s actually funny is that plastic ammo containers are not listed as acceptable, and I’ve never had anyone question them.

    Bottom line: chill out and enjoy your flight.

  • Chris Baker April 12, 2017, 4:08 pm

    Lots of people for this new policy and a lot of people against the new policy. Since Delta is a company and not part of the government, they can pretty much do as they please about requirements such as this except where such requirements would violate the law. One comment mentioned that federal law requires that bags containing firearms not be identified so as to prevent theft and this policy would seem to violate that law. If so, they can’t do it. Not legally anyway. I don’t really care. I quit flying anywhere in 2001. If I can’t drive I don’t go. I refuse to undergo their dehumanizing treatment of passengers. Look at what United felt it was ok to do to that doctor on their flight. BTW, their actions were a violation of federal law. Once you occupy the seat you paid for, they cannot legally force you to give up that seat unless you are being unrully and causing trouble. All the witnesses said the man did nothing wrong. It’s going to cost United several wheelbarrows full of large bills to pay this man off for the humiliation and injury he suffered because of the people at United being stupid.

    Why would you take a chance on something like this happening to you? Why do you put up with people poking and prodding you and feeling you out like they do? Boycott the airlines. All of them.

  • Jim Sutton April 8, 2017, 11:47 pm

    Flagging luggage in any way just guarantees that the gun inside will be stolen by a some luggage handler at the airport.

  • Layton Webb April 8, 2017, 12:17 pm

    I have to agree with Edward Ingold APRIL 7, 2017, 2:28 PM
    According to TSA regulations, luggage with firearms must not be marked in any way to that effect. This was to prevent your checked luggage from showing that it contained a weapon. If the individual checking the luggage in has the appropriate Concealed license identification or other appropriate firearm license there should not be any additional pickup requirements. I also agree that there should not be any gun free areas which are only a drawing card for mass shootings to occur, because licensed CCL individuals are prevented from being able to protect themselves or any other individuals because they can loss their licenses if they violate these gun free zones. Delta is off my list of airlines for sure.

  • Ben Michel Sr April 7, 2017, 4:24 pm

    I think that there should be NO safety zone except in the court house,s

    • Kat April 9, 2017, 8:59 pm

      I absolutely concur. Duh.

  • Kevin McCarthy April 7, 2017, 3:11 pm

    How stupid. One person in the history of civil aviation does something – then all of sudden bags and customers need a police presence? So tell me, Delta – when the police don’t have enough officers handy to babysit bags – does that mean passengers are not able to get their luggage? And tell me, Delta, what happens when the airport police become tired of the new added expense of having an officer babysitter? Will you begin charging $15 for a checked firearm? $50? or perhaps $150? Knee jerk reactions are never a smart move. I thought Delta was smarter than this.

    • Kat April 9, 2017, 9:03 pm

      He’ll, I’ve worked Homeland Security and TSA at the airports. The only cops there are the ones who only have a few months before retiring. They fight tooth and nail to keep from starting paperwork or taking the perpetual into the investigation room. I’ve even seen where the cops gave back the two once baggie of weed back to the traveler and escorted him to his gate. Man was I pissed.

  • Edward Ingold April 7, 2017, 2:28 pm

    According to TSA regulations, luggage with firearms must not be marked in any way to that effect. On the other hand, a traveller with a one-way ticket, no luggage other than a checked firearm, to a distant location should be “tagged” for special attention, under guidelines in place since 9/11.

    Perhaps it’s more comforting to institute rules which are ineffective than to enforce rules which work.

    • Ryan April 11, 2017, 8:12 pm

      I disagree, back in 2005 I flew across the country (one way) after buying a car off the internet. I then drove the car back home. I flew with my concealed carry pistol checked. It was a small bag and the only bag I took with me.
      There are thousands of reasons for someone to fly one way with a firearm.

  • RH April 7, 2017, 1:01 pm

    Stupid reasoning by the airline. So, what prevents the passenger from walking away after getting his luggage, cutting the zip tie, extracting weapon and ammo and going on a shooting spree after the cop checks his ID? Nothing. All this is is the airline trying to limit their liability – it does nothing for anyone’s safety. Now we have a cop stuck checking law abiding citizen’s ID’s instead of doing cop stuff. Go back to the previous method and quit hassling law abiding citizens. Bad guys are going to do what they want regardless of what “rules” are emplaced. They don’t obey the law, why would this rule change anything? Dumb.

    • Russ D April 7, 2017, 4:51 pm

      If you read the whole article ,it says the officer makes sure the gun leaves the building . So I am guessing he would probably make sure no one removes their gun and shoots the place up.

  • JOHN T. FOX April 7, 2017, 12:25 pm


  • Grant Stevens April 7, 2017, 12:09 pm

    Along with TSA groping, this is just another reason to avoid air travel. If I can’t drive to where I hunt and must fly, I ship my firearms Fed-X to my destination. Either way, you are entrusting your firearms to the airline gremlins, but Fed-X is far more trustworthy than Delta or any other airline.

  • Jay Hammond April 7, 2017, 11:18 am

    I just flew with three firearms last week on Delta from Detroit to Phoenix. No problems, and I appreciated not having my guns on the carousel. I like the policy. Just carry your case to the car and cut the tie strap. I think its an improvement.

    • Rich Zellich April 8, 2017, 1:38 am

      If it’s your car on your home turf, you may have a knife in it with which to cut the zip tie. If it’s an “away” airport, and a rental car, what are you going to cut the tie with? If you had a knife when you started, it either got confiscated by the TSA goons, or ended up in your checked luggage – the sealed one with the zip tie.

      Like the external tags they started out with, the zip tie is an inviting “steal-me” flag for the thieves that infest airport luggage handling systems.

  • Dustin Eward April 7, 2017, 10:52 am

    They know full well that putting “steal me, I’m a gun” tags on bags results in exactly that. It’s why the behavior was done away with years ago… This is not an accident.

    Don’t fly Delta anymore.

  • Retrocon April 7, 2017, 10:14 am

    “Wait cabbie, I am missing a bag, just pull back up to the curb. Don’t wait.”

    That’s right, criminals just are not that smart.

  • Robert April 7, 2017, 10:05 am

    Couple of weeks ago I flew into fll had to go to delta office to pick up gun. I had to wait for a officer to show up. He asked me if I needed to go to the bathroom or do anything before I left the airport
    So far in Detroit it depends on the time of the day where your firearm shows up
    No I use the delta app to track bags

  • Luke April 7, 2017, 10:01 am

    Delta doesn’t want your guns on board. That’s what they’re saying. And, this is probably the first of several obstructions planned. What I don’t get is, why implement an un-enforceable policy that leaves you open to legal litigation. (?) This is nuts.

    • Penrod April 7, 2017, 1:36 pm

      Bags get x-rayed, so if you have an undeclared gun you will be caught committing not only a Delta rules breach, but a federal offense. Whether we like it or not, whether it is a useful or counter-productive use of resources or not, I think this one is readily enforceable.

  • Jonathan D Olenick April 7, 2017, 10:00 am

    Sounds like a good policy. Jon.

  • ClubberL April 7, 2017, 9:46 am

    Just flew from Detroit to Austin with delta no big deal they really didn’t do anything different before except baggage handlers didn’t put firearms on the conveyor tsa swabbed the cases and then put them on, pick up you had to go to baggage claim to pick up, which worked out pretty good guns were waiting on us before the rest of the luggage was arriving on the conveyor.

  • Rick Stevens April 7, 2017, 9:44 am

    Oh, great. Now the thieves (or terrorists) amongst the baggage handlers will be quickly able to identify which bags contain firearms and ammunition. Which means while in so-called “sterile” areas of airports. Like right there with direct access to airliners. What could possibly go wrong with that?

  • gbro April 7, 2017, 9:25 am

    I flew out to Phoenix this year to shoot in a match and when I got there, i had know idea I was to go to the American airline customer office to pickup my suitcase with the weapon until I happened to hear my name called out of the intercom.
    All I had to do was show my license . On the way back to Memphis the same happened but that time I just had to search for the office, nobody said anything at all..

  • Paul West April 7, 2017, 9:18 am

    Just another nuisance for the traveling public. Avoid this airline if at all possible.

  • Tony April 7, 2017, 9:11 am

    Been the same in the UK for years, the only problem is that you have to pay the handler to bring your firearm to a secure office for the Police Officer and the airport handler to be with you whilst the ownership checks are done! So now ask Delta how much this new ‘service’ will cost?


    • NCFubar April 7, 2017, 4:14 pm

      Don’t give ‘me any ideas … they will tack on a $50 charge for the 50¢ the cable ties cost them. Delta has never been a good airline for me to fly.

  • KJQ April 7, 2017, 8:48 am

    Santiago had to wait until he had retrieved his bag and took it into a washroom to unpack and load it. The only thing a policy like Delta’s will do (besides all the extra costs involved) is make people like Santiago wait until they’re outside the terminal building to unpack and load up and return. This is just a stupid rule pandering to the ill informed and made to instill a false sense of security.

    You can’t stop violent people from becoming violent. You CAN allow others to be able to stop violent people quickly the moment they reveal their intentions (e.g. start shooting). That is why “Gun Free Zones” are evil.

  • Randy April 7, 2017, 8:42 am

    What does the ID check consist of? Checking to see that the name on the ID is the same as the name on the bag tag?
    I don’t think they would be doing warrant clearances on the ID.
    What if the person who has a firearm in the bag decides to use the restroom and then get something to eat while waiting for his ride to arrrive in 1 hour? Is the officer going to escort him around? What if there are multiple people waiting for their bags with firearms when they go on a hunting trip? Do they have to wait in line for an officer to come back and check each ID and escort each person around? I do like the idea of having my bag with my expensive firearm in it held by an agent until I arrive. That way no one can come to the baggage claim and take my bag with my gun in it. Maybe they will hold onto all my bags for me!

  • J April 7, 2017, 8:42 am

    The irony is that Delta’s hub is in ATL, where it is perfectly legal to open or conceal carry a firearm in any part of the airport outside of security, i.e. baggage claim.

  • Dr Motown April 7, 2017, 7:31 am

    Just hope my gun shows up when I reach my final destination this November (elk hunt)

  • Dan April 7, 2017, 7:03 am

    It’s CYA …..plain and simple! If it’s against the law why hasn’t someone who is in Law enforcement put A stop to it? Like if any business that I know places a sign on their property against the carry of a firearm they don’t need my business!

  • Randy J April 7, 2017, 6:01 am

    I went through this when returning from a JROTC National Championship Match a couple of weeks ago . No tag was added to the outside of my case. They did put a very substantial zip tie on the case. They checked my ID and gave me the case. No police were present, and no escort.

  • Ken April 7, 2017, 5:21 am

    Yeah I’m sure the police are wait on the passenger and are going to escort every bag with a gun in it at some these busy airports on the one in a hundred million chance the person is a terrorist. Good luck with that.

  • Glenn April 7, 2017, 4:40 am

    I believe that Delta\’s new policy may be in violation of Federal Law.
    From 18 U.S. Code § 922 (e) , \”No common or contract carrier shall require or cause any label, tag, or other written notice to be placed on the outside of any package, luggage, or other container that such package, luggage, or other container contains a firearm.\”
    Also, how is a police officer going to legally \”monitor the weapon leave the building satisfactorily\”? The owner of the firearm isn\’t doing anything unlawful, so under what lawful grounds could a LEO follow him around?
    Last but not least, is Delta going to be paying the Police Department for the officer\’s time while he does all this? Enforcing Delta\’s corporate policy isn\’t something the officer is paid for, in fact this is no different than an officer serving as a security guard at a supermarket for extra money on his \”off duty\” hours…the hiring agency doesn\’t pay him for that nor do the local tax payers.Also, I think the gun community should start avoiding flight on Delta. Maybe the NRA and GOA could push a boycott.

    • december April 7, 2017, 10:57 am

      Well go right ahead and sue. Someone has to be the first test case.

    • Steve April 7, 2017, 1:20 pm

      I’m pretty sure they’re not putting a label or tag on the bag/box saying there is a gun in it. they are just putting a heavy duty zip tie on it.

    • Penrod April 7, 2017, 2:08 pm

      Unlike the old tags, the new tag does not explicitly say there is a gun inside, so it may well be legal.
      We flew Delta from Phoenix to Honolulu a couple weeks ago with a declared gun. The additional tag, which was just like a luggage tag, was white with black lettering reading ‘CAGPT Do Not Place On The Baggage Carousel Belts’.
      I Googled the acronym on the additional tag.
      Result: “CAGPT stands for Check And Give Protection To (Delta Airlines high value shipments).” I expect that since one doesn’t have to declare anything but guns, this does in reality identify the bag as having a gun- who in their right mind ships jewelry or cash in their suitcase? For legal purposes though, Delta’s lawyers are probably satisfied that they are not identifying the bag as having a gun inside. At least it isn’t blaze orange, and from my perspective that CAGPT tag means they are taking on additional responsibility for protecting the bag -more than a standard bag. Maybe a court would disagree, though.

      When we checked in at Phoenix, I had to sign the standard blaze orange card saying that the gun was unloaded, and put the card inside the suitcase on top of the hard, padlocked gun case. (Outbound a couple weeks earlier I had to unlock the case and show that the gun was unloaded. It also had a cable lock through the action, but so far as I know that is not a requirement. It does make it obvious to the X-ray tech that the gun is unloaded, though, which helps prevent my getting called back to open the case again)

      After we checked in the bag at Phoenix, the bag was given to a a porter -not a LEO- and we made a major hike to a security guard on another floor where a security guy opened the suitcase and ran a swab all around for maybe a minute. Swabbed all over without opening the locked gun case. He declined to say what the purpose was, but my guess is that he was looking for explosive residue. He should have found lots, because I hadn’t cleaned the gun after a two day shooting class, nor had I laundered the clothes I wore at the class. So I have no idea what the point of that exercise was. Not the first time that has happened: We go through Salt Lake City every summer and the same swab down inside the suitcase is sometimes but not always done. Baffles me: Of COURSE there is explosive residue, and they never are concerned at finding it. So why do it? Maybe there is some aspect I am not aware of.

      They actually put two zip ties on, not one. One in each direction, through the handles so they cannot be removed without cutting.
      The whole process probably added 15-20 minutes to our check in, but that was almost entirely because of the trek to get the bag swabbed. A different airport may have different procedures, or a swabby closer to the check in counter. Salt Lake’s is only maybe 30 yards away from Delta check-in, so the swabbing takes minimal time. Otherwise it was just the standard gun check in. So plan ahead and allow extra time.

      It’s a nuisance, it takes time, but it isn’t a big deal. Yet. I’m not sure it is worth the resources expended, but until they start charging for the ‘service’ it isn’t a a big deal.

  • will April 7, 2017, 4:23 am

    So while the cop is busy escorting the guy with the unloaded gun in his luggage out the exit, any tom, dick and Harry with a loaded gun can walk right in the entrance and start firing away. AND the guy that he just escorted out can stop a hundred feet away, load his gun, and walk right back in the entrance.

    • Penrod April 7, 2017, 2:15 pm

      Exactly. But it makes Delta…or maybe more likely, their lawyers…feel warm and fuzzy.

  • Justin Opinion April 4, 2017, 7:14 pm

    Headline grabbing. How many typically have to die at an intersection before a traffic light is installed. I always smell BS the moment someone uses the words, “public safety”.