Flying with Firearms: American Airlines BSO

American Airlines BSO

I recently wrote about Delta Airlines’ “CAGPT” program and my experience with it. Since I frequently fly with firearms, I am going to make an effort to catalog my experiences. My most recent flight was with American Airlines. While not quite as bad as my experience with Delta, the American Airlines BSO tag doesn’t make me feel much better.

American Airlines BSO Tag

The American Airlines BSO tag is a red tag placed on the handle of your suitcase. BSO stands for “baggage service office” which is where you have to pick up your bag. The tag is red and reads, in its entirety: RETURN TO BSO.

The check in-procedure at my home airport was a non-issue. I declared the firearm per SOP. I was asked if it was unloaded, and required to place a signed declaration in the suitcase. It was then tagged and sent on its way.

American Airlines BSO

Upon arrival I made my way to the baggage office. This one was a little bit more complicated. I told the agent why I was there. She politely informed me that my baggage hadn’t been delivered to the office yet. After waiting around for 15 minutes she told me to go check the carousel. When I went to the carousel, I noticed that it hadn’t even started, so I headed back to the office. My bag finally arrived and I was on my way.

Check in on the way home was also typical. I checked in and my bag was flagged with a big, red “BSO” tag. An agent walked me over to TSA, who opened my bag with one of these keys, and inspected the contents. After that I was sent on my way. Pickup at my home airport was relatively painless.

The Bottom Line

Like Delta’s CAGPT, I don’t see much reason for American Airlines BSO initiative. Once you pick up the bag you are released right back into baggage claim. This doesn’t (won’t) prevent crime in the airport. What it might do, though, is let thieves know which bags contain firearms. Baggage theft by baggage handlers is nothing new. Showing them which bags contain expensive items isn’t a great idea.

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