For the first time, I may have to fly with my sidearm as checked baggage.
I have a Plano Gun Guard lockable case. TSA says "TSA approved locks are NOT approved for securing firearms". The airline says they "must have TSA approved locks", and one shooters' magazine article says the same.
I didn't have any problems travelling through our small regional airport with my Dan Wesson .44 and 450 Marlin rifle in a Pelican case locked with the TSA locks sold by Pelican. My son didn't have any problems with his case locked with Masters padlocks either, although he had to unlock it for inspection then relock it. That was through both MBS and Phoenix.
From my read, the TSA approves non "TSA" locks for firearms cases. They seem to indicate that only the passenger should be able to open the case and the passenger should be present during any screening.
Just print a copy of the TSA requirements showing the requirement for non TSA marked locks for gun cases and show it to the airline folks. Also toss a spare set of TSA marked locks in the case so you can change between them if needed.
Back when all this silliness started, there was some speculation on the camera forums that you could put your $10k worth of camera equipment in a firearms case, lock it with a real, non-TSA lock and maybe get away with it. Don't know if it ever worked.
The TSA locks I got from Pelican have 4 tumblers, so 10,000 combinations. The TSA part is keyed. Supposedly the TSA keyset is secured. You have to wonder about that. I think they're secure enough since anybody that could get the case could just hacksaw off the plastic hasp or smash the lock with a hammer. Nothing except airline security (such as it is) can prevent someone from stealing something as portable as a gun case.
Well, the proper gun cases are metal, but anyone with a small set of bolt cutters can get into the case in a few seconds. Of course the entire case can be readily stolen as well and opened at the thieves leisure as has occurred plenty of times.
The TSA also seems to have issues with maintaining their keys as some TSA folks were unable to locate a "TSA007" key for one of my locks once.
Clothing and toiletries go in checked baggage, expensive camera gear is carry on. Or in my case, clothing and relatively inexpensive and bulky BC/fins/masks/etc. go in checked, while the regulators, computers, cameras, O2 analyzer, etc. go in carry on.
Won't do any good! Another set of clowns will be on duty when you actually fly. Their interpretation of the reg's will be different or they will make up their own on the spot. The boss on duty can do what he wants.
Last time I did that post 9/11, I used a lockable cash box inside a corrugated carton that I taped up after the check-in inspection, on the theory that it is less of a theft target if the package appears non- descript and unlocked.
Once pre-9/11 I inadvertently walked through security with a loaded magazine in my jacket pocket. The guys were amused, let me have the empty magazine back, and kept the ammo for themselves.
I also remember in those days how after the last flight departed at night on a given terminal wing, they shut down the security scanners and let anybody and everybody freely walk in and out without so much as an attendant watching. A terrorist team could have hidden an arsenal inside the sterile area back then.
Flying out of Belize to Miami a few years ago, I inadvertently walked through the scanner with the world's largest Swiss Army knife in my pocket. I handed it over. I was very upset about this expensive forfeit, not mention the sentimental value of this personal tool I had carried for decades. A few minutes later the 3rd-world official caught up to me and quietly slipped it back in my hand on the way to the gate out of sight of the crowd. It was a nervous ride home for me carrying that thing in the cabin. But if anyone needed a bottle uncorked, a pipe reamed, or a fish scaled, I was ready.
Flying to Europe about 5 years ago, had the backpack with the books etc. SFO to Cincinnati to Rome. Still inside the security area of Cinci, reached in the backpack for something and realized the was a 4" folding knife we use for picnics. Stayed inside security and had hopefully the only knive aboard.