Does Delta Airlines New Policy to Zip Tie Luggage Containing Firearms Violate Federal Law?

delta-airlines-logo is reporting that Delta Airlines has quietly changed its policy related to passengers who are flying with guns. According to the NBC Affiliate in Fort Lauderdale

The airline will now have special tags to alert ground handlers to not put bags carrying weapons on the general carousel.

The baggage will go directly to a baggage service agent who is required to perform an ID check on the passenger who picks up the luggage, sources told NBC 6. The agent must then use zip ties to secure the bag.

This policy was apparently implemented after the shooting that occurred in the Fort Lauderdale airport, after the criminal retrieved his luggage, went to the bathroom to load his firearm and then proceeded to murder five people and injure six others.

Interestingly enough, it appears that Delta may be in violation of federal law by implementing such a policy.

18 U.S.C. § 922(e) provides:

It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to deliver or cause to be delivered to any common or contract carrier for transportation or shipment in interstate or foreign commerce, to persons other than licensed importers, licensed manufacturers, licensed dealers, or licensed collectors, any package or other container in which there is any firearm or ammunition without written notice to the carrier that such firearm or ammunition is being transported or shipped; except that any passenger who owns or legally possesses a firearm or ammunition being transported aboard any common or contract carrier for movement with the passenger in interstate or foreign commerce may deliver said firearm or ammunition into the custody of the pilot, captain, conductor or operator of such common or contract carrier for the duration of the trip without violating any of the provisions of this chapter. 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.

(emphasis added).

Tags that are usually put INSIDE the luggage to indicate the firearm is unloaded.

It would seem, at least based upon what NBC is reporting, that Delta’s policy is potentially in direct contravention with what is prohibited by federal law. Perhaps Delta was unaware of the prohibitions against marking luggage containing firearms before it implemented its policy.

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8 thoughts on “Does Delta Airlines New Policy to Zip Tie Luggage Containing Firearms Violate Federal Law?

  1. Is a zip tie “other written notice”? Arguably not. DIA does something similar, no zip ties yet, but they put a small round yellow sticker on the luggage tag after they PET scan the bag containing the declared firearm. Of course, it has the same effect as a “label, tag, or other written notice” in that it discloses that there’s a gun in the bag, but nevertheless, might not violate the statute. The prohibition should be phrased “or any notice or indicia of any sort.”



      1. They put a CAGPT tag on the luggage. Since CAGPT is no longer used for high value protection, it is exclusively used to indicate a firearm within, that violates the law.
        I would argue that even the zip tie policy violates passenger rights as it is intended to prevent access to personal belongings outside of secured areas.
        It’s like getting to your car legally parked in the pay lot to find it booted. Then you have to wait for security to free your car.


  2. American kind of does the same thing now. A red tag on the outside that says “Return to BSO” and the standard white tag inside the case. It was hand delivered to me as well, as I was confused when it did not come out the normal place. (Also TSA/airline lost both the TSA approved locks for the case as well, safety first…)


  3. TSA allows wire clippers under 7 inches in length to be carried in carry-on luggage. Once Delta releases the bag to you THEY have NO CONTROL over it. Just clip the ties off and hand them to the agent for proper disposal. This is not a violation of any law that I know of. Beware in NY, NJ, MA, CA.


  4. It seems that Florida and 4 other states prohibit CCW in non-secure areas of airport. But accessing your personal belongings in baggage area should be perfectly legal and I was told not to do it by Delta employee.


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