Has anyone used this flight while flying with firearms? If so, what were the check in procedures for your guns? Asking because New Jersey is a very anti gun state with stringent rules.
Mine was checked-thru to ORT, so I cannot shed any light on the check-in rules there. I can address the rules on the return flight though.
The entire process was convoluted and overly time-consuming, but they appear to be slowly working their way through it. After baggage claim, those of us traveling with firearms went to a corner of the room where we verified that our rifle case was in the pile that had been brought in by the baggage handlers. A United Airlines representative then herded us over to the CBP checkpoint, under the watchful eye of airport security.
There were about 16 of us, and only two (eventually three) lanes open, so it took a while to get through. One at a time, we brought our cases to the counter, opened the case (and interior soft cases, as appropriate), then provided the CBP Form 4457 for each firearm. The agents were polite but not altogether knowledgeable, as evidenced when we were asked to remove the bolts from our rifles prior to closing-up the case. At least a couple of us mentioned that this seemed unnecessary and had never heard of such a process, but the agent stated that it was "for safety, as sometimes people have loaded guns in the case." This after she had physically inspected the rifle, but oh well -- her turf and her badge, so you're not going to win the argument. Except for the one fellow who pointed out that his double rifle does not HAVE a bolt to remove. He did win that one.
After the entire group had run the CBP gauntlet, allowing our firearms back into the US, the cases were loaded back onto baggage carts and the United rep took us all downstairs to the TSA checkpoint, where the firearms were to be OK'd for loading onto our connecting flights. We were told to unlock the cases and that we could not be present while the inspection took place. Several passengers declined to do this, citing TSA rules that the owner had the right to be present whenever the case was opened, and to lock the case afterwards. A supervisor was eventually called, and a contentious but mostly polite discussion ensued concerning US Code, regulations, SOP, and the physical limitations of the airport. The end result was that the cases were unlocked and taken into the back room for inspection by TSA without the owners being present, but subsequently brought back out so that we could verify that the contents were unmolested and watch the case being locked and secured. The owners were allowed to look, but not touch the contents, and I was surprised by the supervisor's comment that they (TSA) did not open the soft cases or even touch the firearms or other contents. The supervisor appeared to be genuinely sympathetic to our concerns (apparently he hears it A LOT every week) but the matter is apparently beyond his pay grade to actually affect. Once again, their rules, their badges, and their internal SOPS.
The gun cases then were wheeled away by the TSA, and we were escorted back upstairs by the United rep to process through airport security again, prior to locating our gates. The entire procedure, from baggage claim to our release took about 2-1/2 hours total. Plenty of time to get to the next gate and wait on the connecting flight. Hope that provides some answers to you and others.