I remember being pretty dang worried when I flew with my rifle for the first time. I broke it down onto two or three parts and just stuffed it in the bag with my clothes. I remember asking the airline employee if there would be an issue and if I had to even declare it, she took me back to the security that checks that bags, and I heard it straight from their mouths. It's no big deal, you don't need to even declare it. Obviously a gun case is a lot better, but you can even do the most ghetto of setups and be fine with it.