Saturday, November 7, 2009

fun with non-gunnies, part 1

Scene I, a check-in counter at an airport in Cleveland, Ohio

Breda walks toward the counter, wheeling a large red suitcase behind her. After handing the airline employee her photo I.D. and acquiring her tickets, Breda announces, "I need to declare firearms."

The airline woman blinks, pauses for a moment, then asks, "Are an officer of the law? Are you with the police?"

"" Breda replies, wondering to herself if she could possibly even look like an officer of the law.

The airline woman looks at Breda quizzically and says, "Okay. Well, I have to check them."

Breda manages to open the suitcase after a brief struggle with its weight. She unlocks and opens the hardsided case, revealing two pistols and two magazines.

"Oh. My. Goodness," says the airline woman. She seems to have been expecting one gun.

Breda smiles brightly.

There is a pause, and the passenger waiting in line behind Breda is staring, mouth agape.

Then the airline woman asks, "How do I know if they're unloaded?"

Breda sighs, knowing she still has to get through TSA after this.


Johnnyreb™ said...

OMG ... that is funny!

I've never had a reaction quite that bad. PIT has had it's moments, CAK is a breeze, but i've always avoided CLE simply because I fully expecting to be arrested ...

Joe said...

Lol...there has to be more to this story after the airline woman asks if they're unloaded.

Linoge said...

At least she asked the question. In flying to and from Florida, the airline desk clerks only cared if the magazine was removed from my PPS - neither of them checked if the firearm was clear, nor had me demonstrate safe and clear.

Warm and fuzzies... warm and fuzzies...

JohnMXL said...

Been a while since I've the counter agents and/or TSA still ask whether anything has been stowed in your luggage without your knowledge?

Seems to me that if it was done without my knowledge, I probably wouldn't know about it!

Jenny said...

Oh, fun. :)

That's interesting though.. I don't recall anyone pushing the "have to to demonstrate unloaded" thing since 9/11... I thought we were still at "ohmigodNO! Don't TOUCH it..*" Are they back to the old way now? Or does it vary by carrier?

Most fun is when you scare up everything vaguely shooty or pointy in the house that'll fit in a rifle case for Oleg's prop department.

"Honey," chuckles the TSA guy, "... you could start a war here."

Mom, Dad - No! Don't touch it! It's Ebil!"

Lorimor said...

Two is one. One is none.

About the only time I felt like there wasn't a spotlight on me when flying with firearms was when I went through the Juneau AK airport.

Mad Saint Jack said...

Once more into the breech...

(...with the pinky finger.)

zeeke42 said...

I flew out of BOS last year. I was rather surprised when the ticket agent acted like it was something she did every day.

Caleb said...

I'd imagine that the TSA guys were actually better with the firearms than the airline lady.

Arizona Rifleman said...

The US Airways ticket folks in Phoenix are totally competent about this: they know the questions to ask, they know where the orange tag is, they do the handoff to the TSA right there, etc. Awesome.

The same can't be said about the San Jose, CA ticket agents for US Airways, though -- took the guy about 5 minutes to figure out what to do, get the tag, etc. The case when on the belt back to TSA. He followed it and, a few minutes later, came out and requested my keys (in accordance with the law, I don't use TSA-approved locks on my gun case).

I refused, citing the law that states that only the passenger can retain control of their key or combination. He went back to the TSA, returned, and requested the key again. This repeated about 5 times, each time I reminded him of the law, and said I'd be happy to open the locks and case myself and have them inspect it.

He finally went to talk to his manager, the TSA, and probably got a cup of coffee in the back room before finally coming back and saying "It's ok, you can go to the gate..."

I thanked him, noted his name, and wrote a letter to US Airways corporate headquarters. I explained that the San Jose employee clearly wasn't familiar with the law printed in half-inch high letters on the side of the side of the podium where he worked and asked that they ensure their staff are better prepared. I also made sure to praise the Phoenix-based employee They replied with a "thank you" and a $250 free flight voucher.


Eric said...

I think the folks at PHX encounter more firearms because of the state laws and that little shooting school up in Paulden with the raven over the main gate. ;-)

Wai said...

Easier to break down the gun to its major component before putting it in the gun case.

Ken said...

"How do I know if they're unloaded?"

I have a whole routine worked up, but I suspect it would be in questionable taste.

trebor1415 said...

Next time I fly I plan to lock the pistols open and have a cable lock run through the mag well and out the ejection port. That way I can show they are unloaded without anyone needing to handle them. I figure it might save a bit of time and less chance someone else will finger f*** the guns.

Illinois voter said...

Don't you just love the deer in the headlights look? I used to get it all the time flying out of Midway.

Several times flying out of Phoenix I'd just get the comment "Hey cool guns.... " .

Big difference in regional areas sometimes.

Hunter said...

Alaska Airlines (in-state, anyway)just ask me if I know the drill, hand me the form to go in the bag with the case (not requiring me to open the case), staple my copy of the form to my ticket, and send me off to TSA. What is this orange tag that was spoken of above? I was pretty sure that there was to be NO outward marking of bags containing firearms.
Love Alaska.

The Saj said...


I had zero problems or comments when I took mine with me to AZ for the NRA convention. And I too had two pistols.

I think you have a "bad airport personnel" magnet Breda.

Rabbit said...

I've not had any significant issues (I mostly fly Southwest, and they tend to be more astute) and I take the slide off and run a zip-tie through the barrel and slide assembly while packing it in a Pelican case with foam cutouts.

One ticket agent did get her knickers in a twist because my BRIGHT YELLOW Pelican case 'wasn't in a bag', though. Her supervisor set her straight, though, and the TSA drone got a laugh out of it.


Ed Skinner said...

I had a newbie ticket agent once and when I said that I needed an "Unloaded Firearms Tag" for one of my bags she started gasping for air like a fish out of water.

I calmly smiled and suggested, "Perhaps your Supervisor could be useful."

Another time, I stood and waited as the TSA inspector opened the box, took out my 1911 and proceeded to disassemble slide from frame. He looked it over, carefully put it back together [correctly, I later verified], locked it up and sent it on. He then walked up to me and asked, "Bullseye?"

I said, "Yes... ?"

He asked, "Is that a Masaki?"

"Sadly, no," I said. "I didn't want to wait that long."

He smiled before adding, "It's worth the wait."