By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
This happened to a friend of mine whom I will call Ernest because that is not his name. Anyway, Ernest is returning from Edmonton to Austin via Denver, on Air Canada (which is pretty ominous right there), has cleared both U.S. Customs and security in Edmonton, and has upgraded to first class. The doors are about to close when an Air Canada functionary accosts him and asks if he is the gentleman traveling with the firearm. Ernest says yes, he is.
“Well then,” says the AC person, “would you mind giving me the key to your case? It needs ADDITIONAL SCREENING.”
“Why?” asks Ernest. “It’s already been checked twice.”
“I don’t know [Independent research shows that these three words are used more by airline employees than any others] sir, but we can’t take off until the screening is performed.”
Well, now the other passengers are starting to turn and stare, and their expressions are not supportive, so Ernest turns over the key and says can he please get it back before takeoff because it’s the only one he has. Of course, says the AC person, who then departs for who knows where.
And so a few minutes elapse, and the doors close, and the plane backs out of its gate, and there is no AC person and no key. And Ernest is now sweating—pardon the expression—bullets. In fact, he is so unhinged that he asks the flight attendant to speak to the pilot and ask him what the hell, but there is no help on that end, either.
And so they finally land in Austin, and the pilot, to his great credit, accompanies Ernest to the baggage claim to find out what the hell, and before you know it, there is Ernest’s gun case on the conveyor belt with the key taped to the handle in direct violation of every FAA, TSA, or Canadian regulation I’ve ever heard of.
Ernest wants to file a complaint with the FAA, but thinks that a) it wouldn’t do any good; and b) his name would be placed on a watch list. He still has no idea what the ADDITIONAL SCREENING was about, and will never know.