Halibut Heist in Airport

Fishy theft leaves a customer furious and an airline manager scratching her head

Field & Stream Online Editors

Ray Bolanos boarded a plane in Anchorage with 40 pounds of packaged halibut that he couldn't wait to cook back home. But when his plane landed, Bolanos was left empty-handed. "My fish," he cried to his daughter over the phone. "They stole my fish."

Bolanos was returning home to Kenmore, Washington, after a vacation in Alaska where he caught one 75- and one 60-pound halibut. Upon arrival at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport he noticed that one of the coolers in which he had packed the halibut turned up at the luggage carousel missing a strand of rope he had used to secure the lid, the Associated Press reported last week. When Bolanos lifted the cooler it weighed much less than he remembered, and it didn't take long for him to discover why: Inside Bolanos found nothing more than the rope and a few halibut scrapes. "I really just feel violated," he told the AP.

Continental Airline's Anchorage general manager, Brenee Davis, said they carry about 30 to 40 boxes of fish on every flight from Alaska during the summer, but she cannot remember reports of any getting stolen. "Usually when you hear about theft, it's electrical goods," she told the AP. "Never fish."

Bolanos filed a claim with Continental, but he said the claims agent gave him little hope that his fish would be found, and since he signed a waiver for the halibut, the airline said they were not responsible for the theft. Bolanos went home with a bitter taste in his mouth. "We signed a waiver for loss or spoilage. Not for disappearance."