What with airline meltdowns occurring on a more or less regular basis, I thought I’d pass along a story from a friend of mine who flies with guns to Great Britain on a regular basis. This took place about 10 years ago at Heathrow’s Terminal Four. My friend, hereinafter known as Douglas because that is not his name, arrived in England with two rifles of his own to hunt red stag. While there, he purchased 3 more. Then it was time to go home.

On arriving at Heathrow he first proceeded to the British Airlines ticket desk and declared his rifles. At this point they were taken from him by a Security agent, and the two men went on to the next stop, which was Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs. It was there that the trouble began. Douglas’ piles and piles of paperwork were in order, but the woman at the Customs desk, in Douglas’ words, “…took my five rifles as prima facie evidence that I was either insane, or a terrorist. She had probably never seen a real gun before, and here were five of them on her desk so she could check the serial numbers.”

She did the only thing a seasoned bureaucrat could do. She took the pile of papers, went into her glass office, locked the door, and did nothing. And the clock ticked away, and it was already time to board. Finally, the Security agent pounded on the door. Nothing happened. Then the Security agent really pounded on the door. The Customs woman, by now deeply in shock, came back to the counter, stamped the papers, collected the fee, and Douglas and the Security agent ran for the gate, the Security guy carrying all five guns because Douglas was not allowed to handle them. They made it in time.

Personally, I find airline freakouts a positive development, as they break up the tedium of flying. I envision a day when you can request a flight with a deranged crew member on board, just as you can request a seat upgrade. I see a time when it will be possible to have a pool on which crew member will go apes**t in the air. “My money’s on the co-pilot. Give you three to one.”

Maybe the meltdowns will spread to the TSA. I can hardly wait for that.