A guest post from Contributing Editor David Draper. Remember, this could happen to you.
Anytime I’m flying with a firearm, I expect the worst. Add two boxes of caribou meat and two sets of split and packaged caribou antlers to the mix and you’ll understand why I was at Montreal’s Elliott Trudeau airport a full three hours early a few days ago. So why was it I ended up running through the terminal to catch my flight to Minneapolis still not knowing if I’d ever see my hard-earned (and not inexpensive) trophies again?
Well, to be fair, part of the running was due to an overly friendly U.S. Customs agent who wanted to know all about my hunt, including what rifle I used (a Marlin XL7S in .30-06) and if I really thought the Remington Core-Lokts were better than an Accubond. While it was refreshing to find a government employee who didn’t want to taze me for having the audacity to bring a firearm in a double-padlocked case into an airport, the fact that my flight was leaving in 20 minutes had me as nervous as the French painter next to me who wasn’t getting as friendly a welcome into the U.S.
The real reason I was in that position in the first place rests squarely with the Delta counter agent who butted into my check-in process to declare antlers weren’t allowed as checked baggage. That’s right. No antlers on Delta, which would have been good information to have before I showed up at the airport. In fact, Delta’s Website says “We will accept certain fragile or perishable items without a limited liability release as long as they meet the requirements.” Among the allowed items is something listed as “animal trophies,” which I think is safe to assume includes antlers.
When pressed, a third agent (who I grudgingly admit was very friendly and helpful) wouldn’t commit to Delta banning antlers, but blamed “the smaller, regional carriers” they partner with. Of course, it didn’t matter I wasn’t flying a small, regional carrier, but would be on Delta flights from YUL to my final destination of DEN. A call to the Delta Press Relations Department went unanswered and I have yet to receive a response to the e-mail sent to Delta Customer Service.
In the end, I tracked down Todd Seigmund, Remington’s PR rep who I had spent the week hunting with and he graciously agreed to pick up my antlers and take them to a storage locker in Montreal, where they still sit. Hopefully, I’ll get to see them again someday, but until then, I guess I’ll just enjoy the picture (above) while I go about changing all my future flight itineraries from Delta to a more hunter-friendly airline, like Canada’s First Air which gladly accepted our hunting party’s meat and antlers, and served us a full meal complete with complimentary wine on our flight from Kuujjuaq to Montreal the night before.
I bet some of you have a couple hunting-related airline stories to share. Anyone else feel my pain? – David Draper