Bourjaily: Flying with Guns

Many years ago, my dad flew to Wisconsin on a hunting trip and carried his O/U onto the plane in a takedown case. He and the stewardess had the following exchange:

Her: "Is that a gun?"
Him: "Yes."
Her: "It's not loaded, is it?"
Him: "It's not even put together."

Then, because it was the 60s and air travel was way better then, she probably brought him a martini. I can promise Dad was wearing a tie, too, because flying was a big deal and people dressed for the occasion.

Today, flying is as glamorous as riding the bus and you can't even talk about carrying a gun onto a plane. Surprisingly, I have no personal airline horror stories about checked guns. In part, that's because I fly out of Cedar Rapids, a small airport where people are used to seeing guns among the checked baggage.
One day last year I came home late from somewhere in a downpour. At the carousel, all the bags, including my duffel, came off the plane dripping wet. Everything arrived except my gun case. I waited. The other passengers took their bags and left until it was just me standing there. The carousel stopped. I was looking around for the lost luggage agent when a very wet baggage handler walked in with my gun case tucked under the skirt of his plastic poncho. "I figured there was a gun or camera in there so I wanted to bring it in to you instead of throwing it on the carousel where it might get wet," he said.

I love the Cedar Rapids airport.

I will have to rely on all of you for airline horror stories. I don't have any . . .yet.