12 Feb 14

TSA “Experience”

In the consulting business, I fly commercially a lot, usually several dozen times per year. Not nearly as much as some, but it seems like a lot to me!

I always have guns with me, in my checked baggage. Rarely is there any issue, and airline employees in most airports from which I fly are accustomed to guns in checked baggage and usually just want to get me on my way, and out of their lives, as soon as possible.

For my part, I do my best to be polite, genteel, inconspicuous, and amazingly boring, and I make it a habit of arriving at the airport in plenty of time, so I’m not rushed and constantly worried about missing my flight. When I have a hour to spare after arriving at my gate, I consume it productively, catching up on e-mail!

I flew out of Nashville, TN a short time ago, and I had the opportunity to deal with TSA to a much greater degree than I had planned, nor wanted. Fortunately, it all had a happy ending, and that is the subject of this Quip.

When you fly a lot with guns, sooner or later you’re going to commit a faux pas, no matter how careful you try to be!

A friend gave me a ride (an hour and a half) to the airport, and, since my guns were all packed away in my luggage, he give me a snubby revolver to put in my pocket during the ride. Of course, I forgot all about it until I had long-since arrived at the airport, checked my luggage, and ultimately arrived at the TSA screening point. My briefcase, various IDs, cell phone, laptop, boots, jackets, et al all went through the X-ray normally. Just as I was about to walk through the “millimeter wave” machine, I patted myself down, and, to my unhappiness, suddenly remembered the snubby in my pocket!

Of course, I didn’t walk through. I asked the TSA guy to summon a supervisor, indicating that I had “forgotten” something! A young gal came over, a TSA Special Agent and Sky Martial. I sheepishly explained my situation to her. She was wonderfully understanding and sympathetic.

She immediately arranged to have all my stuff, on the “other side” of security, delivered back to me. I called my friend on my cell phone, explained to him what had happened, and asked him to return to the airport.

A half-hour later he arrived, and the three of us met at the airport entrance. I gave the snubby back to him, and he was on his way. The Agent didn’t want to see it, handle it, nor did she ask questions about caliber, etc.

She then personally escorted me back through the security checkpoint and out the other side, bypassing all the lines.

I thanked her profusely, and we cordially parted ways there on the concourse. A short time later, I was departing on my flight, none the worse for ware!

My fate may have been different at another airport, or on another day. However, my experience has consistently been that TSA employees, and airline employees, will actually try to help you, so long as you communicate contritely and politely, don’t fail the attitude test, and don’t conceitedly, endlessly insist that you’re “right!”

This time, in any event, TSA folks couldn’t have been nicer, more understanding, nor more helpful. Next time, it may be different, of course, but for now I can’t say enough about the Nashville Crew!

“O, wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us.”

Robert Burns