This is the point in my travels where I usually go on a rant about the TSA. Today, I can’t. Every TSA agent I interacted with today was pleasant, courteous, and professional.
I’ve heard and read a number of horror stories about checking in firearms at the airport, concerning both the airlines and TSA. This was my first time, so I prepared myself for the worst. I didn’t have a problem from either American Airlines or TSA. If anything, I was the only one who slowed me down. If I had gotten in the customer assistance line to begin with, I would have saved myself about ten minutes of waiting at the self-service kiosk, only to be told I needed to get in the customer assistance line to drop my bag.
I wasn’t surprised the American Airlines agent wanted me to open my suitcase. I was very surprised she wanted me to open the gun case. I would have thought she’d be concerned about other customers freaking out. I did it in the most discreet manner possible, so there wasn’t a problem. She then escorted me to a nearby TSA cubicle where everything was repeated by a TSA agent, in addition to a swab for explosives. I have no idea what explosives they were testing for, but the gun case should have been expected to have at least some traces of gunpowder, so that couldn’t have been it.
Security theater? You be the judge.
I had convinced Kathryn to stay with me at the airport until we were past the TSA screening of the firearm, since if something happened that forced me to travel without it, I wanted her to take it home. So while the screening was going down, she and I chatted up the American Airlines agent who was chaperoning me and the suitcase. She said her biggest problem is passengers who say their firearms are unloaded but aren’t. That sounds like a big problem. The next biggest problem, to hear her tell it, is passengers who start spouting some political nonsense when agents need to open their gun cases. Hmm. While I probably have some sympathy for their positions, the airport is probably not the place to make them known.
My other interaction with TSA was the usual passenger security checkpoint, which went quite smoothly for me. I’m not saying some of the agents weren’t complete dicks to other people, but they weren’t to me. At least not this time.