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Airline Confiscates Empty Cigar Lighters Packed in Checked Luggage
Cigar Aficionado ^ | May 27, 2003 | James Suckling

Posted on 06/08/2003 1:05:01 PM PDT by ml/nj

Something Special in the Air

I am sitting on American Airlines Flight 1844, to Chicago from Santa Ana, Calif., as I write this story, and I am trying to control my rage. A Screwdriver has helped take off the edge.

About 30 minutes ago, American Airlines agents took two empty S.T. Dupont X-tend lighters out of my checked-in bag, and said that they needed to be destroyed. They claimed they were "dangerous goods" that could endanger the lives of my fellow travelers -- apparently the equivalent of weapons of mass destruction in today's airline world.

I was actually at the gate waiting for the flight when my name was called over the loudspeaker. "Sir, they have found two cigarette lighters in your bag and they need to be destroyed," said a woman who was working the check-in desk, rather officiously.

"Those two lighters are worth about $300," I said. "You can't just destroy them."

"I suggest you go and speak to the American Airlines employee who checked you in, but I think that you might miss your flight," she said, not really bothered and obviously saying her comment in hopes that I would relent to losing my lighters.

She looked horrified when I hightailed it towards the check-in desk. It meant going through the security gauntlet again, which included taking off my belt, shoes, eyeglasses and IWC stainless steel watch -- thank God I left my flak jacket at home.

Ms. Karen Lawson, the American Airlines compliance officer at John Wayne Airport (what would the Duke do in this situation?) couldn't have been less helpful. It was as if she was speaking to bin Laden himself as she explained that such dangerous goods as my lighters should be immediately destroyed. But she would give me two hours to find someone to pick them up, if I wished. "I can't give you any more time," she said, "and I am doing you a favor giving you two hours."

I explained that my 95-year-old grandmother, whom I had been visiting in California, was not up to the task of retrieving my lighters from her wretched grasp. "Couldn't you just give me the lighters back?" I asked politely.

"I am unauthorized to do that, and I could be fined if I did so," she said. She looked very annoyed that I was still standing in front of her.

I changed my tactic. "I fly more than 60,000 miles a year with American Airlines and I only have two hours to find someone to get my lighters? Surely, you can help me somehow?"

She said, "That's all I can do for you."

There was no use continuing. I spun around and ran for the security check to make my way to Gate 8 for the flight to Chicago. But I was really upset. It wasn't the money lost. It was something more disturbing. I felt that American Airlines had taken something more from me. Those were my lighters, personal things that I valued. One of them had traveled around the world with me. They were like old friends.

I understood and welcomed the security measures in the airport, but it all seemed so arbitrary. I had checked in lighters (empty of butane) on American Airline flights from the Dominican Republic to Miami as well as Miami to Las Vegas with no problem, a fact I explained to Ms. Lawson. But she would have nothing to do with it. Perhaps she wanted the lighters herself?

In any case, I hope she -- or whoever else ended up with them -- enjoys my lighters. And I hope she enjoyed the opportunity of being some sort of mini-dictator. What she should have done is offered to mail the lighters to my office in New York. Or, she could have simply said that she was extremely sorry for the loss. But she didn't care, and attitude like that is why few will shed tears when another few thousand American Airlines employees are fired, or their company closes. But I wish her, and American, no bad will.

Maybe she didn't care because I was a smoker. I certainly didn't have any prejudice for her officious, unthinking demeanor.

We all know what it is like to be a cigar smoker in America, so we are used to being treated poorly. Don't check your lighter in your luggage. Don't smoke in public places. Don't buy Cuban cigars. Don't inflict secondhand smoke on others.

I just wish some people could say it all with a smile.


TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: airlinesecurity
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To: agitator
He should have told them to take their tickets and stuff them where the sun doesn't shine and then filed suit against the little Nazi that swiped his lighters.

On what legal grounds?

41 posted on 06/08/2003 2:02:57 PM PDT by xm177e2 (Stalinists, Maoists, Ba'athists, Pacifists: Why are they always on the same side?)
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To: Catspaw
http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/tsa_ppitems_06-02-2003.pdf

So I guess there was some other policy when Mr. Suckling flew. His article is dated May 27. Your information is dated June 2, 2003. Do you have to check government websites now before making your return trip home?

Are you defending this absurdity?

ML/NJ

42 posted on 06/08/2003 2:03:01 PM PDT by ml/nj
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To: ml/nj
This article is just one more piece of evidence that proves the point that I make in Saving a few more jobs. As the new security laws make flying a more unpleasant experience, flying will lose market share. Once a traveler was past the novelty of it, flying was never very pleasant, and it is getting worse. When the airline industry is completely destroyed, maybe someone will realize how stupid these laws are. In the meantime, the laws are finishing the economic destruction that Osama bin Laden started.

WFTR
Bill

43 posted on 06/08/2003 2:05:30 PM PDT by WFTR (Liberty isn't for cowards)
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To: TC Rider
I've had the same crummy experience with fancy lighters. Now I light my Fuente Don Carlos Robustos with wooden matches. Easily and cheaply replaced if confiscated by TSA storm troopers.
44 posted on 06/08/2003 2:07:04 PM PDT by clintonh8r (You can have no better friend and no worse enemy than a US Marine.)
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To: Bernard
all hail the enormous power and responsibility of the honey roasted peanut dispenser.

sarcasm on/off
45 posted on 06/08/2003 2:09:07 PM PDT by longtermmemmory
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To: ml/nj
His article is dated May 27. Your information is dated June 2, 2003. Do you have to check government websites now before making your return trip home?

It's beginning to sound like the old Max Headroom sci-fi program where TV shows were canceled within minutes of starting because of low ratings. You'll know that that absurdity is reached when you have items consfiscated during transfer of luggage between connections because the rules have changed.

-PJ

46 posted on 06/08/2003 2:10:06 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too (It's not safe yet to vote Democrat.)
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To: ml/nj
Meanwhile, islamists go unchecked.

I guess I may never fly again unless my workplace orders me to, and maybe not even then.

47 posted on 06/08/2003 2:10:19 PM PDT by LibKill (MOAB, the greatest advance in Foreign Relations since the cat-o'-nine-tails!)
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To: ml/nj
Good job. I've emailed them too. I agree that AA has the right to restrict what they'll carry, but that they have no right to confiscate items they won't ship.
48 posted on 06/08/2003 2:10:26 PM PDT by savedbygrace
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To: ml/nj
Some people in my company say that the TSA has been confiscating their laptop security cables. It's a cable about 36 inches long with a 4 digit combination lock at the end for securing a laptop to a stationary object. My co-workers said they were told that the cables "could be used to strangle someone". I asked if their shoelaces, belts and purse straps were confiscated and they said no.
49 posted on 06/08/2003 2:11:31 PM PDT by xrp
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To: clintonh8r
Now I light my Fuente Don Carlos Robustos with wooden matches.

The Don Carlos Robustos are a nice smoke - your taste is impeccable. I had the opportunity to acquire some genuine Montecristo Cubans in Cozumel recently, but resisted the urge because the Opus Xs I brought with me were so good.

50 posted on 06/08/2003 2:11:48 PM PDT by strela (Just shoot me now, 'cause I've done it all.)
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To: Welsh Rabbit
Checked luggage yes, hand luggage no.
51 posted on 06/08/2003 2:16:05 PM PDT by KiaKaha
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To: OldEagle
OK, I'm confused. www.tsa.gov appears to say that lighters can be carried on.

Yes, but only one. It appears that it takes two to make a fusion device.

52 posted on 06/08/2003 2:17:17 PM PDT by TC Rider (The United States Constitution 1791. All Rights Reserved.)
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To: strela
The Cuban smokes aren't what they used to be, given drought, parasites, lack of good fertilizer and deteriorating manufacturing standards on Isla de Fidel. The best non-Cubans are just as good as Cubans, I believe.

I've tried many Opus X's, but can't say I enjoy them as much as the Don Carlos. Juan Sosa has told me he thinks the Don Carlos is the best cigar made, period. But it' all a matter of taste, which is what makes it such an interesting pursuit.

BTW, I like Jim Suckling. I think he's a good writer. I was a charter subscriber to CA, but let my subscription lapse a couple of years ago when it became more of a "lifestyle" magazine than a magazine about cigars.

53 posted on 06/08/2003 2:20:21 PM PDT by clintonh8r (You can have no better friend and no worse enemy than a US Marine.)
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To: clintonh8r
The best non-Cubans are just as good as Cubans, I believe.

I'd tend to agree - all of the Cubans I saw for sale were stored in the box; not a humidor in sight. I had no idea whether they would be as dry as dust when smoked. Forbidden fruit ...

54 posted on 06/08/2003 2:23:29 PM PDT by strela (Just shoot me now, 'cause I've done it all.)
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To: strela
Opus X and Don Carlos Robustos...great cigars! I just finished a Fuente Hemingway Classic. My favorite.
55 posted on 06/08/2003 2:25:43 PM PDT by I got the rope
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To: strela
If you buy from a reputable dealer in London or Geneva or Hong Kong or Canada they're probably OK. But the stuff they sell in the Caribbean...if it isn't couterfeit it's probably poorly maintained anyway.
56 posted on 06/08/2003 2:26:59 PM PDT by clintonh8r (You can have no better friend and no worse enemy than a US Marine.)
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To: I got the rope
I just finished a Fuente Hemingway Classic.

Doggonit, Freepers seem to have universal good taste!

57 posted on 06/08/2003 2:28:06 PM PDT by strela (Just shoot me now, 'cause I've done it all.)
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To: I got the rope
Believe it or not, the Doble Robusto is an order of magnitude better than even the Robusto!
58 posted on 06/08/2003 2:30:14 PM PDT by clintonh8r (You can have no better friend and no worse enemy than a US Marine.)
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To: ml/nj
This reminds me of a problem The Lovely Ann Coulter had a while back....silver earrings that looked like 45 caliber bullets were stolen from her by a thug at a "security" checkpoint.

I nearly had a .45 plug type cigar cutter taken from me at LAX - but I was able to shame the idiot at the checkpoint by pointing out the distinct differences between reality and appearance - but this was before 9/11, I could never get it through now.

The fact of the matter is, the rules are simply arbitrary and capricious, with no serious attempt at increasing security - but merely making the sheeple BELIEVE that security has been increased.

Finally - the arguments against this man that refer to the cost of the lighter (e.g. my cheap Bic works just fine) are simply classist and envious, and certainly not the viewpoint of a true conservative.
59 posted on 06/08/2003 2:31:53 PM PDT by GilesB
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To: GilesB
Finally - the arguments against this man that refer to the cost of the lighter (e.g. my cheap Bic works just fine) are simply classist and envious, and certainly not the viewpoint of a true conservative.

It is considered to be cowardly behavior here to discuss a poster's opinion or viewpoint without listing the poster in question in the reply line. And cowardice is most definitely NOT a conservative trait.

A "true conservative" is generally an intelligent person and recognizes reality. Anyone foolish enough to transport expensive items via a non-secure mode (such as checked baggage on an airline) without first checking with the carrier providing said transportation exhibits non-conservative traits as well. The author was the one who brought up the subject of the price of his expensive lighters, not me.

As for my cheap Bic, I don't drop a bill and a half on a freaking cigar lighter because I risk part of my disposable income to attempt to become wealthy to the point where I can afford things like $150 lighters without blinking an eye. If you're trying to make the point that anyone who uses a disposable lighter is a liberal, it is laughable at best.

60 posted on 06/08/2003 2:43:11 PM PDT by strela (Just shoot me now, 'cause I've done it all.)
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