Skip to comments.Airline Confiscates Empty Cigar Lighters Packed in Checked Luggage
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.
On what legal grounds?
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?
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.
I guess I may never fly again unless my workplace orders me to, and maybe not even then.
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.
Yes, but only one. It appears that it takes two to make a fusion device.
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.
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 ...
Doggonit, Freepers seem to have universal good taste!
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.