A Geek With Guns

Views from a geek gun nut

Las Vegas Airport and the Laws of Gravity

I believe I mentioned that my trip to Defcon and my time out there were pretty good but my flight back was shit. So here’s my rant on the Las Vegas Airport.

I was flying Sun Country (big mistake, never fly them) which meant I got to stand in the baggage check line for three quarters of an hour. Although I’m at a loss as to why, Sun Country only has two baggage check lanes at Las Vegas meaning you get to stand there for a while. To stop this amazing revelation off the gaggle of women in front of me must not have understood how checked baggage works because it took them 20 minutes of that three quarters of an hour to check their bags. Alas this is not a story about them but about me and my trip through the airport.

I arrived at the airport two hours before my boarding time. Usually when I arrive this early it means I’ll have a good hour and a half to kill. Thankfully I did arrive early though as I got to my gate only 10 minutes before boarding. When I finally got to the baggage check counter I did the usual hoopla and say I have firearms in my locked case to declare. This apparently activated the lady’s moron mode. It took her a good 20 minutes to find a manager because she had no clue what she was supposed to do. In the meantime I filled out the little declaration of firearms form that also stated the firearms were unloaded. When the manager arrived she told the lady working the counter what needed to be done and walked off.

At this point I’m asked to open my case which I do. I point out there are four handguns in separate cloth cases and point to the cases. This is where I got to wait for another 10 or so minutes while she called her manager to check if four handguns was too many (it’s not, I checked their website and Sun Country allows up to five in a case but she wouldn’t listen to me). Finally I get to close and lock my case up and this is where my confusion begins.

You have to understand I get really upset when things that I thought I knew my entire life are no longer true. Take the laws of gravity for instance. Your weight is a measure of the force exerted by gravity. The formula for which is W = mg where m is mass and g is gravitational acceleration. The value for g is approximately constant no matter where you stand on the planet. This means an object that weighs 43 pounds in Minneapolis should weigh 43 pounds in Las Vegas so long as the mass is constant. Likewise according to this formula if the mass is reduced the weight should be less.

Apparently the laws of physics don’t work the same in Las Vegas. My case with guns and ammunition weighed 43 pounds when I left Minneapolis. After the Defcon shoot there was far less ammunition in my case and I didn’t put any additional items in it so the mass was reduced. The above mentioned formula would seem to indicate the weight of the case should be less. When the baggage check lady weighed my case is somehow came up weighing 63 pounds. This not only confused me but qualified me for the overweight charge of $75.00. A no they refused to weigh it on another scale or even entertain the fact that something was up. They simply said Minneapolis’s scale must be incorrect. This is a cheap way of saying they wanted to charge me additional money to fly because they knew I had no other options.

With my understanding of physics shattered I’ve become quite upset and irritable. And the fun and excitement only continues from there. The case was sent on the conveyor belt down the line which I thought was odd because Minneapolis had me walk down to the TSA baggage check line in case they needed to open the case. When flying with firearms only you are allowed to have the key that opens your case, TSA approved locks are a no-go. In fact according to the TSA’s website:

The container must be locked. A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from access by anyone other than you. Cases that can be pulled open with little effort do not meet this criterion.

This means you need to stick around until your checked baggage is checked. The lady working the counter told me to walk all the way to the end of the airport and wait for a TSA agent. I looked down the long line of baggage check-in desks and asked her if she meant the end of the counter or the end to the wall and she verified to the wall. So I make my journey there and sit around for five minutes only to be paged back to the check-in desk. I’m sure you already guessed why I was paged, the dumb bitch sent me to the wrong location. I storm back up there and she’s looks at me and asks where I went trying to hold back her laughter (which she was failing to do). Words were exchanged about how she told me to head down there and she claimed she did no such thing. I asked for a manager whom sided with her and pretty much called me an idiot without stating it directly (I may have said something with the words fuck and you but I’m not sure what words came before, between, and after).

The TSA agent comes out and asks for me key. Now part of the reason people fly with firearms is so they case can only be opened with their key. I explained to the TSA agent that I was told at Minneapolis that I must be physically present at watch the entire time a TSA agent opens and checks the case. Las Vegas isn’t setup to accommodate that but I must say this TSA agent was a damn good man as he brought my case out, opened it, and checked it there. He also mentioned a couple of good shooting ranges in Las Vegas. If anybody from TSA is reading this site please note you need more people like him (sadly I didn’t get his name).

So roughly an hour and fifteen minutes after arriving my bag is checked and I can finally go through the rights elimination zone known as the security checkpoint. I make it through that no problem and proceed to my gate. Due to the long walk between the baggage check-in counter and the gate I needed to be at I arrived at the departure gate with only 10 minutes to spare. During boarding I hand my declaration of firearms to the check-in person who rips off a copy and send me on my way. If you though the story was annoying so far you’ll love the conclusion.

The check-in guy comes back towards me now that the plane is full and the aisle is cleared. He asked me form my form to which I inquire what form. I’m not sure if this guy is a complete fucking moron or just simply lacks an understanding of the meaning of certain words in the English language but he said, “The form that says you’re carrying a firearm on board.” Yup… really good wording. The dumb ass grabbed the wrong copy of the firearm declaration form. You can imagine peoples’ reaction at this point which is why I brought up the fact that he should ask for the form that declares I have firearms in checked baggage which is securely stored underneath the plane in an inaccessible compartment. Judging by the smile on his face he chose the words he wanted to use carefully and knew the reaction it would get. I hand him the form, he walks away, and the two people next to me tell a stewardess they want to move to a different seat. Apparently if you believe there is a guy with a gun on a plane moving to a further seat will make you safer. Ultimately that benefited me as I had all three seats to myself which allowed me to prop my feet up during the trip.

So yeah the moral of the story is don’t fly Sun Country out of fucking Las Vegas with firearms. Seriously fuck that airport and fuck that airline. Hell fuck everybody who works there with the exception of that one really awesome TSA agent.

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Written by Christopher Burg

August 5, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Side Notes

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2 Responses

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  1. I haven’t checked a bag in years…I send mine ahead by UPS. (And yes, this is legal to do with firearms. According to the ATF, if the firearm is not being transferred to another _person_ but merely another _location_, you can ship it interstate without an FFL.)

    I started the practice because, since the closest airports to me are in the hoplophobic People’s Republic of Chicago, complying with federal law on packing firearms would put me in violation of state law on transporting firearms. So I just decided to ship the guns to myself, in care of my hotel (and then back again). Saved a lot of hassle.

    And since, when you walk in the door with your package, UPS knows you can always go down the street to DHL or FedEx, they’re much nicer about customer service than the airline baggage folks. :)

    Matt

    August 5, 2010 at 11:35 am

    • I didn’t realize you could do that. The funny thing is when I was checking my bag at the airport the only thought going through my head was, “God I wish I could just ship this to myself via UPS.”

      Apparently I can. I may (most probably will) just do it that way next time. Thanks for the advice.

      Christopher Burg

      August 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm


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