By Mark Walters
Editors Note: AmmoLand News welcomes Mark Walters to our growing list of the best and brightest gun rights commentators, who are watching out for your RKBA.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- It seems Delta Airlines pulled a fast one on this writer, talk radio host, commentator, and more importantly, all of us as the flying public.
Last week on these pages I wrote about an emailer’s experience flying on Delta airlines out of Norfolk, VA to St. Louis with a checked firearm.
It seems he had been given some information he had never heard before, and the process was different than he had experienced in the past. He was told his bag would be zip-tied before he could pick it up at his destination. Not only was he told it would be zip-tied, but it would also not be on the baggage carousel with every other regular bag. While the bag was not zip-tied, it did have a large “CAGPT” sticker slapped on it.
“CAGPT,” otherwise known in Delta circles stands for “Check and Give Protection to” and below the letters, it states, ‘Do Not Place on Baggage Carousel Belt.” This is the label usually affixed to bags containing high-value or fragile items. He was also told it was their new procedure for checked firearms.
As I wrote last week, I called Delta, twice, to get an explanation for the man’s experience at their Norfolk, VA ticket and baggage counter and was told by two separate Delta employees that they were unaware of any changes. I chalked it up to some goofball or bonehead, as I referred to them, not knowing the TSA or company procedure. I now know I should have never trusted the folks I spoke to at Delta corporate. They were wrong, and by proxy, so was I.
You see, within a couple of days of that column and the subsequent on-air discussion of the topic, I began receiving other emails and photos of travelers bags with, you got it, stickers and zip ties.
I spoke to one letter writer, off the record confidentially, and saw the pictures of his bag with two large black zip ties crisscrossed around the length and width of the bag. The kicker? Those zip ties weren’t placed on the bag at origin after the declaration of the firearm and standard TSA inspection. No, they were affixed to the bag at the destination, before he could take possession of it and leave the airport. Unlike the first emailer whose bag only had the sticker, this one had both, but there was a difference. In the first case, the traveler had to obtain his bag at the baggage office, as the sticker says, “do not place on the baggage carousel belt.” It was not zip-tied. In the second case, the traveler waited for 20 minutes at the baggage office until seeing his bag, with the sticker only, circling on a nearby carousel.
He went to retrieve it and was followed by two employees who zip-tied his bag before allowing him to leave the airport. You read that right.
Needless to say, this time I called Delta with a little more information and some actual pictures to discuss what was going on. Initially, I was told by the employee that I was mistaken; there was no change of policy. I insisted on speaking to a supervisor who then informed me the process appeared to be for international baggage only. I then asked to speak to another supervisor who told me that on February 7th 2017, Delta had in fact instituted a new policy for those traveling with firearms that included placing the large “CAGPT” sticker on the bag. In this case, though, I was told they saw nothing about zip-ties, in fact, I was told that would be illegal. It didn’t seem to matter to him that I informed him I was looking at photographs, sent by two different flyers, in various airports, who had their bags tied.
He was very kind, apologized and read me the actual page regarding the change of policy. It said nothing about zip-ties, at least the parts he read to me said nothing about zipping ties to baggage.
Here’s the bottom line. Delta has, in fact, apparently changed policy on how you travel with your gun.
It is going to be a headache now as Delta admitted to me that it would take some time for every ticket counter to become familiar with the new procedures and implement them correctly. I can tell you from many years of personal experience, they will never get it right, it will always be a hassle, some of their baggage folks will harass you, you will be told untruths, and you will get angry from time to time. All of it will fall on your shoulders to act as the law abiding, responsibly armed American that you are.
Here are a couple of concerns. First, we all know that millions of Americans travel with firearms. That means that however many thieves work in the baggage handling of Delta, down below the world we never see; they too know the policy has changed and see evidence of it with many more “CAGPT” stickers identifying bags than they had never seen in the past. Of course those thieves will note the uptick means that most of these bags contain firearms. How stupid does Delta have to be to believe they will not see a rise in theft? My takeaway? When Delta lawyers and corporate big-shots huddled together to implement their new change, they apparently decided it would be worth the increased liability for stolen bags.
All of this because of one A$$hole in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I’ll be flying them again on Friday, April 7th 2017 to Dallas. I’ll let you know how it goes, or for that matter, if I’m going to have to change my frequent flyer program to yet another airline. Yet another example of why we have to be smarter than the employees. God, I miss Airtran.
About Mark Walters
Mark Walters is the host of two nationally syndicated radio broadcasts, Armed American Radio and Armed American Radio's Daily Defense with Mark Walters. He is the Second Amendment Foundations 2015 Gun Rights Defender of the Year award recipient and co-author of two books, Lessons from Armed America with Kathy Jackson (Whitefeather Press) and Lessons from UnArmed America with Rob Pincus (Whitefeather Press)