Airline baggage difficulties...
Last Wednesday I was flying out of Bush Airport in Houston on Continental Airlines. I had been there for 3 days and had traveled there with a small handgun in my checked bag. I had carried the gun during my visit, as I have permits recognized by Texas. Prior to going to the airport I unloaded the gun and locked it in a small metal case approved by TSA, then packed it in my suitcase.
At the checkin counter I told the agent that I needed a firearms declaration, and he produced the standard orange card, which he filled in and I signed. He asked me to open the gun case, which I did discreetly, and he asked if the gun was empty. I said it was. Then he put the card inside the gun case and asked me to lock it. I hesitated, and told him that in the past I always observed the orange card attached to the outside of the gun case, not the inside. But he said he knew what he was doing and again asked me to lock the case with the card inside.
I then asked if he wanted me to follow him and the bag to TSA, a short distance away, to stand by while TSA screened the bag. I knew from past experience that this was standard procedure. But he said that was not necessary and put the bag on a conveyor. I was very uneasy about this, but did not object (I should have asked for a supervisor, in retrospect.)
After going through TSA screening myself I walked a fair distance to the departure gate for my flight, and was there quite early, as I had allowed plenty of time. I was traveling with my wife. As we stood there waiting for boarding I was paged by a Continental employee holding a 2 way radio. She said there was a problem with my bag and asked me to return to a certain gate number, back where I originally checked the bag. I left my wife at the gate and hurried back, exiting the secured area of the terminal.
When I got back there I saw about 5 people standing around my bag, including an airport cop, two TSA people and two airline people. I identified myself and the cop said very sternly "Did you pack a firearm in your bag?". I said yes, and that I also declared it to the airline and the declaration card was locked in the gun case. They asked me to unlock the case, and the orange card fell out. Then the attention shifted from me as a possible transgressor to the airline people. They asked which agent packed this and I told them, although his name must have been on the card as well.
They let me leave then, and TSA expedited me back through their security checkpoint. I made it back to the plane in time and my flight was smooth. But my bag didn't make the flight, and the airline delivered it a day later to my home, which was inconvenient.
Although I was pretty annoyed by the incompetent airline employee, I have now calmed down, and I offer this story as a lesson that you have to question authority when you see mistakes being made that can recoil on you.