Static: Wednesday, September 26, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Airport Insecurity

Static isnít going to bitch about the four-and-a-half hour delay American Airlines presented to the passengers on Flight 1692 last Thursday. Never mind that the flight, scheduled to depart D/FW about 5:32 p.m. and arrive in Baltimore at 9:31 p.m., didnít actually get there until Friday around 2 a.m.

American said there was a worrisome warning light in the 757 that needed attention. Since safety should always trump convenience, no complaint will be uttered about the portion of the delay that was safety-related.

That, however, is about as far as the stiff upper lip will reach. Consider how American handled the bags of passengers who, upon reflecting on the brevity of life and length of lines at the airport bars, decided, after waiting almost two hours, not to hang around any longer, drinking overpriced booze and waiting for a flight that might never take off.

Static was among those who headed home, after the fifth or sixth delay was announced and the departure of Flight 1692 remained uncertain. Its bags, however, were tucked in the belly of the jet. Inquiring about retrieving them, Static was told that they most certainly would be removed from the plane. In the post-9/11 security-conscious world, the ticket agent explained, American wasnít about to send unaccompanied bags on trips around the country. But when might the great beast give up the bags? The answer was as uncertain as the take-off time for the flight. Static made arrangements to pick them up the next morning.

A telephone call first thing Friday revealed that American finally had succeeded in launching Flight 1692 at about 10 p.m. ó and Staticís bags with it. Why wasnít the luggage removed in the two and a half hours between when Static left the airport and the time the airplane did? Did American screen the bags to make sure they were safe? Could they not find them in the cargo hold? Or perhaps, did it just cost too much to actually follow through on the stated policy of not flying bags without passengers? We might as well have been asking the airline why it costs less than $300 to fly to Baltimore one day, and more than five times that amount a day later. American Airlines did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Staticís bags eventually made their way back to Texas. But weíd have a lot more confidence in American, and air safety in general, had they never left Texas in the first place.

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