I suspected that I’d been “randomly” selected for additional screening when I left Britishland (see below), and I was correct. After reading this article, I found my old boarding card and lo: there in the corner was the “SSSS” notation.
This is why I couldn’t check in online, this is why the ticket-chickie was so curious about my trip Over There, this is why I had a pat-down at the entrance to the secure area, and this is why I had another body-cavity search at the gate, without even the courtesy of a reach-around.
What interests me is that the TSA had selected me for additional screening and then communicated that to American Airlines so they could tag my record locator to start the whole process. And they hadn’t done it for both legs of the flight, just the return.
AA is already on my Shit List because even when one has the proper U.K. temporary firearms licence, they flatly refuse to transport any privately-owned guns to the U.K. — long guns, not just handguns, which I’d understand given the Brits’ mortal fear of the latter. This means that when I go to visit Mr. Free Market for a bit of birdshooting or deerstalking, I can’t fly on American; I have to use British Airways. As they’re “OneWorld partners”, it doesn’t affect my airline miles, but it does limit my travel options somewhat. And to judge from the comments on frequent-flier websites and forums, BA seems to have turned into a pretty second-rate airline over the past few years.
And yes, you read that right: an American airline refuses to transport legally-owned long guns to Britain, while a British airline has no problem doing so. Were it not for the fact that I fly out of DFW (American’s major hub), I’d using another airline, you betcha — but all other U.S. airlines out of DFW require that I connect in another city rather than fly direct to Heathrow. And in a couple of those connecting cities (Newark, Boston, New York), possession of a firearm can result in harassment at best, and being arrested at worst — even though you’re just passing through their little gun-hating jurisdiction. (Amazingly, Chicago isn’t a GFW city, in this situation anyway.)
Bah. A pox on all their houses.