Suspicion Confirmed

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.


  1. Yet another reason I see little need to travel anywhere I can drive. Getting pulled off the plan going through someplace like New York has to be high on the list.

    Course the wife would rather fly, but then she listens to NPR so there is that.

  2. “The TSA insists travellers who receive the ‘SSSS’ are selected at random”

    “the Department of Homeland Security and and Customs and Border Protection use the Terrorist Screening Database maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center to determine who qualifies for Secondary Security Screening Selection. ”

    From the article, you were either selected totally at random or you’re already on a a terror watch list. I’m not sure which is worse.

  3. I have read that BA has a very bad history of losing guns that land at London. Usually the story is that they disappear there while stopping on the way to Africa and other hunting areas. The thought is that ground crew is encouraged to make them disappear, due to anti-hunting attitudes endemic to that airline, along with general British anti-gun feelings.
    Can you ship them Fed-Ex?

  4. That’s odd. I dug around the American Airlines website, found no such restrictions. Though your gate agent may or may not know what they are talking about. Many don’t.

    Although you do have to have your paperwork straight. Which can be a PITA…been there, done that multiple times (I’m on the U.S. International Muzzle-Loading Team, I’ve shot in matches in much of Europe, plus Canada and Australia).

  5. I’m reminded of an article I read several years ago where the author said he was approached by one of the “””security””” types and told he had been “randomly selected” for additional screening.

    “Really?”, quoth he. “What’s my name?”

    They refused to answer him.

    It’s all BS Kabuki theater.

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