and Eamon's Excellent Adventure
I was returning from a conference at the Mises
Institute with my son Eamon. (Q: What do you call an Irishman
with a rifle? A: Eamon.) We were flying out of Atlanta into Westchester
arrived an hour-and-a-half before our flight. The line at security
was long, but not mind-boggling, and we were through in fifteen
minutes. We grabbed a bite to eat, then made our way to our gate.
we approached the gate, we were surprised to see a very long line
in front of the check-in desk. We moved to the back of it, and asked
a woman standing there what was happening.
flights to Westchester from Atlanta have been cancelled today."
say mechanical troubles."
turned out that not only was our 5:30 PM flight cancelled, but the
9:30 AM flight had been cancelled as well. The people who had been
planning on taking the 9:30 had sat at the airport all day waiting
for the 5:30, only to have it canned an hour before takeoff.
plan now was to re-route us to LaGuardia, then to provide a shuttle
bus to Westchester for those who had left cars there. We were instructed
to move to another gate, where we would be issued new tickets.
would-be travelers to Westchester were divided onto two flights
to LaGuardia, a 6:30 and a 7:30. When Eamon and I arrived at the
counter, I showed the woman at the desk my driver's license. She
typed into the computer for a moment, then said, "OK, you're on
asked, given that I was travelling with a child of five, and that
my wife had to pick me up with two even younger children in tow,
if we couldn't be put on the 6:30. In consternation, she typed into
the computer for another minute, then said, "No, I can't move you."
I called my wife and told her our arrival time. Eamon and I trudged
across the Atlanta airport to our new gate.
we were attempting to board, an airline employee again took my driver's
license, as well as our tickets. He swiped our tickets through some
electronic reader. A message flashed, "Already on board." He said,
"Wait a moment," moved to a computer terminal, typed a bit, came
back, re-swiped our tickets, and sent us down the tunnel to board
we walked down the tunnel, I puzzled over the "Already on board"
message. On a hunch, I pulled the tickets out of my pocket and looked
at them more carefully than I had when they had been issued. The
name on one of the tickets was "Robert Callahan," and on the other,
"Maryanne Callahan." Oops!
decided to proceed on board and see if, as I suspected, Robert and
Maryanne were, in fact, "already on board." Sure enough, we met
some distant relatives in the two seats we had been assigned.
flagged a stewardess and told her what had occurred. She told us
to wait where we were, and she would sort it out. She came back
in a few minutes and told us to sit in two other seats. "All's well
that ends well," I thought. The flight took off.
as we were in flight, I remembered our luggage. What if we had actually
been assigned to the 6:30, and our luggage was on that plane? I
was referred to the flight captain.
he came over to talk to me, I asked him if our luggage might be
on the 6:30 instead.
that's impossible," he assured me. "Under new regulations, no luggage
is allowed on a flight unless the passenger's ticket has been handed
in as well.
given that we never received, and therefore never handed in, our
tickets, then our luggage can't be on this flight either!"
pondered my point for a moment. "Oh, that's true. It's probably
in Atlanta. Just fill in a lost luggage form at LaGuardia."
arrival, we went to the baggage claim area and found the office.
I asked the attendant about the form. He asked if we were sure our
luggage hadn't arrived.
we were told that it wouldn't have been allowed on the flight."
checked his computer terminal and said, "Well, I show it having
arrived. Go have a look on the carousel."
walked out to the carousel and, sure enough, there were our bags!
the score for the new, federally mandated security regime is:
woman at the first counter issued, to a man showing an ID claiming
he was Eugene Callahan and a five-year-old boy, tickets for Robert
and Maryanne Callahan.
man at the gate was shown an ID for Eugene Callahan, a five-year-old
boy, and tickets for Robert and Maryanne Callahan. When the computer
system told him the ticketed passengers were already on board, he
walked to another terminal and cleared the "on board" status from
the baggage handlers put Eugene Callahan's luggage on the flight,
despite the fact that no ticket was ever handed in for Eugene Callahan.
good to know that the new government regulations have this security
thing handled, isn't it?
Callahan [send him mail]
has just finished a book, Economics for Real People, to
be published this year by the Ludwig
von Mises Institute.
© 2002, Gene
Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives
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