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Posted: 9/22/2004 11:04:23 AM EDT
Sorry if this is long, but I wanted to vent somewhere before communicating with Air France. On Monday (20 Sept.), I embarked on the return leg of a business trip; had to get up at 01:45 in order to get the hire car returned and be there in plenty of time in case I got lost or something in Warsaw for my 07:05 flight. Got hassled at the Air France check-in for having two carry-ons that were overweight. Explained that I'd had these two same carry-ons (backpack full of photo equipment plus a case with one large telephoto lens) with me on the inbound flight as well as travel to other countries over the past few years.

No go, so I asked for a supervisor. After finally getting to speak to one, I was allowed "this one time only" to carry on both pieces. (It was after I asked how much their insurance would cover.)

So I get to Paris' Charles de Gaulle (sp?) airport with plenty of time (four hours) to make my connection. Finally, my flight is called to the gate. I stroll up and get my boarding pass, then walk down the jetway which leads to a stairwell down to ground level and a bus to the planes. Have to pass one last security check in the jetway.

Naturally, I'm asked to remove my Asics running shoes and open up my carry-ons. The Brinks security guy looks over the big telephoto, then proceeds to inspect my backpack's contents. Finds a little Pelican flashlight, makes me turn it on to show it's a working flashlight and not a bomb. All good so far.

Then he asks me to remove all metal from my pockets so I take off my belt, take the change and keys and whatnot out of my pockets. Remember that I have a Surefire E2E Executive Elite clipped in my back pocket and remove that. Obviously, the security dude had never seen something like that and asks what it is. I tell him, and he asks me to turn it on. I do, and he winces. Then, he tells me I must surrender it; I cannot take it on the plane as it is dangerous!

What?! Granted, it puts out a claimed 65 lumens, but it doesn't have the GGG tactical impact crown or anything scary looking on it; it's just a little aluminum flashlight. Plus it's entirely a daylight flight.

I tell the security guy that I'll remove the batteries and leave those, but I really do not want to lose my $100 flashlight (heck, I even use it for some long exposures in night-time photos to "paint" different areas with light so it's doubly handy). But despite remaining very calm and explaining that it's a very important piece of equipment to me, security dude says he must confiscate it.

I guess I must have missed the fine print that says you can't take flashlights onto international flights out of Paris.

My calmly delivered protests seem to bring to change to the guy's decision so I ask if I can send it to myself or something. He says no; that will take too much time, and I'll miss my flight (which later had to sit two hours on the Tarmac anyway). So I finally ask for a receipt of my property. He says he has nothing like that but I can write my name and info on a piece of paper, and he'll see what he can do.

"Yeah, right," I think. "This guy has just found a way to pocket my Surefire," but I wrote my information down for him. I also got his name and employer and phone just to let him know I had intentions of finding my property returned to me somehow, but I doubted I'd see it again. It made for a very long flight back to the U.S. as I stewed over it and what action I could take once I got home.

Near the end of the flight (packed to the gills, of course, and the poor guy sitting next to me must've been 6-foot-5 so his legs were forced to be splayed into my space since the chicks in front of us had their seats all the way back), an attendant surprised me by handing me my Surefire.

So, I'm glad the security guy actually did get personnel on the flight to carry the "dangerous" item aboard and return it to its owner. But, I'm not impressed with European interpretations of security procedures. Makes me glad I've cut back on overseas travel. Thanks for bearing with me and letting me vent.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 11:09:27 AM EDT
I've got the e2d. get that and next time they give you crap, put a crown in his forehead!!!!!
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 11:13:42 AM EDT
Did you shine the light in his eyes, or just on the floor?

(At summer camp, we confiscate campers' flashlights when they're shined in people's faces. They get 'em back just before they leave, and if we're feeling nice, we turn them off before they're stored.)
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 11:14:30 AM EDT
Anyone else have a problem carrying a flashlight on the plane?
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 11:16:41 AM EDT
I was under the impression that lithium batteries were not allowed on commercial flights, or is that just military aircraft?
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 11:19:53 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/22/2004 11:28:30 AM EDT by Prefect]
What, and you were surprised by this? He was FRENCH...they're used to being around a bunch of dim bulbs.

Link Posted: 9/22/2004 11:25:46 AM EDT
Lithium batteries are allowed in personal devices.
Bulk is a no-no.

Originally Posted By Malpaso:
I was under the impression that lithium batteries were not allowed on commercial flights, or is that just military aircraft?

Link Posted: 9/22/2004 11:28:48 AM EDT
I carried my Surefire thru France, Germany, USA, Ireland and on a ton of military flights to everyplace but Iraq in the last 18 months and they have never even asked to see it. It never bothered anyone, but I never blasted a renta cop in the face either. The french are always either rude or at best indifferent. For every nice frenchman I've met there were about 25 shitheads. I think they have "Victory envy", since they have not won a war since 1805.

I am always suprised at what sets them off,,,they do not seem to know there regs or have any idea what is really dangerous. It is the perfect job for losers with GED's who want payback on the gainfully employeed part of the world and those with enough income to afford a vacation.

On a bright note, when we hit the states from the last trip the luggage handlers for United at Chicago came and grabbed our bags and hand carried them to our flight, they were very cool. The international arrival counter folks even found us a quicker flight home with no stops and swapped us no problem. That was the best experience in a long time.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 12:56:52 PM EDT
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