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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2001-09-28

"Traveling: I Have Good News and Bad News"
By Chris Covatta

If you are planning on traveling any time soon I have both good and bad news for you.

First the good news. Since the airlines have begun flying again after the disaster of September 11th, I have taken two round trips flying from Austin to St. Louis and Austin to Kansas City. I've checked in at three airports and have flown on Southwest, American, and TWA.

All the flights I have taken have been nowhere near capacity. I was one of five passengers on a Southwest flight from Austin to St. Louis. The gate agent told me they even had a flight take off empty the night before. There were about 40 passengers on the return flight the next day. There were more passengers on a American flight from Austin to Kansas City and my return on TWA, but each time I had a entire row of seats to myself.

There is also no need to get to the airport 2-3 hours early. Every time I checked in there was either no people or a very short line of passengers waiting to check-in. The only lines encountered where at the security checkpoint (more on security later).

The last bit of good news is airline fares. Now is the time to book flights. Southwest, for example, has Internet only one-way fares from $56-$89. This weekend I am flying Austin-Birmingham, Birmingham-Phoenix, and Phoenix-Austin for $256.00. American wanted $1100.

Now for the bad news. The same idiots that work the security check-in are still working the security check-in, there's just more of them. If you add up the IQ's of all of the security people working at all of the airports in America it just might equal the IQ of a cue ball. These people are under paid, ill trained, and totally incapable of providing appropriate security.

To avoid having to deal with them I have changed the way I travel with my equipment. I purchased a Tamrac Studio Case, an elongated version of the Kyle case with wheels and a handle. It's an oversized roller case, but it has to be checked. In it I can place my 400 2.8. Three bodies, a number of short lens and film. For the time being I've decided not to take my 600 4.0. Instead I have purchased Canon's new 1.4II and 2.0II extenders.

Using this case I've eliminated the need for a cart and a case to hold my cameras and short lens. I am basically checking one case of equipment and a clothes bag. This has worked well so far except in one case.

When I checked-in for my TWA flight home, the agent chose me for a random baggage check. The security agent was totally baffled by all the equipment in my case. He started yanking equipment out and jamming it back where I didn't have it before. It took every bit of patience to endure this process. It was a minor thing but let's hope the government will take over airport security and that they will pay and train professionals to handle it in an appropriate manner.

(Chris Covatta is a freelance photographer based in Texas.)



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