Please, please delay my flight

May 25, 2000|By Kevin Cowherd

LET'S SEE if I have this right: a suspicious package that appears to contain dynamite is found at Baltimore-Wash- ington International Airport, and it turns out to belong to a man who has two baby pythons concealed under his shirt, which leads to the evacuation of two piers and the closing of all roads leading to the airport.

And airline passengers were steamed that their flights were delayed?

You gotta be kidding me.

Me, I'd never get on a plane again if I was there during that mess.

Here is my philosophy on any possible bombs left by python-concealing strangers while I'm waiting to take off: The authorities should take all the time they need to get to the bottom of things.

If they need six hours to talk to Mr. Python Man and make sure we're not all going to blow to smithereens, they should take six hours.

If they feel like going to lunch in the middle of the investigation, that's fine with me.

Hey, if they want to take a nap before they're done, that's fine with me, too.

As long as they do a thorough investigation, I don't care how long it takes them.

Because all things being equal, I'd prefer not to blow up while I'm sitting there in the boarding area reading Golf Digest.

Another thing: If there is someone concealing two baby pythons in his shirt who's trying to smuggle a bomb on my plane, I would just as soon the authorities take care of this matter while we're on the ground.

Because it seems to me that 26,000 feet over Ohio is not the place where we want to deal with this situation.

No. 1, I don't want to be sitting next to this character high above the clouds when one of those baby pythons starts peeking out from the collar of his shirt.

Look, I can handle a lot of things up there: bad food, screaming babies, stupid Jim Carrey movies. I can even handle a fat guy falling asleep on my shoulder and snoring for two hours.

But baby pythons coming out of a guy's shirt -- that's sort of pushing the envelope, isn't it?

I'm guessing that would really freak me out.

And No. 2, if we're cruising at 26,000 feet and an ashen-faced flight attendant rushes past me whispering to a colleague "I think there's a bomb under 27-A," it is pretty much going to ruin the flight for me.

The baby pythons would be bad enough. But then you throw a bomb on top of that well, it's not going to be a very restful flight.

So, again, if four or five hours are needed to prevent this from happening in mid-air, I'd tell whoever's conducting the investigation: Take your time, boys.

In fact, I'd offer to buy coffee for everyone. Heck, I might even spring for some treats for the bomb-sniffing dogs.

Anyway, reading about the incident in yesterday's paper, my favorite quote came from Maryland Transportation Authority spokesperson Lori Vidil, who said: "Obviously, the snakes were not something we were expecting to see."

This, of course, was a good thing to read, along with the touching news that the pythons were the man's pets, and they were in his shirt so they'd be warm.

What wasn't such a good thing to read was a disturbing paragraph later in the story, where Ms. Vidil said she was not sure whether a passenger would be allowed to board a plane with snakes.

Not sure if you can board a plane with snakes?!

Should there really be any ambiguity about this?

Look, if there's not a regulation in place that says you can't carry snakes on board a plane, it's about time we get one on the books, isn't it?

And let's not get mired down in a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo here.

Just post something over by the airport metal detectors, maybe a silhouette of a man carrying snakes with a large red slash through it.

I know this would make a lot of us feel better about air travel.

And we hate to be pushy.

But if they could do something about people bringing dynamite on board, well, we'd appreciate that, too.

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