(My thanks, first, to Joe for forwarding this article to me.)
I remember the days when I was able to wait for my brother, flying in from college in New York, right at the gate. Going to the airport sucks in general, but this fact was in part ameliorated by being able to kill time at the magazine rack, McDonald’s, or Starbucks. And, of course, there’s no substitute for the gratification of seeing a loved one after months of separation.
And then September 11th. Homeland Security. The Transportation Security Administration. Suddenly, you couldn’t wait at the gate. You had to stand with the other schmucks at baggage claim.
But that wasn’t nearly as bad as when, maybe less than two years ago, the TSA instituted the 3-1-1 Rule.
You’re probably aware of this rule. ANYONE who has been on a plane in the past two years is aware of this rule. I first became aware of this rule when, trying to avoid a hold up by checking in bags, I was heading back home with only my laptop and backpack–and a bottle of contact lens solution, a 6-oz container of pomade, and other such sundries.
I had to throw out the contact lens solution. I had to throw out the 6-oz container of hair product, though I opened it for the TSA agent and showed how there was probably only 3 ounces left (they went by MARKED weight on the container, not by actual weight).
(Interesting aside: I discovered a box cutter at the bottom of one of the pouches of my backpack a few months later. This was after I had navigated the vagaries of TSA security procedures yet another three times! Way to keep everyone around me safe, TSA.)
This meant I couldn’t fly home with two or three bottles of wine from the Bay Area to share with my family, unless I checked it in. And who knows what would happen to glass bottles in a suitcase in the cargo hold of a plane experiencing moments of turbulence?
Now for the meat–or body–of this post. This article from Australia reports of a brewery executive traveling for the holidays having to destroy two bottles of Penfolds Grange, one bottle from 1980 and the other from 1982.
Let me tell you the weight of this destruction. The Grange is Australia’s most famous wine, and the bottles that were destroyed were collectively worth $3,000. Said the man:
“I had the lady from hell, who said ‘No sir, this is going to be bloody destroyed’ even though the Emirates people were happy to find my baggage and pack it for me.
“I was worried that they’d just go downstairs and someone would open the bin and there’s two bottles of Grange, so I smashed them.”
Of course, my criticism of the TSA doesn’t necessarily fit in this situation because the man was at Melbourne’s Tullmarine airport and not in the United States. However, as the TSA so proudly states on its website here: “Today, the wide-spread acceptance of [the 3-1-1 rule] demonstrates the international understanding of the threat to aviation from liquid explosives.”
Such as wine.