Flying the Friendly Skies

by Kieran Healy on August 7, 2004

I’m nearly at the end of my few weeks of dashing around various countries by various means. Here’s an incident I witnessed this afternoon on a flight from Salt Lake City to Tucson, on a small commuter jet. I was sitting in the first row. The flight attendant was standing next to me, by the door. A tall, casually-dressed woman got on and presented a little yellow piece of paper to the flight attendant. He looked at it.

Flight Attendant: This isn’t a boarding pass.
Woman: Yes, I–
FA (Polite but confused): I’m sorry. Are you sure —
W: I’m armed.
FA: What?
W: I’m armed.
FA (looks at yellow paper again): OK. I haven’t seen this before.
W: Thanks.

Then she went and sat down. Later the Flight Attendant went and showed the piece of paper to the pilots, and they had a chat about it.



Dei 08.07.04 at 6:58 am

Now that’s a new one on me. What has being armed got to do with getting to sit on flights, I wonder?


robotslave 08.07.04 at 8:01 am

You know, if you wanted to go down the rabbit hole with this one, it wouldn’t take much effort.

Just assume that Khan’s value as a source had dropped, or his handlers had decided it was time to bring him in, or his jig was up, for whatever other reason. It then makes a lot of political sense for The Administration to “accidentally” leak both his name and his informant status.


Well, because this “blown source” story would then give the White House a very good excuse to refuse to go into detail when issuing future Terror Alerts.

Right? Right?

Debunking this particular bit of conspiracy-mongering is left as an exercise for the reader.


Kevin Donoghue 08.07.04 at 10:08 am

Robotslave, that’s a bit confusing. Are you suggesting that the armed woman was Juan Cole in drag?


RobotSlave 08.07.04 at 10:45 am


No, I’m suggesting I posted a comment to the wrong friggin’ blog-entry-thingy.

Less beer, RS. Less beer and more thinkage.


RobotSlave 08.07.04 at 10:55 am

Moreover, it seems the Stalinist blog-commenting software they use here at CT won’t let me re-post my initial comment to its proper place.

So, screw it. Deal with my previous “weird” comment on your own. It’s up to you to figure out where it was supposed to go, and what it was supposed to address.


John Baptist 08.07.04 at 11:16 am

That sounds like a great technique. Instead of spending lots of money on airline tickets, I’ll just tell the guy at the gate that I’m armed. I’m sure they’ll let me sit down without much trouble.


enzo 08.07.04 at 12:16 pm

Couldn’t that woman have been one of those ‘air marshals’? It would be quite odd on a small commuter jet, but what other explanations can you think of?


Barry 08.07.04 at 12:42 pm

Or that she was a police officer.
The point of letting the flight attendant know
about the passenger being armed was to avoid
a problem, if the flight attendant got a glimpse
of a gun.


Cranky Observer 08.07.04 at 2:34 pm

Various people other than air marshalls are authorized to carry firearms on board commercial aircraft. Presumably she was notifying the flight crew that she was in such a situation.

Now, I think it would have been better if she had not drawn attention to herself, but that is another issue.



Kieran Healy 08.07.04 at 4:31 pm

Now, I think it would have been better if she had not drawn attention to herself, but that is another issue.

She didn’t want to draw attention to herself. I’m sure she was authorized to carry the weapon, and the yellow paper was part of that. It was just funny that the attendant was taken by surprise by the whole thing.


Alan 08.07.04 at 4:40 pm

Was the yellow paper torn haphazardly from a legal pad, with gum folded into one corner?

“Pls allow Lucy to fly with her gun today. She is a police officer. Also, she would like an extra pretzel. Sincerely, Lucy’s Mom.”


Jason 08.07.04 at 5:04 pm

I’m sure she was authorized as well, but the disturbing thing to me is that the FA let an armed person on board based on a piece of paper they didn’t recognize.


hippocopter 08.07.04 at 8:35 pm

I would feel safer if all airline passengers were armed. Then just let those terrorists try anything funny…”Taste my steel, Mohammed!”

What gives the govt the power to prevent me from defending family and property with a weapon of choice? Ever heard of the second amendment? Since nanny-state liberals outlawed guns on planes, only terrorists have guns!


praktike 08.07.04 at 9:14 pm

Bet it was Annie Jacobsen.


Telford 08.07.04 at 9:44 pm

Yup, Annie got her gun.


Brian G 08.08.04 at 1:48 am

Hippocopter, “compelling state interest” allows the govt to prevent you from acquiring any kind of weapon you choose. Liberals had nothing to do with it, it was J Edgar Hoover and company.

But I’d love to get your opinions on the matter the next time you’re in a sporting goods store and a group of cleancut young arab men are browsing for shotguns and assault rifles, and paying with credit cards. I’m sure you’ll crap your pants like Annie Jacobson.


Frank Wilhoit 08.08.04 at 3:19 am

This is too stupid. Whatever she was, BUY HER AN EFFING TICKET. CUT HER AN EFFING BOARDING PASS. Handle the accounting later. The last thing you want is this kind of slapstick.


rea 08.09.04 at 4:12 pm

“What gives the govt the power to prevent me from defending family and property with a weapon of choice? Ever heard of the second amendment?”

So if, hypothetically, a routine traffic stop led to the discovery of someone with a nuclear weapon in a suitcase, a block from the Capitol, the Constitution in your view would require the police to apologize and send the person on his or her way?

The point is, there’s no sensible interpretation of the Constitution that does not permit reasonable regulation of bearing arms. Heck, the word “regulated” even appears in the 2nd amendment.


ChrisPer 08.10.04 at 9:53 am

It is clear that ‘reasonable regulation’ goes with the RKBA.

However, until 911 I could and did travel with folding knives up to 4″ blades, no trouble, no risk. After the examples of the heroic passengers who counterattacked, I think we would be better issuing such a tool to EVERY single passenger, and rehearsing CT takedowns after the seat-belt demo and before the lifejackets! We probably have more passengers killed by terrorists in the last 4 decades than have been saved by lifejackets.

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