Before 9/11, there was little doubt about what fly fishing equipment you could carry onto an airplane. In fact, just before the fall of last year, I purchased a 4-piece travel rod just for that purpose. I was always paranoid when my 2-piece rods were out of my sight. If the airlines misplaced those rods, the whole trip could be ruined. I thought I was being really smart in purchasing a travel rod so that I could constantly keep a rod in my care. It would be my insurance for a fulfilled trip.
Then came 9/11….and then came our trip to Exuma in November. I was worried about what the security screeners would say about my carry-on rod so I contacted the Miami airport and they said that it was up to the screeners. I inquired via email to the airlines (I wanted a piece of paper with their response in my hands when confronted by screeners), but they never answered my email. So I was on my own with the decision. I decided to carry on the 4-piece rod. I really didn't think that they'd consider a 6 wt fly rod as a weapon.
I took extra care in packing our carry-on bags. I packed our reels, our tippets, cameras and other essentials. No flies, no hooks and no scissors in the fly tying kit. We got to Miami Int'l and things were going fine. We checked our baggage and our 2 piece rods and then proceeded to security with our carry-ons. Our bags went through the x-ray machine and of course we got pulled to the side so that they could check our bags. The lady going through our bags discovered a small can of WD-40 (oops…my mistake) and a can of Flip Pallot's fly line lubricant (also a no-no). These items were confiscated.
Then we were questioned about the rod tube. I told them that it was a travel fly rod and they took out the rod for inspection. She was not sure if this item was allowed onboard as a carry-on item or not. I tried to assure her that I had no intentions of causing any harm with a 6 wt fly rod. She called a supervisor over and she was also unsure. No one seemed to know if the fly rod were allowed. We began to calmly argue with them. That's when we noticed that an assault rifle toting National Guardsman had moved closer to investigate the problem.
Finally, an American Airlines representative decided to let us take the rod onboard. (Otherwise, we would have had to go back to the counter and stand in line again to check the rod in. Then we probably would have missed our flight!)
The moral of the story? Beats me. It's just that nobody seems to know the exact rules of carrying on fly rods. Next time, I think I'll play it safe and stick my 4-piece rod in with my luggage. I'll have to sweat again and wonder if the bags will make it to my destination. I'll just have to take that chance. Angie