Leading article: Simon Calder
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Saturday 20 September 1997
Earlier this month, a man wanted for making terrorist threats was apprehended by security staff at an airport checkpoint. He was trying to carry a small arsenal of weapons and ammunition on to a domestic flight. Yet instead of locking him up and throwing away the key, as you might have expected, the culprit simply handed over the deadly consignment to police and continued his journey.
It appears that attempting to take a gun on to an aircraft is a felony only if the weapon is loaded - carrying ammunition separately circumvents federal law. So no penalty applies for that. But what, you might ask, about the small matter of being wanted for making terrorist threats? Well, he was wanted by police in his home state of Minnesota. When their counterparts in Los Angeles phoned up to say they had got him, Minnesota's finest declined to come and fetch him because of the time and expense involved.
Travellers may be gratified to learn that he was finally apprehended last week, without the law having to do much detective work. He phoned LA police to give them his address for the return of the weapons. They called their chums in Minnesota, who picked him up.
The three-letter code for Los Angeles airport suddenly seems singularly appropriate: LAX.
It's changed - by which I mean the travel section's location and appearance - but what hasn't is our commitment to bring you the best possible travel coverage. Something else that stays firmly in place is our strict "no- freebies" policy - the insistence that writers pay full price for all travel facilities.
I welcome your comments on the new format and features. You can write to me at Travel, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL; send a fax to 0171-293 2182; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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