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We’ve warned you repeatedly that you should never count on being able to carry on any kind of fishing equipment when you are flying internationally. Or domestically for that matter. You sim¬ply have to have some kind of backup plan in place that allows you to check everything. Witness what happened to subscriber William A. Douglass recently during two airport transits of Narita International Airport in Tokyo:
“I have recently returned from a taimen trip in northern Mongolia on the Eg River. We were eight anglers. About eight years ago I was medically evacuated out of Ulaanbaatar having suffered a heart attack on my way to the river, but that is a different story. I was now back to remount the horse, as it were, after having been bucked off.
“Several of us were in Japan for a week of touring when we received word from our outfitter, Dan Vermillion of Sweetwater Travel (www.sweetwater¬travel.com), that late-summer rains had blown out the river. It was dropping and clearing, but still marginal. The good news was that the weather forecast was promising. Still, it was his recommendation that we reschedule for later in the month of September or next season.
“While we had the offer of a full rain check, we were reluctant to change our plans. So, it was our decision to proceed, and indeed the fishing proved difficult. We probably landed 20 taimen, a few pike, and uncounted numbers of lenok and grayling. Fortunately, every¬one caught at least one taimen. Our biggest was a hefty 46-inch beauty with a 19.5-inch girth. The camp staff, guides, and food were all sensational.
“The real point of this contribution is to share with Angling Report subscribers our bizarre experiences in Tokyo’s Narita International Airport as a contribution to the ongoing discussion of airline regulations regarding fishing gear. My brother John and I had four rods in the standard 36-inch rod carrier that I have traveled with all over the world for the last 30 years. On only two occasions have I been forced to check it. Mark Echeverria was carrying a similar case. We all made it to Narita with our rod cases in the overhead bin. No problem. John and I were flying business class on a direct Japan Airline flight from Dallas. A week later, when we at¬tempted to clear security in Narita, both John and Mark were made to open up the cases and take every rod piece out of its sleeve. While a bit of a hassle, it was no big deal, and we were then allowed to carry our rod cases onto the MIAT flight from Tokyo to Ulaanbaatar.
“Coming home we went through Seoul on our way to Narita–Los Angeles–Reno. Again, we had no problem with the rods until Narita. We were in transit and only scheduled to spend four hours there, but we still had to go back through a security check anyway. It was then that a supervisor stopped John and measured the case, pronouncing it to be too long according to airline and Narita International Airport regulations. He wavered back and forth on that point, but was adamant that John follow him out of the secured area to an American Airlines desk to check the rod case. Although we were both flying business class, John was told by the agent that she had to charge him extra baggage be¬cause we had both already checked two bags each. She did so and our maybe four- or five-pound case cost us 20,000 yen, or nearly $200, to check. He had no choice but to pay, as we were running out of time. As we boarded our plane we had the proverbial salt rubbed into our wounds when a fellow passenger placed his identical rod case in the overhead bin above his economy-class seat.
“When I got home I wrote a pretty irate letter to American Airlines, under¬scored by the fact that I am a permanent Platinum member in their frequent-flyer program, having flown two million miles with them. I mentioned that I planned to write this letter to the Angling Report and hoped they would get back to me sooner than the six to eight weeks minimum delay for resolution that they mentioned on their website. To their credit, three days later I received an e-mail saying that the 20,000 yen would be restored to John’s credit card. For us globetrotting anglers the adventure doesn’t always happen on the water!”