Jet Blue Pilot Misplaces His Bag With Handgun Before Flight

Isn’t it just sooo embarrassing when you lose your gun at the airport? It’s even more cringe-worthy when you’re an airline pilot. JetBlue pilot Michael Connery Jr., who is licensed by the Transportation Security Administration to tote guns on the plane, was in a bit of a jam when someone else picked up his carry-on at JFK.

Connery was waiting to co-pilot an 8:10 a.m. flight out of JFK heading to Pittsburgh, whereas nearby passenger Rachel Hazan was on her way to West Palm Beach, Fla., the New York Daily News reports. Connery set his bag, with the gun packed inside, down to chitchat with another pilot, and Hazan accidentally lifted his backpack when she boarded her flight.

Unbeknownst to Hazan, Connery’s 40-caliber handgun was now in her possession. The piece was issued to him as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, which trains pilots to defend the plane against threats.

So what do you do when you realize you’ve grabbed a bag that isn’t yours? Drop it onto an empty seat and let the flight attendants find it! Meanwhile Connery was “so freaked out,” says the NYDN, he waited 40 minutes before reporting the loss. Both flights were delayed as the belongings got sorted out.

Connery’s gun was confiscated as the TSA launched an investigation into whether he should be kicked out of the Flight Deck Officer program. He also didn’t get to co-pilot his flight after all.

While a TSA spokeswoman confirmed the probe, Jet Blue refused to comment other than to indicate they were “cooperating fully” with the investigation.

Embarrassing JetBlue Sanfu! Airline pilot loses gun and flight gets grounded [New York Daily News]

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  1. jumblies says:

    The bag wasn’t misplaced, it was stolen. This happens every day at airports with regular bags. Dropping a backpack you had stolen, albeit on accident, is not a responsible act. Shame on you Ms. Hazan.

    I don’t know if the parameters of the program allow Mr. Connery to have been wearing his weapon concealed, which would have prevented theft of the pistol, but not of his backpack.

  2. The Upright Man says:

    Serious question:

    Why don’t pilots carry their weapons on them? Do they typically take their bags with them into the cockpit or something?

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Pilots don’t apply for CCL’s? How curious.

      • Tomas says:

        I doubt if they apply for “CCL” because there is NOT a federal level one recognized in all states, and none of the state level ones are recognized by all other states, either.

        The only federal level license/permit recognized in all states applies ONLY to Law Enforcement Officers, and pilots are not included in that group…

        (I have concealed carry licenses/permits from several states that I normally travel to/through, and generally “wear” a firearm about 16 of 24 hours in a normal day. No reason why a properly fitted holster couldn’t or shouldn’t be worn by an armed pilot for the duration of their “on-duty” time. BTW, I’ve legally carried since 1970 – as a civilian.)

    • SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

      because you are sitting for 8 hours at a time and guns weigh a lot and can poke you.

      • seth_lerman says:

        Don’t care. That is part of the responsibility that comes with carrying a firearm. I say that as someone who has a CCW.

    • Cosmo_Kramer says:

      Possibly because they don’t want people to know which of them have guns?

    • HighontheHill says:

      Absolutely irresponsible gun ownership, sorry, but that gun should be holstered on his person or in a discreet bag that does not leave his person; any number of things could have occurred due to his sloppy carrying practices. He has been outed as a gun carrying pilot, his cover blown he should relinquish his weapon to someone more appreciative of this role.

      • spamtasticus says:

        Are you serious? Or was this sarcasm? How is putting your side arm in your own bag irresponsible? If someone in essence “steals” the bag from you then it’s on them. It is a hand gun, not plutonium rods. This was an unusual turn of events that resulted in no crimes or altercations. Everyone, including Consumerist, is blowing this out of proportion. The biggest over reactor of course is no surprise. The TSA is king when it comes to this sort of drama.

        • imasqre says:

          It’s pretty irresponsible that he even set down his own bag which contained a gun AND lost track of it.
          Then spent 40 minutes waiting to tell anyone.. that’s the cherry on top!

          Almost lucky it was an airport bc if that was Port Authority or something or a mall.. that bag is long gone.

    • Gundy says:

      they physically carry them all the time. he made a big mistake setting it down in the first place. they even have to carry them outside on the ramp when doing their aircraft inspections. its a pretty small percentage of pilots and first officers who carry.

  3. ExtraCelestial says:

    Subtract the fact that it was a gun and a pilot involved, what kind of crappy person realizes they’ve taken someone else’s bag and just dumps it knowing it’ll likely never be returned to the owner?? Does no one have a conscience anymore?

    • phonic says:

      If you picked up someone else’s bag and discovered that fact by opening it up and seeing a hand gun, while on a plane, what would you do? In this day and age, the first thing that I could see happening would be getting arrested and labeled a terrorist. We see article after article of the government acting like fools and going way overboard when it comes to pretending like they are doing something for our safety. So yeah, I can’t blame this person for throwing the bag away and pretending like it never happened. I wouldn’t want to go to Guantanamo Bay either.

      • ExtraCelestial says:

        There is no indication that she knew what was inside. She was just a jerk

        Actually I’m not sure if knowing there was a gun inside and still leaving it in an empty seat (on a plane that you’re on!) for anyone and everyone to get to is any better. I’d understand not wanting to get involved, but it’s a loaded gun on a plane- you wouldn’t at least give someone a heads up?

        • phonic says:

          There is no indication she didn’t know either.

          I’m not saying that what she did was right. But neither of us know what the exact circumstances were. What I am saying is when she found out that she had taken the wrong bag, the first thing you generally do is look inside. Either to be dishonest and see if there is something to steal, or to be honest and see if you can find the owner, or just out of curiosity. If she did this, she would have seen the gun. Now, if this was you, you’re inside the secure section of an airport, have “accidentally” taken the wrong bag (or so you say), and there is a gun in this bag, your probably going to be scared shitless. I would imagine that most people don’t know that some pilots carry guns. Maybe she took the bag from a terrorist? Maybe they’re going to assume she is part of the plot and is trying to get out of it at the last minute? Maybe Maybe Maybe.

          In the end, I have no faith in the TSA or any other three letter acronym for not screwing the whole thing up. You know that at least in the interim your going to be put into custody while they ‘investigate’. You can either drop the bag and go off on your way, or take a bullet and try to be the ‘good guy’. At your own peril.

          • jesirose says:

            “Unbeknownst to Hazan, Connery’s 40-caliber handgun was now in her possession.”

          • ExtraCelestial says:

            She didn’t leave it in the airport, she left it in a seat ON HER PLANE. Either she knew there was a gun and she’s an idiot for trapping herself (her children, her parents) in a small location in the air with a loaded gun everyone has access to, or (more likely) she didn’t know there was a gun and she’s a jerk for picking up someone else’s bag and not caring enough to at least leave it in the airport she swiped it from. I see where you’re going, but I doubt this was a case of being scared of TSA ineptitude, I think it’s more likely a case of a selfish woman not wanting to inconvenience herself

        • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

          http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/01/14/new.york.airport.gun/

          “Before her plane departed, the woman realized she had the wrong bag and gave it to the plane’s flight crew, who looked inside and saw the pilot’s identification.”

          • ExtraCelestial says:

            Hmm that’s in direct conflict with the NY Daily article which states another passenger alerted the crew after the lady carelessly left it in an empty seat and it also states she was headed to West Palm Beach, not Ft Lauderdale. I’m more inclined to believe the NY Daily article as it had more specific details. CNN seems to be drawing from only one source and admits details are unclear

      • euroae says:

        Your probably going to run into less trouble if you told a flight attendant that you mistakingly took someone elses bag and asked them to bring it to lost and found.

        What would of happened if another passenger saw you dump a bag into an empty seat and walked away (probably looking suspicisius while doing it, making sure no one sees you). Probably taken off the plane to be interigated, even more so when someone finally checks inside the bag and sees the gun. You’d be screwed either way at that point, it’s either “who were you leaving the gun for?” or “why the hell would you leave a loaded gun unattended for anyone to pick up and possibly use?”.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      She was travelling with 2 children and her parents. Many bags, many distractions, and other priorities. She put it on the seat beside her and another passenger alerted flight attendants before the plane left. She didn’t dump it on seat and walk away. We don’t know if she talked with the other passenger or not about the extra bag before that passenger alerted the attendant. No indication that she acted inappropriately within the short timeframe of discovery to alert.

  4. energynotsaved says:

    Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “packing a gun’!

  5. Mcshonky says:

    I feel soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much safer when I fly now.

    Why would the pilot of a plane locked behind a hardened door open that door to shoot it out with a bad guy.

    Doesn’t it take more balls to stay behind that door no matter what is threatened or done by the hijacker?

    Sounds like somebody just wants to brag about “carrying” when they fly so they can get laid.
    And if you can’t get laid in your pilots costume then shame the hell on you buddy.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Pilots aren’t really all that prestigious. They’re essentially glorified bus drivers, and really aren’t paid much better than that.

      On the other hand, their time off agreements are practically bulletproof. ;)

      …I apologize for that.

  6. mikec041 says:

    Could someone explain to me why FedEx and UPS pilots also have guns under the same program that allows passenger pilots have them? Do they expect their packages to attempt a high jacking?

  7. SalParadise says:

    Forget about the pilot for the moment. If TSA is going to launch an investigation, they should start by asking “How did Rachel Hazan get past the security checkpoint with a gun and ammunition in a carry-on bag?”

  8. Saltpork says:

    It doesn’t matter if it’s firearms or facial paint, mix ups happen.
    No one was hurt, there was no foul other than a slight delay to get the mix up resolved.

    Make the pilot take a gun management course(hopefully again), fine him/the company, and move on.

    Also, I see no issue with pilots in the course carrying either visible or concealed. Putting a bag in a carry on bag is an easy way to misplace it. When you’re carrying a pistol you know it’s there.

  9. YokoOhNo says:

    this is a dumb story…

    what are the odds that someone with malicious intent would be the one to find the bag and gun? 1 in a million?

    if you’re that scared to fly, with the odds exceeding those of being struck by lightening, then you should drive, walk, take the train, swim to your destination. no need to lose our 4th amendment rights because you’re chicken-shit and should be holed up in a padded cell (for your won safety, of course)

  10. Fumanchu says:

    Is it just me or does this sound amazingly suspect? The pilot puts down his bag with a gun in it while talking with some one else. Then another person just come by and grabs that bag “accidently”. This sounds like a hand off to me…

  11. IWanaGoFishing says:

    The gun should have been concealed in a holster on his person. I have a Crossbreed Supertuck and I can carry comfortably all day.

    Stationary holsters or some sort of easy access safe.

  12. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Other news links say that it was Hazan (th picker-uppererer) who alerted the flight attendant.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/01/14/new.york.airport.gun/

    “Before her plane departed, the woman realized she had the wrong bag and gave it to the plane’s flight crew, who looked inside and saw the pilot’s identification.”

  13. dourdan says:

    did the woman ever get her bag back?

  14. Razor512 says:

    Did they say where the bag was set down?

    if it was set down in the middle of a hallway and the lady claims to have taken the wrong bag then something will be very fishy as to why someone will feel that their bag will go through to scanner and teleport to a completely unrelated location.

    Also the pilot should have the gun holstered and when they get on the plane there should be some kind of gun rack or holder near the controls for the plane in easy reach.

    Keeping the gun in a bag is useless, it is like those people who keep their gun unloaded and in a gun safe, so someone breaks in, they spend like a minute unlocking the safe then another minute reloading the gun while dead because the criminal already got to then while they were wasting time.

    A weapon is only effective if you can use it quickly, remember a armed criminal most likely already has their weapon ready, you much have yours ready just as fast if you want to defend your self.