Blue Grass Airport community relations includes answering questions about luggage, carry-on pets and pie

ctruman@herald-leader.comJune 22, 2014 

Your bags are packed, you're ready to go, but here are a few questions you might not have considered while preparing for air travel: Can you bring your pet bat? What about your pot-bellied pig?

And if you try to bring your home-baked pie onboard as a carry-on item, will the TSA have to taste it?

These are among questions posed to customer service representatives at Blue Grass Airport, according to Amy Caudill, director of marketing and community relations at Blue Grass Airport.

The answers are: You can bring your cat, your dog and sometimes your bird, but not your bat. The pot-belly pig will not be traveling with you on the plane.

The pie can go on board with you, and nobody needs to taste it. It is considered a carry-on that might need additional screening.

And just in case you're wondering, you can bring the knitting needles on board, but no circular thread cutter or any cutter with a blade contained inside. Tiny scissors four inches or smaller are also allowed.

When in doubt about what to take in carry-on luggage on a commercial airplane, Caudill said it's best to check the TSA.gov website, which includes an interactive search of what is and is not allowed on board.

"We really get a lot of requests from all kinds of people," Caudill said. "We assumed when the person said 'bat,' that they meant baseball bat at first, only to realize they meant an animal."

On Delta, for example, primates such as monkeys, orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees are not permitted to travel as cargo, and are too large to travel as carry-on kennel baggage as cats and smaller dogs do. (Delta also puts restrictions on temperatures during which any animal may travel as cargo.)

In addition to the TSA site, there are other ways to find out specifics about air travel. Sharing those ways is part of Caudill's job, too.

"A lot of times we connect people with resources," Caudill said.

Among them, for example: tracking your bag. Checked baggage can sometimes go on a journey all its own, which Caudill said can be tracked on airline Websites, like you track the progress of a package.

But not every need can be met on line. Sometimes the airport staff finds itself with passengers who have never before flown on an airplane. One service team member has been asked multiple times to pray with new passengers.

Older passengers with memory issues have also been searched for or accompanied to their gate and kept company until boarding.

In addition, the airport gets calls about UFOs and other flying objects, including military aircraft, from worried residents, Caudill said.

"We have been asked before, 'Are we under attack? I just saw a military plane over my house,'" Caudill said.

The Federal Aviation Administration — FAA.gov — is the place for such questions, Caudill said.

"The airport is responsible for things on the ground," Caudill said. "Once the airplane has left the ground, it is the responsibility of the FAA."

The airport has also helped cruise-bound passengers stranded by the weather to get on another cruise, rigged a cardboard "window" for a passenger who left a car window down during a snowstorm, and provided free admission to its business club for military service people in uniform.

That level of service, Caudill said, helps Blue Grass Airport stay competitive with Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and Louisville International Airport.

"We realize that as a smaller airport with two larger airports close by, we really need to have that hospitality," Caudill said.

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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