You may be so attached to your pet snake you can’t stand to leave it home, even if you have to travel by air.
Generally speaking, airline passengers and crews don’t like to have snakes sharing the cabin with them at 30,000 feet. So you have to be creative in smuggling your beloved reptilian companion through the security screenings at Nashville International Airport (BNA).
One passenger figured the place security officers would not inspect would be his underwear. So there he goes, the slithering creature into the passenger’s underpants. But snakes, like weary air travelers, tend to get anxious in long lines, especially in confined and warm places. Good try, but it didn’t turn out so well.
That’s just one of the countless episodes of the bizarre at BNA, according to Cathy Holland, director of community affairs and customer service at the Nashville airport, one of the nation’s busiest.
As guest speaker at The Rotary Club of McMinnville on Thursday, Holland put a spotlight on the intricate, behind-the-scenes operations that serve more than 19 million passengers a year and 400 flights per day.
What is the No. 1 cause of bodily injury accidents at BNA and its million-square-foot terminal? The answer: falls on escalators.
Except for a few miscalculations by some passengers — like the man who presented himself at a ticket counter earlier this year while wearing nothing but his sandals — BNA enjoys enviable ratings for passenger service and comfort, Holland said. Lonely Planet magazine recently acclaimed BNA as “the No. 1 airport in the world for layovers,” citing the physical facilities and the numerous restaurants, lounges, souvenir shops and service vendors.
Another little-known fact about BNA is its funding of operations, maintenance and new construction, Holland told the Noon Rotary audience. Contrary to common assumptions, the airport authority receives no revenue from state or local taxes. The three main sources of sustaining funds are, in order of size: automobile parking fees, vendor space rental and airline gate fees, and passenger facility charges.
The federal Transporation Safety Administration (TSA) has faced public and congressional fury over the last several weeks due to long delays in the screeing processes, which has caused thousands of passengers to miss their flights and airlines to delay their departures. Holland said increased air travel volume has caused unavoidable bottlenecks in the screenings.
Passengers can help by arriving at the terminal early — two hours before scheduled departure is the standard recommendation — and following the baggage rules found at TSA.gov or flynashville.com.
One of the heaviest traffic days of the year will be June 13, when visitors from both the Country Music Association and Bonaroo festivals will be flying home through the BNA portal. The number of travelers could easily reach 23,000, she said.
Holland will discuss these and other issues when she appears on WCPI’s “Focus” interview in its four airings this week. The half-hour conversation on Public Radio 91.3 will be heard Tuesday at 5 p.m.; Wednesday at 5:05 a.m.; Thursday at 1 p.m.; and Friday at 1:05 am.