Trouble on the Iraq Express Another downturn in U.S.-French relations: "Air France is the dangerous part. Once you're in Baghdad, you're fine!" That irate comment today from NPR Pentagon reporter John Hendren.

Trouble on the Iraq Express

John Hendren relieves himself of the stress generated by travel to Iraq with some pool time in Amman. John Hendren, NPR hide caption

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John Hendren, NPR

Another downturn in U.S.-French relations: "Air France is the dangerous part. Once you're in Baghdad, you're fine!" That irate comment today from NPR Pentagon reporter John Hendren.

He's trying to get to Baghdad, but is stuck in Amman, Jordan, because Air France lost the bag containing his satellite phone. Hard to function as a radio reporter in Iraq without the "sat" phone.

I reached John at a hotel in Amman, where he was about to drown his sorrows. When asked how he could have been so foolish as to have checked a vital piece of equipment, he related this story:

"I cleverly bought a huge bag to put everything in except my technical equipment, which I had in two carry-ons. The bag containing my reporter kit (digital recorder, microphones, etc.), I put into the big bag that I was checking. Well, the big bag exceeded the weight limit for Air France -- union rules. NO matter how much you pay them, the union says the bag is too heavy for Air France people to lift.

"So I took out the small bag containing the reporter kit, which left me with three carry-ons. The airline made me leave one -- the sat phone case. I thought it could be checked at the gate, like a baby stroller. But that didn't happen."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Well, possibly because I was a bit snippy [Now we get to the truth!], they left it off the plane for the next flight."

If it's any consolation, John, the French unions will probably be the death of France, as we know it.