Airlines say stench a strong clue in case of missing halibut

New baggage belt system is blamed as culprit

Posted: Monday, July 12, 2004

ANCHORAGE - A strong odor led airline officials to what they believe is the 40 pounds of halibut a traveler reported missing from his checked bags two weeks ago.

Brenee Davis, a general manager for Continental Airlines in Anchorage, said the company's baggage handlers discovered "a ton of rotting fish" under a luggage conveyor belt recently at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

There's no way to be certain, but she suspects it was the halibut that Ray Bolanos reported missing from a fish cooler he checked on a flight June 24 from Anchorage to Seattle. The fish smelled terrible and was thrown away immediately.

Davis said there is a new baggage belt system in the room, which has been in use for only a few weeks. Her theory is that Bolanos' cooler wasn't properly secured and came open on the conveyor belt.

Bolanos is not sure he buys that explanation.

"She was trying to say that maybe the new conveyor chewed off my rope," Bolanos said. "It's not something that was chewed off. It was a clear cut."

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