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Steady, teddy -- you can bear the trip


LOS ANGELES -- Once upon a Christmastime, there was teddy bear that had no name. He was a great big teddy bear, almost 6 feet tall, and his fur was white as snow.

A man had won him (or her -- it's hard to say) for the price of a $1 raffle ticket, but the truth is the man might have preferred another prize. He knew he couldn't provide a good home for the teddy bear, but a friend, Steve Mathes, just so happened to know a little girl who would love it -- his 4 1/2 -year-old niece, Kaylynne. Uncle Steve figured he'd make quite an entrance at the family's annual post-Christmas gathering in Phoenix yesterday.

But when the West Hollywood resident, the manager of a real estate office, called Delta Air Lines to make reservations, he learned that the teddy bear was too big to qualify as carry-on luggage.

When he asked how much it would cost to ship the bear as cargo, he could barely believe it. The price was $105 -- even more than his round-trip ticket. And when Uncle Steve called another company that transports cargo, that price also proved unBEARable.

The only solution was a $54 one-way ticket for teddy on Flight 1028. Uncle Steve was assigned seat 38D, and the bear -- dubbed "CBBG" by Delta, short for "Cabin Baggage" -- would have 38E.

"I asked if I could have his frequent flier miles," Uncle Steve said. "They said no. But he's getting an in-flight snack."

Everything seemed to be going smoothly when Uncle Steve and CBBG showed up at the airport terminal yesterday.

They made it through security X-rays and metal detectors without any trouble. Children pointed in delight and not one pulled at his fur or wanted to play patty-cake after eating chocolate. But when it came time to board the plane, flight attendants decided that CBBG was just too big and unwieldy for 38E.

And so it was that the teddy bear was able to give Uncle Steve, his benefactor, a Christmas present.

Thanks to CBBG, they both flew first class.

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