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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Americans adjusting to new travel restrictions

Security procedures were still evolving at U.S. airports early Friday, with a second layer of check points opening at the airplane gates and National Guard troops arriving to patrol major airports in New York, California and Massachusetts.

Security procedures were still evolving at U.S. airports early Friday, with a second layer of check points opening at the airplane gates and National Guard troops arriving to patrol major airports in New York, California and Massachusetts.

After a day of long lines and confusion at many airports, passengers arriving for flights Friday were better prepared for the new prohibition on carrying liquids aboard aircraft.

Rather filling trash cans at the security checkpoints with now-banned makeup, perfume and suntan lotion, travelers were packing those items in their checked luggage instead. That helped shrink the check point lines for domestic flights to lengths closer to normal Friday morning at Miami International Airport, spokesman Greg Chin said.

Security rules were tightest on flights to and from the United Kingdom, including additional luggage checks for passengers arriving on flights to the U.S. Some long lines formed ahead of Miami’s early international departures Friday, but they quickly cleared out, Chin said.

Kingsley Veal, 35, a geologist from England, said his Continental flight from London’s Heathrow airport to San Francisco was “long and boring” because, under British flight restrictions, he couldn’t bring any books or music on board. But he thought the no-carry-on policy should always be in effect.

“If no one’s allowed anything, then you’d know, right?” Veal said.

The new rules were hastily added early Thursday after British authorities arrested 24 people in an alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound planes by using explosives disguised as common liquids. It wasn’t clear how long they would remain in effect, though Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., said the situation “eliminates the days of carry-on baggage.”

At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, travelers were spending about 15 minutes in line to check-in and about 20 minutes in the security lines Friday morning, said United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski. Incoming flights from London were delayed about 50 minutes.

People also didn’t appear to be ditching their weekend travel plans, Urbanski said. “We are not seeing any change in bookings … nothing out of ordinary,” she said.

“Things are running very well for a Friday,” Urbanski said.

At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, about 3,700 of an estimated 51,000 travelers missed their flights on Thursday, when 164 flights were delayed, said airport spokesman Bob Parker.

Traffic was moving more smoothly at New York’s major airports on Friday, where the morning flight delays were generally no more than 15 minutes, said Tiffany Townsend, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

From London to Los Angeles, travelers on Thursday had found themselves unpacking carry-on bags on the floor in the terminals. Some tried to squeeze makeup, sunscreen and other toiletries into their checked baggage, where liquids were permissible. Others filled up the bins at security checkpoints, abandoning everything from nail polish to a bottle of tequila.

“I literally lost about $50 or $60 worth of things we were told to throw out,” said Terry Asbury, who flew into Cincinnati from Albuquerque, N.M., and found herself dumping all her cosmetics.

At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Kristin Reinke, of Champlin, Minn., complained to her husband, Mike Reinke, “I just threw out $34 worth of hand lotion.”

He was sympathetic, but accepted the Transportation Security Administration’s reasons for the ban.

“What are you going to do?” he said. “I guess you have to be safe.”

Amanda Volz, a TSA screener in Minneapolis, said she hoped more travelers would take that attitude Friday.

“There’s some moaning and groaning, and a few people who get angry, but once you explain it to them, they are more lenient about giving it up,” Volz said. “You just try to make them understand that it’s for their safety.”

The ban on liquids and gels covered such things as shampoo, toothpaste, contact lens solution, perfume and water bottles. The only exceptions were for baby formula and medications, which had to be presented for inspection at security checkpoints. Liquids are allowed in checked bags because those suitcases are screened for explosives and are stowed in the cargo hold beyond passengers’ reach.

Other security measures were also ramped up at airports. Governors in Massachusetts, California and New York sent National Guard troops to major airports in their states.

Ray Watson figured the ban on carrying liquids onto flights would prove a boon for one industry: makers of toiletries.

“I can’t imagine all the millions of dollars that the Colgate-Palmolives are going to reap from this,” said Watson, 40, of Denver, as he waited to pick up his luggage at Los Angeles International Airport. “The Dumpsters in Phoenix were filled with shampoo and toothpaste.”


Associated Press Writers Jordan Robertson in San Francisco, Patrick Condon in Minneapolis and Joe Milicia in Cleveland contributed to this report.

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