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Long lines await airline travelers



Published: Sun, November 4, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Identification was needed at all airport checkpoints.

It's a new world in airline travel. While airport administrations are scrambling to heighten security, passengers need to plan extra time when traveling by air.

On a recent trip from Pittsburgh to Denver and back, security was tighter and more visible at the Pittsburgh and Denver International airports than previously experienced.

No curbside check-in: At Pittsburgh, there was no curbside check-in for passengers transported to the airport via parking lot shuttle buses. In fact, our shuttle had to drop us off on the lowest level near baggage claim. We then had to carry our luggage up two flights of escalators to check luggage.

During the 30-minute wait to check in at USAir, passengers were reminded via an intercom system not to leave baggage unattended. One traveler stepped out of line, thinking he could hold his place with a duffle bag. A USAir employee promptly tagged the bag with a bright green ticket once he discovered the owner. The passenger then had to have his luggage scanned and required extra security checks before proceeding through the general security gates.

ID: Personal identification was required three times before boarding the aircraft, at the ticket counter, passing through security gates and upon boarding. At the security gate, only passengers could proceed to the arrival and departure areas. The line moved relatively smoothly, but checking was more thorough than before Sept. 11. An armed Pennsylvania State policeman stood beside another guard in fatigues.

Lap top computers and cell phones were examined. Extra personnel were posted for search with a wand or to examine carry-on baggage. Several dogs and security personnel walked through the gateway corridors.

Employees at the Pittsburgh Airport mall stores said business was picking up but not as busy as before the Sept. 11 tragedy. Plastic knives have been reinstated at airport restaurants.

Before boarding the airplane, travelers were randomly searched again. My husband was asked to open his backpack, empty his pockets and was checked for a second time by a metal-detecting wand.

In Denver: Tales of multiple-hour waits plagued Denver International Airport after Sept. 11. So we arrived more than two hours before flight time for our return trip. Cars were randomly checked as they drove into the airport parking lots.

Since we left early Sunday morning, the security check line was less than 15 minutes, but thorough. After passing through a metal-detecting scanner, I was asked to drink a sip of water from a plastic bottle I carried. Again my husband was searched with a wand, asked to remove his shoes and turn over the waistband of his pants. A male attendant padded down his legs.

Identification was required upon boarding for the return flight.




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