The American traveling public has had to endure many changes in its routine since the deadly attacks on Sept. 11 turned passenger aircraft into guided missiles. Nowadays, who can even remember getting to the airport with minutes to spare before take-off, running to security, throwing a carry-on on the conveyor belt and then rushing to the gate just before the door was closed? But faced with the terrifying alternatives, most travelers have accepted the new rules as they have also accepted the threat to their own security.
Last Friday, a new safeguard was introduced at the nation's airports: a Congressional mandate that all baggage be screened for explosives.
Ready for business: Passengers got to airports even earlier than the two hours they had previously allowed themselves, anticipating longer lines and delays. If they had hoped for an extra half hour to hang around the airport, however, they had to have been disappointed. Because from all reports, the airlines and airports were ready for them.
From bomb-sniffing dogs to large explosive-detection machines, the screening systems were in place. And perhaps, too, passengers packed less luggage to keep their waiting time to a minimum.
Nonetheless, the industry and the Federal Aviation Administration did get the baggage-screening procedures in place by their deadline, despite those who said it couldn't be done in such little time.
And the passengers? Americans have been taught from childhood that patience is a virtue. Now we know it's also part of good citizenship.