Air travelers face new restrictions in wake of attack

December 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Friday's failed terrorist attack caused headaches for passengers flying on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. Even though the government is being vague about the new security measures, international travelers say they are experiencing strict new rules and delays.

Federal Transportation Safety officials say they want the new security measures to be unpredictable. They do not want passengers to find the same rules at every airport. Not only have they been unpredictable, but for some they have been difficult to cope with.

"I'm not going to travel again because of these kind of searches," Shantha Kumar told ABC7 News.

For some travelers, the repeated searches and new restrictions that come with heightened security proved to be too much.

"When we were entering into the flight, they had already searched us and before that, getting onto the plane, they searched again," Kumar recalled. "And then again, we had the security options again. It was a hell of a time. I'm 71-years-old and I could take it."

The Transportation Security Administration is being vague about increased restrictions in the wake of Friday's failed terrorist attack. Air passengers flying on one of the busiest travel days of the year experienced the new rules firsthand.

"One hour before landing, they don't allow us to get out of our seats," said Fernando Rullan. "You cannot even go to the bathroom."

"Even in the flight, they didn't let us know exact time when we were landing. They said this is for security reasons. We' ae not going to let you know when you are landing," Anusha Raveendran told ABC7.

At San Francisco Airport, the bomb-sniffing dogs that were there Friday are gone. At times, security lines were long, but they flowed smoothly. Passengers said whether they faced the new restrictions or not depended on the airport and the airline. They said some international flights were delayed because it took so long to screen all the passengers.

Aviation expert Ron Wilson says the new rules were imposed hastily, but passengers should get used to them.

"That is the initial reaction. Now, that may be a little over-reactive, but it is a step, a security step. But, it is going to be an inconvenience for some people."

The new rules seem be primarily affecting U.S.-bound travelers on international flights. On British Airways for example, passengers coming from London are now limited to just one carry-on. On American Airlines, the carry-on luggage of all U.S.-bound passengers will be screened at least twice.

Travel has been normal at SFO, but people picking up international travelers are advised to should check in with the airlines for delays.


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