Air travelers cope with tighter security

December 31, 2009 9:43:02 AM PST
Many of the passengers at LaGuardia showed up hours early on Wednesday night in anticipation of longer security lines. "I'm concerned, but I've decided to trust the system and hopefully they will learn from their mistakes," Elliot Kozer said.

After a 23-year old Nigerian man with purported ties to al-Qaeda tried to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day, security at airports nationwide has increased. Bomb-sniffing dogs are screening passengers and pat-down searches are common of both people and carry-on luggage. And that's just on the ground.

Once the flights take off, airlines have the option of taking the following precautions:

  • Requiring passengers to remain in seats 1 hour before arrival
  • Disabling on-board communications services
  • Not announcing flight path or positions
  • Banning any items in laps 1 hour before arrival.

    Some passengers think it's gone too far.

    "This wasn't the fault of any American workers. This was the Dutch and we're being penalized for their mistake," Christian Malec said.

    In Amsterdam, where the Christmas bombing suspect was screened before boarding the Delta-Northwest flight to Detroit, officials announced they will start using body-scan machines to screen everyone flying to the U-S. The controversial machines are designed to detect suspicious items that metal detectors could miss, but critics say they provide a too revealing image of a passenger's bodies.

    "I think the body scanner should be at every checkpoint in every domestic and foreign airport that has a plane bound for the United States. They've got to have security measures that are consistent with reality," said James Thompson, a former 9/11 Commission Member.

    Already 19 US airports are using body-scan machines, and dozens more will get them in the next two years.