Airport security changes begin

December 23, 2005|By ALLENTOWN MORNING CALL

Bianca Fruehan just wanted to travel to Palm Coast, Fla., for the holidays. But she was pulled aside for additional screening yesterday before she boarded a flight from Lehigh Valley International Airport.

Fruehan was flying on the first day of new security procedures that include an emphasis on random searches of passengers as well as an ease on banned items.

Federal security officials say the changes will introduce more unpredictability to the screening process - which could throw off potential terrorists, and will enable screeners to focus more on uncovering explosives rather than small scissors.

For Fruehan, 65, the additional attention was not a problem, even though screeners undid her careful packing to examine every item in her carry-on bags.

"Let them do whatever they have to do to make flying as safe as possible," she said.

Why would they pick someone like Fruehan? "We don't target grandmas per say, but grandma might be knowingly or unknowingly carrying something for someone else," said Rick Painter, assistant federal security director for screening at the airport.

As passengers enter the security checkpoint on the ground floor of the airport, they will still walk through a metal detector, and an X-ray machine will still examine their carry-on luggage. But travelers selected at random will also undergo more screening, which may include a pat-down or a thorough inspection of their bags. The extra security may also include "hand wanding" of passengers with a metal detector and an inspection of travelers' shoes for explosives.

The TSA will allow passengers to bring small scissors and screwdrivers, among other items, aboard planes. Scissors with a cutting edge of 4 inches or less, and screwdrivers and other tools that are no more than 7 inches long, are now permitted.

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