Most air travelers take new restrictions and long lines in stride after bomb plot is revealed

At BWI: `Everyone understands'

War On Terrorism


Calm prevailed over confiscation yesterday at the region's international airports, as passengers largely took in stride the long waits, bristling security and suddenly expanded list of banned carry-on items.

At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport yesterday morning, seemingly endless lines snaked from the busy domestic Concourse D, into the international concourse and back as passengers waited to clear security for departing flights.

But by about 10:30 a.m., the crowding had eased and airport traffic appeared to return to normal despite heightened security at checkpoints.

By evening, airport operations were reported to be running smoothly. Timothy L. Campbell, executive director of BWI, told reporters he expects relatively few delays this morning as the public becomes more aware of the revised carry-on luggage guidelines and as airport officials smooth out operations.

For the most part, travelers at BWI and Dulles International Airport seemed to accept the restrictions with resignation rather than indignation. Transportation officials at BWI said some travelers missed flights but there were no incidents of unruly behavior.

An Air Canada Jazz flight from Montreal to Washington made an emergency landing at BWI because of an unclaimed package found aboard. Its passengers were offloaded near a runway to an airport shuttle bus.

In the terminal, workers fanned out with fliers informing passengers they could not bring liquids or gels through security checkpoints or aboard the aircraft - with exceptions for medicine, baby formula and breast milk.

Among the items newly banned from carry-on luggage: sunscreen, toothpaste, skin cream and hair care products. Beverages could be still be brought beyond checkpoints but could not be brought aboard planes. Newly forbidden personal items, given up by passengers, piled up at checkpoints.

At BWI, Maryland Transportation Authority Police Chief Gary W. McLhinney said his department brought in additional officers and increased the number of police dog and special weapons officers at the airport.

Passengers arriving at the main terminal by car were greeted by the sight of the police agency's mobile command post with blue flashing lights.

Reports out of London said British authorities had foiled a plot to detonate improvised explosives on airliners flying into Washington, New York and the West Coast.

But at a news conference, James F. Ports Jr., Maryland's deputy transportation secretary, said airport officials knew of no specific threat to flights into or out of BWI.

British Airways flies into BWI from London's Heathrow Airport once daily, with a departure in the evening. Yesterday's scheduled 4:20 p.m. arrival of its Flight 229 was about four hours late - but many of its passengers were met by family members and friends who had waited patiently through the delay.

Passenger Denzyl Johnson, 14, of Laurel said the four hours were spent aboard the plane at Heathrow, waiting for clearance to fly to the U.S.

He said security in the U.K. was high, "but I didn't mind it. I wanted the security."

Given advance notice by airport staff before boarding the plane, he was able to tuck his iPod and cell phone into his checked luggage. But his aunt, with whom he was traveling, had to abandon most of what was in her purse.

"Even my chewing gum," said Julia Williams, 48, of Cockeysville. "I had to chew it."

Abrahim Kargbo, 50, was waiting to leave BWI on the same aircraft for its return to London late last night. "Here in the U.S., in my opinion, they can take it as far as they can, because the safety of the people is paramount," said Kargbo, who lives in Central London. "I don't mind being inconvenienced so long as my life is safe."

Ports, the state's point man on transportation security issues, said he was informed of the alert about 1:30 a.m. and briefed Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. by about 2 a.m. Ports said state and federal officials had about four hours to muster resources to deal with the morning crush.

"I think we did an exceptional job with only four hours," he said.

While two states, Massachusetts and California, called out the National Guard, Maryland did not. Maj. Charles Kohler, a spokesman for the Maryland National Guard, said one unit had been warned to be prepared in case a call-up became necessary.

The Maryland Transit Administration said that it was ramping up security on bus and rail systems.

Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell said that unlike the airlines, the railroad was not raising its official security level. But she added that Amtrak police had increased visibility and gone from eight-hour to 12-hour shifts.

At BWI, some passengers had heard about the new carry-on restrictions before leaving home and repacked their luggage before coming to the airport.

Carole Colman, 39, of Annapolis had heard the news beforehand. She displayed the sparse contents of her purse as she waited in line for a flight to Milwaukee with her husband, Larry Schott, 41.

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