Local News

Heightened Security Measures Cause Long Waits At RDU

Posted August 11, 2006

— Officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport implemented tougher security measures Thursday in reaction to an alleged terror plot uncovered in Britain.

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    Airport security officers are now checking all carry-on baggage and restricting what can now be carried on aircraft, officials said. All liquids, including shampoo, lotion, perfume, cologne, contact lens solution, as well as items such as toothpaste and similar items must be placed in luggage that travelers want to check on the plane.

    Water, juice and soda bottles, also, won't be allowed past security checkpoints at RDU. Airport spokeswoman Jill Denning said that gift shops and restaurants beyond the checkpoints, however, were serving beverages. Passengers, however, still will not be allowed to board planes with the liquid items.

    There are two exceptions to the "no-liquids" rule, however, but the following items must be presented for inspection at security checkpoints:

  • Baby formula, breast milk and juice in cups -- only if a baby of small child is traveling.
  • Prescription medicine -- only if the name on the prescription bottle matches the passenger's ticket. Insulin and other essential non-prescription medicine are also allowed.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised the nation's threat level to Code Red, or severe, for all commercial flights flying from the United Kingdom to the United States and to Code Orange, or high, for all commercial flights within the U.S. and to other international destinations.

    The move comes after British authorities arrested 21 suspects who, they said, were planning to blow up aircraft mid-flight between Britain and the United States using explosives smuggled in hand luggage.

    AAA of the Carolinas notified thousands of customers on Thursday to arrive at airports three to four hours in advance of scheduled flights to allow time to negotiate security checkpoints. Denning, however, said Thursday afternoon that arriving two hours in advance would allow for enough time to make flights.

    The only flights between RDU and the United Kingdom are American Airlines flights to and from Gatwick International Airport in London. Thursday's scheduled flight from London was delayed and arrived around 10 p.m.

    "We left 4½ hours late, but we made it here," said passenger Christy Finis.

    Many travelers at RDU International said Thursday they are taking the new restrictions in stride, even though they were having to wait longer at ticket counters and security checkpoints.

    "Hey, you got to look through my stuff to see if I've done anything wrong? Go ahead," said passenger Dave Smullen. "It's inconvenient, but it beats the alternative."

    Kamal Wallace

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