Local News

Holiday Returns: Travelers Say Extra Security Brings Few Airport Hassles

Posted December 29, 2003

— The Christmas holidays are over, but the holiday travel season is not.

AAA of the Carolinas

expected more than 1.5 million North Carolinians to hit the highways this holiday season. Many of them were on the roads Sunday, headed home to start the work week Monday.

Most who were not driving took to the skies. Officials at

Raleigh-Durham International Airport

expected more than 400,000 people to pass through its gates this holiday season. But even with the nation under a raised terror alert, air travel was not as much of a hassle as some passengers expected.

Prabha Singh and her family were headed from RDU to India. She said it was a trip that would not keep her preoccupied with thoughts of security alerts.

"My dad's there now, and he says everything is pretty much the same," Singh said. "It's not tighter. It's just pretty much the same."

But security is very different here in the United States.

"You're constantly checked," said Clara Peacock, who traveled from Newark, N.J., to RDU. "Every checkpoint, every place you go, you're checked constantly. So it makes me feel good."

Peacock and others who flew with her said lines at security checkpoints were long, but people got through them quickly.

"I've never seen security lines as crowded as they were," said Steve King, who also flew from Newark to RDU.

The entire nation has been at a level orange or high-security alert for a week. People flying from high-profile cities like New York saw security measures they did not see at RDU.

"They had a lot of soldiers with M-16s," King said, "and I think they were being extra vigilant."

The orange alert meant one thing at RDU and quite another around New York. One passenger told WRAL she expected a bit more from the big city.

"Orange, level orange," Patricia Clark said. "I'm like: 'O.K. They're going to do everything.'"

Clark said the most she had to do was take off her boots.

"I had a hat on at the time, if they wanted to see what was underneath the hat, because there was a bump up underneath the hat because I have a bun," she said, "and I expected them to ask me to take my hat off, so I was ready for anything."

Ready at a time when most everyone is on guard for a threat they can not see.

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