Local News

RDU Increases Security After Military Air Strikes

Posted December 17, 1998

— United States military strikes in Iraq are having an impact in airports across the country because of the possibility of retaliation.

Bomb threats Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport have officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport not taking any chances when it comes to security.

RDU and all airports across the country are still operating at a Level Three security status. During the Gulf War theFederal Aviation Administrationmandated Level Four security, the highest possible level, but the increased security has not been requested by the government yet.

However, that mandate is not stopping airport officials at RDU from taking every possible precaution.

"We have stepped up efforts among our staff, law enforcement security personnel and our operations personnel as a result of the bombing," said Mike Blanton, RDU airport manager.

Those extra eyes and ears will be watching for any suspicious activity, including bags and packages left unattended.

Aggressive towing policies are also in place. Unattended vehicles left at the curbside at the loading/unloading zones will be towed at the owner's expense.

"You never know when someone leaves a vehicle unattended at the curb what may or may not be in that vehicle," Blaten said. "Don't leave [your vehicle] for a second."

Some U.S. airports are also telling travelers not to carry wrapped gifts, but officials at RDU say they are not making that request. One passenger experienced otherwise.

"I showed up and they say, 'You got to unwrap it,'" said John Poole, a holiday traveler. "So I had them take a picture of me while I unwrapped it so I can send home the picture."

Most passengers said they did not mind the extra inconvenience so that traveling during the current conflict will be as safe as any other time.

"I feel safe," said Boris Sherman, a holiday traveler at RDU. "I feel safe in the United States. I have no problem with that."

Airport officials recommend that travelers arrive at least two hours early, not so much for security purposes, but more because it is the holiday season.

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