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International Travellers Taking Crash Course in Safety

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RDU INTERNATIONAL — Air travellers stood in long lines at RDU International Thursday, the first day theFederal Aviation Administrationbegan requiring airlines to ask international travellers to provide the name and number of their next-of-kin.

The chaos and confusion surrounding the aftermath of the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996 and more recently the Swissair crash prompted Congress to pass the law.

The goal is to notify families quickly when their loved one is involved in an air disaster. Family members often wait days for news of their loved ones.

Mike Blanton, an airport spokesman, says he thinks passengers will comply with the regulation.

"A small percentage might be alarmed at being asked that kind of information before boarding a flight," Blanton says, "but I think folks are pretty used to it in filling insurance forms out, and going to the doctor. They request all kinds of emergency contact information, and that's just become a part of life."

Passengers say providing the information might be a little unsettling.

"It may make you think about it, but I always kinda think about it once or twice during the flight," said passenger Brenda Hefner.

Other passengers could be concerned about their right to privacy.

"This isn't supposed to be a frequent event, so why is it being asked?" said passenger Derek Nogiec.

While the airlines are required to ask passengers for the emergency information, passengers arenotrequired to provide it.

Officials say if the new procedure proves valuable, they may consider introducing it next on domestic flights.