RDU International Reopens to Travelers
Posted September 13, 2001 9:17 a.m. EDT
RDU INTERNATIONAL — Airport officials have reopened RDU to travelers, and the FAA has also certified Charlotte/Douglas International, Fayetteville Regional, Piedmont Triad International, and Wilmington International safe for travelers.
People will also be allowed to pick up their vehicles at RDU. But in order to comply with the FAA security regulations, RDU has blocked off approximately 1,200 parking spaces in hourly lots for Terminals A and C and in part of the daily C lot. Signs and barriers will indicate which parking areas have been blocked off.
Flight operations will be limited for several days, airport officials say, and individual airlines will decide whether to fly.
RDU officials are recommending that all ticketed passengers check with their airlines beforehand to determine flight times. Airlines recommend that all passengers arrive at least two hours before departure time in order to comply with the new security regulations.
The new security regulations are as follows:
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said early Thursday that nation's airspace was being reopened as of 11 a.m. on a case-by-case basis -- only after more stringent levels of security have been implemented.
The check-in process will be very different at airports nationwide. The FAA says passengers will not be able to check their bags at the curb. Many will be subjected to random checks, and there will be more uniformed security officers throughout airports.
Experts admit there is no realistic way to stop a suicide mission.
"Years ago, I was asked by a congressman, if I gave you all the resources, could you guarantee that there would not be another hijacking," says terrorism expert Brian Jenkins. "My answer was, 'Yes, sir. We can ground all the airplanes.'"
The Federal Aviation Administration ordered all outbound flights grounded following the fiery twin disaster at the World Trade Center around 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Kossoff says the decision to close RDU International was the airport's call and not from the FAA. She says officials decided to make the move to close the airport to protect the lives and property of people at the airport.
Many of the stranded passengers rushed to book rooms at local hotels. Shuttle bus drivers were busy for most of the morning hauling hundreds of people from RDU. One couple said it took them an hour to get a ride. Hotels near the airport filled up so quickly that many were sold out before noon.
Many passengers were on their way to other cities when they were diverted to RDU. After arriving at RDU, many people are picking up rental cars and driving to their destination. Others are taking trains and buses to complete their trips.
Many said they had never visited the Triangle.
Many of those travelers did not know what happened initially, as hundreds of thousands were in the air or sitting on planes at the runway, when the explosions occured.
Things became very hectic as people were removed from planes.
The airport shuts down TVs whenever there is a crash, and many phones were jammed from so many people trying to use them, so information was hard to come by for the travelers on the 25 flights diverted to RDU and those waiting to leave.
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