NEW YORK – Airline customers traveling the day before the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11 faced a chain of security screenings before being allowed to proceed to their gates, but neither the heavy security nor the events of last year seemed to faze most passengers.
A number of technicians and supervisors guided passengers through the line of metal detectors, X-ray machines, shoe check stations and random searches. Armed military personnel oversaw the process at LaGuardia International Airport.
All of these security measures are part of federal regulations introduced after last year’s terrorist hijackings.
“It makes a uniform set of standards throughout the nation,” Dennis Negri, supervisor of security at LaGuardia, said.
But Christian Ott, a project manager from Virginia who said he travels about once a week, said he has noticed slight differences in the intensity of security measures at various airports. Larger cities tended to have more security.
“At other airports you don’t see the National Guards,” he said, adding that he was not surprised by their presence at LaGuardia yesterday. “I’m not sure if it’s the date or the area.”
Negri would not comment on how many security personnel work at the airport each day or whether yesterday’s security presence was differsent from the norm.
Ott, who is originally from Germany, said U.S. security measures today are similar to what they were in Germany even before the terrorist attacks.
“I think they got more serious after the last year, and I think there are definitely some gaps, but I feel pretty comfortable with the whole thing,” Ott said.
The new process of scrutinizing everything from travelers’ carry-on luggage to their footwear has not particularly lengthened the time it takes to get through security, Negri said.
“It wasn’t too bad,” said Erin Mineo, an Australian native. “It’s not as strict as I thought it would be, but still very thorough.” Mineo said it usually takes her about 15 minutes to clear security at U.S. airports.
The memories of last year’s events have not kept Americans grounded today. Spirit Airlines announced last month that it would not charge passengers to fly on Sept. 11. “All of Spirit’s 13,000 seats were booked,” said Laura Richeson, a spokeswoman for the airline.