CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) On the first day the government took responsibility for airport security, some passengers noticed extra vigilance and felt reassured by the change. Federal officials pledged yesterday to protect travelers and treat them with courtesy.
The second major deadline in the new airline security law passed as smoothly as the first, when airlines last month began inspecting checked baggage for explosives.
A new federal agency now oversees aviation security rather than the airline industry and Federal Aviation Administration.
“As of now, we will make sure we”re observing the screening and make sure it”s being done properly,” said John Magaw, undersecretary for transportation security, after arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport from Miami.
With the same screeners staffing security checkpoints, and even airline officials helping to oversee the operations, Magaw said passengers at first will not see much of a difference.
Yesterday”s deadline was the first step in a nine-month transition from private security companies to a better-trained, higher-paid federal work force to screen passengers and baggage.
What passengers should notice are the chairs they can use when they are asked to remove their shoes to be checked for explosives. In addition, travelers inspected with handheld wands will have their valuables in front of them.
“I hope that they”ll notice a slight difference in the courtesy,” Magaw said. “Hopefully, they won”t notice anything much different than that.”
Some arriving passengers at Dulles, where a plane was hijacked Sept. 11 and crashed into the Pentagon, said security was tighter than they had seen since the attacks.
“We commented on it,” said Robin Cloninger of Morristown, N.J., arriving from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with two classmates at Loyola College in Baltimore. “A lot more people were getting their bags searched, taken off the line.”