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Tighter security creating delay at airports

By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service

August 10, 2006

Authorities at San Francisco International Airport are urging passengers to arrive two hours early for all departing flights today and are warning travelers that nobody will be allowed to bring any liquids on board, Douglas Lyon, airport duty manager, said this morning.

"It's going to be a very, very difficult travel day," Lyon said.

The airport has introduced the additional security precautions following the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's decision to increase the threat level to orange on all commercial flights operating in the U.S., including international flights, and to red on all commercial flights from the United Kingdom to the U.S.

The threat levels have been raised in response to arrests in the United Kingdom related to "a substantial plot to destroy multiple passenger aircraft flying from the United Kingdom to the United States,'' according to a statement issued by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Passengers should expect delays of around an hour in airport security lines at SFO, Lyon said.

Domestic and international flights also are delayed by up to 60 minutes, he said.

The lines are unusually long because passengers must unpack and get rid of any liquids they have in their hand luggage.

"That's what's delaying us," he said.

No beverages are allowed onto planes. The ban also extends to shampoo, toothpaste, hair gel, sun tan lotion and "other items of similar consistency," according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Only passengers with prescription medicines and liquids such as baby formula are allowed to bring them onto flights.

Prescription medicine labels must match passenger information and people carrying liquids for young children will probably be asked to sample them in the presence of security, Lyon said.

Anyone traveling to the United Kingdom should be prepared for more extensive security screening, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Announcements and information posted throughout the airport are alerting passengers to the liquids ban and passengers are also being told at check-in about the new restrictions, Lyon said.

Lyon said passengers should check with individual airlines about the status of their flights, he said.

Travelers at Oakland International Airport are getting through security lines fairly quickly and there are no significant flight delays today, airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said.

But there is still the potential for setbacks because of the need to apply the new security measures, she said.

Adding to the potential confusion at the airport, a power outage was reported around 8:30 a.m. It has not adversely affected check-in, security, baggage handling or flight procedures, but the airport is operating with limited lighting and is still running on generator power, Barnes said.

Barnes did not have an estimate of when airport power would be restored.

"There's a lot going on here today," she said.

Mineta San Jose International Airport has increased police presence around the airport this morning, spokeswoman Joanne Sanfilippo reported.

According to San Jose police Sgt. Nick Muyo, airline travelers can expect delays today due to increased police patrols and random vehicle searches. Muyo said people might also see police dogs and officers at checkpoints around the airport.

People using Bay Area Rapid Transit to reach the San Francisco and Oakland airports might notice slight delays, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said this morning. BART is conducting security sweeps of its trains that Johnson said would result in delays of no more than a minute or two.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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