U.S. airports and airlines have new security procedures


Even before President Clinton's July 25 order requiring airports and airlines had started doing so on their own. The stricter security measures grew out of the explosion aboard TWA Flight 800 on July 17, which killed all 230 people aboard the

Paris-bound 747.

"There will be more inspection of bags," said Transportation Secretary Federico F. Pena. "There will be more interviews of passengers. There will be delays, there will be inconvenience, there will be longer lines."

There will also be closer scrutiny of passengers, to check their bona fides and to see if they match the profiles used to identify potential terrorists. And directly or indirectly, the cost of these measures -- which an FAA advisory committee earlier this year had estimated could reach $5 billion over 10 years -- will be borne by the flying public or the public at large.

But safety, rather than cost, appeared to be the foremost priority. Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., decreed that family and friends bid goodbye to passengers outside the X-ray security stations and greet arriving passengers only in the baggage-claim area.

According to Ken Robert, Connecticut's aviation administrator. Bradley International took action "to head off potential problems, not because there were any threats."

Indianapolis International Airport installed checkpoints renational eliminated the first two rows of its short-term parking lot, adjacent to the terminal, and barred vehicles from waiting at curbside on the upper and lower roadways along the main terminal building. At airports from Philadelphia to Dallas-Fort Worth, tow trucks are out in force to haul away unattended vehicles, and police and security guards are under orders to confiscate unattended baggage.

And the day after President Clinton's order, Logan International Airport in Boston added bomb-sniffing dogs and undercover patrols.

Airport administration and airlines are usually reluctant to talk about specific security procedures, for fear of tipping their hand. However, United Airlines said it would not accept small packages without opening them first and that it would require two forms of identification from anyone checking such packages. It added that it was testing new equipment aimed at detecting explosives.

Rival carriers were miffed at United for seeming to take credit for procedures they also had implemented -- either in response to the TWA crash or since Oct. 1, when the Federal Aviation Administration issued an array of security decrees only hours after Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine other Muslim radicals were convicted in New York of conspiracy to carry out a terrorist campaign in the United States.

Pub Date: 8/12/96

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