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An unexceptional travel day, body scanning and all [Updated]

November 28, 2010 |  4:21 pm



So far, so normal during the holiday return rush.

For Los Angeles International Airport, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is one of the three busiest travel days of the year; but travelers have completed their round trips without substantial difficulty, according to officials at three regional airports. And there's been no evidence of a protest against the new full body scanners now in use as a security measure.

[Updated 7:20]: The situation remained normal into Sunday evening, according to airport authorities. "It’s busy, but everything is running smoothly. There are no delays or crowd-control issues," said LAX spokeswoman Katherine Alvarado.  Bob Hope Airport also had no delays or long lines, according to an official there.]

The region’s freeways haven’t been empty, but most were maintaining highway speeds through midafternoon. One exception in the early afternoon was the 2 Freeway, especially northbound, between its southern terminus in Echo Park and the juncture with the 134 Freeway. Traffic near downtown L.A. also has been congested. The later afternoon brought slower speeds on freeways heading into L.A. County from the north.

The vehicle traffic around LAX has been moving consistently, helped along by the absence of a weekday rush hour.

There was no sign of a threatened protest against the scanners at LAX, which have caused concerns about the revealing images they produce and the radiation they emit.

Authorities had been worried about passengers refusing to go through the scanners, which would then require them to submit to a pat-down. The pat-down takes two to three minutes, as opposed to about 20 seconds per person with the scanner, said Sari Koshetz, a national spokeswoman for the federal Transportation Security Administration.

“There’s no protest going on,” Koshetz said. “Since Wednesday, we’ve been tracking it very carefully. A handful of people have opted out of the scanner -- no more than ordinary.” Instead of a protest, the travel weekend “turned into TSA appreciation day,” she said.

The John Wayne Airport in Costa Mesa and the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank had one additional vestigial advantage for speedier travel: Neither airport has yet to install a full body scanner.

“It’s actually pretty dead right now,” said an airport operations employee in Burbank in midafternoon.

Currently there are 411 of the scanning machines at 60 airports nationwide. That total is scheduled to rise to 500 by the end of the year and to 1,000 by the end of 2011.

-- Howard Blume and Ching-Ching Ni