Thanksgiving travelers at LAX express mixed feelings about new security measures
Many passengers who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport early Wednesday morning for Thanksgiving travel expressed concern about new security precautions they would have to face at the airport.
In the Southwest Airlines departure lounge, Melanie Magee, 50, stood against a wall with her luggage by her side. She had arrived four hours early from Orange County for a flight to Mississippi via New Orleans. She had decided to arrive early because she was unsure what to expect from airport security and she had heard about possible protests against full-body scanners.
"I don't want them groping me, so I'm going through the body scanner," Magee said, adding that she was accustomed to an intense level of security after living in Israel for seven years. "I have no problem with it. It's for keeping people safe."
David and Kathy Beall were traveling to Milwaukee with Amelia, their 15-month-old daughter. They arrived about two hours early from the Fairfax district of Los Angeles for their 7:50 a.m. flight on Southwest Airlines. The couple expressed concern about the added security measures, in particular the body scanners.
"It's not the nudity thing. It's the radiation -- especially for her," she said, pointing at Amelia.
The couple said they were prepared to undergo a pat-down, although they worried about the possible invasive nature of the procedure, especially for their daughter. They added that air travel has become so hectic they would have preferred to have driven, but the trip was too far.
Aaron Coleman, 44, a pastor, stood at a U.S. Airways self-check-in machine before his 8:30 a.m. flight to New York. Coleman had arrived from the San Fernando Valley more than two hours before his departure time.
He said he planned on going through the full-body scanner and was hoping he would not be subjected to a pat-down.
"I don't want to have one," Coleman said. "But I will have to get it if they want me to." He added: "I'll do whatever they need me to do in order to make it easier for travel."
Lisa Scully, 19, a student at UCLA, was waiting in line to check in for a U.S. Airways flight to Philadelphia. She said she had not yet made up her mind whether she would go through the body scanner, because she did not know enough about the new technology, its safety record and the possible long-term health effects.
Officials at LAX said they expected passenger volume during the Thanksgiving travel period, from Nov. 19 through Nov. 28, to increase by nearly 3%, from 1.49 million travelers last year to 1.53 million passengers this year.
Some airlines were reporting passenger loads approaching 80% capacity on most flights, and some flights were fully booked. Airport officials advised travelers to arrive at the airport two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights. Domestic travelers were encouraged to check in online before heading to the airport.
-- Ann Simmons at Los Angeles International Airport
Photo: A sticker distributed by activists protesting the Transportation Security Administration's new procedures. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press