Passengers at Cape Girardeau airport deal with new rules on baggage

Friday, August 11, 2006

Officials advised local travelers Thursday about more extreme airport security measures imposed after an alleged terrorist plot was foiled in Britain.

The three flights departing Cape Girardeau Regional Airport by Thursday afternoon had no major problems. Most passengers were aware of the security changes, airport manager Bruce Loy said.

The few travelers at the airport who were unaware of the changes and had prohibited items were cooperative, according to Loy. The prohibited items they had were simply moved from their carry-on bag to their checked luggage, he said.

Police in Britain announced Thursday they have arrested 24 people in London, its suburbs and in Birmingham in connection with the alleged plot to blow up as many as 10 United States-bound aircraft. The plot involved smuggling liquid explosives disguised as beverages and other common products in carry-on luggage.

In response, Britain banned all carry-on luggage on all trans-Atlantic flights and barred nearly every form of liquid outside baby formula. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration followed suit, prohibiting passengers' carry-on items to include liquids, lotions and hair gels.

Travelers were warned to abide by the new guidelines or risk having their personal products thrown away.

"They will discard any items that you are not allowed to have on the plane," said travel agency owner Shari Elfrink.

Products now prohibited should be packed in checked baggage, said Elfrink, who operates First Class Travel in Cape Girardeau.

She recommended all travelers board only with a wallet or, if they have them, film cameras because X-rays used to scan baggage could damage the film.

Any carry-on baggage passengers do intend to take should be lightly packed, she said. Stuffed carry-ons make it harder for the X-ray machine to see everything, meaning the bag would likely be hand searched and could cause further boarding delays.

Items such as baby formula and prescription medication like insulin are allowed as carry-ons, but even those could be closely inspected, according to the TSA.

While some travel agencies in town recommended passengers arrive up to three hours before their flight out of a major city, Loy said an hour before takeoff from Cape Girardeau would be fine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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