Thanksgiving holiday travel going well at Houston airports

November 24, 2010 3:43:56 PM PST
From the roads to the runways, one of the busiest travel days of the year is in full swing. And so far, it appears to be smooth sailing in Houston. So many people were expecting the worst, and so did we; that is actually why we bought plane tickets and went through security, to see what travelers had to endure this holiday season. And on the day before Thanksgiving, perhaps surprisingly, we found few complaints.

"I have to fly, and I need to fly and if it means a little extra groping here or there, I'll live with that," traveler Paul Ellison said.

Travel out of the big airport started out smoothly early Wednesday morning and it stayed that way. In fact, by mid-afternoon, most people Eyewitness News talked to said they were surprised at the relatively light traffic at the airport and a quicker-than-normal pace through security, even with the enhanced pat downs.

"I got here probably an hour and a half than I usually do, and it took 30 seconds, so it's really easy, no big deal," traveler Brie Anellma said.

But even as the lines continued to move quickly, some passengers said they're still uneasy about the new TSA security checks and pat-downs.

"I don't mind the wait, but the screening, you know my husband had to go through body screening and that's a lot of anxiety," traveler Etta Baham said. "My husband's 78 and I just don't want him to get upset about anything."

"It's all right," said Etta Baham's husband, Melvin Baham, who also added he wasn't upset about the new security procedures. "I realize the times we live in, this has to be. I don't want something happen with somebody sneaking something in and then we'd be in serious trouble, so it's OK with me."

The new screening measures include body scanners at more than 60 airports, nationwide, including Bush, and enhanced pat downs from TSA screeners.

We witnessed a number of these pat-downs, triggered whenever a traveler opts out of a body scan, or sets off a metal detector. Each time, TSA screeners use their hands not only along the back, but also the front, and perhaps most telling, and up and down the outside and inside of passengers' legs.

Doctor Don Baxter said he wasn't surprised when he was pulled out of the security checkpoint and given a full, head-to-toe pat-down; he expected it.

"I got a metal plate in my leg and I have a metal elbow," he said.

But even for Baxter and wife Frances, who are used to up-close-and-personal inspections by TSA agents, Frances Baxter said she noticed the heightened screenings.

"It was a little more. In the personal areas, it was a little more thorough, and I mean I've noticed that 'cause I've seen him go through it every time we travel," she said.

Those opposed to the more detailed screenings are asking passengers to "opt out" today and request a pat-down instead, possibly causing a security line backup.

"I probably won't do it just 'cause I want to get home, but I am aware of the issues and I think it's important to keep in touch with these issues," traveler Berk Schneider said.

"I don't agree with the pat down but it is what it is, gotta get through, can't do anything about it now," traveler Izzy Lomantio said.

What these passengers had to say seemed to be the general attitude of many travelers with whom Eyewitness News spoke. Many people seemed leery of the new procedures but were resigning to it because they had to go see their loved ones or family members this Thanksgiving weekend.

We went to several terminals and looked at their security. Many of the gates did not have the full body scanners, and the majority of passengers still went through the traditional metal detectors.

In fact, almost every patted-down passenger with whom Eyewitness News spoke said they were patted down because they had some sort of artificial product implanted in their body and set off the traditional metal detectors.

We spent some time today at Hobby Airport too. As you might expect, there were more fliers than a normal day -- but we didn't see any long lines or problems with security.


Load Comments