Q: I was always afraid to fly, but since the tragedy of Sept. 11 and other scares since, I’m really concerned. With the holidays fast approaching, I’m already feeling anxious. What can I expect?
A: Unfortunately, the events of Sept. 11 have made many of us anxious about flying and even frustrated about new security details. Although there have been investigative news reports about glitches in the system, overall national airports have imposed stricter procedures on travelers. There are multiple screening points, random screenings, and more detailed searches.
As a result you should arrive at the airport one hour ahead for national flights and two hours ahead for international flights. I would, however, call the individual carrier to check its policy. Some airlines have posted automated tellers in an effort to move passengers through the boarding process more quickly. At American Airlines, for example, instead of standing on line you can swipe either your credit or AAdvantage card at a machine, punch in your flight details, and receive your seat assignment and boarding pass.
There are, of course, more stringent policies on what passengers are allowed to carry on board the aircraft. For that information you should call the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at 866-289-9673. Operating under the auspices of the Department of Transportation, the TSA has been charged with federalizing airport security by December 2002. Consumers can also call to ask questions, make comments, or register complaints about aggressive or unwarranted screening. For more information on airport security measures, you can also log onto www.tsa.dot.gov.