At Twin Cities airport, it was a smooth holiday takeoffDespite a burst of winter weather and a national call to boycott body scanners Wednesday, most travelers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport seemed content to be well on their way in time for Thanksgiving.
By: Gita Sitaramiah, St. Paul Pioneer Press / MCT
Despite a burst of winter weather and a national call to boycott body scanners Wednesday, most travelers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport seemed content to be well on their way in time for Thanksgiving.
Concern about whether stepped-up Transportation Security Administration security measures would turn people against air travel seemed to be a non-issue for many at the Twin Cities airport as well as at airports nationwide. Officials also wondered whether a movement to encourage travelers to opt out of full-body screening might cause delays at security checkpoints the day before Turkey Day.
On the whole, travelers Wednesday seemed uninterested in calls to opt out and instead insist on pat-down searches. Victoria Okusami of Woodbury was concerned about the weather so she left home at noon, three hours early for her flight to Washington, D.C., to see her daughter.
"I timed it well, at least for now," said Okusami, who was in a security line soon after the snow started falling.
As snow fell hard late Wednesday afternoon, one runway was shut down briefly for plowing, and then another, causing some short arrival delays, said Pat Hogan, an airport spokesman. Most air traffic moved normally despite the weather.
In fact, the scene at Minneapolis-St. Paul on one of the busiest travel days of the year was mostly like any other day despite the national uproar over new security measures. Security lines moved quickly for much of the day, and even at checkpoints
with body scanners, many travelers went through traditional metal detectors. The airport currently has six full-body scanners. The devices have been criticized by some because they produce images with clear physical outlines, which some passengers find intrusive and embarrassing.
Minneapolis resident Melissa Hill is an activist upset about the new technology. Hill wasn't flying, but she planned to be at the airport Wednesday night to distribute stickers reading "I Opt Out."
"My biggest beef is that it's a security measure that's not that secure, but it forces people to give up privacy and basic rights," she said.
The TSA says that travelers who opt out of body scanning must then go through a thorough pat-down search.
Still, the lines weren't as bad as Ricardo Yesue expected. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls student was heading to Detroit to see his family for Thanksgiving.
"I just hope they're strict for everyone's safety but easy to get through," Yesue said of the security lines.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.