Passengers await FAA approval

by Shira Kantor

The Federal Aviation Administration extended until further notice its moratorium on commercial flights, according to a Wednesday statement from Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta.

Flights forced to land after Tuesday’s terrorist attack will be allowed to resume, according the statement. The only people allowed to reboard aircraft would be those originally on the flights.

Many would-be passengers arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Wednesday hoping the FAA would allow flights to resume, but found instead an airport teeming with extra security officers.

FAA-mandated security sweeps dominated the Charles A. Lindbergh Terminal from about 9 a.m. until noon to ensure safety, keeping travellers from moving about the airport as police searched for suspicious items or situations.

“We had to go through all of the terminal building structures at the airport and get all of the public out and all of the employees out,” said Minneapolis airport officer John Hoffer. “And with the assistance of the air carriers, the airport had to sweep the entire area and then we could go back in.”

Added security measures in all United States airports have been implemented and “all metallic and non-metallic knives and other cutting instruments will be prohibited from being carried on board aircraft,” according to the FAA.

Another employee at the Minneapolis airport, who did not want to be identified, said as part of an FAA security directive, only passengers with tickets would be allowed to enter the gate areas.

“But we’re not flying today, so I’m not sure why you would want to go in there,” she said.

In July, the FAA sought $99,000 in fines from American Airlines for security breaches. Two of the four planes taken over in Tuesday’s terrorist attacks were from that airline.

American Airlines officials could not be reached for comment.

The atmosphere at the Lindbergh Terminal, which had been confused and chaotic immediately following the attacks, was one of relative calm by Wednesday morning. Many people at the airport said they were more frustrated than fearful and just wanted to fly to their destinations.

Liz Moody, a 19-year-old Grand Rapids native, tried for the second day to get on a flight to Seattle on Wednesday. She spent her day sitting on a pile of luggage outside the terminal watching a line of slow-moving cars make their way through security.

“The terrorists have done all they’re going to do,” Moody said. “I just want to go to school.”


Shira Kantor encourages comments at [email protected]