Students deal with airline restrictions

Cati Vanden Breul

Because of increasing security concerns at airports, inconvenience might be the new norm for airline passengers.

In August, British officials said they had foiled an intricate terrorist plot to blow up jetliners headed from the United Kingdom to the United States with liquid explosives. In response, all liquids – including beverages, shampoo and toothpaste – were indefinitely banned from carry-on luggage on flights to and from the United States.

Nutrition junior Jyme Butterfass, who volunteered at a Red Cross children’s hospital in South Africa this summer, was among thousands of travelers who faced long security lines when the new regulations took effect.

Butterfass said her Aug. 12 flight back to the United States was stressful and frustrating.

“Everyone was telling me something different,” she said. “Some of the workers knew what was going on and told passengers about the no-liquid rule, but others had no idea.”

The measures were more of an inconvenience than a comfort, because “terrorists are just going to come up with other ways to get things on planes,” Butterfass said.

“Why travel when it’s such a huge inconvenience just to bring on shampoos?” she said.

Butterfass also questioned the efficiency of the security checks.

“I brought lotion in my purse and I got through two airports without them finding out, so that should say something,” she said.

Danielle Lorentz, a University psychology senior studying in Australia this semester, said she didn’t attempt to bring any shampoo, lotion or other toiletries on her recent flight to Fiji, though she wanted to.

“Traveling without liquids was annoying because I don’t like to check shampoos because they are likely to break or leak in checked luggage; therefore, I had to buy all that (in Australia), which wasn’t cheap,” Lorentz said.

Waiting in one- to two-hour security lines also grated her nerves, she said.

But Colin Kahl, a University political science professor, said many passengers view safety as more important than convenience.

“People may complain, but they accept the security as a necessary safety precaution,” he said.

For instance, Kahl said, after authorities uncovered Richard Reid’s plot to hide explosives in shoes, the public accepted footwear inspections in security lines.

Because the liquid ban went into effect overnight in the United States, many airports, including the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, were bombarded with uninformed passengers in the morning, said airport spokesman Pat Hogan .

“So that was a bit of a challenge,” Hogan said.

To limit confusion, officials informed passengers of the regulations at check-in lines and allowed them to transfer prohibited items to their checked luggage.

Hogan said he wasn’t aware of delays at the airport. By the afternoon, many passengers were coming in without liquids in their carry-on luggage, he said.

Right now the new regulations are indefinite, but Hogan said that might change.

“There’s some talk by the Transportation Security Administration of relaxing those somewhat, but how long before that happens is anyone’s guess,” he said.