Facebook Twitter

TIGHTER SECURITY ORDERED AT U.S. AIRPORTS

SHARE TIGHTER SECURITY ORDERED AT U.S. AIRPORTS

Airline travelers can expect closer scrutiny of themselves and their luggage as the federal government moves to "deter possible criminal or terrorist acts."

Some measures are already in effect. Airline officials said the changes might lead to delays, although no immediate travel disruptions were reported."What the public will see is more uniformed police inside the terminals. They'll see more canine units and handlers inside the secured area of airport," explained spokeswoman Angel Biasatti at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

"Passengers will see more signs advising them to have their luggage with them at all times and that their luggage will be subject to search," said Mark Pesci, a spokesman for Philadelphia International Airport.

He added, "Passengers will be asked questions at ticketing counters and SkyCaps about whether any strangers have given them items in their possession and may be asked to produce identification."

Transportation Secretary Federico Pena announced the new precautions Wednesday.

Pena said other transportation carriers - railroads, ships and mass transit - also are being asked to review their security precautions.

He said he acted "to prevent or deter possible criminal or terrorist acts," but would cite no specific threat. The move was prompted by "information provided by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies which I am not at liberty to discuss," he said.

There were indications, however, that several factors had a part in the decision. These include the recent detention of Mousa Abu Marzuk, who is alleged to be an Islamic terrorist leader; the New York trial of 11 people on charges of conspiring to plot terrorist acts; and the upcoming visit of Pope John Paul II to the United States.

In addition, security at federal buildings was tightened in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Biasatti at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport predicted that if security is tightened even further, "The public might further see things like no one-hour parking in front of terminals, no unattended vehicles, requiring photo IDs - things like during Desert Shield-Desert Storm - or airlines implementing procedures that affect the traveling public.

"But right now, although the public may see increased security, it's not much of a change."