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Air-Travel Hassles on Display at Boston's Logan


At U.S. airports, security remains tight. National Guard troops have been called up to help with airport security in three states - New York, California and Massachusetts.

And as NPR's Tovia Smith reports, that's helping passengers move through Logan International Airport in Boston.

TOVIA SMITH: National Guard troops showed up at Logan early this morning, and security lines that were running two hours yesterday are much shorter now, since people are moving more smoothly through the new extra security checks.

Unidentified Man: Deodorant, lipstick, fingernail polish. Put your makeup on, get pretty, then give it up.

SMITH: At both the entrance to the concourse and then again at the gate, security crews are using big garbage barrels to collect a long list of what is now contraband.

Man: Men, deodorant, lip balm, we're not kidding. We're going to see it easily on the screen, we're going to take it, we're going to have to search you.

SMITH: On the second day of the ban on liquids, barrels are filling up more slowly. Most travelers have got the message and have adjusted to the new normal.

CANDACE CLEMENS: (Airline Passenger, Logan International Airport): I cleaned my whole purse out, which was something that has needed to be done for about a year.

SMITH: Candace Clemens, from Arlington, Massachusetts, says she isn't missing too much.

CLEMENS: Mouthwash, I could use it now.

SMITH: Behind her, Alice Kaylor(ph), on her way to Milwaukee with her 2-month- old son, had a bit of a harder time with her diaper bag.

ALICE KAYLOR: We've had to be creative about how we're going to change him if he has an accident on the plane. I had to take out all the ointments, and my hands won't be sanitized, no Purell. So you know, I think we're going back to the '50s with the way we're changing the babies, as opposed to now when we have too much of everything anyway, so.

SMITH: For the most part, travelers say they're comforted by the new regulations and the extra patrols, though some say they still have qualms.

KELLY BUTLER: I thought about a car, but that's a 13-hour drive, so.

SMITH: Kelly Butler is flying to Cleveland with her two-year-old daughter. The idea of flying still bothers her, but no more so, she says, than driving to Logan through the Big Dig tunnels, where falling concrete recently killed a woman.

BUTLER: I'm like, oh my God, I can't take it. Tunnel, airport, and I don't like being paranoid, and that's what it's come down to now for everything.

SMITH: Another passenger, 24-year-old Brandy Vose(ph), says she, too, is nervous about flying. She says the new focus on liquids, just like the focus on box-cutters after September 11 and shoes after the incident with shoe-bomber Richard Reid, seems a bit like too little, too late.

BRANDY VOSE: They've taken all these precautions, but now it's the liquid thing, and it's kind of almost a moot point, you know? What's going to be next?

SMITH: But airport officials say travelers should rest assured. From state-of- the-art baggage screeners to new infrared sensors guarding the shoreline and new walls around the airport, Massport spokesman Phil Orlandella says Logan is not only responding to yesterday's threats.

PHIL ORLANDELLA: It seems that way, but there's a lot on the table that the general public don't know. There is a lot of planning based on intelligence and stuff going on. We deal with it every day.

SMITH: Orlandella says plain clothes police and National Guard troops are also patrolling for suspicious behavior, and 100 more National Guard troops were sworn in as deputy sheriffs this afternoon, so they have the power to detain suspects if they need to.

Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.