Steamboat Springs A sampling of passengers arriving at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in light snowfall Tuesday said their trips through airport security in their cities of origin were routine in spite of heightened terrorism alerts.
Diane Moore carried a holiday gift bag containing three stuffed teddy bears and a 15-inch-tall Tyrannosaurus rex onto her American Airlines flight in Houston, and she changed planes in Dallas for a flight to Steamboat without any additional searches.
“It was a long (security) line, but it’s the holidays,” Moore said.
A United Airlines passenger noticed nothing out of the ordinary in a busy New York airport where he began his trip to Steamboat.
“I was a little more anxious than usual,” said Chad Holmes, of Los Angeles. “But going through security was the same as it always was.”
Holmes and his wife, Pam, began the second leg of their holiday trip at LaGuardia Airport in New York even though they live in California. He said he noticed a number of passengers at the boarding gate who had their carry-on luggage searched.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that “a systemic failure” allowed the attempted Christmas Day bombing attack on a Detroit-bound flight from Amsterdam, according to The Associated Press. The president called the breakdown “totally unacceptable.”
Obama said he wants preliminary results by Thursday from two investigations he has ordered to examine the many lapses that occurred.
Accused terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who spent time in Yemen, brought an explosive device aboard his trans-Atlantic flight to Detroit, the AP reported, but the device failed to detonate as intended, and other passengers acted promptly to restrain him.
Airlines have responded with a variety of measures, including limiting passengers to a single carry-on bag and requiring them to remain seated for the final hour of their flights.
Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said Tuesday that he thinks increased TSA security measures are emphasizing international flights.
“I was expecting to see something tightened as we have (after past terrorism attempts),” Ruppel said. “We really haven’t had any changes come down. But the TSA varies things all the time.”
A TSA supervisor working at YVRA on Tuesday declined to comment on the way things were going at the airport and denied a request to photograph the security line.
Kevin Helms, of Knoxville, Tenn., said he was relieved when flight attendants didn’t confine his three young children to their seats for the final hour of their United flight to Denver.
“I was expecting to have to put up with no access to the bathroom for the final hour,” Helms said. “That was going to be torture with three children, but none of that happened.”
Kevin Shegog and his family left their home 15 minutes earlier than usual and boarded a United flight in Philadelphia for Denver. They streamlined their trip by checking all of their luggage and avoiding carry-ons. Shegog said security check-in in Philly was ordinary.
Ruppel said one change he has observed among passengers flying to YVRA this winter is that fewer people are checking large ski bags with their luggage. The presumption is that more and more vacationing skiers are shipping their equipment ahead or are opting to rent equipment during their stay in Steamboat.
Laura Paine caught a Northwest Airlines flight from Minneapolis to YVRA on Tuesday morning and was pleased that she was allowed to have her knitting needles on her lap throughout the final hour of the flight from the Twin Cities.
“They’ve been allowing the needles onboard ever since 9/11,” Paine said. “But no scissors.”
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. was reporting that arriving flights at the airport Tuesday were collectively 74 percent full with 867 passengers on board. That’s down from 1,122 arriving passengers Monday.
“We were quiet today, but this weekend is expected to be busy” as travelers wind up their holiday trips and pack onto departing flights, Ruppel said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report