Just days after an alleged terrorist plot involving U.S.-bound planes from Britain was foiled, authorities eased restrictions on passengers, allowing them to carry some liquids aboard planes.
On Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration began allowing up to four ounces of liquid nonprescription medicine, solid lipstick and low blood-sugar treatments, including glucose gel for diabetics, on planes.
On Thursday the TSA had banned all liquids and non-prescription medicines. The TSA did, however, toughen some restrictions, requiring passengers to remove their shoes before boarding a plane and placing mascara on the list of banned substances.
While San Francisco International Airport was still on high alert, with a noticeable increase in security personnel, the airport culture was back to normal Sunday.
Flights at SFO were on schedule, with the exception of planes traveling to and from London, according to airport Duty Manager Lily Wang. She said flights have been delayed up to five hours from London.
Signs alerting passengers of the new travel restrictions and that the airport was still at orange alert, the second highest warning level on the Department of Homeland Security’s color-coded alert system, were spread across terminal walls.
There was a noticeable increase in police presence inside both the international and domestic terminals and the National Guard was patrolling the perimeter of the airport, searching vehicles and doing identification checks.
“We are covered this weekend with a lot of extra people,” Wang said, adding that the police department is working overtime, TSA staff is doing random security checks across the airport and aviation security is making sure signs detailing the new travel restrictions are visible across the airport.
Travelers also seem to have adjusted to the new baggage restrictions. Stacey Ann Chin of Marin arrived at the airport two hours early anticipating long lines. She said it took her about 20 minutes to check in at the British Airways counter on Sunday afternoon.
“We heard all the stories before we got here,” she said. “So we made sure all our luggage was in line.”
SFO duty manager Chris Davidson said check-in lines and security checks have gotten “progressively better” since Thursday, as passengers have adjusted to the new regulations. The average time to get through a counter, she said, depends on the airline and the time of day.
“The ticket counter lines are still rather long, but the security lines have shortened,” she said.
The number of travelers using the airport is holding steady as well, according to Wang. She said that while this weekend’s final travel numbers are not available, early indications are that most people kept their travel plans in and out of San Francisco.
She said because “it is the summer and people have to go to school” soon, some people are not able to alter their plans.
new TSA regulations
On Sunday, the TSA began allowing passengers to carry
» Up to four ounces of liquid nonprescription medications
» Low blood-sugar treatments, including glucose gel for diabetics
» Solid lipstick
» Baby food
The TSA also added the following to the banned substance list:
» All aerosols
» Baby teethers with gel or liquid
» Children’s toys with gel inside
» Gel candles