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Twin Cities airport service still on hold
By Mark Zdechlik
Minnesota Public Radio
September 12, 2001
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Airlines and airports across the country are scrambling to meet new Federal Aviation Administration security rules. Twin Cities-based Northwest Airlines, along with other carriers, has government clearance to begin bringing back some international flights which were diverted to cities outside of the United States Tuesday. Minneapolis St. Paul Airport officials say the airport here will be ready to open - under heightened security - when the FAA permits the resumption of regular scheduled service.

Crowds of people wait at the ticket counters at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Wednesday, trying to reschedule trips that were canceled Tuesday and Wednesday.
(MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik)
AT THE MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL AIRPORT, SEVERAL HUNDRED ticket-holders were turned away Wednesday, despite announcements earlier in the day from Northwest Airlines that it would resume flying on a limited basis. Travelers were allowed into the airport terminal ticketing area to rebook their flights, after a major security sweep ordered by the FAA at all of the nation's airports.

Late Wednesday afternoon, airport police announced they've satisfied FAA concerns by beefing up security in several areas. Those efforts will continue, but officials say the Twin Cities airport is ready and waiting for the FAA to lift the ban on scheduled service.

Despite the continued delays, travelers are displaying exceptional patience. Sue Petrie was trying to get to South Carolina.

"I've been not so patient at times, but this is a day of tolerance. It's for our safety so how can you complain?" said Petrie.

Susan Hoffman was about ready Wednesday afternoon to abandon plans to fly to San Diego for her son's Marine Corps graduation ceremony. She's disappointed, but by no means angry, that security concerns continue to tie up the nation's air travel system.

"I would rather go back home and everybody be safe," says Hoffman. "I think that's the primary concern, they're doing everything possible and it is for our safety. It isn't to inconvenience us."

In stark contrast to the mood that typically prevails during airport delays, travelers now in the wake of the hijackings are willing accepting the inconsequence. A Northwest Airlines ground agent says he met little resistance from weary would-be flyers, as he handed out information and discount hotel vouchers.

Sue Petrie is trying to reschedule a flight to South Carolina. She says she is not upset about the delays she experienced at the Twin Cities airport, calling today "a day of tolerance."
(MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik)
When airports begin reopening, air travel will be considerably different than before the hijackings. Metropolitan Airports Commission spokeswoman Amy Von Walter says among other things, there will no longer be curbside check in.

"There's going to be extreme heightened security. We're going to have fewer access points through security into the secure area. You'll see things like more police officers in the terminal and in the parking ramps. We have parking restrictions. Several of our parking area including valet parking, short term parking and our green and gold ramps are closed," she said.

Undoubtedly, the increased security will mean increased costs and delays for travelers. Many people who fly say that's all right, if not long overdue.

"I think our airline security is pathetic," Barry Waldman, a New York City-based business consultant, toldMinnesota Public Radio. "There's very lax security. I've seen people walk in and out of gates, sometimes without IDs. People sometimes just have on a captain's uniform and they wave on. I think it's really scary. I've flown to Israel and El Al has very tight security. They ask questions and they make sure everything is ticketed and tied and I think we're lax."

Twin Cities Airport officials say when schedules service resumes, travelers should leave at least two hours of extra time to park, and check in. Northwest is urging customers to contract its reservations center for the most to date flight information.