Business as usual
Despite foiled terror plot, operations smooth at regional airport
Steamboat Springs — Yampa Valley Regional Airport implemented new safety precautions, but by and large, officials said it was business as usual Thursday at the airport in Hayden.
Airport public security director Tyler Whitmore got a call at 2 a.m. Thursday morning. Transportation Security Administration coordinators told him that the airport needed to be in line with immediate national security directives before the facility’s first flight departed at 7:50 a.m.
The directives were a response to an elaborate terrorist plot discovered by British authorities. The plot allegedly aimed to bomb multiple jet liners bound from the United Kingdom to the U.S. using liquid explosives in carryon luggage. In response, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised the threat level to “high” for all for commercial flights operating in or destined for the U.S.
“Due to the nature of the threat revealed by this investigation, we are prohibiting any liquids, including beverages, hair gels, and lotions from being carried on the airplane,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a Thursday statement.
Whitmore said that making the airport compliant with the new directives was a matter of posting notices, making people aware of the new regulations and finding a law enforcement officer to be present at the security-screening checkpoint.
“We had to get the Hayden Police Department down here this morning, and they’ve been really helpful,” Whitmore said.
Passengers on United Express flight 7047 arriving from Denver on Thursday afternoon had different experiences during the various connections they made around the country.
Traveling with her 9-month-old twins, Holly Prentice said she was allowed to carry a bottle of formula for her babies through security at a Burbank, Calif. airport without having to taste its contents to prove its legitimacy, but said she was forced to throw out the baby’s soap along with a $30 bottle of liquid foundation makeup, lotion and toothpaste.
Visiting Steamboat for a wedding from Lexington, Mass., Jan Howell said the extra lines at Boston’s Logan International Airport were surprisingly user-friendly.
“They would shuttle groups of ten of us to other lines like a ski lift line,” said Howell, who had heard about the regulations before takeoff and repacked accordingly, but still had lipstick confiscated from her handbag.
While other passengers reported normal security waits at LaGuardia and “wild” ones at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Chris Hahn said the morning lines at DIA had dispersed by the time of the afternoon flight.
“I think Gillette and Procter Gamble will do pretty well off this,” Hahn said.
Ann Copeland, YVRA’s manager of landside and terminal operations, advised departing passengers to avoid taking carry-on luggage, saying that any gel or liquids, including those in foot-bed insoles, would be confiscated and that passengers should plan on arriving an hour and a half to two hours before their scheduled departure.
While lines clogged Denver International Airport’s screening areas Thursday morning, Whitmore said there were no unusual problems, significant delays or departing flights cancelled at YVRA.
“We worked through the issues, it went really smooth,” Whitmore said. “It hasn’t impacted the flying public out of Hayden.”
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Steamboat Springs is expected to finish off July with slightly more precipitation than in previous years.