July Fourth travelers brace for tougher
U.S. security after Turkey attack
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[June 30, 2016]
By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Millions of U.S.
travelers flying during the busy Fourth of July holiday weekend will
face heightened security and increased delays due to the deadly attacks
at Istanbul's main airport, officials and air security experts said on
Airport officials were hesitant to reveal specific safety measures
taken following Tuesday's attacks by suspected Islamic State
militants, which killed 41 people and wounded 239 at Europe's
third-busiest airport, but increased vigilance appeared to have
resulted in at least one airport disruption.
A terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York was
briefly evacuated on Wednesday morning while police investigated a
report of a suspicious package.
The implementation of stricter security measures will likely
increase travel time this weekend, air security experts said, even
as the Transportation Security Administration continues to struggle
amid personnel shortages.
"If you are in a 'marquee' airport, you should absolutely allow
significantly more time, on the order of 30 to 45 minutes," said
Bruce McIndoe, the chief executive officer of travel risk advisory
company iJet International.
Authorities can "dial up" various security elements, from increasing
the frequency of "random" passengers selected for extra screening to
turning up the sensitivity of magnetometer devices, according to
Following the Istanbul attacks, which took place outside security
checkpoints, U.S. airports are likely to focus on surveillance and
armed personnel in similar public spaces not subject to screening,
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees
operations at the three major airports in the New York City area,
said in a statement that police had added "high visibility patrols
with tactical weapons and equipment."
The agency said it had already put in place counterterrorism patrols
at various transportation hubs following the mass shooting in
Orlando earlier this month.
Agencies in charge of other major airports, including Reagan and
Dulles in the Washington, D.C. area, Logan in Boston, O'Hare in
Chicago, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth,
declined to offer operational details but emphasized that security
remains their top priority.
"Logan maintains an enhanced security posture," said an spokeswoman
for the Massachusetts Port Authority. "There are many elements that
are seen and unseen."
The security measures are not limited to airports. New York City
Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters on Wednesday that
there will be more officers, including a counterterrorism unit,
present at the city's July 4th celebrations.
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Members of the U.S. Army monitor the departures area at John F.
Kennedy international Airport in the Queens borough of New York,
U.S., June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Meanwhile, Amtrak said it had "robust security measures" in place
and was working with other agencies to gather intelligence following
the Istanbul attacks.
A record number of Americans, 43 million, are expected to travel
between June 30 and July 4, according to AAA.
The vast majority will go by car, AAA said, but 3.3 million are
expected to fly. That is more than 25 percent higher that the 2.6
million AAA projected to fly during Memorial Day weekend in May,
after months of widespread complaints about long security lines.
The attacks in Istanbul, as well as bombings at Brussels' airport
that also struck outside checkpoints, have reignited debate over
whether airport screening should extend into public spaces, despite
the increased inconvenience and questions about the effectiveness of
such a move.
But McIndoe said those proposals lead to an "infinite loop" that has
no solution; checking vehicles before they enter the airport, for
instance, simply forces cars to queue up, creating a new target.
Despite the spectacular massacres, he added, the chance of dying in
an attack while traveling by plane is infinitesimal, given the more
than 3 billion passengers that fly each year.
"You're tens of thousands of times more likely to die in an
automobile accident," he said.
(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus and Laila Kearney in New
York, Ian Simpson in Washington, D.C., and Lisa Baertlein in Los
Angeles; Editing by Tom Brown)
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