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Worth the frisk

Travelers at Bob Hope Airport on Tuesday expressed little concern about heightened Transportation Security Administration measures as they departed just before the busiest travel day of the year.

“Nope. They are keeping me safe,” Ellen Cowie of Tujunga said as she walked toward TSA officials at Terminal A. “I’ve been scanned before, and it did not bother me one bit.”

Some passengers were asked to step aside for a manual pat-down, the most controversial of the measures that TSA instituted Nov. 1. But the airport does not have a full-body scanner, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

TSA officials say the number of complaints the agency has received is tiny compared with the volume of travelers.


“We’ve seen about 3,000 complaints from the end of October to yesterday,” said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for TSA operations in California, Hawaii and Arizona. “That’s out of about 40 million passengers.”

Melendez said TSA had contingency plans if people engage in what he called an “irresponsible” protest of security procedures on Wednesday, though he declined to elaborate.

“We expect passengers will help us out with security measures and cooperate, as they always do,” he said.

Alexander Ferrino of Studio City, who flew to San Francisco on Tuesday, said he heard about the controversy but dismissed it.


“I just think they are doing their job, and everyone is making a big fuss about it,” he said.

Others were less certain.

“I’m very concerned,” Susan Hagen said as she prepared to show her boarding pass to a TSA agent. “I don’t want to have a manual body search.”

Hagen made it through without being pulled aside for a pat-down.

Solette Westerberg of Mountain View said she experienced a pat-down when she flew Tuesday morning from San Jose to Burbank. Westerberg, who is pregnant, said she chose the pat-down over the body scan.

She said she was escorted to a private room for a search by a female guard. The check lasted four or five minutes.

“It took a little longer because they pulled me aside and were very thorough about explaining what they were going to go through,” she said. “I didn’t mind. I knew what I chose. But if everyone would have done it, it would have been a problem.”

Bob Hope Airport had a body scanner in July for a test period, but Gill said passengers did not register complaints.


On Tuesday, signs warned departing passengers to prepare for rigorous security measures. At the checkpoint, travelers chose between a line for experienced travelers who routinely prepare for airport security and a line for others.

Gill recommended that passengers have their ID readily available, pack simply with holiday gifts unwrapped and check or for other tips.