JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT -- The top two airlines at the airport say they are
already complying with federal guidelines that take effect today
requiring the screening of all checked baggage.
The new requirements for airport security were put in place by
Congress on Nov. 19. The Aviation and Transportation Security Act was
established in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The new stepped-up screening won't interfere with the itineraries of
travelers, said Pete McDonald, the airport services vice president at
"While the new federal requirements will provide an additional level
of baggage screening, our flights are scheduled to operate as usual,"
McDonald said in a statement. "Customers should not experience any
changes as part of United's 100 percent screening of baggage because the
technical part will happen 'behind the scenes' at airports."
American Airlines began screening all baggage Jan. 15, according to a
company news release.
Airport officials on Thursday referred inquiries to the airlines
operating out of John Wayne. Spokeswoman Ann McCarley declined to confirm
the airlines had implemented the new measures.
"I can't speak to any security questions," McCarley said. "It's the
carriers' responsibility to screen the passengers and bags."
All 11 carriers at John Wayne will be required to screen all baggage
starting today. They will use a machine put in place last year that
screens for bombs and other explosive devices.
That machine is owned by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The tougher screening, however, will be overseen by the Transportation
Security Administration, which was created as part of the November
security legislation. It also put screener workers on the federal
The new screening measures are designed to tighten security, but not
to put the brakes on commerce.
"We have to ensure that the nation's aviation system is the safest and
most secure in the world," administration spokesman Hank Price said.
"Safety and security is the most important goal, but we understand
efficiency needs to be factored into it as well."
United and American both pushed for the new screening machine months
before terrorist attacks forced a massive revamp of the way airports
process travelers, McCarley said.
Before Sept. 11, American averaged about 190 departures a week out of
John Wayne. United averaged about 122 per week. Both carriers have since
cut about 20% of their fleets nationwide.
* Paul Clinton covers the environment and John Wayne Airport. He may
be reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail ato7