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Airport Beefs Up Security Measures

Dulles enhances security measures in response to terror threat.

Teenage boys dressed in red and white uniforms transferred contact lens cases, money clips and earphones from dingy knapsacks to oversized Ziploc bags at Dulles International Airport on Friday.

The Team American 88 traveling soccer team was on its way to play soccer in England. Coach Larry Dunn of Springfield directed his players from a crowded United Airlines ticket counter to a long airport security line.

On the way, first-time flier and Fairfax resident Oscar Rodriguez, 18, was nervous to travel abroad. “I’m really scared to fly,” the midfielder said, “but I have my team with me. They’ll get me through it.”

On Thursday, authorities arrested dozens of men in England and Pakistan suspected of planning terrorist attack using liquids to blow up planes over the Atlantic. In response the U.S. Transportation Security Administration enhanced security measures at airports across the country, banning most liquids and gels from carry-on luggage. But many of the new protocols had yet to be absorbed by air travelers at Dulles International Airport the next day.

Rodriguez clutched a clear plastic bag filled with a thick book, cell phone and wallet as he waited in the security line. Parent volunteer Tonja Racine waited on the other side of a thick, black rope with a large plastic bag in hand.

“We’re not sure what they can and cannot take on the plane,” she said. “I’m here to collect anything that doesn’t make it through so they don’t have to throw it away.”

“This is going to be a long ride,” Rodriguez said.

Across the airport, McLean resident Chris Marshall waited to receive flight information on his trip to Iran. Marshall’s trip to the Middle East was delayed two hours.

Marshall spent the additional hours rearranging his carry-on luggage. “We’ve had to move all the liquids into our checked bags,” he said. “Now we’re just waiting to get out of here.”

His 11-year-old son, Armand, paced back and forth, over and around overstuffed luggage, anxious to visit his family.

WHEN PASSENGERS checked in at the ticket counters on Friday, customer service agents issued them sizable plastic bags to replace their carry-on luggage and personal items.

Signs that read “No Liquid Or Gels Permitted Beyond Security” were plastered on automatic doors, trash cans and vending machines. At security checkpoints, employees collected bottles of water, shampoo, conditioner, suntan lotion and toothpaste from passengers and tossed them into a bin.

TSA spokesperson Darin Kayser said the additional precautions caused delays Thursday morning, but things had cleared up by Monday.

“Lines are starting to move faster, but people should be prepared,” he said. “No liquids.”

TSA made it clear; shampoos, conditioners and nail polish remover won’t make it through security. However, there are exceptions to the rule, Kayser said.

Passengers traveling with young children are allowed to carry milk and formula on the plane. Prescription drugs are allowed on the plane, as well. Travelers are only allowed to carry up to 4 ounces of over-the-counter drugs, like cough syrup and saline solution.

ASHBURN RESIDENT Liliana Ospina, 23, rummaged through her plastic bag before approaching the security checkpoint. The college student said the enhanced security measures made her feel safe to fly to Rome, Italy.

“Nothing could keep me from going back to school. I love it there,” she said. “I actually feel safer with all of this going on. The line seems to be moving pretty fast today.”

Great Falls resident Keith Edwin agreed with Ospina, lines were moving faster Friday.

After two days at Dulles International Airport, cancellations and travel plan alterations, Edwin was more than ready to board his plane to India.

“It’s been a long two days,” he said.

The British Airways passenger was supposed to leave for Southeast Asia on Aug. 10.

“We were supposed to be on the same leg the terrorists were going to fly on,” he said.

Although Edwin's travel plans had been delayed, the Boston University student said he didn’t mind the heightened security and delayed plans.

“If anything, I feel more safe to fly now,” he said. “I don’t mind having to remove anything from my bag. It’s for my safety.”

For passengers who don’t want to throw prohibited items away, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Security spokesperson Rob Yingling suggested passengers mail those items to their destination, through Mail Safe Express, a mail service located in the Dulles International Airport.

“The best thing to do is be prepared,” he said. “It will make lines move a lot faster.”