Screening Concerns Disappear; Smooth Sailing At Airports

NEW YORK (CBS 2 / WCBS 880/ 1010 WINS) — For those who aren’t sticking around for Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day parade, it’s the great holiday getaway. And this year comes with a little more anxiety.

For those going by plane a planned nationwide protest over enhanced security screenings, failed to do any serious damage to the lines.

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On Wednesday night CBS 2’s Lou Young was at LaGuardia Airport where to many passengers’ surprise going through security was a breeze.

LINKS: Traffic and Transit | Planes, Trains & Automobiles Guide | NJ TRANSIT | LIRR

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WCBS 880 Reporter Marla Diamond heads to the highways

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1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports from LaGuardia Airport

Among the amazed many, a couple from Chicago stood curbside at LaGuardia marveling at the ease of their Thanksgiving eve trip. 

So what happened?

“I think everyone just came to their senses and asked why in the world would we slow ourselves down and our fellow passengers down? For what? I mean we’ve already kind of made the statement here,” Rick Kean said.

Protesters had threatened to gum up the works by demanding time-consuming pat-downs rather than face the Transportation Security Administration’s controversial new full-body scanners.

The only protester Young saw, though, was one guy making his own minimalist point about the indignity of the screening process. He got down to his underwear.

“This is just to get through security. Once I’m through security I’ll be able to change into proper flying attire,” Jason Rockwood said.

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The truth is he didn’t need to strip for screening. Fully clothed flyers from all over said it was smooth sailing.

“We got through security pretty good. We got on the plane. Everything went pretty smooth. I was surprised,” said Charles Pleasant of Atlanta.

The only glitch of the day occurred among passengers flying on Spirit Airlines. A crashed computer forced the airline to check their passengers in by hand.

According to AAA, air travel in our area was expected to spike nearly 3-percent over last year.

However, travel by roads and rails was expected to rise even higher. The number of people driving to their holiday destinations could increase by over 11-percent over last year.

Long Island resident Mary Endlekofer is hitting the road this Thanksgiving simply out of convenience. “It’s only a five hour trip and I like to drive, so it’s not a big deal.”

Tighter security measures at the airport and the high cost of flying left many families with just one option when it came to getting away for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Boston resident Mountrell Sharp was driving the family down to Savannah. “It’s worth it to me. I got a DVD player inside, the kids are quiet, and just enjoy the trip on down.”

“Flying, you have to go through security, you have to go through all that hassle, the bags. It’s just easier, more convenient to fill up the tank and go with the kids,” said Denis McGland of Virginia.

Gas is more expensive compared to Thanksgiving 2009. The current national average: $2.88 for a gallon of regular, up from $2.63 a year ago.

Hitting the rails is another option. Amtrak on its busiest day of the year intends to use every available passenger car in its fleet. “We just didn’t want to get stuck, so we figured we’d take a train and get there quicker,” said Jamie Jacobson of New York City.

“We’re expecting about a 127,000 passengers to use Amtrak today alone,” said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole. “That represents about a 70-percent increase over a normal wednesday for Amtrak.”

It also represents one more travel option for a public hustling to get to their destination before the turkey gets cold.

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Details on Extra Rail and Bus Service for Thanksgiving:
NYC Transit
Long Island Rail Road
Metro-North Railroad
NJ Transit
Amtrak (PDF)