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Airport lines move smoothly

Photo by Craig Lassig

Photo by Craig Lassig

CHICAGO -- The lines of Thanksgiving travelers moved smoothly at airports around the country Wednesday morning despite an Internet campaign to get passengers to gum up the works on one of the busiest days of the year by refusing full-body scans.

The Transportation Security Administration said very few passengers opted out. And there were only scattered protesters -- including, presumably, a man seen walking around the Salt Lake City airport in a skimpy, Speedo-style bathing suit, and a woman reported to be wearing a bikini in Los Angeles.

After days of tough talk on the Internet and warnings of possible delays, some passengers decided to go to the airport especially early and were pleasantly surprised.

Retirees Bill and Margaret Selfridge arrived three hours ahead of schedule at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport for their flight to Washington. It took only 10 minutes to get through the checkpoint at 8 a.m.

''Now we get to drink a lot of coffee,'' Bill Selfridge said.

Ruth Billingsly, 52, showed up three hours early at the Philadelphia airport for her trip to Los Angeles. ''It was a breeze,'' she said. ''I'm really, really early. Maybe I should take a nap.''

A loosely organized effort dubbed National Opt-Out Day planned to use fliers, T-shirts and, in one case, a Scottish kilt to highlight what some call unnecessarily intrusive security screenings. The screenings have been lampooned on ''Saturday Night Live'' and mocked on T-shirts, bumper stickers and underwear emblazoned ''Don't Touch My Junk,'' from a line uttered by a traveler in San Diego who objected to a pat-down.

But the weather was shaping up as a much bigger threat: A ferocious, early-season snowstorm pummeled the Rockies, bringing whiteout conditions to parts of the region and closing roads. It was expected to delay air travelers and drivers in the West. Also, heavy rain was forecast in the Midwest. And windy weather in New England could create snags.

More than 40 million people plan to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA, with more than 1.6 million flying -- a 3.5 percent increase from last year.

Two protesters at the Phoenix airport held signs decrying ''porno-scans'' and drew sidelong glances from some passengers but words of support from others, who told them, ''Thank you for being here.''

The protesters, husband and wife Patricia Stone and John Richards of Chandler, Ariz., said the TSA has taken security too far.

''Just because you buy a plane ticket doesn't mean you have to subject yourself to awful security measures. It's not a waiver of your rights,'' said Stone, 44. ''The TSA is security theater. They're not protecting us.''

But at security lines at the airport, one of the nation's 10 busiest, lines were moving quickly and steadily. In fact, wait times for security checks at major U.S. airports from San Francisco to New York were 20 minutes or less Wednesday morning, according to the TSA, and no serious disruptions were reported.