Airport Security

Starting Jan. 9, Denver International Airport will stop searching the trunks and interiors of vehicles headed to the airport's parking garages.

The searches started as a precaution shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. But the director of the new Transportation Security Administration has ruled that airports can relax some security rules for parking garages as long as the nation's terror alert is at yellow or below. Yellow is the middle level of the five level color code system.

Airport spokesman Steve Snyder says some parking spaces closest to the terminal will continue to be off limits, but there will be about 10, 500 covered parking spaces available.

Across the nation, airports are preparing to implement screening processes to check for explosive in all checked baggage Jan. 1.

One airline consultant offers this advice for air travelers in 2003: don't check anything and get to the airport very early.

The methods will vary, machine, human hands or dogs, but airline consultant Michael Boyd says the changes are bound to create problems, maybe even “total chaos.”

For example, at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, travelers must carry their checked bags from the ticket counter to the bomb detection station in the lobby to be put through a machine. After it is screened, the passenger checks the bag. That can involve standing in three separate lines.

And at more than 40 airports, travelers with only carry-on bags can no longer go straight to the gate. They have to check in at the ticket counter or a kiosk to get a boarding pass.