Travelers Embrace Relaxed Security Rules

Happy that new security rules have cleared their liquids and gels for takeoff, air travelers presented small, clear plastic bags filled with toiletries for inspection Tuesday, but long lines grew at some airports as others confused about the changes filled trash cans with containers that were too large.

Most toiletries can be in containers no larger than 3 ounces, and they must be zipped up in plastic bags that are quart-sized or smaller. Those limits threw off passengers who scrambled at security checkpoints to toss out bottles of shaving cream and hand lotion or to find the proper plastic bags.

"It's an inconvenience," said Ginni Dewbray, whose husband finally found a bag to carry a small bottle of lotion after asking several fellow travelers in a security line at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

"If they're going to stand there and ask you to have plastic bags, they should give them out. They're not that expensive," she said.

Trash bins outside airport security checkpoints filled up with forbidden items, though not as much as they did last month when a broader ban was put in place. Many travelers were grateful for the relaxed rules, which allow them to carry drinks, makeup and other items on board their flights.

"I was glad to see (the changes)," said Vicki McGowan, a professional meeting planner at Oakland International Airport for a flight to Reno, Nev. "How can lipstick or mascara put people at risk?"

The new rules, announced Monday by the federal Transportation Security Administration, allow travel-sized toiletries to be carried aboard flights in a sealable clear plastic bag. Some items are permitted in any amount: saline solution, eye drops and prescription and nonprescription medicine, according to Transportation Security Administration spokesman Christopher White.

Drinks, liquids and gels purchased in airport stores inside security checkpoints can be carried into passenger cabins. Baby formula is allowed but must be inspected.

The rules replace an outright ban on liquids, lotions and gels ordered Aug. 10 after an alleged plot to bomb U.S.-bound jetliners was foiled.

TSA chief Kip Hawley said the stricter ban is no longer needed, and that he was pleased Tuesday's transition to the new rules went as smoothly as it did.

"I woke up scared to death this morning," Hawley told reporters in Washington. "It went great today."

Parents were some of the happiest beneficiaries of the new rules, glad to have regained some of their tools in the challenging job of keeping young children content on a plane.

Leslie Walker of Plano, Texas, was planning to carry drinks for her 5-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son onto their flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to El Paso.

"It was really a relief to know that I didn't have to get here this morning and repack everything. It saved me a little time," she said.

Airport retailers were thrilled at the news, and some had already begun stocking up on plastic, zip-top bags. The Paradies Shops, an Atlanta-based company with more than 500 stores in 60 airports across the U.S. and Canada, will hand out clear plastic bags to customers for free.

"It's good news for everybody," said Bobbi Passavanti, the company's spokeswoman. "It's great for the traveler."

The rules were too much bother for some passengers, such as Pat Henderson, of Palm Coast, Fla., who threw away the deodorant and toothpaste in his carryon before entering the security check line at the Atlanta airport.

"It's not worth the hassle," he said. "I just don't want to deal with it."

By 8 a.m., a trash bin at a checkpoint in Atlanta was 3 feet deep with water bottles and 16-ounce containers of toiletries, including shaving gel and hand lotion. But TSA officials there were going easy on travelers the first day of the new rules, allowing them to carry proper-sized toiletries in gallon-sized plastic bags.

After testing a variety of explosives, the FBI and other laboratories found that tiny amounts of substances - so small they fit into a quart-size plastic bag - can't blow up an airliner.

In Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the new rules "are likely to be with us for the foreseeable future." Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Chertoff said the new rules would be in place for at least six weeks, but he declined to say whether they would remain as long as six months.

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Associated Press writers Sophia Tareen in Chicago, Leslie Miller in Washington, Ken Maguire in Boston, Terence Chea in Oakland and Paul Weber in Dallas contributed to this report.


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