CHICAGO -- The easing of carry-on rules for air travelers came a few days too late for Diana Phillips.
She had to toss her contact lenses and ask a hotel clerk for toothpaste and shampoo over the weekend when she was forced to spend an extra night here after her flight home to Tampa was canceled.
Because of the ban on liquids and gels in carry-on bags, Phillips, 53, a sales manager, put her toiletries in a checked bag, which she says the airline lost. Without the saline solution that was in the missing bag, her eyes dried out, and she threw away her contacts, leaving her squinting.
"This was a nightmare," she said Monday at O'Hare International Airport. She was thrilled to hear that starting today, she can again tuck those necessities in her purse. "Great! Good deal," she said.
Many travelers said Monday that restrictions on liquids -- put in place last month after British authorities announced they had foiled a terrorist plot to use liquid explosives on USA-bound airliners -- were inconvenient.
"It's a good step back to where we were," said Gloria Farrar, 62, of Bethany Beach, Del. She was flying from Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport to St. Louis.
"I'm all for erring on the side of caution," Roger Rhomberg, 41, a furniture salesman from Oak Park, Ill., said as he drank diet iced tea before getting in the security line at O'Hare. Even so, he said, "it seems like once you're past security, having liquids shouldn't be a problem." Besides, security personnel missed bottles of water in his briefcase after the ban went into effect, he said.
At Denver International Airport, Kenneth Arnold, 62, said, "It makes sense to be able to buy drinks after security." Arnold, who lives in New York City and works for a church publishing house, said he worries about the "sense of chaos" created by frequent rule changes.
Others wondered whether the latest rules would create confusion and more delays. The rules now allow travelers to carry drinks on planes if they buy them after passing through security and to carry small amounts of liquids or gels through checkpoints if they're in transparent plastic bags.
"I can only have 3 ounces of shampoo or whatever? Or 3 ounces total?" asked Emily Schneider, 41, an accountant from Los Angeles. "Do I bring the plastic bag, or will the airport provide it?"
"It's yet another item to go through the X-ray machine, further complicating the entire silly process," said Roger Loeb, a consultant in Parker, Colo.
Some travelers predicted the changes will result in passengers hauling more bags on the plane. "The overhead bins were emptier" under the previous rules, said Debra Amens, 45, of Galion, Ohio, at Reno-Tahoe International Airport. "There was much more space, and that was really nice."
Some wondered whether beverages would be more expensive at concessions located past checkpoints. "Are the prices going to go up?" asked Connie Milstein, who was headed home to Minneapolis from Westchester County (N.Y.) Airport.
Other passengers said they don't mind minor hassles if they're safer. "This will be easier, but I put safety over inconvenience," said Martin Allred, a commercial photographer from New Orleans who was at the Denver airport.
Paul Nurko, 69, a salesman from Winchester, Va., who also was at Denver's airport, plans to retire soon and travel overseas. He said he's "a little concerned whether security would be 100%" under the less restrictive rules.
Frequent business traveler Joe Sacchetti, 30, an underwriter from Mahopac, N.Y., who was at the Westchester County Airport on Monday, started checking his bag after last month's security scare. He has no plans to start carrying it on. "It's safer," Sacchetti said. "I'm all about safety."
Many travelers agreed with Cherie McCoy, 68, an educator from San Francisco who changed planes at O'Hare on her way home from Madison, Wis. "It's been ridiculous," she said. "I've had to check my little backpack just because of my makeup."
Representatives from Glad Products Co. will distribute 50,000 bags at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport over the holidays.
The TSA allows small bottles and tubes of liquids to be carried aboard airplanes only if they are enclosed in a quart-size, zip-top plastic bag.
It could be a tough season when the volume of travelers soars later this month for Thanksgiving.