Rules of Travel Game Change, and Passengers Adjust

Passengers can expect longer waits at baggage claim, some airline officials said.
Passengers can expect longer waits at baggage claim, some airline officials said. (By Justin Sullivan -- Getty Images)
By Annys Shin, Kim Hart and Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 12, 2006

Caroline Miller packed anything that might not pass muster with security into nine separate plastic baggies. Charlene Bennett let out a cheer after waiting 45 minutes for her suitcase. Dan Baum plans to overnight himself an extra suit and underwear before he leaves town again.

The rules for traveling have changed once again, and airline passengers were quickly adapting yesterday.

Major domestic and international carriers reported an increase in the number of travelers checking luggage, as passengers complied with the new ban on carrying beverages, shampoo, lotions, gels and other liquid substances aboard airplanes.

Before arriving at Dulles International Airport yesterday for a flight to Paris, Miller, 26, wasn't sure what she had to check, so she packed cosmetics and electronics into a series of plastic bags, allowing her to stuff anything into her suitcase at the check-in counter that airline officials declared a no-go.

Her system helped her avoid the fate of her sister, Kathleen, and her mother, Nancy, who had to forfeit deodorant, lip balm and lipstick at the security checkpoint.

"I'm going to be really pale when I get there," Nancy Miller said.

Most airlines have temporarily waived fees, typically $50 to $80, for checking a third bag. A couple of airlines, including American and Frontier, even encouraged passengers to check all of their bags to ease congestion at checkpoints.

Airline officials said they would wait to hear from authorities about whether the new security measures are to become permanent before changing checked-baggage polices by increasing the number of bags allowed or raising weight limits.

"We'll see how things develop over the next couple of days," said Virgin Atlantic Airways spokeswoman Brooke Lawer.

The increase in checked luggage, however, did not prompt any of the airlines to increase the number of baggage handlers.

Except for flights out of Britain, most international and domestic carriers said, the higher volume of checked luggage did not contribute to delays yesterday.

However, some airlines said passengers should expect longer waits in the baggage claim area. "With more bags, it takes longer for your bag to get there. There will be more people crowding around the carousels," Frontier Airlines spokesman Joe Hodas said.

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