Fayette County

Air travel runs smoothly in Kentucky and across nation

Departing passengers went through the security checkpoint Wednesday afternoon at Blue Grass Airport. In Lexington and across the nation, security checks moved smoothly.
Departing passengers went through the security checkpoint Wednesday afternoon at Blue Grass Airport. In Lexington and across the nation, security checks moved smoothly. Charles Bertram | Staff

Travel apparently flowed smoothly at Kentucky's major airports during one of the heaviest days of the season, despite fears of large crowds, bad weather and threats of protests about X-ray body scanners.

"No news is good news," said Darlene Silvestri, co-owner of Avant Travel. "We have not had any unusual situations due to the weather or due to security measures."

Avant Travel is a locally owned travel agency that serves mostly clients from the Lexington area. Those clients fly all over the country, and many are vocal about delays and layovers, but Silvestri said, "It's been pretty quiet here today."

Barb Schempf, spokeswoman for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Boone County, said few people were opting out of the Transportation Security Administration's new full-body scans that show an individual's physical contours. It is the only airport in Kentucky with the new scanners.

Schempf didn't have exact TSA numbers but said a "minimal" number were opting for a pat-down instead.

There were no signs of protestors for National Opt Out Day, an online movement decrying the X-ray scanners as harmful and invasive, she said.

From New York to Los Angeles — in Atlanta, Kansas City, Phoenix, St. Louis and Seattle — hundreds of thousands of people launched their holiday travels without falling afoul of airport security or the clamorous minority angered by scanners that produce revealing images of the human body and pat-downs deemed too intimate.

One of the biggest holiday-weekend travel delays on the East Coast happened not at the airports but on Interstate 95 in Delaware, where construction at a toll plaza renowned for backing up traffic on a regular basis did that so magnificently that the state finally threw up its hands and stopped collecting tolls.

But air passengers who had feared the worst rejoiced in swift lines, and security agents seemed determined to resurrect with good cheer an image trampled in the furor over the new scanners and "enhanced" frisking of those who failed or refused them.

At airports, the plan for 1960s-style civil disobedience faced challenges from the outset. The first was the price of admission. An airline ticket was required to reach the point in the security chain where one could "opt out" of the scanner and demand a pat-down.

Most people who flew Wednesday bought their tickets weeks or months ago, before the protest movement came to life. The few tickets to be had carried a high price tag. And those most infuriated by the Transportation Safety Administration's new policy most likely opted out of flying entirely.

Early-afternoon travelers at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington walked directly up to check-in counters then went through security procedures with little delay.

"I really expected lines at every counter," said Claudia Haller of Lexington. "I'm kind of blown away."

Haller was traveling US Airways to visit her daughter and son-in-law in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and arrived at the airport about 11 a.m. for a flight that would depart about 12:55 p.m.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

inside today and coming up on black friday

Life + Food, C1: Our readers share their favorite recipes for holiday pot lucks » City | Region, A3: At home in Madison County's Happy Landing » Black Friday: Follow the shopping and deals with us on Twitter. Details, A2

Shop and tweet on black friday

Herald-Leader reporters and photographers will venture out on Black Friday to area shopping destinations and offer frequent updates via Twitter.com. If you have a Twitter account, you can get instant updates sent to your cell phone, so you'll know the latest on parking, traffic and sell-outs.

To join in, register for a free account. If you have a smartphone, visit Search.twitter.com and search for #shoplex.

To post your own updates, end your message with a space and #shoplex. For example, "Computers sold out at Rich. Rd. Wal-Mart #shoplex." Or send a direct message to heraldleader, and it'll be viewable by those following the feed. If you're leaving late, visit Kentucky.com and read the Twitter feed.