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So far, so good at Tampa International Airport

TAMPA — Despite fears that loosely organized groups would revolt against new security measures at airports nationwide, the scene at Tampa International Airport seemed relatively calm Wednesday.

The day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year for airports, so passengers should expect longer lines at ticket counters and security lanes.

A few protestors of the newly implemented pat-down procedures picketed outside the ticketing area, but TIA officials said they had the necessary permits and didn't cause problems.

Most of the departing flights were running on time or just slightly behind schedule. And by early Wednesday afternoon, TIA didn't appear to have anyone participating in "National Opt Out Day," a response to the new procedures.

Most passengers at TIA will pass through metal detectors the airport has been using for years, while a small percentage are selected at random to enter body scanning machines. Anyone who refuses the revealing body scan is subject to a thorough pat-down.

Passenger James Shaheen, 29, of Largo was headed to Chicago on U.S. Air around 7:15 a.m. when he opted out of the body scan machine. He was curious to see what the new pat-down was like.

"It wasn't that bad," Shaheen said. "It was no more inappropriate than has been described.''

A reporter watched as a Transportation Security Administration agent felt around his waistline. The agent put one gloved hand on each side of Shaheen's thighs, rubbing down from his groin to his ankles, front and back. The agent also had him sit down so he could look under his feet. The whole search took a couple of minutes.

Airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan said this week that TIA projects a 2 percent increase over last year in departing passengers.

The airport could see more crowds or delays as people leave work to catch evening flights.

So far, so good at Tampa International Airport 11/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 3:05pm]
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