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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Longer delays for airport check-in expected

Spokane airport officials are warning air travelers to expect slightly longer delays going through security check-in this summer.

About 200 million Americans are expected to fly this summer. Spokane’s air travel has already increased 8 percent from the year before, showing that more people have started traveling again after two years of declines following 9-11, said airport spokesman Todd Woodard.

“This is due to the gradual recovery of the economy,” Woodard said.

Federal Airport Security Director Dave Kuper said Spokane passengers should arrive 90 minutes to two hours before departures, taking into account the added traffic and the need by screeners to ensure all bags are checked.

Despite repeated efforts to educate the flying public, Spokane’s federal airport screeners are collecting more forbidden carry-on items than a year ago, Kuper said.

“The volume of items surrendered is about 12 percent more than roughly one year earlier,” Kuper said during a press conference Tuesday at Spokane International Airport.

That increase, he and other officials of the Transportation Security Administration said, is due to more passengers in the past 12 months, plus more inexperienced travelers.

“A lot of people are just getting back to flying or haven’t flown much,” said Spokane TSA Screening Supervisor Tamara Crabtree. “They’re putting a pocket knife and all sorts of things in their carry-on bag the night before, because they just haven’t done it enough to know what’s allowed.”

Leading the list of most-seized items here are pocket knives, small tools such as pliers, butane portable lighters, tear gas canisters, scissors and fireworks, said Kuper.

Except for fireworks, all those items are permitted only in checked bags, not in carry-ons.

Said TSA Screener Van Lee: “Last July 4th, we found one young boy had about a thousand firecrackers in his suitcase. We went to his grandparents who were with him, and they had no idea he’d had them with him.”

Air travelers are also allowed to carry on two small portable lighters and four books of matches. Any more than that must be surrendered, Lee said. Not permitted are the blowtorch-style of lighters found in some carry-on bags, said Lee.

“It’s amazing how many items we still see,” he added. “Just last week in one shift, I got six knives, four pairs of scissors and one bow that someone wanted to carry on the plane.”

Also seen often during the summer are small cartridges of carbon dioxide, carried by some triathletes on their way to compete. Those cartridges are used to quickly add pressure to bicycle tires. They’re not permitted in carry-on bags, said Lee.

Federal Web sites offer a detailed summary of the do’s and don’ts for easier summer travel, Kuper noted. The best starting point, he said, is: The Web site gives exact guidelines for a whole host of items that often confuse travelers, such as handguns, baseball bats or golf clubs, he said.

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