Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Airport has more checks but fewer passengers

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — New signs everywhere explaining heightened security measures set the mood at a subdued Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport on Monday.

        Airport Police Officer Dave Myers, on bicycle patrol to help control traffic, looked at virtually empty roads in front of the Delta terminal.

        “In five years, I've never seen it like this,” he said. “I'm here to handle traffic, but there isn't any traffic. It's very slow.”

        Motorists were advised by signs as they entered the parking areas that some garage sections were restricted to passenger cars, with overhead obstacles set at 5 feet, 5 inches. Trucks, vans and SUVs had to park in sections of the garage farther from the terminals.

        Inside the airport's three terminals at midafternoon, only a trickle of passengers made their way from ticket counters to the gates.

        Large signs in red letters advised travelers that “no knives of any kind are permitted beyond the security check points” and “only ticketed passengers may pass through the electronic security.”

        In front of the terminals, motorists were advised they could not leave their cars when dropping off passengers. Curbside check-in is no more.

        Istanbul, Turkey, resident Cem Surmeli, 37, wasn't upset with the light turnout at the airport as he and his family concluded three weeks of vacation travel.

        “I've been a little frustrated with some of the problems in getting flights, but I understand what is happening and we have made the best of it,” the textile manufacturing company owner said. “We're used to heavy security at airports in other parts of the world.”

        Mr. Surmeli, his wife, Esra, and children Cahit, 6, and Emin, 1, were in New York prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center. From New York, they traveled to Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

        “We had free Delta frequent-flier tickets to go from Orlando to Honolulu, but all flights were canceled,” he said. “Instead, we took a Disney cruise to the (Caribbean) islands.”

        Then, still without a flight, they rented a car and drove 1,100 miles to Muncie, Ind., to attend the world championships of remote-controlled model helicopter competition. Mr. Surmeli is a big fan of the helicopters.

        Their odyssey concludes today when they arrive in Istanbul after a Monday night flight from Cincinnati to Frankfurt, Germany, and then a flight from Frankfurt to Istanbul.

        Roland Weckenmann of Richmond, Ind., was waiting patiently for a friend from Germany who was going through customs. He wore a T-shirt with an American flag on the front, one of many seen Monday at the airport.

        “This is a bad time, but I'm glad that my friend is coming here for a visit,” he said. “We'll get through this.”


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